12 Free things to do in Kuala Lumpur (KL)

Kuala Lumpur Free things to do
This list of 12 Free things to do in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia is created to help those traveling on a budget, especially the budget travelers or backpackers to find some of these places while staying in the city.

There have been many lists out there but this list that Malaysia Asia has done has much more realistic things to do for free. As Kuala Lumpur or KL has developed vastly over the last ten years, there are still many places that one can explore at no cost and also on foot.

The list is in no particular order and if you have any comments, please do share with me and everyone below. Enjoy your visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Free things to do in Kuala Lumpur

Pasar Seni Kuala Lumpur
Central Market Pasar Seni Kuala Lumpur 

1. Kuala Lumpur HeritageWalk

The Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) or Kuala Lumpur City Council has introduced a Free Kuala Lumpur Heritage walk where it takes you to 11 historical sites. This walk takes around two and a half hours and is worth it.

You can get the details from the official website listed below. This heritage walk is still free for tourist visiting Kuala Lumpur. 

  • Discover 11 historical sites within 2 1/2 hours walk. 
  • Starting point : Kuala Lumpur City Gallery 
  • Time: 9.00am - 11.30am ( Monday, Wednesday and Saturday)  
Exploring Brickfields
Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur. Photo by http://edition.cnn.com/
2. Exploring Little India in Brickfields

Brickfields is known as the Little India of Kuala Lumpur and this place is located just about 15 minutes walk from Pasar Seni or Central Market. Another prominent landmark is KL Sentral where the main train station is located at.

Almost all of the shops and businesses here are Indian run and you get to see the vibrant, bright and colorful lifestyle here. You will find many Indian restaurants serving authentic Indian cuisine right to local Malaysian-Indian restaurants. 

The trick is to start early about 8.00 AM when most businesses start operating. You can explore the main streets and get into the other smaller streets. I strongly recommend doing this in the day time and mornings only. It is not advisable to explore this area at night, unless it is the main streets. 
Exploring Brickfields
Total Walking Time: 2-3 hours
Type of Tour: Self Walk

3. Seeing the Birthplace of Kuala Lumpur

This is the place where Kuala Lumpur started. Back in the day, miners in boats arrived here at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers and could not go any further therefore setting up came here.

Kuala means Confluence while Lumpur means Mud or simply translated as Muddy Confluence. These days, many just call the city KL (pronounced Kay El). If you do not take the free heritage walk, you can simply make your way here from Chinatown or the Golden Triangle via foot.

The place is just nearby the Masjid Jamek which is the first mosque in KL and designed by British architect Arthur Bennison Hubback in 1909. It is also behind the Central Market and Independence Square (Dataran Merdeka). Exploring this area will take you around the older parts of Kuala Lumpur.

Birthplace of Kuala Lumpur
Total Walking time: 1-2 hours
Type: Self Walk

Lake Gardens Kuala Lumpur Map

4. Visiting the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens

As this massive 230 acre gardens sits within the city of KL, there are a number of free activities that one can do here. A simple 20-30 minute walk from Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square will bring you to many of the attractions here.

Some of them include the Hibiscus Garden, Orchid Garden and Deer Park which are free entrance on weekdays. There is a charge on weekends. The National Monument and a beautiful lake is also in the vicinity so you can easily spend a good 4-6 hours around here.

There are public toilets and rest areas for tourist while tourist police are seen on horseback here. Please bring snacks or food as sometimes, food is scarce here.

It is also possible to walk here and then walk back to the city in half a day or less. Other paid parks around this area include the KL Bird Park and Butterfly Park.   

Total Walking Time: 4-6 hours
Type: Self Walk

Kuala Lumpur Skyline

5. Visiting KLCC and Petronas Twin Towers

One of the most popular tourist attractions in KL is no other then the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur City Centre or KLCC, which are both located in the heart of the city.

Currently the tallest twin towers in the world, this majestic 88 story building stands at 452 meters high. Here, there are a total of 4 free things to do.
  1. Walking around the massive buildings in the day and night is a bonus for your KL Twin Tower Photos. Some say the best spot to take pictures is at the junction of Jalan Ampang and Jalan Yap Kuan Seng where the traffic lights are located and you get the best angle of KLCC. This is your best free photo location.

  2. Inside the complex, there is an art gallery called Galeri Petronas which is built to support the development and preservation of arts in the country. It serves as an venue for fine arts exhibition for both international and local artists. Great for art lovers and free if there is no major show. 

  3. The KLCC Park is spread over 17 acres with a jogging path, water fountains, a wading pool and beautiful greenery.If you like parks, this is the place to explore. It is also a great spot to photograph the Twin Towers. The entire area is free to explore. 

  4. Window Shopping at Suria KLCC is also free and in one of the largest shopping malls which is in the Petronas twin tower buildings. Here you can people watch or simply check out the prices of watches and designer items. There are cinemas, supermarkets, a science discovery center, huge book stores and a philharmonic theater inside the complex. The LRT subway line also has a station underground here. 

    Please take note that the Free Tickets to go up the KLCC Sky Bridge is no longer available. There is a RM10 charge for this now.
Total Walking Time Here: 2-8 hours (depending on what you do)
Type: Self Walk

What are the free things to do in KL?
Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur 

6. Walking to Jalan Alor, Tengkat Tong Shin and Changkat Bukit Bintang
  • If you are not already staying at Tengkat Tong Shin's guesthouses or backpacker hotels, this would be one of the places to explore in the day or after dark. Jalan Alor is famous for the many local hawkers selling all sorts of Malaysian food plus cold beer. A lovely place to walk by and see the varieties of food being sold against the myriad of colors at night.
  • Changkat Bukit Bintang is just around the corner and plays host to some of Kuala Lumpurs best night scene. A number of bars, clubs, discos and fine dining restaurants line both sides of the street making it a very popular place for locals, expats and foreigners. If you love the nightlife, this is your place to hang out.
  • Tengkat Tong Shin is well known for a number of upmarket guesthouses, flash packer hotels,  backpacker guest houses and hotels. This road also leads into Jalan Alor and also Changkat.
Total Walking Time: Varies

Kasturi Walk, Central Market Kuala Lumpur 

7. Central Market or Pasar Seni

This is the oldest market in Kuala Lumpur, and the Central Market has been around since 1888, and is now the busiest modern handicraft market in Kuala Lumpur. Here, you will get to see the many crafts from most of the states of Malaysia on display. 

Downstairs, three unique streets occupy the left section of the building as you enter. They are the Indian Street, Malay Street and Straits Chinese Street who display the multi-ethnicity of Malaysia. 

You will also find lots of craft, souvenir, antique and art shops throughout the market spread over two floors. There are a few good restaurants available while a food court serving local Malaysian dishes is well worth a try.

Next door, a building dedicated to art called the Annexe Gallery showcases some of the countries up and coming artist while art exhibitions are done here. If you love art, this is one of the places to check and it is free. Both places are only a 5 minute walk from Petaling Street or Chinatown in KL.

Total Walking Time Here: From 1-4 hours
Central Market Website.

8. Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex

The Kuala Lumpur craft complex is one of the interesting places to visit if you love local culture and heritage. This place is located in the heart of KL city and is easily accessible by walking. It is also called the National Craft Complex, it is located at Jalan Conlay which is near the KLCC and Golden Triangle area.

Walking here will just take you about 10-15 minutes from both places and you can find almost all the local craft available in Malaysia. Guests can also participate in handicraft work and purchase the items made. Popular Malaysian craft like Batik, Pottery and Wood Carvings can be seen here. On occasion, there are cultural shows being performed, so do check with the information counter there. 

Total Walking Time: 1-2 hours

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur
Petaling Street / Chinatown Kuala Lumpur

9. Visit a Night Market or Pasar Malam in KL

As Malaysia is well known for the night markets or pasar malam in Malay, these places can be found throughout the city of KL. In this list, I am sharing with you two of the best night markets in KL which are easily explored by foot.
  1. Pasar Malam Masjid India Night Market - One of the best night markets in KL can be found along Jalan Masjid India on Saturday nights. The market starts about 5.00 pm and ends at about 11.00 pm. Here you will find all sorts of local foods, nick-knacks, fashion and accessories on sale where you can bargain for the prices. This place is easy to walk to as it takes about 10-15 minutes walk from Petaling Street or Chinatown or about 20-30 minutes walk from KLCC.
  2. Petaling Street or Chinatown Market - Located in the core area of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur is the famous Petaling Street market where you will find a multitude of knock-off goods which include watches, t-shirts, bags, souvenirs and the occasional fruit and food stalls. Apart from the usual items, some of the best local hawkers and restaurants serving good Chinese food can be found here at Jalan Hang Lekir. Here, roadside tables are covered with bright coloured table cloth to indicate the shops while foreigners sit and have local Chinese dishes with cold beer. A number of backpacker guest houses and hotels can be found in the vicinity.
Total Walking Time: 2-4 hours each place
Type: Self Walk

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

10. Heritage Buildings in KL - Walking Tour

Apart from the modern sky scrapers in town, there are quite a number of beautiful Heritage Buildings which were from the British Colonial days that still stand strong in the city. By exploring on foot, you can see many of these buildings that are in the older areas of Kuala Lumpur.

Starting at the Central Market (Art-Decor), you can walk towards Independence Square or Dataran Merdeka where the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (SAS) stands majestically and is the largest of the heritage buildings here.

Opposite, the English Tudor styled Royal Selangor Club sits facing the SAS Building. Head on over to the old railway station to see a couple more of the Neo Moorish and Mughal designed buildings.

In the old city area, many shop houses don the old pre-war structures where you get to see a mix of influences in designs from Grecian-Spanish, Neo-Gothic, Victorian and even the American styles that range from 1880's till 1950's. 

Total Walking Time: 3-6 hours

Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur
11. Batu Caves Visit

You have not seen Kuala Lumpur if you have not visited the world famous Batu Caves. This is one of the most interesting caves in the world where it takes you up 262 steps into a cavern where an Indian temple sits.

During the festival of Thaipusam, over a million people visit this place and is one of the fascinating events to witness in late January or early February yearly. Climbing up to the temple and exploring the temple cave is all free.

It is about 20-30 minutes drive from KL so walking is out of the question. You need to take the KL Commuter Train to the Batu Caves Station or you can take a bus or taxi. Here, there is a Art Cave which has an entrance fee, but you can give it a miss.

There are Indian restaurants around the place, convenient stores and there are also toilets available. It is highly recommended to visit this place during Thaipusam in late January or early February. 

Total Walking Time: 2-3 hours
Type: Bus or train here and then self walk

12. Traditional Malay Village Kampung Baru Walk

Imagine a village in the heart of the city of KL, this is what Kampung Baru is about. The British originally gazetted Kampung Baru as a Malay Agricultural Settlement in 1900 to allow the Malays to retain their village lifestyle within the city.

Predominantly only Malays live in the area, it is well known for the local food and businesses. Not a usual tourist spot but the curious will venture here to see what a local kampung looks like.The place is also best visited in the evenings or nights as there is an area dedicated to all things Malay food.

I recommend trying the famous 'Nasi Lemak' packets or fragrant coconut rice packets here. The main road name is Jalan Raja Muda Musa and is filled with over 50 Malay food stalls here. From KLCC or Chinatown, it takes about 15-20 minutes walk to Kampung Baru.

Total Walking Time: About 1-2 hours
Type: Self Walk

KL City Free Things To Do
I took this photo of the Petronas Twin Towers at night from a street junction
This list is originally compiled by David Jr from Malaysia Asia, and copied many times by others. I have been updating the list on a yearly basis and editing what is no longer free or any other changes. 

It is true that there are many other things that may be free, but why would I list down 'Play with the Silver Leaf Monkeys in Kuala Selangor' when it is about 4 hours out of KL? Or 'Go Hiking at Bukit Gasing' when that is in Petaling Jaya?

The problem with the other lists is that they are written by desktop writers, who sit and come up with listicles, without even experiencing any of the free things listed. That  is how the Internet has misled and changed things over the years.

Kuala Lumpur Free Things To Do
View of Petronas Twin Towers taken from the KLCC Park
As for me, I have personally done all of the above, and then pass judgement and write this article to provide accurate information to visitors to Malaysia. My objective is not to mislead people by simple coming up with top post lists for the sake of being on the top of the search page. 

Back to the free things to do in Kuala Lumpur article where this list is easily done and 11 of them are accessible by foot except for the Batu Caves visit. While most travelers prefer to see the city by walking, this list helps you to understand that there is more that what you read out there.

If you spend a little more time here in the city, you will find many interesting things to do here apart from the these 12 free things to do in Kuala Lumpur. The information is accurate and will be updated if there is any change. 
12 Free things to do in Kuala Lumpur (KL) 12 Free things to do in Kuala Lumpur (KL) Reviewed by David Jr on Friday, September 02, 2011 Rating: 5


CathJ said...

thanks for the info Dav.. once in a while doing this must be awesome.. :)

David Jr said...

Thanks Cath. Personally, I have done them all that is why I can share them with everyone.

Lilian said...

Awesome list..you have covered everything from heritage to nature to cultural to shopping!

David Jr said...

Thank you very much Lilian. I have personally done all of the list here therefore it is a great list for travelers looking for something to do in KL.

abel tseng said...

thanks for sharing, i will pick up some for my next trip to kl especially 1 & 6 - i am from taipei/taiwan

David Jr said...

Hi Abel, glad to know that some of the Free Things to do in KL will come in handy for your trip to KL.

Garreth said...

Thank you for this post. I'll be there in 10 days and I can't wait.

David Jr said...

Garreth - That is awesome! If you need help, just ask me anytime.

Jessie said...

Wow. This is amazing. I am thinking of visiting KL from Dec 29 to Jan 2. This is so brilliant, I want to visit NOW!!

Sophie said...

I haven't been to KL yet. The Batu caves and Petronas will be top of my list.

David Jr said...

Jessie - Thats great to hear you're headed to KL. As usual, if you need any help, just ask.

Sophie - Eventually you could consider making a stopover here one day. There are some very interesting places to explore in Kuala Lumpur.

Sherry said...

That first photo is KILLER - wonderful shot! I always love doing free things (sometimes its much better than the paid ones) so I appreciate advice that caters to it. Hopefully, when I visit Malaysia, I'll get to try these.

David Jr said...

Thank you very much Sherry. It was one of my photo-walks that I took that picture :)

Christina said...

Jalan Alor rocks! I had the best fish there, and I don't even like eating fish. KL is a great city and I had a super stay there. Only did about half of your suggestions, though. It is such a multifaceted place.

Michael Figueiredo said...

Ever since I saw the movie "Entrapment" I've wanted to visit KL. Great tips and photos! :)

Technosyncratic said...

I always love these kinds of lists - especially when they're about FREE things to do!

Laurel said...

Great list, I especially like the free historical tour run by volunteers.

Ayngelina said...

David you posted this ten years too late, I really could have used these tips when I was there!

Christy @ Ordinary Traveler said...

Great list! I love free list posts. I'll bookmark this for when we visit that area again.

Grace said...

Love the photos. And great tips- as travelers we always want to save money!

David Jr said...

Christina - I'm happy to know you tried the fish at Jalan Alor! Yes, some of the stalls there serve awesome grilled fish.

Michael - You have to come one day. There is great hawker food here in KL.

Technosyncratic - Absolutely! Whenever I travel, I too look for free stuff to do.

David Jr said...

Laurel - Thanks and I wish more NPOs would do free historical tours around KL and the country.

Ayngelina - Aww, but it's always great to make another trip back here to catch up on the progress we have gone through.

Christy - Thanks! Hope you make it to KL soon :)

Grace - Thank you and yes, always looking for a good deal and sometimes, lists like this do have great places to visit for free.

David Jr said...

Virgo, you can actually go to Ulu Yam area on the way to the Orang Asli Museum, there are a lot of local Malay Villages there.

Anonymous said...

You might also wish to visit Putrajaya if you like looking at domed buildings, bridges, the Putrajaya mosque (and the many different types of street lamps! weird but they have so many different ones). Late afternoon till early night is good in terms of lighting.

It's not free in terms of travel costs (about 2 x RM9.50 for KL Sentral - Putrajaya - KL Sentral).

traveleray said...

Hey guys I came across this awesomely cool platform to connect with co-travellers http://www.mingletrips.com/
I just signed up, and cant wait to venture into KL with them.


Lash said...

Good list, David! interesting to compare notes. :)) cheers, Lash

abel tseng said...

hi, i remembered first time when i visited here, there's tour called " KL hop-on hop-off, visit main attractions in the city in one day..no more now ?

David Jr said...

Thank you all!

Abel, the Hop on Hop off tours are still available in town for those who want to see the city quick and easy.

Stacey said...

Is the free walking tour in English?

Anonymous said...

You can get a train to Batu caves from KL sentral for RM1.00. It costs RM1.60 to get back though. Still very cheap and better than a bus. Batu caves is a smelly dirty let down though. Needs some housekeeping!

Flux said...

Fantastic big city, been there!
It's true - Malaysia is Truly Asia!
The colours, the people, the buildings, the views... everything is fantastic!

David Jr said...

Stacey, yes it is in English - The Waling Tour.

As for the rest, thank you very much and hope you enjoy your stay in Kuala Lumpur.

Edi said...

Great list David.
I am malaysian and from KL but a very bad one!
Now that a friend is visiting from the UK, I've been scrambling and panicking looking for things to do to be a good host!
This list is definitely a start. Especially since I can't spend time with him all the time, putting him on the walking tour is a great idea!

explura said...

Nice article..

I like the way it is narrated

Sonia Waszkowiak said...

Great tips! When is the best time to go to Malaysia?

David Jr said...

Thanks, actually anytime is a good time. But if you want to witness festivals and celebrations, you need to check the holiday calendar. Chinese New Year, Thaipusam and Hari Raya are good celebrations to witness.

Magic Travel Andrew said...

Thanks for the suggestions. We're going to be back in KL for a while in a few weeks. We could definitely do with some new things to do.

fyi, the link to this post on the front page is broken. Its http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2011/09/12-free-things-to-do-in-kuala-lumpur-kl.htmll note the 2 l's in .html

leanandfab said...

hi there, ive been looking for a blog like this. I am planning to visit KL on Sept 21 and 22. And I so need your help.. Can you please email me?Pleaseee ;)

Mark Wiens said...

Great round-up David, I'll remember some of these suggestions for next time I'm in KL!

Lei said...

this is great! going on malaysia on sunday and hopefully get to do everything on this list! :) thanks for the compilation!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great list, David. I am headed to KL this weekend and going to be there from Nov 30th-December 9th. I was wondering if you had any recommendations for me beyond just KL. Perhaps the neighboring cities? What is worth seeing? Also, I plan on going to Singapore for 2-3 days. Any particular recommendations in Singapore for the budget traveler?

Anonymous said...

Hiya. great list firstly. Some disappointmnet. I wanted to attend the volunteer walk today and when i was about ready to leave my sister advised me to ring and check just incase. Turns out that it need advance bookng, so when i tried to do that; i was told in a roundabout way, that they had decided that the volunteers would rather take paid work instead and said the free heritage walks were off for the rest of the week and next year. But i was welcome to come to the paid walk at 9.30am which is over 100RM pp! sad....

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