Most travelers have the misconception that Malaysia’s bustling capital, Kuala Lumpur is an expensive place to visit. Amidst the high-rise buildings, sprawling shopping malls and crazy traffic, do you know that there are still activities to do and places to explore for free?
Yes, you got it right. Read on to find out more:
1) Marvel beautiful art at a world class gallery
While you’re at the PETRONAS Twin Towers, don’t forget to visit Galeri Petronas. Established in 1993, the art gallery aims to provide an avenue for Malaysian and foreign artists to display their works while promoting the development and preservation of art in Malaysia.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 20:00
2) Bask in nature at the Perdana Botanical Garden
Formerly known as Taman Tasik Perdana or Lake Gardens, this scenic spot is located within the Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park. Originally created as part of a recreational park with tropical plant collections, the place has been revived and transformed into a botanical garden and covers an area of more than 170 acres. On weekdays from 8am to 10am, free guided walks around the garden are available.
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 7:00 – 20:00
3) Window shop at Central Market
The oldest market in Kuala Lumpur, Central Market or Pasar Seni has been around since 1888 and is the busiest modern handicraft market in the city. Here, you can find numerous crafts from most states in Malaysia. As you enter the building, you will come across three unique streets highlighting the nation’s multi-ethnic culture: Indian Street, Malay Street and Straits Chinese Street.
Behind Central Market is the Annexe Gallery housing several art galleries. These galleries cumulatively form a vibrant avenue for artists and audiences to unite in the shared appreciation of art.
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 – 22:00
4) Stroll along Petaling Street
Situated at the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s original Chinatown, Petaling Street maintains much of its traditional atmosphere, particularly at night. While you can find practically anything here, the true charm of this night market lies in taking in the sights, sound and energy. Food is also abundant with wide scrumptious options to pick from.
5) Enjoy free walking tours
Slip on your comfortable shoes and explore Kuala Lumpur on foot. Kuala Lumpur City Hall offers free guided walking tours in Kampong Bharu, a local Malay village within the metropolis, and Dataran Merdeka, the capital’s colonial heart.
Kampong Bharu Tour: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, 4.30pm
Dataran Merdeka Tour: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 8.30am – 11.45am
6) Ride a bus
After walking, rest your aching feet by taking the Go KL City Bus. Launched on 31 August 2012 as part of Malaysia’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP 2.0) in improving urban public transportation, the bus service offers free rides for commuters within Kuala Lumpur’s Central Business District. Users have more than 60 stops to choose from, including popular spots like Pavilion, Bukit Bintang, KLCC and Pasar Seni. The Go KL City Bus service is also equipped with free WiFi and designed to be disabled and eco-friendly.
Operating Hours: Monday – Thursday, 06:00 – 23:00
Friday – Saturday, 06:00 – 01:00
Sunday, 07:00 – 23:00
7) Climb 272 steps up the magnificent Batu Caves
A series of iconic limestone landforms, Batu Caves is an iconic tourist spot in Selangor, particularly during Thaipusam, the annual Hindu festival. Its main attraction is the gigantic golden statue of Hindu deity, Lord Murugan at the entrance. Apart from being a popular location for rock climbing enthusiasts, painting and scenes of Hindu gods can also be found at the Ramayana cave.
8) Relive Malaysia’s history
Merdeka Square is surrounded by fascinating colonial buildings that tell stories of Malaysia’s rich history, one of them being the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Built in 1897, the structure is one of Kuala Lumpur’s earliest Moorish-style buildings. During the British colonial era, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building housed several government departments. Later, it housed the Supreme and High Courts, until renamed to the Federal Court of Malaysia and moved to the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. Today, the building is home to the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture.
Nearby stands a 40 metre clock tower, dubbed the ‘Big Ben’ of Malaysia. This very clock marked the country’s independence at the struck of midnight on 31 August 1957. Since then, each year on Malaysia’s independence anniversary, the clock’s chimes represent the nation’s hope that freedom and peace will continue.
These ideas show that it is possible to experience Kuala Lumpur on a shoestring budget. And as the common saying goes, “The best things in life are free!”
By Alanna Tan, ASEAN Correspondent from Malaysia