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What To Do in Kuala Lumpur for 48 Hours [Must-See Attractions]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a jam-packed city known for luxury hotels at rock-bottom prices. It is Malaysia’s capital, only about a 45-minute flight north of Singapore. Not only is it a foodie’s paradise, but it also has plenty of things to see and do.

If you’ve only got 48 hours to spare in this busy city, there are a few things to put on your bucket list.

Where To Stay

For this trip, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, which is in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC). This was an absolutely beautiful hotel with absolutely incredible service, rivaling any other Hyatt hotel I’ve ever stayed at. This hotel treated me incredibly well as a World of Hyatt Globalist, and I was given an enormous suite to enjoy for the 2 days I was there.

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Suite
An enormous upgrade at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

The Grand Club at this property was one of the best clubs I’d seen in a hotel. It offered a full dinner service each night. The staff could serve us any drink we liked and was very helpful in clearing plates, providing directions, or assisting with reservations.

Hot Tip:

Where To Eat

The Central Market was a good area to start if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat. Not only are there local vendors where you can pick up clothes, souvenirs, or handmade items, but there’s also a variety of food stalls, too. From there, it’s easy to head into Chinatown.

If you’re near Bukit Bintang (like the Times Square of Kuala Lumpur), head to Jalan Alor, a culinary haven. It’s a street lined with tons of stalls where you can pick and choose what you’d like to eat.

Get a satay — meat on a skewer with a hearty peanut sauce — as it is one of the local delicacies.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour

When I travel, I don’t usually use hop-on, hop-off bus tours because I think they’re very touristy. However, Kuala Lumpur is a very large city, and public transit can be difficult to navigate. Unlike many major cities worldwide, it’s also not that walkable, either, so a hop-on, hop-off bus tour actually makes a lot of sense.

Departing from the Bukit Bintang area, you can choose from 2 routes: the city route or the garden route. Each takes about 2 or so hours to fully complete (without getting off), though Kuala Lumpur is known for bad traffic, so you may want to add additional time to this estimate. One route takes you more within the inner city, whereas the other route takes you closer to the outskirts of the city. You can take both routes and even get on a night bus to view the city after the sun goes down.

Hop on Hop Off Kuala Lumpur Bus
The HKL op-On, Hop-Off bus tour is a cheap, easy way to see the city.

For this attraction, since this is coded as transportation, I charged the bus ticket to my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns 3x points on all travel and transportation and also has no foreign transaction fees. The cost was around $6, an incredibly cheap amount for such a lengthy tour.

An English-speaking guide narrates on each bus, and they point out major sights and stops. If you choose to hop off, the next bus will be along in about 20 to 30 minutes, and you can board and then step off at any other future stop.

Petronas Towers

When you think of Kuala Lumpur, you probably think of the Petronas Towers, the iconic twin towers in the heart of KLCC. These massive structures are currently the tallest twin towers in the world, and many tourists purchase tickets to head to the top for an amazing view.

Petronas Towers View
The view from the top is stunning!

Tickets cost about $25, and you first head up to the bridge connecting both towers. Your time is limited during the viewing experience, so be ready to take your pictures! You have about 10 minutes to take pictures on the bridge before heading up another elevator to the very top, where you can take stunning pictures for about 15 minutes.

Overall, it’s not that long an experience, but the view is incredibly rewarding once you’re on top! The towers are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days, though they close at 8 p.m. on Mondays.

Shopping

If you’re in the mood for shopping, Kuala Lumpur has you covered. The city is famous for its huge indoor shopping malls. While Kuala Lumpur isn’t exactly a pedestrian-friendly city (in some areas), the indoor malls are walkable and feature all the usual high-end shops you’d find on the high street.

With a favorable exchange rate, you may be able to find good deals, which is 1 reason so many travelers flock to Kuala Lumpur. Near the Petronas Towers is Suria KLCC, one of the largest malls in the city. You can spend all day here and still not hit every shop!

Suria KLCC
Suria KLCC Mall

While you might not think of shopping in a mall as a great way to see Kuala Lumpur, it’s the thing to do here!

Batu Caves

The famous Batu Caves are about 20 minutes north of the city center. While public transport does go here, you’ll likely find the easiest way to arrive is using Grab, a ride-share app found in much of Southeast Asia. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you notice the numerous tour buses lined up.

Look toward the mountain, and you’ll see a giant, colorful set of steps! There are over 300 of these steep steps, but tackling this uphill climb is worth it to reach the inside of the Batu Caves. They’re home to several religious shrines, which you’re welcome to visit so long as you remove your shoes, the customary thing to do.

Batu Caves Stairs
Get to the caves early to avoid the midday heat.

You can still see plenty without removing your shoes, however, and once you’re inside, you can look up to see the inside of this ginormous cave. While you’re looking around, don’t forget to step around the many monkeys hopping about. These innocent-looking creatures are known for grabbing anything and everything they see, so be especially mindful with your food and be protective of your backpacks and phones, too (yes, they’ll seriously grab your phones and make a run for it).

The caves are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., however, I highly suggest you start early in the morning to beat the heat. Keep in mind there’s no cost to visit the caves, though there’s a small fee (usually a couple of dollars) to enter any of the small religious temples. Bring cash, as you can’t use credit cards here.

Hot Tip:

Bring plenty of water with you if you’re going to climb the steps into the Batu Caves! It will be warm and humid, and you want to be well-hydrated.

Final Thoughts

Kuala Lumpur is definitely a city worth visiting if you’re touring around Asia. You can do a lot in just a few days, and you’ll find the prices very tempting. It’s one of the best luxury hotel markets in the world, and you can walk away for a nice weekend here for less than a couple hundred bucks, which is almost unheard of anywhere else!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Kuala Lumpur worth visiting?

Kuala Lumpur is definitely worth a few days to visit! While the city is sprawling and walking can be a bit difficult, there’s lots to see and do, including plenty of cultural experiences and good eats!

Do they speak English in Kuala Lumpur?

English, Malay, and Mandarin are the top languages in Kuala Lumpur, but you’ll find most locals are able to speak English, so you won’t find any issues getting around. If you’re staying at a branded hotel, all hotel staff should be able to speak English.

Can you wear shorts in Kuala Lumpur?

There’s a common misunderstanding that you can’t wear shorts in Malaysia, but this is only for what’s considered extremely revealing clothing and generally only enforced around religious sites. If you’re wearing normal shorts, you should not have any issues. Leave anything very revealing at home.

Is Kuala Lumpur cheap or expensive?

Kuala Lumpur is known as an extremely cheap city, and you’ll notice this for everything from ride-shares and food to hotel stays and tourist attractions. It’s common to just pay $1 or so to get into a museum or just a couple of bucks for a long ride-share.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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