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Best Free and Cheap Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

kuala lumpur

Like much of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is a very inexpensive country for travelers. The capital city of Kuala Lumpur is a hub for most people visiting the country. You can stay in a guesthouse for under $10 USD per night and eat for even less. Tourist attractions can range in price, but are generally less than $20 USD. Kuala Lumpur has a major airport, so it’s a great place to spend a long layover or check out the Formula One races that are popular here. It’s also a great city for shopping, so use it as a chance to stock up on any clothing or items you might need.

The Free

The Outdoors

It’s difficult to find much green space in such a large city, but thankfully there are a few public parks for visitors to enjoy. Lake Gardens is over 200 acres inside the city, with walking paths, free guided tours and bikes for rent. Inside the park are the National Monument and parks devoted to birds and butterflies. Another well known outdoor attraction is the Batu Caves, which are more than just the caves themselves. You can go on guided tours of the caves and rock climb them, as well as see the well-known cavern and Hindu temple.

Other Sights

kuala lumpur

Most of Kuala Lumpur’s top attractions are not free, but there are a few you can explore without spending a single ringgit. Central Market (Pasar Seni) is a market from 1888 housed in a 1937 structure full of local craft vendors and restaurants. Nearby Chinatown, on Petaling Street, is a great place to walk around and shop for discounted clothing and goods, as well as find delicious eats.

The Royal Selangor Visitor Centre is another attraction where you can learn about the city’s pewter empire and how it is made. Tour the factory for free or check out the School of Hard Knocks workshop for 120 ringgit.

The Kuala Lumpur City Gallery has the famous ‘I Heart KL” statue to take pictures with as well as a model of the cityscape. The temples of the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim faiths also offer a unique experience for visitors. The Guandi Temple, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple and Masjid Jamek are good examples, all free to visit.

The Cheap

Accommodation

While I didn’t stay in my usual hostels in Kuala Lumpur since I was on a press trip, I’ve heard good things about a number of budget accommodations near Chinatown. Reggae Mansion is a well-known party hostel with chic rooms and a rowdy rooftop bar while Back Home is more laid back but with equally impressive features.

If you’re on a budget but don’t want a shared bathroom, Kuala Lumpur is home to the Tune Hotels chain, founded by the AirAsia group, and now with locations around the region. I stayed in their Melbourne property and found it to be a good value, as you can add on features to your stay at an additional cost like premium television channels and WiFi. There’s the Tune Hotel Kuala Lumpur and another Tune Hotel at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Sights

kuala lumpur

The city’s most famous landmark, the Petronas Towers, is no longer free to visit, but is well worth a trip up the elevators for a sweeping view of the city. The ticket cost of 80 ringgit ($23 USD) includes access to the Skybridge and Observation Deck, but you should purchase them as far in advance as possible. For a slightly lower price tag, you can head to the top of KL Tower, which will cost you 49 ringgit ($14 USD).

For cultural experiences, visit the highly recommended Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia for galleries on Islamic architecture, the Qu’ran and art from all over the world. The National Museum of Malaysia has the low admission cost of 5 ringgit ($1.50 USD) and offers free guided tours of the facility, which features the history of the country.

For an easy way to see the city’s top sights, check out the KL Hop On Hop Off City tour, which visits the Petronas Towers, Central Market, the National Museum and many other attractions for only 45 ringgit ($13 USD), good for 24 hours. You can also check out the KL Food Experience tour, which introduces you to Malay cuisine.

Eating and Drinking

kuala lumpur

Food is as cheap in Kuala Lumpur as you’ll find in most parts of Asia, especially street food from stalls in Little India and Chinatown. We mostly ate at sit-down restaurants, including Songket Restaurant and Ginger Restaurant, pictured above, but you can experience Chinese, Thai, Indian and, of course, Malaysian cuisine in Kuala Lumpur.

I was warned in advance how expensive alcohol is in this predominantly Muslim country. And it’s not so much that it’s expensive, especially as I used to live in Australia, but it is compared to the rest of Southeast Asia where you can get a beer for 30 cents. There are plenty of swanky rooftop bars, but be prepared for dress codes or bottle service requirements. SkyBar at the Traders Hotel and Heli, a former helipad, in Kuala Lumpur both have great views of the Petronas Towers.

Public Transportation

Kuala Lumpur has a well organized transit system, with trains running from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) directly into the city’s KL Sentral station. There’s also the Go-KL bus, which runs in a loop around the central tourist district and is free to ride.

Do you have any other tips for free and cheap things to do in Kuala Lumpur?

My stay in Kuala Lumpur was hosted by Tourism Malaysia.

Mentioned in this post
  1. Lake Gardens
    Attraction in Malaysia

    Malaysia
    03-2693 4132
  2. Batu Caves
    Attraction in Batu Caves Malaysia

    Jalan Batu Caves
    Batu Caves Malaysia
    03-6185 8312
    http://www.batucaves.com
  3. Central Market (Pasar Seni)
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    10, Jalan Hang Kasturi
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
  4. Royal Selangor
    Attraction in Malaysia

    Jalan Usahawan 6
    Malaysia
    03-4145 6000
    http://www.royalselangor.com/
  5. Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
    Attraction in Dataran Merdeka Malaysia

    Dataran Merdeka Malaysia
    03-2698 3333
    http://www.klcitygallery.com/
  6. Guandi Temple
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Jalan Tun H S Lee
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
  7. Sri Mahamariamman Temple
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Jalan Tun H S Lee
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
  8. Masjid Jamek
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Jalan Tun Perak
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-9235 4848
  9. Reggae Mansion
    Hotel in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    49-59, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
  10. Back Home
    Hotel in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    30 Jalan Tun H S Lee
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-2022 0788
    http://backhome.com.my/
  11. Tune Hotel Kuala Lumpur
    Hotel in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-2692 3300
    http://www.tunehotels.com/
  12. Tune Hotel
    Hotel in Klia Malaysia
  13. Petronas Towers
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-2331 8080
  14. KL Tower
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-2020 5444
  15. Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
    Attraction in Malaysia

    Malaysia
    03-2274 2020
  16. National Museum of Malaysia
    Attraction in Malaysia

    Malaysia
    03-2282 6255
  17. Songket Restaurant
    Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    29 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    03-2161 3331
    http://www.songketrestaurant.com/
  18. Ginger Restaurant
    Restaurant in Sri Hartamas Malaysia

    60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1
    Sri Hartamas Malaysia
    03-6201 6243
  19. SkyBar
    Attraction in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

    Traders Hotel
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

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7 Responses to Best Free and Cheap Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Marcus Eriksson November 29, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    Great recommendations! I’m going to KL in January, and was thinking of visiting the SkyBar, just for the views. You mentioned dress codes and things like that. Does that apply to SkyBar as well?

    • Caroline November 29, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      @Marcus I think it’s not overly strict for women but not sure how it is for men.

      • Marcus November 30, 2014 at 5:20 am #

        Ok. We’ll see if they let me in or not in my backpacking clothes! ;)

        • Ignas November 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

          And how it was? :) Did they let you in? :)

          • Marcus Eriksson November 29, 2015 at 4:07 am #

            Didn’t visit the Skybar, unfortunately. Next time!

  2. Justine Wharton June 23, 2017 at 2:29 am #

    Hi Caroline, thanks for a great post. I love that you have included really useful info on other elements of KL which can get pricey like accommodation and how to get these on the cheap. I also found quite a few free – or nearly free – things to do in KL when I was there and have written a post about them here if your readers wanted some more ideas to complement yours when they are in KL without blowing a huge hole in their pockets. Can find my post at https://www.justinewharton.com/things-to-do-in-kuala-lumpur/

    Thanks, Justine :)

  3. Esther August 7, 2017 at 11:55 pm #

    Hi Caroline, just want to say thank you for sharing your travel and I like your post style and pictures look just amazing. I do find many useful information from your post about KL, like restaurant, hotel area, and outdoor activities:). I also want to seek an opinion from you, do you think Merdeka Square is worth visiting? I have seen many other places mentioned about it, but I don’t have much time in KL, so I want to plan the trip wisely. Please let me know what you think and also if you can, review this itinerary(https://www.43km.co/published_trips/fc53578a-eb8f-4d1b-948b-6f3eec94c85f) and let me know if it covers most of the travel spot, Thanks and hope you all well.

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