Exploring Kuala Lumpur in a day or two
from a Hop-on, hop-off bus
Most visitors to Malaysia stop off in Kuala Lumpur on their way to enjoy a seaside vacation in one of the country’s coral island resorts, or to enjoy an adventure in one of Malaysia’s popular national parks. But don’t dismiss this busy metropolis as a stop-over on your way to your holiday. There is a lot to see and do in Kuala Lumpur and you can spend a few days here on the way to or from your holiday having great fun, and enjoying some excellent shopping.
We all know about the outstanding shopping opportunities in Asia, and this lively city is no exception, with a number of fabulous shopping malls, many of them with hundreds of stores, as well as bustling markets where authentic products can be bought from street side stalls. But aside from great shopping, there are also some exciting locations for you to explore…
Vibrant Kuala Lumpur boasts a number of modern skyscrapers, but there are also quite a few lush oases, parks and forests where you can escape from the noise and the bustle. One of these is the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, right in the city centre. Then there are the magnificent Lake Gardens, home to some unique parks and gardens worth exploring for the majestic beauty. And when it comes to shopping, you will also find excellent bargains at the city’s famous Central Market, with its colourful stalls.
Kuala Lumpur also boasts a number of fascinating art galleries and museums, as well as exotic shop houses and delicious food in Chinatown. And if you travel a little further, you’ll find the Batu Caves just outside the city, where you can climb up 272 steps to visit the Temple Cave full of Hindu shrines.
As there is so much on offer here, one of the best ways to explore Kuala Lumpur is on a Hop On Hop Off bus tour, which will take you through 22 spots around the city. You can hop off the bus and explore from each of these stops, which are ideally located close to a number of attractions. Then hop on the bus again and continue on your way until you reach another sight you’d like to visit. You can also purchase a 24-hour or 48-hour bus ticket, depending on how much time you have to discover the city's delights. It’s as simple as that.
How much does it cost?
At the time of writing tickets cost RM38 for 24-hour, or RM65 for 48-hour, for an adult, or RM17 for 24-hours and RM29 for 48 hours for children 5 to 12, students and the disabled. Children under 5 can travel for free.
Tickets can be bought on the bus, at travel agents, major hotels, Jalan Bukit Bintang at stop number 6, Malaysian Tourism Centre at Jalan Ampang, or KL Sentral Arrival Hall, Central Market or directly from the website www.myhoponhopoff.com.
Daily, from 8.30am to 8.30pm, at intervals of around 20 - 30 minutes.
Places to see and things to do along the route
1. The bus tour begins at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTIC), which occupies a historic landmark built in the 1930s.
2. Next hop off point on the route is at the Kuala Lumpur Tower (abbreviated as KL Tower). Go to the top of this city landmark for a bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur. Viewing points are at the observation deck or from the revolving restaurant.
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3. At the next stop, hop off to visit the vibrant area of Jalan Ramlee. The nightlife here is legendary, especially on weekends when lively revelers move from one club to the next.
KL Citywalk, the city's newest and trendiest shopping and entertainment arena, is an alfresco strip mall that comprises historic building and boasts an impressive range of excellent shops, boutiques, restaurants and cafes
4. Located in the heart of the city, our next hop off point is Aquaria KLCC, an outstanding underwater park that houses the largest aquarium in the world, where you can marvel a wide selection of over 5,000 species of marine life, from tiger sharks and sea snakes to blue rays, coral fish, and even seahorses...
A short and nice video about the Petronas Towers
Nearby is the KL Convention Centre, where fascinating exhibitions and events are held year-round. It’s part of the KLCC or Kuala Lumpur City Centre precinct, which is almost like 'a city within a city', and is full of exciting places you can visit, including the lush oasis of KLCC Park, and the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers, which used to hold the "tallest buildings in the world" title between 1998 to 2004.
5. Hop off at the next stop to visit Karyaneka in Miramar, a cultural craft complex where you can purchase a fabulous selection of of Malaysian arts and crafts. The centre also holds a number of cultural activities, so check whether anything is on while you’re in town. Nearby is a restored wooden Malay house, the Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman, which is worth exploring.
6. Bintang Walk is the next place you can hop on or off the bus. This vibrant area is full of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Come night-time, the area is transformed with the sounds of Jazz music.
This area boasts a number of shopping malls as well, so if you’re in the mood for some shopping, head for Pavilion KL, located on the site where the city’s oldest school used to stand or Sungei Wang Plaza on trendy Bukit Bintang Street, which was one of the first malls in the city.
7. Your next stop, Tengkat Tong Shin, is just a short way from trendy Bukit Bintang Street. This is where many popular hotels, restaurants and guesthouses are located, all in pretty Colonial-era buildings. Nearby is the fun attraction, Berjaya Times Square, which is home to Asia's largest indoor theme park. Here you’re guaranteed lots of excitement with a choice of fun rides and entertainment. You can also shop till you drop in over 1,000 exciting stores. Ain Arabia (Arab Square), just a heartbeat away, is Kuala Lumpur's "Arab quarter"…
8. Don’t miss the next stop along the route, as it’s a great attraction with lots to explore. Picturesque Chinatown is a lively area offering excellent bargain shopping… Particularly in Petaling Street, which turns into a bustling night market when the sun sets.
Infamous for its pirated clothes shops and prosperous prostitution, this vivid precinct boasts more than a few authentic eateries where you can enjoy both local and Chinese delicacies at a reasonable price.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur's oldest and richest Hindu temple, was originally built in 1873 and is also located (surprisingly) in Chinatown… Decorated with ornate sculptures, this lavish temple has floors and walls that are marbled with Italian and Spanish tiles, and is well worth a short visit…
Merdeka (Independence) Stadium is also in the vicinity. This famous sports stadium opened in 1957 in time for the country’s independence celebrations and has been the venue for a number of major sporting events ever since.
A glimpse of Aquaria KLCC - Kuala Lumpur's world-class aquarium
9. Next stop, on the border of Chinatown, is the famous covered Central Market. The original Central Market building was erected in 1928 and is still in use today, always full of people who come to shop at the boutiques and stalls selling traditional handicrafts. Here you can pick up anything from beautiful Malaysian batik prints to more traditional souvenirs.
10. Hop off at the next stop to explore the beautifully restored area of Brickfields, which houses Kuala Lumpur's Little India, a treasure trove full of Indian stores and restaurants. It’s run by the country’s Indian community and offers a true taste of India - here you can pick up saris, garlands, Indian spices, Bollywood music and every type of Indian delicacy imaginable.
11. Not far away is the next stop on the route, at KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur’s bustling railway station. Opened in 2001, it’s the largest train station in Southeast Asia.
12. You must hop off the bus at the next stop, to take a look at KL’s famous National Museum (Muzium Negara), located just outside Perdana Lake Gardens. This palatial structure boasts a number of interesting displays that explain Malaysia’s culture and history in details.
13. You’re in for a treat when you hop off at the next stop, at the city’s National Palace or Istana Negara. This is where the King of Malaysia used to live before he moved to the extravagant palace near Jalan Duta in 2001. Located within an impressive plot of 13 acres, the old palace, which was built in 1928, has an idyllic settling on the slope of a hill overlooking the Klang River.
From here you can walk to the Parliament of Malaysia, home of the state's national legislature. In the complex you’ll find two important buildings - the Dewan Rakyat, or People’s Hall, better known as the House of Representatives, and the Dewan Negara, or Nation’s Hall, which is the country’s Senate. Just a short stroll from here is Malaysia's National Monument, a sculpture erected in memory of those who died during Malaysia’s struggle for independence, particularly against the Japanese invasion during World War II and the Malayan Emergency, which lasted from 1948 until 1960.
14. The next hop off point is at Lake Gardens in the heart of the city, which is made up of a number of beautiful parks and gardens that were established here in 1888, all worth exploring at leisure. The entire area is a tranquil paradise full of charming pergolas, tinkling fountains and twisting streams. Located close to the National Monument (see previous stop), Lake Garden is also close to three other parks worth exploring, namely Deer Park, Butterfly Park and Bird Park. Another magical oasis here is the unique Asian Sculpture Garden, which boasts a number of prize winning sculptures made out of marble, iron, wood and bamboo.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is the World's largest free-flight aviary
15. Hop off at Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, which is the next stop along your route. This tropical bird paradise is known as the biggest walk-in free flight aviary in the world, and it’s a great place to escape from the bustle of the city. Nearby is the Orchid Garden, which is also part of Lake Garden, with over 800 species of exotic Malaysian orchids on display. Behind it you’ll find the Hibiscus Garden, home to 500 species of Hibiscus plants. On weekends you can actually buy flowers in the Hibiscus Garden.
While you’re here, you can also visit the National Planetarium (Planetarium Negara), with its exciting astronomy displays, the famous Space Science Exhibition, and Ancient Observatory Park.
16. Next hop off point is at the National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara), which boasts a magical setting in 13 acres of gardens. Nearby you’ll find the Islamic Art Museum, with its landmark four domes. There are actually five domes in all, but the fifth dome is a unique inverted design, only visible from inside. The museum itself is worth exploring with its exciting displays including Islamic metalwork and ceramics.
17. Merdeka (Independence) Square or Dataran Merdeka is the next hop-off spot along our route. This is where Malaysia’s flag flew for the first time, when the country gained independence in 1957. The square is directly in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, with its unique Moorish design. It was built in 1897 by the British architect AC Norman.
To the north of the square is St Mary’s Cathedral, one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country. It was built in 1894 as a simple wooden structure, but it looks very different now. Today it’s a whitewashed building with a number of exquisite stained glass windows, that looks as if it stepped right out of the English countryside. Before the country gained independence, British churchgoers would attend Sunday services here, after which they’d head for the social club the Royal Selangor Club next to the square.
18. Hop off the bus when it stops outside the Medan Mara Building, in the CBD. Nearby you’ll find one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular shopping streets, namely Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, which is lined with lots of dazzling shops that occupy pre-war buildings. A popular night market is held here every Saturday from 5pm.
Also in the area is the Jamek Mosque, the oldest mosque in the city, built in 1909. It was designed to resemble the Moghul mosque in Northern India.
19. Next hop off point along your route is at Jalan Raja Laut, a busy street full of shops, businesses and hotels.
20. The bus stops next at Bulatan Pahang, where there is a station of the KL Monorail.
21. Hop off at your next stop at Titiwangsa, which is near a number of fascinating sights, including the tranquil park of Lake Titiwangsa where you can go boating on the lake or have fun at the race track playing with remote control racing cars.
Nearby is the Palace of Culture (Istana Budaya), the country’s main venue for opera, theatre and music concerts. It’s located right next to the National Art Gallery, which boasts a collection of over 2 500 art treasures. You can also visit the city’s National Library nearby.
22. The bus stops at Citibank, from where you can take a short walk to the major shopping centre of Ampang Park. Built in 1973, it was one of the country’s first shopping malls.
23. Last stop on the route is at KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, a huge shopping complex at the bottom of the Petronas Twin Towers with 6 floors full of shops, including some international stores, and a Food Court.
And here is something worth knowing about: Taking a hop on hop off bus tour is one the best ways to see any large city, as it saves you plenty of precious holiday time and takes you EXACTLY where you want to go... (Not to mention the great cityscape views you can enjoy on the way...). Our "Hop on hop off guides" cover quite a few cities across the world, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Auckland and many other destinations..... (Click on the links to go directly to the city-guide of your choice, or click here to go directly to our world hop-on, hop-off guide).
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