Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide: a 4-day Itinerary for Long Weekend Travelers | Malaysia


Kuala Lumpur holds a particular place in my memory. My very first air voyage was to this city more than a decade ago, just when low-cost carriers like Cebu Pacific Air began to offer fares that regular Juans like me could afford. In retrospect, my trip to Malaysia's capital city sparked my wanderlust. Hundreds of travels later, I was delighted to return to KL to reacquaint with old haunts and explore new things about this bustling metropolis of cuisine and culture.

Kate Alvarez
The rainbow-ish steps of Batu Caves

I accompanied fellow travel and lifestyle journalists on a 4-day vacation across Kuala Lumpur as part of Cebu Pacific Air and Tourism Malaysia's media familiarization tour. The following is a list of the activities, places, and meals that we enjoyed.

But first, what are the new normal travel requirements?

Prior to the epidemic, we were used to just showing up at the airport when traveling to our Southeast Asian (and visa-free) neighbors. However, despite the relaxing of Covid-19 travel requirements, there are still certain things we need to accomplish first before leaving.

Kuala Lumpur Travel Guide
Make sure to double check all travel requirements

Remember: to check with the Departments of Tourism (DOT), Transportation (DOTr), and your airline beforehand for any changes in current travel rules.

Prior to our journey, we were instructed to provide our VaxCertPH immunization certificate, which verifies that we had had two doses and at least one booster injection of the Covid-19 vaccine.

We were also told to download and fill out the MySejahtera app with the essential information before arriving in Kuala Lumpur (downloadable on Google App and Apple Play Store).

Flying back to Manila requires you to fill out a One Health Pass to get a QR code.

Because Malaysia is visa-free for Filipino visitors, vaccinated Filipinos can stay for up to 30 days without having to undergo a swab test or be quarantined. Unvaccinated Filipinos must undergo Covid testing and provide additional documents.

Night 1: Departure from Manila and Check in at Ibis Hotel

We boarded Cebu Pacific aircraft 5J501, which leaves Manila every evening at 8:00 p.m. At exactly midnight, we landed in KL. It took us a little over an hour to go through immigration, wait for our luggage, and get to our hotel.

ibis hotel
My room at ibis Hotel KLCC

We got to Ibis Hotel at 1:15 in the morning. After a quick shower, our trip’s first night in the capital of Malaysia was filled with restful slumber.

(Writer's note: I'm fine with this flight schedule since it allows me to finish all of my work the day before, go to the airport late at night, and start my first day of exploration at my destination first thing in the morning.)

Day 1: Genting Highland (Genting Skyworld, Skytropolis, and Indoor Theme Park)

Genting Highland was one of the places I visited with my brother in 2007, so I'm looking forward to seeing what changes have transpired in this highland area since then.

After having breakfast and a quick fix, we left Ibis Hotel at approximately 8 am, and we reached Genting Highlands just after 9 am. The route going to this mountain theme park and resort offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside near Kuala Lumpur.

Highlights of this day trip include the following:

A Scenic Cable Car Ride

Kate Alvarez
The cable car ride passes through a scenic mountainside

This is where I rode a gondola lift for the first time ever back in 2007, which made this subsequent visit even more enjoyable.

Fun Rides at Genting SkyWorlds

Once known as 20th Century Fox World Malaysia, a theme park planned by 20th Century Fox inspired by movies before it canceled its license agreement. It was then renamed Genting SkyWorlds.

Aly Barzaga
The 4-D Independence Day Defiance is the only ride we tried but its all worth it

There are nine different themed worlds, including Andromeda Base, Rio, Robots Rivet Town, Central Park, Eagle Mountain, Epic, Ice Age, Liberty Lane, and Studio Plaza.

Shop and Eat at SkyAvenue

Travel Bloggers with Marky Ramone Go, Kate Alvarez
Our group of travel writers inside the SkyTropolis Indoor Theme Park

Come shop at Malaysia's highest retail mall, positioned 1,800 meters above sea level. You may discover a variety of stores and dining establishments here, including a faux Malaysian Food Street lined with hawker stalls selling local cuisines and the Skytropolis Funland's Indoor Theme Park, where kids can enjoy more than 20 exciting rides.

Chin Swee Cave Temple

Sophie Gianan and Alyanna Bromeo
There is a cable car station where you can get off to visit Chin Swee Cave Temple

You may stop by The Chin Swee Caves Temple on your way back to the main Gondola station. Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, the late founder of the Genting Group, donated a 28-acre plot of rocky forested land for the construction of this Taoist temple in Genting Highlands' most picturesque location. It was created in remembrance of Reverend Master Chin Swee, a Buddhist monk from Fujian province noted for his extraordinary abilities to ward off evil spirits and summon rain.

Food tripping experience

Genting Highlands' representation of Malaysian cuisine and worldwide fusion would satisfy any foodie's appetite.

Ara Juan
DTF? Din Tai Fung is just one of the many dining shops located at SkyAvenue

Begin your experience at Gohtong Jaya, a hilltop enclave barely 5 kilometers from the peak and well-known for its abundance of seafood restaurants. If you want to fill yourself with a lot of food but aren't sure what to eat, the Coffee Terrace is a fantastic alternative. This buffet restaurant serves a wide range of meals, including local delicacies, Chinese cuisine, as well as Western, Indian, and Japanese cuisine.

Trying diverse cuisines such as Nasi Goreng, Nasi Kandar, Roti Canai, Rojak, Sung Har Mee, and Nasi Dagang, to mention a few, may provide the ideal gastronomic experience. The tantalizing tastes of Malaysian cuisine will leave Genting tourists wanting more.

Outlet Shopping

I ended up buying a pair of Asics Tiger shoes at the Genting Highland Premium Outlets. That says a lot about the outlet shopping here since you rarely will see me shopping unless it’s really something I needed.

Our tour guide advised us that if we wanted to properly explore Genting Highland, we should stay for two or three days. There are several fantastic hotels to choose from, like the 7,351-room First World Hotel, the award-winning boutique hotel Crockfords, SkyWorlds Hotel, and others. For some nightlife, there's the Empire Club located in one of Genting's five nightlife areas.

Night 2: Saloma Link Bridge + Petronas Tower

If you’re a Kuala Lumpur returnee, you've probably already had your Petronas Tower photograph taken. This time, there's a fresh attraction to complement the twin skyscrapers in the background. The Saloma-Pintasan Link Bridge.

Moha Borakat
The lights of Pintasan Saloma Link bridge changes its colors after a few minutes. The Petronas twin towers is seen in the background

The Pintasan Saloma, named after Malaysia's famed singer-actress, is a 226-foot-long pedestrian and bicyclist bridge that connects Kampung Baru to KLCC across the Klang River. It was inspired by the Sirih Junjung, an elegant leaf usually presented as a symbol of togetherness in Malay marriages.

For lunch and dinner, check out the Food Highlights of our KL trip section below.

Day 2: Batu Cave and Central Market bargain hunting

After a leisurely breakfast that gave us time to hang out on the rooftop hotel, we checked out of our hotel (to transfer to another hotel later). The Batu Caves, a center of Hindu worship, is where we first went exploring for the day.

Astrid Alvarez
Astrid Alvarez of the Poor Traveler poses before climbing the stairs to Batu Caves

The redecorated 272 stairs leading to Batu Caves now look more stunning to the eye thanks to a variety of colors. The Batu Caves is a popular Hindu pilgrimage site and home to the world's 2nd tallest Lord Murugan statue (recently edged by the 146 feet tall Lord Murugan statue in Tamil Nadu, India)

Despite being here for the fourth time, I still relished the experience of ascending the 272 stairs to the main chamber. As expected, mischievous long-tailed macaques made the short hike entertaining.

Central Market

Following our visit to Batu Caves, we went to Central Market, an 1888 British colonial art deco building that was once utilized as a wet market for villagers and tin miners. Despite being surrounded by contemporary structures, the Malaysian Heritage Society has carefully conserved this two-story building. Central Market is an example of a single- and a two-story building that imitates kampong-style dwellings.

Jamir Fournier
All kinds of groovy stuff can be found in Central Market, making it a thrift shopper's haven

The interior of the market is evocative of traditional Malaysian marketplaces from the 1800s, with rows of shops serving as the focal point. Visitors can visit the many areas of the Central Market, including the Lorong Melayu, Straits Chinese, and Lorong India on the west wing. The second level is where a food court with delectable choice of dishes is situated.

Best thing to buy: Beryl’s chocolates. They come in different sizes and flavors. I bought these two for only 50 MYR. I wish I bought more.

Night 3: KL Tower and The Chow Kit Hotel

During my last visit to Kuala Lumpur, we went to the view deck of KL Tower. You can easily insert this activity into your itinerary since this landmark is located within the city center. Check out this Kuala Lumpur travel guide I wrote about an earlier Cebu Pacific Familiarization tour in 2018.

Muffet Sta Maria
The KL Tower at night

This time around, we caught a glimpse of the colorful interchanging lights of KL Tower from where we had dinner. It was a beautiful sight that would certainly liven up a mood to walk around the city at night.

For our next accommodation, we checked in around 9 pm at The Chow Kit Hotel. This boutique hotel is one of the best ones I’ve stayed in all my previous trips to Kuala Lumpur. Check out the Where we Stayed in Kuala Lumpur section below for details about this place.

For lunch and dinner, check out the Food Highlights of our KL trip section below.

Day 3: Art, Religion and Thrilling Fun at Sunway Lagoon

Mural Art Hunting

I had an early morning breakfast of Nasi Lemak at around 7am and afterward went on a walk around the Chow Kit neighborhood. After half a kilometer, I came upon a couple of rows of alleyways decorated with murals. 

Cheekie Albay
Discovered rows of alleys dotted with charming small cafes and beautiful mural art during my morning walk around Chow kit

The streets were dotted with little cafés and historic buildings that had been turned into shophouses. I took some photographs before returning to our hotel to prepare for our trip to Sunway Lagoon.

Thean Hou Temple

On the way to Sunway Lagoon, which is 40 minutes from the city center, we stopped by at Thean Hou Temple. Serving as a one stop wedding place where couples pray for the blessings of the goddess Kwan Yin, obtain a marriage certificate, get married, and even hold their wedding reception in the temple's banquet hall, I find the temple arresting my attention because of its architecture and my fascination of the Buddhist religion.

Geneloves Acosta
The vibrant exterior of Thean Hou Temple

The temple's interior and exterior lavish the eyes with an arresting riot of colors featuring prominent reds (to harness prosperity) various hues of greens, and gold roofs with upturned eaves topped with intricate dragon statues.

After you've finished thanking the universe for all the good karma that has come your way, you can watch beautiful couples pose for wedding photos or view the Kuala Lumpur skyline from the upper deck.

Sunway Lagoon

Sunway Lagoon is a one-stop entertainment resort that spans 88 acres and features over 90 attractions. It provides the ultimate theme park experience with six adventure zones: a water park, a wildlife area, and four additional thematic attractions such as the Amusement, Extreme, and Scream Park, as well as Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon, Asia's first Nickelodeon Themed Land.

Melo Villareal
Melo of OutofTownBlog instantly became a bird whisperer

It is an attraction in its own right, similar to Genting Highland, where tourists may spend a few days exploring all the rides and exhilarating activities. Sunway Lagoon is home to several luxury hotels and fine dining venues, including one owned by Gordon Ramsay.

Charisse Vilchez
White Lion Zola resting after having his lunch

This is my second time here and, on this trip, I was glad that we spent more time in the wildlife area where we attended a Wild Encounters excursion to witness how various animals interact in a specifically built habitat environment. Zola and Zuri, the beautiful white lions, welcomed us, as did the other residents, which included meerkats, prairie dogs, miniature horses, otters, sun bears, panthers, tigers, eagles, hornbills, peacocks, pythons, and more!

Ruth Dela Cruz
Sunway Lagoon has 25 thrilling water slides and 12 swimming pools including this wave pool and a surfer's pool

Disclaimer: Even though this writer is not a lover of zoos, we were told that the cages in which each species of animal roams and stays are 30% bigger than needed by law. Our guide also informed us that Sunway closely adheres to the 2010 Wildlife Conservation Act. "The animals we have here were bred in captivity, and they would face greater danger in the wild," our guide explained.

Isa Rodriguez and Gretchen Filart
Ruth Dela Cruz of Ruthilicious poses on one of Sunway's main attraction, the 428 meter long suspension bridge

Night 4: Experiencing Kuala Lumpur’s Nightlife, only if it didn’t rain

Our final night in Kuala Lumpur should have been spent exploring the city's best nightlife. But it poured on our way back from Sunway Lagoon, and it continued all night.

Fortunately, odds are you'll have better weather when you visit KL. When that happens, make a point of visiting the fashionable and hip clubs on Changkat Street, particularly the rocking dance floors of Havana Bar and Brill. Pisco Bar, No Black Tie, Twenty-One Kitchen, Opium Kuala Lumpur, La Boca Latin Bar, The Rabbit Hole, and others are also popular in the region. Petaling Street, Jalan Alor, Bangsar, Ampang, Jalan Bukit Bintang, and Chow Kit are some other nightlife locations.

Related Post: You can read my nightlife experience on my previous visit to KL in this other Kuala Lumpur travel guide: Cebu Pacific Air Highlights Some Must Things to Do in and Near Kuala Lumpur

Day 4: City tour and more Outlet Store shopping

City Walking Tour

As I wrote on my previous KL trip, one can easily explore Kuala Lumpur's heritage trail by foot or taking the dependable Metro train lines. You can start at Chinatown or the Central Market, and from there you can follow a path leading to several streets lined up with architecturally gifted heritage structures.

Kate Alvarez
Travel writers and friends from Stratworks and Tourism Malaysia poses in front of the I Love KL sign in KL Gallery

On this trip, we started at Kuala Lumpur Museum before making our way to Merdeka Square, the 19th-century Mughal building of Bangunan Sultan Adbul Samad, the Masjid Jame Mosque ending at the River of Life.

BookXcess RexKL

BookXcess RexKL
A mountain of books neatly shelves awaits you in this instagrammable bookstore

A labyrinth of bookshelves awaits you inside the BookXcess RexKL, a bookshop haven for book junkies like me. Located on the top floor of a historic cinema theater converted into a modern cultural hub REXKL, it sells hundreds of volumes ranging from classic to contemporary literature, non-fiction, astronomy, coffee table books, and much more.

The River of Life

Sandra Santiago
Murals and a walkable esplanade highlights the surroundings of River of Life

The River of Life is a great place to rack up steps on your daily step count. You will never tire of exploring by foot because to the picturesque environment. The river is formed by the confluence of two rivers: the Klang River and the Gombak River, and is located near Masjid Jamek, one of the city's oldest mosques.

Stripes Hotel KL

Sara Abdollahi
In a city now getting filled up by towering skyscrapers, Stripes Hotel's brick-covered facade stands out

The Stripes Hotel Kuala Lumpur features a striking red brick facade, which I later discovered was a homage to a historic neighborhood of ancient brick buildings that was entirely destroyed by fire decades ago. Hotel Stripes is one of two Autograph Collection hotels in KL, with the other one being the heritage Majestic Hotel KL.

Turu Negara (National Monument) and Istana Negara King's Palace)

Two prominent locations in Kuala Lumpur are located near each other: the Turu Negara or the National Monument and the Istana Negara, the King's Palace, also known as the National Palace.

Marky Ramone Go
The quick rain shower briefly drove away the crowd

The Istana Negara is the official home of Malaysia's King. Unbeknownst to many, Malaysia is still one of the few countries with a monarchy - a constitutional monarchy at that.

Marky Ramone Go
Flexing the Batik polo I bought in Davao

The Turu Negara honors Malaysian troops who fought in WWII. There are two monuments that honors the soldiers: the Cenotaph and the Turu Negara bronze sculpture depicting fighting troops.

Chinatown (Petaling Street)

No trip to Kuala Lumpur without dropping by Petaling Street. Petaling Street dates back to the 1870s, when Malaysia was still known as Tanah Melayu. It was also known then as Chee Cheong Kai, which in Cantonese translates exactly to Starch Factory Street.

Tourists are welcomed by an oriental archway at the entry and the brilliant red lanterns draped along the streets, plus a multitude of food stalls and stores offering a variety of things from clothing, silverware, shoes, jewelries, souvenir items, electronic gadgets and more.

Think of it as Divisoria but more orderly. Other historical spots and quaint cafes you can visit near Petaling street are the Guan Di Taoist Temple, and the Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu Temple. For rainy days (like the one we experienced when we were there), you can enjoy a cup of coffee or good food at these charming cafes and restaurants (just Google map them): Merchant's Lane, Luckin Kopi, Pandan Republic, Bunn Choon Restaurant, Beryl's Chocolate and Cafe at Lot 18, and more.

Tip: You can include the walking tour, Petaling Street and Central Market in the same day since they are in the same area.

Outlet Shopping before heading to the airport

We stopped by Mitsui Outlet Park on our way to the airport (KLIA2). It is ideal for last-minute shoppers because it is less than 10 minutes from the airport. I found a pair of Onitsuka Tiger sneakers on sale for 50% off but opted not to buy them because I no longer have baggage room.

Where we Stayed in Kuala Lumpur

Night 1-2: Ibis Hotel KLCC

Ruth Dela Cruz
The rooftop pool of ibis Hotel KLCC offers breathtaking views

Our first home in Kuala Lumpur, where we stayed for a few nights, is a model of contemporary convenience. The Ibis Hotel KLCC maintains the trendy appearance of the ibis brand popularized by its European properties. My room is well decorated and styled with a dash of fun art. The locally designed Kampung Kitchen and rooftop pool complete what I look for in a hotel: a terrific breakfast buffet and a place to relax afterward.

Night 3;4: Chow Kit Hotel by Ormond

The Chow Kit Hotel is conceptualized by Ormond Hotel to bridge the city's past into the present. Through its 113 rooms that blend tradition with modernity, drawing inspiration from its heritage-laden surroundings, guests are re-introduced to Kuala Lumpur's rich character that is experiencing a renaissance in the storied Chow Kit district where it is located.

Chow Kit Hotel
Brass and porcelain vanity sinks outside the shower room adds a unique appeal to the rooms

Fellow travel writer Ruth Dela Cruz said, “I feel like I’m in a European setting” (“of a Wes Anderson film” — I added), as she pointed out the warm lights, and retro grandeur vibe of the property. I love how my room is overlaid with vintage features, such as brass-and-porcelain vanity sinks and upholstered chairs with patterned textiles similar to those found at Chow Kit's markets of past and present.

The downstairs' double-floor restaurant presents a picture of Victorian flair with a bar riffing elements of a traditional coffee shop (kopitiam) in Malaysia and Singapore.

Food Highlights of our KL Trip

A buffet of the best Malaysian cuisine at Restoran Rebung

Alexa Pajarillo
A buffet of Malaysian cuisine at Restoran Rebung

Restoran Rebung serves dishes that are inspired by its owner, Malaysian Tourism Ambassador and Chef Ismail's Negeri Sembilan roots (located in the southwest part of Malaysia) such as his grandma’s original take on Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kelantan, Laksa, Ayam Percik, as well as several types of desserts from the East Coast like Kui Tikam, Kuih Serabai, Kuih Ubi, and many more. If you want to try as much Malaysian food in one go, then you should have it here.

The Chow Kit Kitchen and Bar

We don't have to go far to discover fantastic Malaysian food because one of CNN Travel's 20 Best New Restaurants in Asia Pacific for 2020 is right in our hotel.

Audrey Trinidad wovenPH
Among the breakfast choices at Chow Kit Hotel is this filling plate of Nasi Lemak

The Nasi Lemak I had for breakfast the first morning and the avocado toast the following morning serve as a prelude to a variety of other local delicacies we enjoyed for dinner on our fourth night: satay, bergedil sumbat, beef rendang, lamb shank kuzi, chowkit nachos, and sago gula Melaka.

Halal Chinese-Malaysian fare at Restoran Minmax

Say Tioco
 family-type lunch of the best Chinese and Malaysian fare

A group-friendly restaurant that allows you to sit 10 people around a circular table for a traditional Chinese family meal. A variety of Chinese and Malaysian dishes are presented in the center of the table, beginning with fried rice and omelet and continuing with fried fish soaked in sweet sauce, mixed vegetables, sweet and sour prawns, crispy salted egg chicken, and breaded mushrooms.

Roti treats and more at Restoran Nasi Kandar Pelita

Maggie Adan
When looking for good food, go where the locals go

24 Jam or open 24 hours, it's the place to be to jam with Malaysian, Indian and Muslim favorites such as the murtabak ayam, roti special, nasi kandar, roti tissue, dosa, chapati and teh tarik.

Savory "meat bone tea" at Restoran Sun Fong Bak Kut Teh

Kritzia Santos
Hot and savory "meat bone tea" or Bak Kut Teh

Bak kut teh is a broth-cooked pork rib dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore, where the Hoklo and Teochew communities predominate. The name literally translates from Hokkien dialect as "meat bone tea," and it comprises of pork ribs cooked in an herb and spice broth for hours. This is the restoran's specialty along with a bevy of other Chinese dishes that would make any group meal more satisfying.

Cynthia Diaz
A platter consisting of Nasi Kerabu, Gulai Ayam Pantai Timur, Kerabu Sayur, Ikan Masin, Telur Masin, Keropok Ikan

Now, customize your Kuala Lumpur itinerary based on your preferences

Since this is just a sample itinerary based on the activities we did during our trip, you can design yours based on the many travel guides we had in this website. Check out these highlight attractions in Kuala Lumpur, or this wonderful side-trip just a couple of hours from KL, the coffee town of Ipoh. For first time Malaysia visitors, you can consult this handy guide. Or better yet, check out my other Malaysia-related articles and travel guides.

How to go to Kuala Lumpur from Manila?

Many airlines are reopening routes for commercial flights as governments continue to relax COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Cebu Pacific encourages all Juans to travel again by giving affordable flights and enforcing safety measures.

Michelle Lim of Cebu Pacific
Thank you to Cebu Pacific Air, for making it possible for us ordinary Juans to visit places like Kuala Lumpur

Cebu Pacific Air flies daily at 8:00 pm from Manila to Kuala Lumpur. Offering the lowest base fares starting at 2,088 pesos — still the cheapest option to fly to Malaysia's capital city.

Flight time normally takes 4 hours and 20 minutes. Enjoy a more comfortable flight by pre-ordering your meals.

Visit Cebu Pacific Air or download their app to book your flights to Kuala Lumpur.

Check out this interactive map of Kuala Lumpur to easily plot your itinerary.

This map was created with Wanderlog, a trip planner on iOS and Android