Pandemic Travel Update: Malaysia largely is closed to foreign nationals. If you are not in Kuala Lumpur already, be sure to check current government orders regarding who is and is not allowed to visit before planning your travels. Double check to make sure that the below attractions are open for the dates of your visit, too.
Without a doubt, the most iconic structures in Kuala Lumpur are the Petronas Twin Towers (Menara Berkembar Petronas), owned by Malaysia's state oil company (Petroliam Nasional Berhad, abbreviated as Petronas). Towering over the city at 452 metres (1483 feet), the Petronas Towers were the tallest skyscrapers in the world when they were opened formally in 1999 and held the height record until 2004 when they were surpassed by the 509-metre (1671-foot) Taipei 101. Even today, though, the Petronas Towers remain the tallest twin highrises in the world.
Designed by late Argentine architect Cesar Pelli and inspired by a mixture of Islamic and traditional Malaysian architecture with the goal of creating "something extraordinary," the Petronas Towers successfully blend elements of ancient design with modern glass and steel. For example, the towers have a base plate that is a modified Rub el Hizb (۞) — two interlocking squares or an eight-pointed star common in Islamic art and culture — in addition to walls that "tip outward slightly, adding complexity reminiscent of traditional Malaysian architecture." It's a truly unique style, and the buildings are quite a marvel to behold.
Seven KLCC Attractions
Of course, the Petronas Towers are the highlight of the area, but the towers are but one part of a transit-connected, mixed-use development known as Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). This "city within a city" includes office towers, hotels, condos, shopping malls, museums, and a convention centre, all wrapped around a 50-acre public park designed for families.
Seven worthwhile attractions in the KLCC area are organized in order on the travelgasm.com map below:
- Suria KLCC Mall - The sun in Malay, Suria is an upscale mall at the base of the Petronas Towers. It has a full complement of international luxury brands, a solid selection of restaurants, an inexpensive food court, and a branch of the Australian Cold Storage; the best international supermarket in the city.
- Petronas Twin Towers Observation Deck - Closed Mondays, a ticket provides timed access to both the 41st floor Skybridge and 86th floor observation deck of the Petronas Towers. Time slots commonly do sell out, particularly in the afternoons. If you need to buy tickets in person for a same day visit, it is best to go when the ticket office opens, but it is much more convenient to book tickets in advance from the official website. It costs quite a bit more, but third-party services also sell a variety of advance tickets and may be worth considering if your preferred day or time are sold out through the official site.
- Petrosains, The Discovery Centre - Located on the fourth floor of Suria KLCC, this relatively affordable museum from Petronas is intended to encourage children to learn more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Closed Mondays.
- KLCC Park - Just outside Suria KLCC, this free, attractively manicured, 50-acre park includes jogging trails, an artificial lake — Lake Symphony — and large wading pools and playgrounds for children. If it weren't for the near constant whistle blowing from the almost entertainingly aggressive female security staff, it would be a quiet and peaceful oasis in the center of the city. The best we can tell, the trails and lake are open to everyone, but even visiting as a couple, we once received a volley of whistle blowing apparently for getting too close to the wading pool without actively lugging around a child. Other "offences" that we witnessed at one time or another included a father who must have erred by getting in the wading pool with his children and a mother who sat on a swing adjacent to the swing that her daughter was using. Other things that are forbidden (dilarang) include dogs, bikes, skates, kites, playing with a ball, reclining on a bench, sitting on the grass, and in some portions of the park, being older than 12. It's a lovely park, but don't enjoy yourself too much. The security staff speak limited English; try to be polite and not take the overbearing rules personally. At 8 PM, 9 PM, and 10 PM each evening, there also is a music and light show over the lake that provides a more harmonic backdrop than the whistle police.
- Aquaria KLCC - Underneath the KLCC Convention Centre, this "oceanarium" geared toward children has more than 5,000 land and sea animals in a "60,000-square foot" (5,600-square metre) space. It can be extremely busy on the weekends, so a weekday visit would be more pleasant. Third-party sellers often have advance tickets for less than tickets from the official site, so a third-party purchase is an easy way to save money.
- Traders SkyBar - If you're not familiar with Traders Hotels, it is a modestly discounted brand from the famous upscale Shangri-La chain. This hotel is our favourite in Kuala Lumpur for its beautiful, unobstructed views of the Petronas Towers directly across the park. Of course, you always can book a room with a view, but the SkyBar on the 33rd floor is our top choice for an "observation deck" in Kuala Lumpur. As you would expect for a hotel bar with a view, it is relatively expensive, but at happy hour prices (5 PM-9 PM) you can have a couple of draught beers, nachos, and a dozen chicken wings for about the same price as tickets for two to the Petronas Twin Towers Observation Deck. If you arrive before happy hour starts, you may be able to get a couch with a view without a reservation, but it is wise to make a reservation in advance regardless. After dark, you definitely will need a reservation. SkyBar effectively is a dance club and there is an enforced smart casual dress code. In general in Malaysia, we would suggest dressing a bit more conservatively than you might for an evening out back home, as well.
- KL Citywalk - Renovated in 2018, the KL Citywalk (KLCW) is a narrow, people-only street flanked by shops, restaurants, and bars. It is outside KLCC but near an entrance to the elevated walkway. Particularly in a city that could be much better for walking, this two-block or so respite from cars and motorbikes feels very much like discovering a hidden gem.
To eat in the area, the previously mentioned Suria Mall and KL Citywalk are convenient choices for a meal. On our visits, we enjoyed the Old Town White Coffee chain in Suria and the Mr. Char Koay Teow chain in KL Citywalk, both for Malaysian, as well as Traders SkyBar for American, but there are many local chains and international options alike.
Below, we've mapped out a logical route for the above attractions from KLCC Station as well as the elevated walkway to Bukit Bintang as an alternate arrival or departure point.
How to Get Here: Take LRT Kelana Jaya Line (Line 5, Pink) to KLCC Station (KJ10). The station is connected directly to the Avenue K Mall, that is connected via underground passage to Suria KLCC Mall at the base of the Petronas Towers (Suria KLCC Exit). If you are starting from Bukit Bintang, you alternately can walk straight to KLCC from the Pavilion Mall "Connection" Entrance to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre via the elevated Bukit Bintang - KLCC Walkway.
Like the Petronas Towers or KLCC? Tell your friends and frenemies on social media that you discovered them first:
Be sure to see our 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Kuala Lumpur, but You Should, too.
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