Kuala Lumpur's Old City Centre is the traditional heart of Malaysia's capital city in terms of administration as well as trade and commerce. The City Centre comprises the former colonial administrative district just west of the confluence of the Klang and Gombak River, where Kuala Lumpur was founded. At the heart of the colonial district is Merdeka Square, where Malaysia's independence was celebrated. Surrounding the square are many other colonial-era buildings. To the west of the square lies the pretty Lake Gardens while to the south you'll find the National Mosque, the Moorish-style Kuala Lumpur railway station, and several museums including the Islamic Arts Museum and the National Museum.
To the east of the Klang river lies the old commercial district of Kuala Lumpur. You will find the iconic Central Markets, or Pasar Seni, of Kuala Lumpur and the narrow streets of Chinatown, with traditional Chinese shops, markets, eateries and budget accommodation galore. Although the old pre-World War II shophouses are quickly disappearing and being replaced with modern buildings, the area is still fascinating enough for a wonder
The City Centre is easily accessible by rail, with two LRT lines, one MRT line and a KTM Komuter station serving the district. The LRT stations serving the City Centre include Brickfields, then take the Kelana Jaya LRT line. For easy access to Chinatown and the Central Market take the LRT or MRT to Plaza Rakyat/Merdeka and Pasar Seni stations whilst for easy access to Merdeka Square and the surrounding area use Masjid Jamek.Pasar Seni and Masjid Jamek of the Kelana Jaya LRT line or Plaza Rakyat and Masjid Jamek for the Ampang LRT line. The newest MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line serving the Merdeka (interchangeable with Plaza Rakyat) and Pasar Seni. If you're coming from KL Sentral, the main transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur in
If heading towards the City Centre from the suburbs, your best option is to catch the KTM Komuter, alighting atKuala Lumpur Station (not to be confused with KL Sentral). Kuala Lumpur Station is a bit more south of the LRT stations. Don't let this discourage you as the old colonial Kuala Lumpur Station is an attraction in itself and is a good option to access attractions like the National Mosque or Lake Gardens.
Almost all bus routes start and end in the City Centre. The ground level of the Pasar Seni metro station is a major bus hub for RapidKL, linking downtown Kuala Lumpur with major cities of Selangor namely Subang Jaya, Puchong, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam. Subsidiary bus hubs near Pasar Seni are Kotaraya (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock), Bangkok Bank (Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, behind the Central Market), Sinar Kota (Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin, formerly Jalan Silang, near the Masjid Jamek metro station) and Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya). Only a handful of bus routes stop at Pudu Sentral; express buses can be accessed at the Bandar Tasik Selatan railway station.
Some routes, especially those by RapidKL, may end at the outskirts of the City, such as at KL Sentral (Kuala Lumpur's main railway terminal) or Titiwangsa in the northern part of the city centre. You'll be able to catch connecting City Shuttles from this terminal into the City Centre. See Kuala Lumpur's Get Around section for route details.
- 1 Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque). It's at the convergence of the Klang and Gombak rivers. The stately Masjid Jamek, constructed in 1909, is one of the oldest mosques in the city. Inspired by Mogul mosques in North India, this building's notable features are three elegant domes which used to dominate the KL skyline long before skyscrapers were built there. Its location between two rivers makes it appear as an island of tranquility in the busy city. Major construction work is ongoing due to the River of Life program, which is going to turn this area including the river into a prime recreational hotspot of the city.
- 2 Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka). This square has a special place in the hearts of all Malaysians as it was here that the Union Jack was lowered for last time in 1957 and Malaysia gained her independence. The proclamation of independence was not made here, but at the Merdeka Stadium (see below). Standing tall here is also one of the tallest flag poles in the world, measuring in at 100 m. Surrounding the area are host of historical structures like Sultan Abdul Samad building (see below) and the Old City Hall. The Royal Selangor Club and St. Mary's Cathedral are two famous landmarks nearby.
- 3 Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Fronting the Merdeka Square, the Sultan Abdul Samad Buidling was built as the offices of the Colonial Secretariat, and later served as the first administrative centre of the Malayan government. Built in 1897 by British architects, A C Norman and A B Hubback, this historical landmark is famed for its Islamic-inspired architecture. Today, it houses the Courts of Law. The 40-m-high clock tower is a popular gathering-point for New Year and National Day countdown celebrations and parades. The building was in fact named after the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Abdul Samad (reigning 1857-98), who ruled over Selangor and Kuala Lumpur when the building was completed.
- 4 Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. A Moorish-style masterpiece designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, a British Architectural Assistant to the Director of Public Works. As well as suburban trains and express trains to Ipoh, it houses a mini-museum of Malaysian railway history. It is one of three grand British-built railway stations on the Malayan railway network; the other two being Ipoh and the now-disused Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in Singapore. The station can be accessed by two pedestrian bridges from Pasar Seni metro station, thus serving as an interchange between the RapidKL metro networks and the KTM national rail network. Fun fact: The construction was delayed as its rooftop design did not meet British railway specifications. It had to be able to support snow a metre deep.
- 5 Taman Budaya Kuala Lumpur (Victoria Institution first generation building, 1894-1929). It is used as a theatre and arts centre. This building is notable for being the first site of the Victoria Institution until 1929 (refer below). In 1911 it was witness to a sensational murder case - the Ethel Proudlock case. The building was once part of a larger school complex; the other buildings were torn down in the 1960s. Gutted in a fire in 1999, it was refurbished after acquisition by the government several years ago.
- 6 Medan Pasar (Market Square) Clock Tower, Medan Pasar. Art-Deco clock tower built in 1936/37 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. The commemorative plague was removed upon Malayan independence in 1957. Refurbished in 2013. The Market Square is no longer open to vehicular traffic since then. There is a fountain on the southern side of the clock tower.
- 7 Oriental Building, Jalan Melaka (Exit B of Masjid Jamek metro station, then cross Jalan Melaka). Stately Art Deco building towering above the Masjid Jamek metro station. Completed 1933, it was reportedly Kuala Lumpur's tallest structure back then. During the post-war years it was home to Radio Malaya (now Radio Television Malaysia, RTM). In the 1990s and early 2000s it housed a bank, which has since relocated. The building is vacant, though occasionally its five-foot ways are illuminated at night.
- 8 Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, Jalan Tun HS Lee. An elaborate Hindu temple known as the starting point of the yearly Thaipusam pilgrimage to the Batu Caves, where Hindu devotees haul portable altars pierced to their skin with 108 lances. Check out the elaborate gopuram above the entrance. Note: wearing shoes into the temple grounds is prohibited. Shoe racks are available for rent at the temple entrance. Free (but donations welcome).
- 9 Chan She Shu Yuen Temple, Jalan Petaling (a green-walled building near Maharajalela monorail station). Daily 9AM-5PM. The clan house (kongsi) of the Chen (陳) family, this is the largest and oldest in KL, with the present version completed in 1906. Free (but donations welcome.
- 10 Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, Lebuh Pudu (between Jalan Tun HS Lee and Jalan Hang Kasturi). The oldest Chinese temple in Kuala Lumpur built in 1882. The temple is dedicated to Shen Kong, worshipped as the guardian deity for the local Chinese miners and houses several other deities, including the deified Yap Ah Loy, third Kapitan Cina of KL. The ornate interior and elaborate roof ridges are typical of religious Chinese architecture and visitors can still see patrons conducting worship to the gods and the ancestors.
- 11 Guan Di Temple (關帝廟), Jalan Tun HS Lee, ☏ . Daily 8AM-3PM. Located across the road from the Sri Mahariamman Temple, this is one of two 19th-century Chinese temples in the district. Built in 1888, this temple is dedicated to the Han Dynasty/Three Kingdoms figure Guan Yu (aka Kwan Kung). Though not as well-known as the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, it is still very popular. This temple is also the office of the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Kwong Siew Association.
- 12 Kwai Chai Hong (鬼仔巷). Daily noon-midnight. A back alley with beautiful murals depicting historic life in Chinatown. A few food and beverage outlets are located in the alley as well. No entrance fee.
Jalan Hang Tuah/Petaling HillEdit
- 13 Stadium Merdeka ((lit. Independence Stadium)), Jalan Stadium (walking distance from Merdeka or Hang Tuah metro stations). Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed the independence of the Federation of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) from British rule here on 31 August 1957. In fact, the stadium was purpose-built for that occasion. It was a public park, known as Coronation Park during the 1930s. The stadium was Malaysia's main national stadium until 1998, when it was relocated to Bukit Jalil National Stadium, in time for that year's Commonwealth Games.
- 14 Stadium Negara ((lit. National Stadium)), Jalan Hang Jebat (Gate B of Merdeka metro station). Malaya's first sheltered stadium, it was built in the 1960s to somewhat complement the adjacent Merdeka Stadium.
- 15 Victoria Institution (SMK Victoria), Jalan Hang Tuah (close to Hang Tuah monorail/LRT station or Merdeka MRT station), ☏ . Though not exactly a tourist spot, this school, easily recognisable by its clock tower on its main block, is the oldest existing operational public school in Kuala Lumpur, having been founded in 1893 and relocated to its present site in 1929. Named after the reigning British queen during its founding, the all-boys school had produced its share of celebrities that had contributed to the country in various fields.
- 16 Al-Bukhari Foundation Mosque (Masjid Yayasan Al-Bukhari), 1, Jalan Hang Tuah (close to Hang Tuah monorail/LRT station or Merdeka MRT station), ☏ . 05:00-22:00 daily. Beautiful mosque well worth a visit. Located next to the Victoria Institution.
- 17 Merdeka 118. If you like massive skyscrapers, check out the construction site of the future second highest building in the world. The site is next to Stadium Merdeka, and caused quite a stir during its launch in 2016, due to its location deep in the city's historical quarter.
- 1 Chin Woo Stadium ((精武體育館)), Jalan Hang Jebat (walk further up Jalan Hang Jebat from the Merdeka metro station). M-F 2-8PM, Sa Su holidays 9AM-8PM. Not quite a stadium, but more of a sports hall/badminton court and community centre for the local Chinese community. Do check out its public pool. Managed by the Chin Woo Athletic Association, founded by Chinese martial arts master Huo Yuanjia (remember the 2006 Jet Li film). Adult RM 5.30.
- 1 Petaling Street (Chee Cheong Kai), Jalan Petaling (walk northeast from Pasar Seni metro station). The bustling centre of this district. Chinese-styled arches mark the entrances of this street. A relatively tame area during the day that comes alive in the evenings with stalls selling fake handbags, shoes, watches, sunglasses, DVDs and other various items. Be sure to haggle furiously as many stalls will inflate the price significantly. Along with sellers hawking their goods are restaurants and food stalls lining the street who will attempt to entice you in, sometimes a little aggressively. It can get particularly busy in the evenings so be sure to keep hold of your valuables. A green-coloured canopy was constructed over Petaling Street in the 2000s, thus providing shelter.
- 2 Central Market (Pasar Seni), Cnr Jl Hang Kasturi & Jl Tun Tan Cheng Lock (walk north from Pasar Seni metro station, along Jalan Hang Kasturi), ☏ . Market Building 10AM-10PM, Kasturi Walk 10:30AM-10:30PM. Kuala Lumpur's grand old market was opened in 1888 as a normal wet market, but the current building was actually built in 1937. Slated for demolition in the 1980s, it was luckily preserved after public outcry, and refurbished as a cultural market. Nonetheless, for some, it has arguably lost some of its old charm, complete with air-con. The market is now aimed squarely at tourists and selling crafts, fabrics, jewellery and other trinkets, both local and foreign. A market street that runs parallel to the markets, called Kasturi Walk, also operates as part of the market.
Supermarkets and convenience storesEdit
There still are plenty of modern supermarkets and retailers in the area, complementing the traditional Petaling Street market.
- 3 Mydin Wholesale Emporium, Bangunan Sinar Kota Jalan Tun Perak (walking distance from Masjid Jamek metro station), ☏ . Daily 9AM-8PM. Has a supermarket on the 3rd floor. It is also a bus hub.
- 4 99 Speed Mart no. 1292, 34 G Jalan Hang Kasturi City Center (next to Central Market), ☏ . 7am-10PM. Mini market chain. There are many 99 Speed Marts around KL.
- 5 KK Super Mart, 4, Jalan Hang Lekir. 24 hours. 24 hour convenience store. There is another store at Jalan Sultan.
- 6 Gilasco, Wisma Hangsam, No. 1, Jalan Hang Lekir. Daily 9AM-11PM. Discount store selling household items.
You will be able to find some of the most interesting places to eat at reasonable prices in this district. Chinatown is the place to head to for Chinese food while Lebuh Ampang just behind Masjid Jamek is the place for Indian food. There are also the usual fast food outlets like Texas Chicken and KFC.
- 1 Bunn Choon Restaurant (品泉茶室), No. 8, Lorong Panggung (Exit A of Pasar Seni metro station, then turn right into Lorong Panggong), fax: . Daily 7:30AM to about 4PM, depending on stocks. Old-time Chinese kopitiam, operating since the 19th century, serving noodles, dim sum, as well as pastries. Do check out the dining area on the mezzanine floor - very faithful reproduction of a colonial-era Chinese living room, complete with a woodern stair, artifacts, decor and even electrical switches from that era.
- 2 Lai Foong, 138 Jalan Tun HS Lee (corner of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Tun HS Lee), ☏ . Recognisable by the year 1953 displayed on the building's facade. A classic Chinese coffeeshop with stalls offering a range of items. The beef noodles here is renowned throughout KL. Other items available include chicken and roast pork rice, prawn noodles and wantan mee.
- 3 Kim Lian Kee (金蓮記) (Jalan Petaling). Daily 5PM-4AM. Right in the middle of Petaling Street, at the crossroads with Jalan Hang Lekir. In business since the 1920s, this stall was regarded as the inventor of KL-styled hokkien fried mee. No English sign, no menu in any language, and a kitchen you really don't want to look into - but it packs the crowds for its famous hokkien mee (fried noodles in dark sauce, RM5). Wash it down with a RM1 mug of cooling liang teh (herbal tea) and soak in the busy market ambience.
- 4 Soong Kee's Beef Ball Noodles, 86, Jalan Tun H S Lee (walk southeast from Masjid Jamek metro station, turn right at Reggae Mansion). This is a well-known KL beef noodle shop, it is said to have started operating since 1945. It serves the noodles "dry" with beef mince while the beef balls are given separately in a bowl of soup.
- 5 Lebuh Ampang banana leaf restaurants (Gate B of Masjid Jamek metro station, then walk along Jalan Tun Perak (Mountbatten Road)). Located adjacent to Masjid Jamek station, the street is lined with Indian banana leaf rice shops, just make your pick. One of them is Lakshmi Villas. For purely vegetarian food, you can try Saravanaa Bhavan or Bakti Woodlands.
- 6 Central Market Food Court. Daily 10AM-8PM. Food court on Central Market's mezzanine floor, one of the few air-conditioned eating places in the area.
- 7 Tang City Food Court (唐城美食中心), 21-27, Jalan Hang Lekir. Food court tucked away behind Petaling Street.
- 8 Kedai Makanan Daun Pisang Vinny Jeyaa, Jalan Hang Kasturi (across the road from Pasar Seni metro station). 24 hours daily. typical Indian restaurant (as for Malaysia) but with exceptionaly wide choice of Indian delicacies (both veg and non-veg). Very friendly staff and budget prices - full meal with drinks for two = around RM13.
- Indian Restaurant in the Kuala Lumpur Old Train Station next to Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin. Prices and service similar as in Restoran Vinni Jeyaa.
- 9 Zhing Kong Restaurant (星江茶餐室), 90-92, Jalan Hang Kasturi (across t). Daily 6:30AM-3:30PM (approx). Chinese kopitiam, at the ground floor of Starlight Hotel.
- 10 Ho Kow Hainam Kopitiam (何九海南茶店), Jalan Balai Polis. Daily 7:30AM-3PM, though stocks may run out early. Hainanese kopitiam in business since 1956 serving typical koptiam fare (nasi lemak, chicken hor fun, kaya toast etc). Watch out for the long queues; advisable to come early. Stocks do run out quick, usually by 2 pm.
- 11 Texas Chicken, Lot G.02, Ground Floor, Wisma Fui Chiu, No. 32, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. 24 hours daily. One of only 2 remaining Western fast-food joints in this area (and the only one to operate 24/7), after a McDonald's at the entrance of Petaling Street ceased operations a few years ago, followed by a former Subway opposite Kotaraya complex. It is on the same side of the road as the Lai Foong kopitiam.
- 12 KFC, 117, Jalan Sultan. Daily 10AM-10PM. The other Western fast-food joint in this area (coincidentally, fried chicken as well).
- 13 Wan Fo Yuan (萬佛緣齋菜館), 8, Jalan Panggong. Daily 10AM-9:30PM. Chinese Buddhist vegetarian restaurant.
There is little nightlife in this part of Kuala Lumpur, as most of the bars and clubs are in the Golden Triangle.
- 1 Purple Cane Tea House (紫籐茶坊), 3rd Floor, Wisma Persatuan Hing An, No. 6, Jalan Panggong (Exit A from Pasar Seni metro station, then turn into Jalan Panggong), ☏ . Daily 11AM-7PM. Chinese tea house complete with study areas available for rent (rates apply). Location may be a bit difficult to spot, as it has no visible signboard on the outside of the building. There is a musical instrument store on the ground floor.
- San Francisco Coffee Express, LG-022 Lower Ground Floor, City Square Mall, ☏ . M-F 8AM-11PM, Sa Su 8AM-midnight. Hot and cold coffee beverages and delicious cakes of all kinds.
- Reggae Bar, 53 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee (on the edge of the Jalan Petaling night market), ☏ . It is a hostel bar so it is popular with backpackers. They also serve Asian and Western food. Also a hostel!
Some of the cheapest accommodation within Kuala Lumpur is found in Chinatown and the surrounding area, but keep in mind that you tend to get what you pay for. The cheapest guesthouses are mostly rented by the hour and are rife with health and safety hazards, so are best avoided. For more upscale accommodation, see Golden Triangle instead; and if you're looking for hotels around the KL Sentral station, see Brickfields.
- 1 Hostel Travel Hub, 15-1 Jalan Balai Polis (behind The Traffic Police HQ), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. Run by a friendly Sri Lankan family. Full A/C and breakfast included with free Wi-Fi and no curfews. Clean, very safe and basic. RM25-90.
- 2 Hotel Petaling, 121-123 Jalan Petaling, ☏ , fax: . Clean and cheap hostel along Petaling Street run by Malaysian-Chinese owners. Good online ratings. From RM50.
- 3 The Original Backpacker's Travellers Inn, 60 B, Jalan Sultan (next to Swiss Inn Hotel), ☏ , email@example.com. No-frills, budget accommodation close to Bukit Bintang and Chinatown. 5 min walk from the Pasar Seni train station. 8 bed Dorms. A/C is on 9PM-9AM only. Private rooms are small. Rooftop restaurant/bar for breakfast. Has fast free wifi. Has cable tv in the rooftop restaurant/bar. Average online ratings. A/C dorm bed RM18 per person.
- 4 Etika Inn, 76A Jalan Sultan, ☏ . Unassuming with its small, easy-to-miss entrance. Large rooms, attached bathrooms with hot water shower, clean. Wifi is available in all the rooms. Average online ratings. Single room RM75, double RM95.
- 5 Heritage Hotel, Bangunan Stesen Keretapi, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, ☏ , fax: . This place might have shut down! Please check and update. Housed in KL's beautiful old railway station, one stop from KL Sentral. With breakfast. Varying standard of condition and cleanliness throughout, Wi-Fi in the lobby. Bad online ratings. Backpacker packages from RM18. Full hotel rooms start at RM60. Walk-in prices are around RM85.
- 6 Chinatown Boutique Hotel, 34 Jalan Hang Lekir (at the corner with Jalan Sultan), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: noon. Some rooms are smaller than others and some have bigger windows, so you may want to check first. Windows are all quite thick and sound proof so noise from Jalan Sultan is not a problem. 24-hr CCTV, and (slow) Wi-Fi in the rooms. No breakfast is included. Average to good online ratings. RM100 weekdays, RM130 holidays and weekends.
- 7 Le Village, 47, Jalan Petaling, ☏ . Hostel in the middle of Petaling Street street market. Good online ratings.
- 8 Matahari Lodge, 58-1 Jalan Hang Kasturi (opp Pasar Seni LRT), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. Clean hostel/guesthouse, with private A/C single, double rooms and mixed dormitory with shared showers. 24/7 reception with security system. Single and double rooms are windowless but quiet. Helpful staff, TV lounge, free breakfast (toast, PB&J, tea & coffee) and internet (Wi-Fi & desktops @ TV lounge). Good online ratings. RM30-76.
- Oasis Guest House, Upper Floor 125 Jl Petaling. (Across the street from the Petaling Street Market). Rooftop terrace, TV/chill area. RM15 for dorm, RM25 for single w/fan, RM50 for single with A/C.
- My City Hotel, 118-120A, Jl Petaling, ☏ . 5-min walk from the Pasar Seni train station, and a short train ride from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
- Travellers Home Moon Lodge, No. 23 & 25 Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin (formerly Jalan Silang) (near Mydin), ☏ , . Cheap, simple, central, no bed bugs, no hot water. Ideal for budget travellers. Rooms from RM30.
- 9 The 5 Elements Hotel, 243, Jl Sultan (Chinatown), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Boutique hotel inspired by traditional Wu Xing (五行) philosophy. Here, water, wood, fire, earth and metal set the theme.
- 10 Hotel Chinatown 2, 70-72 Jalan Petaling, ☏ (general), (reservation). Popular with foreigners. At night it may be noisy like all hotels on this street (centre of the Chinatown night market). Comfortable, generic rooms. Service is not friendly, but highly professional and efficient. Room with window and A/C RM100.
- 11 D’Oriental Inn Chinatown, 82-84, Jl Petaling, ☏ . Quiet and comfortable.
- 12 Travelodge City Centre (Hotel Geo), Jalan Hang Kasturi, 50050 Kuala Lumpur (next to Pasar Seni metro station), ☏ . Decent hotel adjacent to Pasar Seni metro station and near Central Market.
- 13 Lavana Hotel, Jalan Hang Kasturi (across the road from Pasar Seni metro station). Occupying the top floors of Bangunan Mariamman (next to Vinny Jeyaa restaurant).
- 14 Olympic Sports Hotel (www.hotelolympicmalaysia.com), Jalan Hang Jebat 50150 Kuala Lumpur (behind Merdeka metro station (Exit A)), ☏ . Hotel with two conference halls, attached to the offices of Malaysia's Olympic Committee.
- 15 Regal Park Hotel, 8, Jl. Kampung Attap, ☏ . 3-star hotel with average online ratings. 10-min walk to China Town.
- 16 Four Points by Sheraton, Jalan Balai Polis. The newest and largest hotel in the area, having been completed in 2019. 4-star, with outdoor pool and gym.
- 17 Pacific Express Hotel Central Market, Lebuh Pasar Besar, ☏ . Hotel with rooftop pool and gym. This building was previously a bank in the 1960s. MyNews convenience store at ground floor.
- Heritage Internet & IT, Kota Raya Complex, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (5th Floor), ☏ .
- GTN Internet Cafe, 119 Jalan Sultan.
- North: Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit and Dang Wangi
- Southwest: Brickfields, National Museum
- East: Bukit Bintang and KLCC
- Southeast: Cheras, Bandar Tasik Selatan and Bukit Jalil