Whether you have 2 days in Kuala Lumpur en route to another destination in Asia, or you’re here for a longer stay, you’ll find there’s loads to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids.
But, first, some answers to questions you might have if you’re considering a trip to KL:
Where is Kuala Lumpur?
Kuala Lumpur is the capital, and largest city, of Malaysia which is in South East Asia. Kuala Lumpur is around a 4 to 6 hour drive from Singapore. You’ll often hear Kuala Lumpur referred to by its abbreviated title: ‘KL’. The language spoken in Kuala Lumpur is Malay and locals tend to have varying abilities in relation to the English language.
Kuala Lumpur weather
The weather in Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid throughout the year. KL has a tropical climate and you’re likely to experience frequent showers and occasional thunder storms. January and February are the coolest months. April, May and June are the warmest months. We visited in April and it was very hot and humid!
Is Kuala Lumpur safe for families?
Kuala Lumpur is generally very safe for tourists and there’s a low risk of you being a target of crime (KL ranks 32nd in the EIU Safe Cities Index). The most common incidents here are petty crimes such as pickpocketing and theft. As a family, we felt safe in KL at all times and had no negative experiences in this regard.
Is Kuala Lumpur child friendly?
Kuala is a busy, vibrant city with lots going on. We weren’t sure how child friendly KL would be before we visited, but we were pleasantly surprised. We found there were plenty of family activities in Kuala Lumpur. As well as cultural experiences, we were keen to find some fun places in KL and we weren’t disappointed!
How to get around Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur does have a well-developed rail system. However, we found the most efficient way to reach Kuala Lumpur attractions with kids was by taxi. Malaysia has Grab, which is their version of Uber. Ordering a Grab can be tricky. To do it yourself, you’ll need to purchase a sim card as you need a Malaysian phone number to use Grab. Our hotel helped us to book Grab taxis, although this wasn’t always plain sailing.
We also walked around central KL a lot – some of the main sights and activities in KL are within walking distance from each other.
Where should we stay in Kuala Lumpur?
We stayed at Hotel Stripes in KL’s business district. It’s comfortable, modern and reasonably priced. It has a magnificent rooftop pool with a backdrop of KL’s skyscrapers, including the KL Tower. The reception staff are helpful and will order you a Grab taxi if you need one.
There are a number of good local restaurants nearby and you can even walk into the city centre from the hotel (although it is along very busy main roads).
Here are my top 12 things to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids:
Batu Caves are around 14km north of Kuala Lumpur. You can reach them via taxi or you can get there by train (travel from KL Sentral Railway Station to Batu Caves station. It’s 8 stops). If you go by taxi, you can usually ask the driver to wait for you for a couple of hours while you view the caves (you’re likely to be able to agree a fairly reasonable price for this).
The caves are popular with tourists and cited as one of the best things to do in KL for a number of reasons. The colourful steps up to the temples (all 272 of them) are a photographer’s dream, as are the very inquisitive monkeys which line them.
The site of the caves is a place of pilgrimage for Hindu Tamils. The first temple was built within the caves in 1891 by one of the Hindu Tamil leaders. A huge gold statue of the deity Murugan guards the entrance.
At the top of the steps is the main cave (‘Temple Cave’) with its impressive altar. Slightly lower down is ‘Dark Cave’ which was closed when we visited (apparently this is often the case). ‘Ramayana Cave’ is outside of the main cave complex (a short walk to the left). I’d really recommend paying the small entrace fee to visit this cave – not only is it much quieter than Temple Cave, but its statues and atmospheric lighting effects are really worth seeing.
The Petronas Towers (and fountains)
I was really excited about seeing the Petronas Towers which I felt were synonymous with Kuala Lumpur. They’re equally impressive during the day or at night. Perhaps night pips day to the post ever so slightly. That’s because there’s a light show every evening between 7 and 9pm at the fountains in front of the towers – which kids will love.
The Petronas Towers were completed in 1998 and, at that time, they were the tallest buildings in the world (standing at 1,483 feet). With cities continuing to compete to build the tallest building, the Petronas Towers are now seventh in line, with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai currently the tallest building in the world.
Malaysia, however, is keen to keep up and just recently finished building Merdeka 118. When we visited, the roof was almost finished. The completion of Merdeka 118 gives Kuala Lumpur the honour of owning the second tallest building in the world!
The Petronas Towers are designed to resemble an eight-pointed star when seen from above – an important symbol in Islamic culture representing harmony and balance.
You can book a tour of the towers (book ahead online here) which will grant you amazing views of the city. Highlights include crossing the Sky Bridge (which connects the two towers) and the observation deck on the 86th floor. Your tour guide will give you a potted history of the towers and there’s also a small museum at the top.
Below the Petronas Towers sits Suria KLCC, one of the best shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. There’s a great food court there if you want to grab lunch or dinner before or after your tour of the towers.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
We loved our visit to KL’s Bird Park (around a 10 minute drive from central KL) which features around 3000 birds from 200 different species. It’s a slice of tropical paradise and a visit here is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. KL Bird Park claims to be ‘the largest free-flight, walk-in aviary’ – it definitely is pretty vast.
The bird park is separated into different zones with different birdlife in each section. We did at times feel that we were seeing a large numer of particular species’ of bird, while others seemed much harder to spot. However, we did get to see hornbills and cassowarys and the kids loved the opportunity to feed the ostriches.
KL Bird Park offers a bird show twice a day – which may or may not float your boat (we went but came away feeling slightly uncomfortable with the performative element of it). The kids did enjoy the show, however, and it was humourous and well done. On the whole, the birds seem well cared for here.
The Hornbill Restaurant offers tasty and authentically Malaysian dishes for lunch (with western options too). It has great views overlooking the park and it a lovely spot to relax in for a while.
KL Bird Park is open every day from 9am till 6pm. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur with younger kids.
Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park
Opposite KL Bird Park, is the Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park, open every day from 9am till 4.30pm. It’s another top choice when it comes to family activities in Kuala Lumpur.
KL Butterfly Park has more than 120 different types of butterfly, fluttering amongst tropical surroundings. The butterfly park claims to be the largest in the world (at 80,000 square feet).
The park also features a koi carp pond, freshwater turtles and a museum containing butterflies and insects from around the world. It can sometimes be hard to spot the butterflies – one tip is to arrive early in the morning (you’ll have a better chance of spotting them at that time).
Personally, I’d pick either the Bird Park or the Butterfly Park to visit as they’re quite similar settings. However, if you’re a wildlife lover you might want to head to both – particularly as they are so close together.
The KL Tower (also known as Menara Kuala Lumpur) is a telecommunication tower reaching 421 metres high. It’s the world’s seventh tallest tower. The views at night are impressive, but the morning is the best time to visit for views of the city.
At the top of the KL Tower is the Sky Deck and a revolving restaurant (Atmosphere 360). The antenna adds to the tower’s height and for a few years (before the Petronas Towers were built), the KL tower was the tallest structure in Malaysia.
The KL Tower looks great at night when it’s lit up in changing neon colours. You’ll be able to see it from most parts of the city.
If you’re only in Kuala Lumpur for two or three days, it might be a good idea to pick either the KL Tower of the Petronas Towers to visit – as, although different, they offer similar views. If you do decide to visit the KL Tower, combine it will a visit to KL Forest Eco Park nearby.
Neat and green, KLCC Park is an oasis in the middle of this bustling city. It features, arguably, the best playground in KL and if you’re in Kuala Lumpur with a toddler, it’s the perfect place to spend an hour or two. I’d say a visit here is one of the best things to do in Kuala Lumpur with kids.
There’s a small water park to cool off in the humid temperatures which younger kids (or anyone wanting some respite from the heat) will love.
Built at a similar time to the Petronas Towers, KLCC Park took five years to be completed. The park has a running track (it was definitely too hot to consider this while we were there in April) and plenty of open space to sit and relax amongst the landscaped gardens.
The park is right next to the Petronas Towers and Lake Sympony, where the fountain and light show takes place in the evenings. You’ll find some great viewpoints of the Petronas Towers while strolling around KLCC Park.
Bio-diversity and conservation played a major part in the development of the park. There are almost two thousand indigenous trees and plants planted here to promote this and encourage local wildlife to feel at home here.
KL Forest Eco Park and canopy walkway
KL’s Forest Eco Park (also known as Taman Eko Rimba KL) is the last slice of rainforest in the concrete jungle that is KL. It’s often referred to as its ‘Green Lung’.
Within the park is a 200m canopy walkway which offers great views across the park and beyond. The park is small but it still preserves many species of plants and wildlife. There are several trails around the park which will hopefully allow you to spot signs of these. You might even be able to spot long tailed macaques amongst the trees.
The Forest Eco Park is 3km from the city centre and easiest to reach by taxi. There are two entrances; one at Jalan Raja Chulan and one at the KL Tower. Starting at the Jalan Raja Chulan entrance and following the trails to the KL Tower is a good way of seeing both of these sights.
KL Forest Eco Park is closed on Fridays. On every other day it’s open from 8am till 5.30pm.
KL Food courts and shopping malls
Kuala Lumpur is renowned for its shopping malls, and its food courts! The food courts are seriously impressive, with a huge selection of cuisines and reasonable prices. Why not try Malaysia’s signature dish, Nasi Goreng, here?
The food courts are a sensible option for families as you can all order your dishes from different vendors, depending on your preferences. It’s not just Malaysian food on offer, so you’ve got plenty of options.
Shopping is high-end in many of the shopping malls, particularly Suria KLCC Mall. You may find the prices for designer good slightly cheaper than elsewhere but there’s not a huge difference. There are some great supermarkets (yes, really!) in the malls which are worth looking at simply for their impressive displays.
The most popular shopping malls (and food courts) in KL are:
The River of Life (and nearby wall art)
The River of Life is Kuala Lumpur’s (highly successful) attempt to clean up their waterways. These were highly polluted until the government project began in 2012. The River of Life actually encompasses 8 rivers (a length of 110 km). In the centre of KL, you’re most likely to come across the main river, the Klang.
The best point to see the River of Life is the spot where the Gombok and Klang rivers meet – just in front of the Masjid Sultan Abdul Samad mosque (the oldest mosque in Kuala Lumpur). Prior to the River of Life Project, there was a lot of floating rubbish in the water and the water was apparently toxic to the touch. The aim was to make the water safe for recreational use. While the water still looks a muddy brown colour, this is not a reflection of how clean it is – it’s more to do with the fast flowing water and the lifting of sediment from the bottom of the river.
The River of Life regeneration project aims to transform the waterfont area in this part of KL and plans have included riverside cafes, bike paths, a night time light show and attention grabbing wall art. We went during the day but it’s worth heading back in the evening (between 9 and 11pm) for the light shows which are set to music.
The wall art next to the River of Life is impressive and it’s worth heading there for this alone. The large mural on the buildings beside the river is painted by the same artists who painted Jalan Alor, a brightly and beautfully painted street with a food market in Bukit Bintang.
Sunway Lagoon Theme Park
Sunway Lagoon is a popular family attraction and undoubtedly one of the most fun places in KL. It’s a ‘multi-park’ destination featuring rides, a wildlife park, a waterpark and more. There are over 90 attractions across six different parks. The six parks are:
- Amusement Park
- Water Park
- Wildlife Park
- ‘Extreme’ Park
- ‘Scream’ Park
- Nickelodeon Land
- Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon
Your admission ticket includes entry to all of the parks, and all attractions. There’s lots to see and do at Sunway Lagoon so if you have 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, or more, and are keen on visiting two days in a row, there’s a hotel on site: The Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa. The park is closed on Tuesdays but open every other day between 10am and 6pm. It’s around a 20 minute taxi ride from KL city centre. There’s a free shuttle bus that heads to Sunway Lagoon from a number of stops (there are details on the website about where it goes from).
Merdeka Square (‘Independence’ Square), in the heart of downtown KL, is lined with historical colonial buildings. You can do a walking tour starting at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (more details here). This is probably one of the best free things to do in KL. However, with kids in tow, we decided it might be easier to do it independently as the tour lasts two and half hours and we weren’t sure how patient our two would be.
It’s worth starting off at the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery anyway – it provides lots of information about the colonial history of Kuala Lumpur and the buildings on Merdeka Square. It also has some fun art installations and mini replicas of KL’s most iconic buildings.
Then head around the paths framing the lawn (which was used as a cricket pitch by the British). Make sure you take in these buildings and landmarks:
- Merdeka Square Flagpole
- Sultan Abdul Samad Building
- Royal Selangor Club
- St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral
- Queen Victoria fountain
A short hop and a jump from the Petronas Towers and below the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is Aquaria. This state of the art aquarium features a number of different sections, including ‘The Stream’, ‘Flooded Forest’ and ‘Shripwreck’. If you’re holidaying in Kuala Lumpur with kids and you’re looking for an indoor activity in KL, this ticks the boxes.
Kids will love seeing sharks, stringrays and electric eels. Teenagers and adults might be tempted by the more grown up activites Aquaria offers, such as shark diving and ‘cage rage’ (an opportunity to see sharks, stingrays and turtles up close).
Aquaria is open every day from 10am till 7pm and you can book your timeslot online ahead of your visit. Weekdays are less busy so if you can, visit then.
One of the best Kuala Lumpur attractions for families, especially when it’s raining!
If you’re keen to combine your trip to Kuala Lumpur with another destination nearby, take a look at my Borneo Itinerary for families.
For more ideas on the best holiday destinations for curious families, take a look at my list here.