I arrived to KL by bus from Malacca and thought of it as just a stepping stone towards my next destination as I’m normally looking for nature rather than to stay in big cities so I didn’t look in advance into what sort of things to do in Kuala Lumpur I could do.
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However, as it happened just a week earlier on my time Backpacking in Singapore. I decided to not judge the entire city by its skyscrapers and see what else I could do around.
After asking at the staff of my hostel and some other backpackers, these are the things I did in Kuala Lumpur in 3 days
Day 1 Walk around Kuala Lumpur
I arrived early afternoon from Malacca and stayed at Dreamville Hostel so I just went for a walk around town as the lady at reception told me to go towards Alor Street for some street food.
Still having time to go earlier around the Petronas towers, the Sultan Abdul Samad building, Central Market and the trendy Bukit Bintang area.
I walk a lot, but one thing that makes moving around KL easier is that they have a number of free (!!) buses that will let you move from place to place quicker. The Metro also works well and is pretty cheap.
Going to Alor Street can feel daunting as there’s so much in offer, also each restaurant is fighting to get customers in so their employees can be a bit annoying trying to get you to sit on their restaurant.
I walked up and down the street a couple of times to decide as I was looking for local food and most of the places where either Thai or Chinese, I ended up in one that seemed to prepare some Malay dishes.
The food was good, although I had better food, and on a more relaxed environment, on the following days around my hostel.
Day 2 Batu Caves and failed hike
As we had a bit of a late night at the hostel, we left at mid morning towards Batu Caves.
As I was staying in the Setiawangsa area, the hostel lady recommended to take the Metro towards Gombak and then a free bus to the caves.
I recommend asking around on the best ways to move as these free buses are not always well advertised.
As soon as you get there you know you did right in going. At an almost 43m height, you get welcomed by Murugan, a Hindu deity, and 272 colourful steps to the cave entrance. On your way up you will find lots of monkeys so be sure to keep your belongings close and any food out of sight.
These caves are estimated to be 400 million years old and became a religious site in the late 1800’s. When you enter the caves you will find a few shrines and plenty of spots to take more photos!
Almost at the top of the 272 steps you’ll find the Dark Cave, here you can book a tour for about US $7 and walk inside the cave looking for some of it’s wildlife.
After exploring the cave, I was looking to go straight towards the Bukit Tabur East Trail as I thought I had enough time to do both things in one day. Perhaps if I started earlier it’d have been fine, but after an hour walking towards the mountain I decided to head back home as it was going to get dark soon.
Day 3 Bukit Tabur East Trail
After the previous day failed attempt to reach the mountain, I headed early in the morning with a friend from the hostel.
We had to take first a Metro to Sri Rampai and then a bus towards Taman Melawati. This bus will leave you 5 min walk away from the trail entrance.
NOTE there’s also a Bukit Tabur WEST Trail, which I understand is more transited and less technical. I preferred to hike the “hardest” of them.
I recommend not to do this trails on flip-flops as it can be steep and slippery at times, specially if it rained.
To find the start of the trail, you need to walk towards the river and then enter a path under a couple of big water pipes, it will quickly get quite steep but fear not, it will get easier after 100m.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
I had read on a different blog that this trail was free (and the West had a Rm 5 fee) but after 200m of walk we were encountered by a local that said we had to pay Rm 5, I don’t know if we were fouled but for just over US$1 we were not going to stop our hiking plans and we paid him.
The path is easy to follow, it’s a mix in between short climbs and flat parts. After about 10min you get the first steep climb, for which you find some ropes that will make it safer to go up.
On your way up you will find plenty of view points, towards the dam area and the city. Take plenty of water with you as it can get pretty hot!
The Bukit Tabur Trail, aka DragonBack Trek, it’s considered to be the longest crystal quartz outcrop in the world, a nature wonder right out of KL!
It’s a fantastic day out from the busy city and something you don’t find in all the tourist guides. In fact, I only saw 4 people in the entire trek.
The entire walk, including plenty of stops for talking and photos, took us 3 hours. I wrote a little more in detail about Hiking the Bukit Tabur East Trail here.
Day 4 Leaving towards the rainforest!
Early on my 4th day in KL I took a bus from Pekeliling Bus station towards Taman Nagara National Park, the oldest rainforest in the world! I wrote more in detail on this post about Hiking in Taman Nagara.
I enjoyed a lot my time in KL, I was looking to do something different and got gladly surprised with the nature around this big capital.
I hope you enjoyed the read and feel free to drop your suggestions on things to do in Kuala Lumpur!
Check out the rest of my posts backpacking in Malaysia for more ideas on your next adventure!