We arrived in Kuala Lumpur purely by accident really. We had planned to start our Southeast Asia adventure in Hanoi, Vietnam, and then work south from there. But when we started looking at flights, actually it was significantly cheaper to fly into KL and get a connection from there, than it was to go to Hanoi direct.
Discovering we get a whole three months, visa free, to spend in Malaysia, we thought we’d stay a little while and see what things there are to do with kids in Kuala Lumpur. We planned to hang around for about a week… it was a month later before we managed to drag ourselves away.
Here are some of the best things to do in KL with kids, as specified by my very own monkey and princess themselves:
Petrosains Discovery Centre
We went for an afternoon and ended up being chased out at closing time, having not left enough time to do the last few rooms. This is a science centre like no other, and from the moment you enter (via the dark ride – I will give you no spoilers!) you’re thrust into a hands on, kid friendly, incredibly interactive extravaganza. Well worth the entrance fee, but do leave a good, full day to get round it all.
Being a bit rubbish at detailed planning as we are, we kind of stumbled across this enormous play area, just over the lake from the famous Petronas Towers. It is literally the biggest park I have ever seen in my life, with never ending things to climb on, slide down, hang off and bounce on. There is something truly awe inspiring about playing and laughing under the gaze of the beautiful twin towers. When it all got a bit hot and humid, there’s a free paddling pool right next to it to cool off in too.
Berjaya Times Square Theme Park
We were trying to avoid this one, but as it turned out we had to go to Times Square to get a sim card for Malaysia, so we couldn’t really not take the kids to Malaysia’s largest indoor theme park, could we? There’s something incredibly disconcerting about seeing a rollercoaster thundering overhead when you’re walking around a perfectly normal shopping mall, but the kids adored it! They weren’t old enough to go on the big rollercoaster unfortunately, but there was still plenty to do. Pay once for all the rides, so although it was a few pennies, it was a one off fee which made it less painful.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
The bird park is definitely one of our favourite things to do in KL with kids, even though we didn’t expect much from it. It features the world’s largest walk in aviary, with free flying parrots, a massive pelican, performing peacocks and more.
If you’re there at feeding time, don’t miss it! Being chased down the path by a huge collection of long legged birds is truly something to be experienced!
Perdana Botanical Gardens (lake gardens)
If the bird park didn’t take up all your day (which it probably won’t), why not take a walk around the gorgeous Perdana Botanical Gardens to finish off the day? You’ll discover an orchid garden, hibiscus garden and yet another one of Malaysia’s incredible massive play parks for children! Catch the inexpensive shuttle bus to save little legs around the park, and check out the deer park or butterfly garden if time allows.
The actual KL tower was a bit yawnsome for the kids, but it was amazing for us to see the city laid out at our feet. I think the kids would have been more engaged if they’d been allowed on the top deck with the wind in their hair, but they have to be over the age of 11 to be allowed up there. The tower is a must do, however, and a fraction of the price of the over-hyped KLCC towers, and the reward for the kids comes after.
Pay the extra few RM’s to get into the 4D cinema experience, as well as the aquarium and zoo, and it’ll all seem worth it. The aquarium and zoo are pretty small by any standard, but turn what could be a pretty boring day out into something fun and engaging for the kids. Still got energy left? Walk back down from the tower across the jungle walkway bridges and through the bamboo forest for a wild ending to your day.
KLCC Suria light show
Well worth staying up for is the KLCC light show outside Suria KLCC mall every evening. It starts at 8pm and lasts only about 15 minutes or so, but it’s so unexpectedly awesome, you and your kids will simply love, love, love it. We do have a video on our family travel YouTube channel, but I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you by putting it here!
The craft complex itself is pretty much a collection of overpriced trinkets; we didn’t see a lot of actual handicrafts going on in the main building at all. However, if you venture downstairs and out the back, you’ll find a collection of little huts where people are actually crafting things, and where you and your kids can have a go at batik yourself. We loved this experience, and now have beautiful works of art to take home and love forever.
Batu Caves and the Dark Cave
Batu Caves are an amazing day out from KL with kids, from the fun of the train ride to the ridiculousness of the huge golden statue. Climb the stairs to see the temple within the cave, as well as all the cheeky monkeys. Stop off at the Dark Cave to learn about the cave’s unique inhabitants and ecosystem.
Pulau Ketam (Crab island)
Sometimes the adventure is all about the journey, not the destination, and Pulau Ketam is one of those places. Despite the rain, we had an awesome time getting here and enjoying the place. A train, a ferry and you’re there, on this bizarre island that’s literally crawling with crabs. See crabs, eat crabs, love crabs, and then go home.
Storytelling and craft at the Islamic Arts Museum
The museum itself is absolutely beautiful, and some of the exhibits are amazing. However, if your kids are a bit young to appreciate old things in such a way, take them on the weekend from 3pm where you’ll find free storytelling and craft activities in the children’s library. We took turns helping the kids and looking around the museum, then took the kids to see the best bits once they’d finished with crafts.
OK, stop laughing at the name please. Sheesh. Lake Titiwangsa is a fabulous place to while away a hot afternoon, with hilarious donut shaped boats that are impossible to steer, hamster balls to run in on the water and another of Malaysia’s incredible kid’s playparks. If you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, it’s also right next door to the National Art Gallery and the iconic Istana Budaya, Malaysia’s National Theatre.
KL City Gallery
It’s a bit of an oddity, with random and ever changing displays on the ground floor which you may or may not find interesting. When we went it was Malaysian clothing through the years which was actually quite fun to see. However, the big wow is upstairs, where you can see an incredible scale model of Kuala Lumpur, including an amazing light show and outlines of the buildings already planned to contribute to the KL skyline. The KL City Gallery is a fun thing to do with kids on its own, but if you’re looking for more, it’s strategically located for Merdeka Square and the tallest flagpole (and possibly the biggest flag!) in the world.
You might not think Chinatown is a great thing to do with children in KL, but we’d beg to differ. We walked Petaling Jaya so many times, mostly because for the first week we stayed in a hostel at the far end of it, but even when we moved out to a condo east of the city, we came back for this unique experience. It’s great for the kids night and day, because there’s so much food to try, things to see and a buzz of people around them. For adults, it’s even better if you have a blonde daughter with you, because all the stallholders are far too busy cooing over her to harass you about buying from them.
So that’s the end of our personal recommendations for things to do in KL with your children. If you’re going there soon on holiday or plan to move out there, we can’t recommend it highly enough. From the food to the people, it’s just a wonderful place to be, and if you’ve never been to Southeast Asia before, it makes for a nice soft introduction to this amazing region.