From a hidden alleyway in Chinatown to a lush orchid garden in the heart of the city, spend a day losing yourself in KL’s secret hidden gems
KL brims with incredible places to see, eat and explore. But it’s worth mentioning that some of its best spots are also its least known. If you thought you’ve already discovered all there is to see in the city, think again. From quaint alleyways in Chinatown to a striking Moroccan-inspired pavilion, here are our top picks of hidden gems in KL that you won’t find in traditional guidebooks. The best part? Most of them are free to visit.
1. Kwai Chai Hong
Stepping into the restored laneways of Kwai Chai Hong feels like you’re entering a time capsule into KL’s past. Located in Lorong Panggung, you’ll find pre-war shophouses lined with cafes and plenty of eye-catching murals. It’s still one of KL’s best-kept secrets, but perhaps not for long, so be sure to pay a visit.
2. Zhongshan Building
It might look unassuming from a distance, but Zhongshan Building on Jalan Rotan in KL’s Kampung Attap is one of KL’s most exciting artsy hubs. This four-storey building boasts a trove of cafes like Tommy Le Baker, artisanal and lifestyle stores as well as indie bookstores like Tintabudi.
Named one of Airbnb’s top trending destinations in 2016, this vibrant neighbourhood is worlds apart from nearby Bangsar. More commonly referred to as “Little India” by locals, you’ll find rows of shops here blasting infectious Bollywood beats and selling traditional goods like saris, spices and scrumptious bites like vadai and dosa pancakes. It’s also home to historically rich religious sites like the century-old Sri Kandaswamy Kovil temple. It’s quite literally a different taste of KL and a must-visit for anyone looking for alternative things to do in the city.
4. Rumah Penghulu
Once the family home of a village head from Kedah, this impressive wooden stilt house is a surprising find in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Originally built and located in a small village in a northern part of Peninsula Malaysia in 1910, the kampung was eventually relocated to KL, where it was restored. Today, it’s one of the oldest surviving traditional kampung and remains one of the finest examples of Malay vernacular architecture.
5. KL Eco Forest Park
KL’s gleaming skyline makes it hard to believe that the concrete jungle was once in fact a thriving rainforest. The KL Eco Forest Park is the only area of protected forest you can find in the city. There are hiking trails, canopy walks and more which you can check out.
6. Orchid & Hibiscus Garden
Just a short drive from the heart of the city lies the Orchid Garden. It’s located within the grounds of Perdana Botanical Garden. This lush, beautifully-landscaped garden is home to different species of orchid plants in a riot of colours. If you fancy bringing these blooms into your home, you can purchase some potted orchids at the shops.
7. Astaka Morocco
A Moroccan pavillion might not be what you’d expect in Putrajaya, but that is exactly what Astaka Morocco is. Tucked in a corner of the Putrajaya Botanical Garden, surrounded by manicured gardens and a lake, the building is made with materials imported from Morocco itself. It’s truly quite astounding in person. Featuring rich mosaic tiling and intricate geometric carving, it feels like you’re stepping back in time into one of Morocco’s oldest imperial cities.