Our tour zooms in on KL’s historic center, the original settlement that boomed at the confluence of the Rivers Gombak and Klang. We’ll trace the numerous layers of its past, from its Wild West beginnings as a Chinese mining town to its rise to become capital of Malaysia, stopping at its oldest markets, monuments and temples while introducing several of its most influential characters along the way.
Avoid the Crowds
Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group
Written by a travel writer with a Master of Arts in Arab & Islamic Studies
Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour
Masjid Jamek, Sin Sze Ya Temple, and Guan Di Temple
Remote Tour Included
As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home
Essential Kuala Lumpur
- Masjid Jamek - This congregational mosque is the oldest in town, built right at the junction of the Gombak and Klang – British-designed and built in a style reminiscent of India. The old settlement that stood here had far-reaching roots that spanned from Sumatra to Sulawesi. While here, we’ll also discuss the past and present role of Islam on the peninsula.
- Dataran Merdeka - KL’s administrative center under the British, this square is surrounded by stately buildings, among them the Selangor Club, the Anglican church and the postcard-worthy Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
- The Flagpole of Dataran Merdeka - A plaque at this enormous flagpole marks the spot where Malaysian Independence was declared, following years of conflict with communists and negotiations with the British.
- Klang River View While taking in the view of Masjid Jamek at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers, we’ll learn where KL got its name while also recounting Selangor’s civil war, introducing the settlement just to the east and its leader, Yap Ah Loy.
- Medan Pasar - The shops at KL’s former Market Square once hid opium dens and brothels, its appearance so displeasing to the British that they burned it down almost as soon as they arrived. Still, its remaining townhouses and Art Deco buildings make it well worth a look around.
- Kasturi Walk and Central Market - From Medan Pasar, the central market moved here and has remained in business since 1888, with a range of wares to showcase Malaysia’s uniquely diverse cultural makeup – a tender topic of which we’ll only attempt to skim the surface.
- Sin Sze Si Ya Temple - The first of our Chinese temples was erected by the Kapitan China, Yap Ah Loy, and dedicated to a pair of KL’s patron saints – one of which proved his piety only after being beheaded.
- Guan Di Temple - Another long-time gathering place for KL’s Chinese community, this temple honors an ancient general. His weapons of choice are displayed inside and are said to bring luck to visitors – thought only those who proving lucky enough to touch them.
- Sri Mariamman Temple - A slice of South India in the heart of Chinatown, this Hindu temple is well worth a look – not least for its impressively intricate tower on which over 200 deities are carved.
- Petaling Street - We end our tour along Chinatown’s pedestrian backbone, where its most famous outdoor market extends, with piles of cheap, imitation goods and a mouth-watering array of food stalls.