There’s no shortage of ground to cover when looking for the best Instagram-worthy spots in Kuala Lumpur. Whether it’s the iconic snapshot of the Petronas Towers or the Hindu temple of the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur teems with visitors eager to find the right photograph to represent the city.
There’s the art scene at the open-air carpark of Jalan Raja Chulan, where hand-painted murals offer unconventional stories about the city’s heritage and future. There’s durian, the spiny tropical fruit with a creamy pulp. And there’s an entire procession of peacocks and milky storks in Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. Here’s the rundown of where you and your iPhone can travel for the best Instagram vacation in Kuala Lumpur:
The best time to glimpse this Hindu shrine is during Thaipusam, the yearly festival celebrating the full moon in January or February. Devotees surround the limestone rock formation named after sungai batu (the stone river) in worship. The pious can ascend the 200-odd steps to catch breathtaking vistas of the city center’s skyline. Just watch out for the mischievous monkeys that romp around the prominent Hindu temple when scanning Ramyana Cave’s paintings.
Before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa came on to the scene, the Petronas Towers were declared the world’s tallest buildings. In the early 2000s, when Taiwan’s Taipei 101 whisked away the crown, it made no difference for ordinary residents of Kuala Lumpur—the city’s skyline had been forever changed. It’s nothing short of romantic to stroll through the double-decker skybridge between the two towers.
Previously known as Weld Road, Jalan Raja Chulan was rechristened in 1982 in honor of Malaysia’s first unofficial federal councilman, Raja Sir Chulan. Malaysia’s best street artists have brought socially conscious murals to the open-air carpark next to this road, from a polychromatic mural of a pink-haired boy clutching a digital device, created by Malaysian artists Anokayer and Yumz, to a mural of a youth playing with a wau (traditional Malaysian kite) in front of traditional Malaysian village, known as a kampung. For the best of urban graffiti, take a stroll down streets like Jalan Raja Chulan.
Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
The white-plastered façade is one of the most distinctive buildings in all of Kuala Lumpur, so it’s no surprise why folks still return here for photos to mark a special occasion. Designed by the British architect Arthur Benison Hubback and completed in the early 1900s, Kuala Lumpur’s historic railway station is redolent of Mughal architecture in South Asia. The railway station remains functional as a transport terminal, offering you buses to Thailand or Singapore, in addition to other cities across peninsular Malaysia, but it’s also a beautiful spot to capture the old, colonial architecture of British-ruled Malaysia. Be sure to take in the dome-capped pavilions known as chhatris and the Islamic minaret-style features.
ASEAN Sculpture Garden
Located next to Malaysia’s National Monument, the ASEAN Sculpture Garden abounds with bamboo, wood and iron sculpture in an assortment of geometric shapes that set themselves up for an easy Instagram photo. As an impressive homage to sculpture artists around the region, the garden is both an oasis of serenity and picturesque backdrop for your next Instagram selfie. Get creative!
KL Bird Park
The 20-acre bird park, known as the “world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary,” sits next to Lake Gardens and hosts a number of indigenous birds, highlighting Malaysia’s unique biodiversity (read: Malaysia ranks 12th globally on the National Biodiversity Index). It’s open every day, including holidays, and there’s even a designated venue for “photography with the birds.” Peacocks, milky storks, ostriches, and hornbills appear as if on command.
One of the city’s few surviving traditional Malay villages, Kampong Bharu is charming and pedestrian-friendly, a great ode to the preservation of heritage properties in Kuala Lumpur’s concrete jungle. Despite rapid gentrification, timeless kampung homes harken back to another century, and most of the villages are helmed by a penghulu, or local chieftain. Nowadays, most Malaysians are lured by the much-hyped food stalls (especially plates of nasi lemak, the national dish) and its proximity to desirable real estate, but do try to talk to long-time residents about how the area has clung to the past while driving forward.
Chow Kit Market
Wet markets are an ideal venue to get familiar with local produce and unusual proteins (read: goat’s head). For anyone interested in feasting on Malaysia’s favorite tropical fruit (durian), rows of brightly-hued durian and spiky jackfruit line stalls at the Chow Kit market, one of the largest, most vibrant wet markets in all of southeast Asia. More than 130 types of durian—a creamy fruit with a distinctive taste that is both savory and sweet, and often carrying a pungent smell—exist in Malaysia, from the cherry-like red prawn to the sticky-textured Musang king. The market is open in the early morning and late into the night, and although durian is a seasonal fruit, Chow Kit’s durian is available year-round. Given the popularity of both the fruit and the market, vendors don’t mind droves of shutterbug travelers, either.