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10 eye-opening things to do in Kuala Lumpur for the jaded local

Kuala Lumpur, an exciting city that offers an unbelievable array of activities, may never get old for fresh-eyed tourists. But for a local who has been living and growing up in the city, we won’t blame you if KL has lost a bit of its shine. So, if you’re tired of the same old and are on the lookout for something novel to do, here are some things to add to your list.

1. Go on a forest adventure

Camping at Chilling
Credit: Abd. Halim Hadi / Shutterstock

When was the last time you spent time in nature instead of a shopping mall? Many of you might not know but you don’t have to go far to experience a slice of jungle adventure. Sungai Congkak Recreational Park and Forest is a mere 45-minute drive away from city centre. Here you can camp, picnic or bathe in natural river pools amid lush tropical trees. Let the sounds of nature and fresh air rejuvenate you.

Another place worthy of checking out is Chilling Waterfalls near Kuala Kubu Bharu. Known to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Selangor, they can be reached after an adventurous trek along the river. Be sure to bring an extra change of clothes as you’ll be required to wade through the river a few times before arriving at the waterfalls.


2. Explore Taman Connaught’s night market

Taman Connaught Night Market
Credit: Alexlky / Shutterstock

Also known as Cheras Pasar Malam, the bustling 2 kilometre-long night market is a great place to stop by if you’re on a street food hunt. With more than 700 stalls selling everything, from local delights to clothes and household items, you definitely won’t go home hungry or empty handed.

Unlike regular night markets, food items here tend to get a little more interesting than usual. Try Bubble Egg Waffles or a Gold Leaf ice-cream for novelty purposes. Opening hours go from 5.30 p.m. till midnight on Wednesdays. Ride the MRT and stop at the newly opened Taman Connaught MRT station to avoid rush hour traffic jams. 


3. Go volunteer

Young Rohingya refugees at an NGO-run school. Credit: Gaie Uchel / Shutterstock

Spend your time meaningfully through volunteering. There are many NGOs and grassroot movements in Kuala Lumpur that require able bodies to help feed the needy, clothe the poor, give lessons to those who can’t attend school, bring love to abandoned animals and so on.

Need To Feed The Need (NFN) for example, is a weekly soup kitchen that distributes food and other basic necessities to the urban poor. Tutoring refugee children and the Orang Asli community on another hand, is possible through SUKA Society. By paying it forward with your time, you’ll not only be reminded how blessed you are but also develop a greater insight of your surroundings and make new friends along the way. 


4. Take a walk

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Ditch the car at home and explore KL’s sights on foot. Did you know that you can walk from Chow Kit to Pasar Seni and from Pasar Seni to Bukit Bintang? Or that you might actually learn a thing or two by walking through Brickfields? Walking is not only a great way to burn off calories but also a fabulous way to discover the little alleys and pre-war buildings that you’d have otherwise missed. Especially when you’re looking for interesting backgrounds and architecture to Instagram.

Don’t forget to mark out places to eat along the way. Take a free guided walk  offered by DBKL (KL City Hall) if you’re afraid of getting lost or if you like a detailed commentary on historical buildings and places. 


5. Host dinner parties at home

Host Dinner Party

Tired of the usual haunts and the uneasy bloating that comes after a greasy dish at a hawker centre? Whip out that dusty apron of yours and decide the fate of your stomach yourself instead. Whether you’re testing out grandma’s secret recipes or concotting something wholesome on your own, be sure to invite some friends over to share the feast. Catching up on gossip over home cooked meals and a fine bottle of wine is a sure way to seal a friendship.

6. Hike a hill of your choice and enjoy the sunrise when you summit

Hike Up a Hill

Forget sleeping in on one weekend. Take the opportunity instead to hone your hiking skills, improve your stamina and catch an amazing tropical sunrise while you’re at it. There are a few hills surrounding KL. One of the more popular hiking spots nearby would be Bukit Broga in Semenyih. It’s only 400 metres high and offers hikers three excellent viewing points. It can be easily climbed in an hour but still challenging enough to make a workout out of it.

For a more experienced climber, you might want to try Bukit Tabur in Taman Melawati. The challenge level there may be higher than Broga’s so you might want to take it slow. From the top, you’ll be able to enjoy both breathtaking views of the KL skyline and the peaceful landscape of Klang Gates reservoir. Don’t forget to get a hiking permit for Bukit Tabur.


7. Book a staycation

Book a Staycation

Longing to do something else for a change? Why not pretend you’re an out-of-towner and book yourself a staycation? Breaking up your routine can inject new ideas and perspectives.

A retreat into a calming space that you can call your own could do wonders to your well-being. Or if you’re looking for some fun to do, seek out a swanky pad in the middle of the city with some friends. Have a party and you won’t have to worry about the clean-up afterwards. 


8. Play Escape Room

Escape Room

If deciphering codes and solving riddles are up your alley, you might enjoy playing prisoner at one of the escape room games in the city. Set in different themes and imagined realities, the idea of the game is that you’ll have to find a way to escape your imprisonment with a group of friends. The games are not just fun but they’ll also test your speed of thinking, audacity and most of all, teamwork. Bring your best Prison Break attitude with you and get your brains cracking!

9. Sign up for a class

Terrarium Class

Don’t wait till you’re writing down New Year’s resolutions to learn something new. Be a student once more and pick up a new skill of your choice. You’re not limited to just learning a language, music or dance these days. Now, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Perfect your brush lettering skill with a calligraphy class. Learn how to design your own wedding cards through a watercolor class. Or decorate your living room with a mini-terrarium that you’ve learn to make. Learn something new every week and you’ll never complain about boredom again. 


10. Host a traveler

Host a Traveler
Credit: Tey Kher Ying

If you can’t travel right now, why not  bring the world to your doorsteps. Through some of the more well-known platforms, you can either invite a traveler to crash on your couch, take them out for food and drinks or just play tour guide for the day. It’s an excellent way to make friends from another side of the world and live vicariously through their stories and experiences. If the connection is right, they’ll extend you the same hospitality the next time you drop by their city.

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