When we first talked about going to Kuala Lumpur with our kids, the first thing they asked was “Oh, are you visiting family?”. And when they found out we weren’t, nobody could understand why we would travel just an hour by flight to visit a city “so much like Singapore”.
The answer is this. Because every country, every city is different. In the way it looks, in the food that it has, in its people’s behaviours. But in particular, why KL? Well, because, Kidzania.
Curve NX, Mutiara Damansara (just opposite IKEA Damansara, and The Curve Shopping Mall)
If you’ve never been to Kidzania, it’s a lovely little city where kids can experience different occupations within 20 minute sessions. There are over 90 jobs they can do in more than 60 establishments so they are abound to find something that they will enjoy.
This was our kids’ first time at a Kidzania and they loved every minute of it. Buy your tickets online for a discount, and so you won’t have to waste any time waiting in line for tickets. Then on the day itself, arrive 15 minutes before. Because there’s a queue to enter, even if you have tickets.
Many diehard Kidzania fans will tell you that the 3 most popular (i.e. be prepared for long queues) jobs are the pilot, air stewardess, and firefighter. We told this to our kids beforehand as well as the fact that they would NOT be able to do all the jobs – we found this method of managing expectations to be very effective! So they decided prior to our visit, that they would head straight for the fire station. And after that, it was pretty much free and easy for us.
We were there from opening to closing time, and they each probably managed about 10 jobs each at a reasonably leisurely pace. I can’t speak for all adults but I certainly was not bored. There’s a parent lounge on the second floor but I simply hung around and peeped at the kids while they were enjoying their activities. It was nice and quiet in the morning but after lunch is when most people arrive and you can see the queues getting longer.
Our strategy was simply to skip anything with a big queue, and never waited more than one turn for a job. Each job takes 4-8 kids per session (clearly stated at the start of the queue) so if you see more than the designated number of kids waiting in line, that gives you an indication of how long the queue will be. Adults are NOT allowed to queue for their children and Kidzania staff members enforce that rule. Hooray!!!
Our kids’ favourite jobs? Being firefighters, beauticians, nurses, manning the toll booth and delivering newspapers.
Cost: RM80 for kids, RM39 for adults
Opening time: 10am to 5pm on weekdays, 10am to 7pm on weekends (look out for earlier closing times on their website – it closed at 4pm when we were there due to Ramadhan)
2. Batu Caves
To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about Batu Caves. Simply because everyone talks about how many monkeys there are and how the monkeys, the monkeys, the monkeys are vicious and try to snatch everything. We took our chances nevertheless.
The limestone caves were astonishing and we were there on a Saturday which coincided with a prayer session which was fascinating to watch. We also got a blessing from a Hindu priest (donations welcome) which was nice.
It’s 272 steps (we counted) to get up to the top, with rest points along the way. Watch out for your bags because really, the monkeys are fierce and will grab stuff from you. Apparently they associate plastic bags with food so keep everything in your backpack, including your water bottles.
If you think you can manage holding your kids’ hands, keeping your belongings close while trying not to fall down the steep steps, then Batu Caves is a really interesting place for a visit. The steps within the cave are very slippery so please be careful.
Getting there: Take the KTM rail to Batu Caves Station and from there, it’s a walkable distance. Toilets are available on ground level of the Caves, or at the train station (I strongly suggest skipping the train station’s toilets).
Fun fact: Batu Caves is over 400 million years old!
3. Petrosains Discovery Centre
PETRONAS Twin Towers, Level 4, Suria KLCC
Petrosains Discovery Centre was not on our list initially. We’d already done Kidzania the day before and one indoor not-particularly-local activity was enough for me. But it rained and our plans to play at the massive outdoor play area outside KLCC were dashed.
But I’m so glad we visited because we had so much fun there, adults included. Make sure you set aside at least 3 hours for this because it is huge. Having a discovery centre with large “please do not touch” signs all around would be a bummer, and thankfully, this was not one of those places. Kids (and adults) are invited to touch and experience everything; it was really really interactive, as how a discovery centre should be.
There’s lots for little kids to do, but the only way in was via “the dark ride”, a ride where you sit and go through a tunnel which brings you through different environments. Just because it’s really dark, it can be quite scary for little ones. It barely lasts 5 minutes though, and then it’s fun all the way. Our 4-year old loved the Space exhibit – older kids will really enjoy moving the Mars Rover, and finding out about the International Space Station and how astronauts live in space. Really cool.
Be warned though that entry to the next section is guarded by a dinosaur and we entered just as it roared and moved, freaking our 4-year old out. But this is where we met the kindest service staff ever. Two ladies working there witnessed our situation and spent so much time talking very patiently with our little one, trying to persuade and convince her that there was nothing to be afraid of. One of them went as far as to accompany us down to the next exhibit (which was a good distance away).
Sparkz was the most enjoyable for the kids. Working mini excavators and digging in grain pits, controlling robots in a soccer game, working cooperatively with others to transport grain… they would have stayed all day here if we’d let them. Adults would be awed by the oil platform (it is Petrosains after all) – if you’re above 140cm tall, you can even try out the escape chute, which looks to be a lot of fun.
Cost: RM20 for adults, RM8 for kids (3-12)
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm (last admission 4pm), weekends and public holidays 9.30am-6.30pm (last admission 5pm)
4. Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC
The tallest twin towers in the world beckoned so we answered. The fountains are on at night, making it a really pretty sight. Apparently there is a huge playground around the area but funnily, we asked and no one could give us clear directions. Plus it rained, so we missed this altogether. Shame. I heard it’s awesome.
You could pay to go up the bridge too but we were happy to just be on ground level. There are plenty of food options within KLCC and if you’re up for some shopping, you’ll be spoilt for choice within the mall.
Tip: You’ll have to lie down on the ground if you want to take a photo of the entire height of the twin towers!
5. Take the train
There is no better way to get to know a country than to do what the locals do. We loved taking the train (and getting lost on it). The new monorails are beautiful and we met the most helpful people on board, and very friendly too – there was always someone standing up right away so that our kids could sit.
It can get slightly confusing because not all the lines are connected (as in you might have to physically get out of a station and walk some distance to get to your connecting train, and buying separate tickets) but get a map (available at most stations) and ask around. You’ll get a hang of it quickly.
It’s really cheap to take the train (our tickets were RM2 for adults and RM1.20 for children, I think, from KL Sentral to Batu Caves!), plus they’re clean too. Oh and when you take the KTM, there are coaches and seating areas specifically for women. I imagine those must come in really handy, particularly during rush hour!
If you’re planning a trip to Kuala Lumpur, I hope you’ve found this post useful!
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