In Kuala Lumpur, they say the best things in life are free so if you’re looking for a fun way to spend your day but have no cash to splash, we suggest you take advantage of our fun and free guide to happenings around the city. When deciding which places should make the list, we thought of those of you who want to explore the city on a very strict budget and decided to compile a list of free things to do in Kuala Lumpur. Determined to keep your calendar booked solid, we have got you covered and the only thing you will be short of is free time to hit all these spots, so be sure to arrange your schedule well when you are in the Malaysian capital.
1. Walk in the park
You’ve probably heard of the PETRONAS Twin Towers, but what about this beautifully cultivated garden right below? Enjoy 50-acres of land designed by the late Roberto Burle Marx (a Brazilian master of gardens). There’s plenty of places to sit and rest, a 1.3km jogging track, as well as a swimming pool and playground for children. During the evening, the fountains at Symphony Lake put on a musical water performance.
To get here, you can always take a taxi or utilise the Kelana Jaya LRT line that stops right below the Twin Towers (KLCC). If you’re coming from inside the mall, take an escalator up to Ground (G) Floor and make your way to the bubble lifts in the centre. The entrance to the park is just opposite the lifts. If you prefer to walk, you can also use the elevated, air-conditioned KLCC to Bukit Bintang Pedestrian Walkway if you’re near to the Bukit Bintang area or Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
2. Go green, and get free plants while you’re at it
If you want to instill a love for gardening in your children, or even just do your part for a cause that promotes preserving greenery in the city, why not volunteer at the Free Tree Society in Bangsar? They have a simple policy; namely, they collect seeds, sprout them, and then give those seedlings away in an effort to encourage more locals to take up urban gardening and rekindle a feel-good relationship with Mother Nature.
The best part is that they give away free plants in conjunction with environmental holidays to raise awareness! So if you have always wanted to learn more about gardening, or just need that extra push to start developing a green thumb, go ahead and give the Free Tree Society a visit.
3. Cycle in the heart of the city without worrying about traffic
What’s better than finding a fun way of keeping healthy? One that is free of course! If you’re a health nut, this may be just the activity for you. Every first and third Sunday of every month, a stretch of road in KL’s Golden Triangle is closed off to motor vehicles from 7am to 9am in the morning. Instead, what greets you is the sight of masses on their bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, and more! Pedestrians are also welcome.
4. Enjoy the art gallery
Petronas Art Gallery is home to over 1,000 works of art that range from contemporary paintings and photographs to traditional costumes and crafts. Established in 1993, to support the development of arts in the country, the free gallery features an elegant and brightly-lit space as well as a regular program of changing art, craft and design exhibitions. Locally called the Galeri PETRONAS, we love the fact that the place hosts themed exhibitions. Even though it’s free to enter, the attention to detail is evident.
5. Pay a visit to Kuala Lumpur Cultural Craft Complex
Malaysia houses a diverse selection of cultural crafts and many of it can be viewed in the open-concept building of the Cultural Craft Complex situated at Jalan Conlay. The building is divided into several sections; mainly the museum, artists’ colony and craft village, the batik gallery and the souvenir shop. Here, you’ll get a first-hand opportunity to view the handiwork and process of master craftsmen and craftswomen for traditional basket weaving, batik making, pottery and so much more. For a token fee, you’ll also get to try your hand at various crafts. You can get there by hailing a taxi but you can also choose to go on foot as it is a few minutes walk from KLCC and Aquaria.
6. Go to a free market
A what, I hear you say? KL’s very own free market is an event organized by Pasar Percuma, where members of the public can browse through a wide selection of pre-loved items (think clothes, books, toys) and take them home for free, no strings attached.
You are encouraged to bring along your own collection of stuff to give away to the community; just remember to bring a mat to display your wares, and you’re good to go! The Pasar Percuma events actually take place at various locations, so make sure you refer to their Facebook page to find out when and where the next one will be.
7. Explore Batu Caves
Drive a little more than 10km from Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, and you’ll end up at this famous limestone hill made up of several caves and indoor temples. Devotees of the Hindu God, Lord Murugan, regularly visit the temples to pray and give offerings. If you’re not particularly fond of crowds, you’ll want to avoid coming during Thaipusam as it packed full of devotees and visitors. During this festival, the Silver Chariot procession will make its way from Kuala Lumpur the night before to Batu Caves the following day.
Visitors to this popular destination will have the chance to climb 272 steep rock stairs before reaching the first cave. If you’ve just started rock climbing, this is a good spot to practise and test out your climbing skills. It’s better to arrive earlier to pick out a good climbing spot, but there are also plenty of routes available. Just remember to bring your own climbing gear.
8. Free rooftop movie screenings
While cineplexes such as Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) and Tanjung Golden Village (TGV) are great for catching up on the latest blockbusters, you’ll need to spend at least RM10 for a ticket. Thankfully, KL is also home to some pretty unique free film experiences. Set along Lorong Yap Kwan Seng, Frisky Rooftop Bar’s ‘Movies under the Stars’ is held every Saturday at 19:00 onwards, where you can enjoy popular Hollywood films of different genres.
9. Bargain baked goods
If you’re not willing to settle for plain white toast, here are the best places to score on the buns. After 5pm, Yeast Bistronomy in Bangsar and in Mid Valley offer 30 percent off on their breads and pastries, takeaway only. Swiss Bakery Heistand in Bangsar Village makes the most delicious sundried tomato loaves, made all the sweeter with its 30 percent off deal after 8pm. If you’re at Suria KLCC, head to the Marks and Spencer Food Hall for some sweet tea time deals. Between 3pm and 6pm, you can usually buy one and get a second at 50 percent off. After 9pm, Tedboy Bakery in Telawi offers 30 percent off on all their preservative-free loaves.
Still hungry? Here’s another option: Lemon Garden 2 Go in Shangri-La Hotel KL offer 30 percent off cakes and 50 percent off breads and pastries from 6pm to 6.30pm.
10. Get a haircut on the cheap
If you’re in desperate need of a trim and have an hour or two to spare, here are a few top-notch hair academies offering student haircuts below RM10. What you need: plenty of patience (these are students, after all). If you’re worried about the outcome, rest assured as hair instructors will be on hand to monitor their handiwork.
Toni&Guy Academy Bangsar charges RM8 for all cuts (reservations required) and RM50 onwards for colouring. Kimarie Hairdressing Academy in SS2 charges a RM9 flat rate for haircuts (wash and style included) by advanced students, and colouring for short hair starts from RM38 (which is a steal if we ever saw one). Also, Miko Hair Academy in Sungei Wang charges RM10 for ladies and RM8 for the men.