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Travel With Children

KL has a lot going for it as a family-holiday destination. Its textbook Southeast Asian cultural mix offers chances to watch temple ceremonies and sample an amazing range of food. Nature is also close at hand, along with clean accommodation, modern malls and fun amusement parks.

Animal & Jungle Attractions

It's not so long ago that tigers and other beasts of the jungle prowled the outskirts of KL. Abundant swaths of greenery within the city and in its surrounds mean that wildlife is still very much present.

At Batu Caves and the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), encountering wild monkeys, such as macaques and langurs, is pretty much guaranteed. Zoo Negara is one of the region's better-managed facilities and offers visitors a chance to become a volunteer for a day.

In the heart of KL there's the Aquaria KLCC with its many sea creatures and touch pools, as well as the excellent KL Bird Park, KL Butterfly Park and Deer Park, all at the Lake Gardens – Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park.

Parks & Theme Parks

For small kids, the following parks have top-grade playgrounds with slides, splash pools and the like: Perdana Botanical Garden, KLCC Park and Titiwangsa Lake Gardens.

Brave kids and teens will be thrilled by the chance to make like a monkey in the treetops by traversing the canopy walkways and trails at KL Forest Eco Park, Taman Tugu and FRIM.

When the weather turns too hot or rainy, the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park provides an indoor energy-burning and fun-injecting experience. Mid Valley Megamall has the virtual reality amusement arcade The Rift.

Scheduled to open in 2019, the theme park 20th Century Fox World at Genting Highlands is set to be a major attraction, with rides based on movies such as Ice Age, Life of Pi, Planet of the Apes and Night at the Museum.

Pack your swimsuits and sunscreen and head to Sunway Lagoon for a brilliant watery theme park, featuring water slides and a surfing beach along with other attractions including a mall and an ice rink. There's also a water park at the City of Digital Lights at i-City outside Shah Alam.

Museums, Temples & Heritage Buildings

Heading up the Petronas Towers is not just an opportunity to gawk at the city from on high but also to learn about the tower's construction and, afterwards, visit the hands-on science museum Petrosains, within the Suria KLCC mall.

Batu Caves, with its Hindu temples, colourful tableaux of Hindu tales and legends, monkeys, and natural Dark Cave, holds much to capture a child's imagination. The dazzlingly decorated Thean Hou Temple is similarly appealing, with photo ops of Chinese zodiac statues, flying dragons and a pool teeming with tortoises.

Dining Out

KL's myriad dining outlets offer meals that will appeal to the fussiest of kids. Although you may not think it, a busy food stall is usually the safest place to eat – you can see the food being prepared, the ingredients are often fresh and there’s little chance of bacteria lingering in a sizzling wok. Grown-ups can also try adventurous dishes while the kids get something more familiar.

If outdoor eating is something you're not comfortable with, then there are plenty of indoor food courts – all the major malls have them, and choice and standards are universally fantastic. Many restaurants attached to hotels and guesthouses will serve familiar Western food, while international fast food is ubiquitous. Midrange and upscale restaurants often have high chairs, but most budget places don’t.

Malaysian drinks are very sweet and even fresh juices usually have sugar added. To cut down on sugar, ask for drinks without sugar or order bottled water.

Markets & Malls

KL's crowded wet markets and street markets are no place to be pushing a pram around. The butchering stalls can also be the stuff of childhood nightmares. But if you have curious older kids then markets can be a great opportunity for learning about and tasting unfamiliar tropical fruits and veggies.

Some shopping malls go overboard to embrace the family. Publika has a particularly good selection of shops for kids and parents, including ones offering clothing, toys, crafts and books. Play spaces and crèches are available including Kizsports & Gym at Bangsar Village II.

Older kids and teens will love exploring the warren of youth-oriented outlets at Sungei Wang Plaza. The Tokyo Street section of Pavilion KL is also a dream for those into Japanese fashion and comic cultures.

Need to Know

  • What's On Time Out KL (www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur/kids) publishes a Malaysia for Kids guide and its website has up-to-date listings and features on what to do with your kids.

  • Animals Children should especially be warned not to play with animals, as rabies occurs in Malaysia.

  • Resources Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children contains useful advice on taking kids on the road.