Culture & Religion

13 walking tours and heritage trails around Malaysia for active explorers

The best way to get to know a city is to step out into the streets and start walking. Take your time; check out every small stall and store, follow the trail of old buildings, visit the museums, and simply soak in the local vibe as you weave your way through the crowds.

Here are some walking tours, both guided and self-guided, in some Malaysian states that you should check out to immerse yourself in the history and culture.

Perak

ubudiah-mosque-perak
Aerial view of Ubudiah Mosque, the Royal Mosque, in Kuala Kangsar Perak

1. Kuala Kangsar Royal Town Heritage Trail

Sometimes overshadowed by Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar is a district in Perak that is steeped in history; it’s known as  the Royal Town of Perak because it’s the seat of the state palace. The heritage trail, which is a collaboration between the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and the Perak State Government, covers 23 points of interest around the district including places of worship, palaces, schools, the oldest rubber tree in Malaysia and more.

Type of tour: Self-guided
View map: db.ipohworld.org

2. Ipoh Heritage Trails

There are two Ipoh Heritage Trails covering all of Ipoh’s historic sites including The Straits Trading Company Warehouse, Little India District, Pakistani Mosque, Railway Station, War Memorial, and more. You can join a guided tour for Trail 1 or check out both trails in your own time by grabbing the brochures from the Tourist Information Centre.

Trail 1
Type of tour: Guided (Free) – register in front of the Ipoh Railway Station
When: Saturday, 8am
Get Trail 1 map here: www.ipohworld.org

Trail 2
Type of tour: Self-guided
Get Trail 2 map here: www.ipohworld.org

Penang

francis-light-cemetery-penang
Francis Light Cemetery, Penang | Credit: KeongDaGreat / Shutterstock.com

3. LACALA Discovery Walk

Focusing on the multicultural heart of George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the LACALA Discovery Walk will take you through Lebuh Acheh, Lebuh Armenian, and Lebuh Cannon, discovering the extraordinary historical fabric of a richly unique social heritage. The walk is run by George Town World Heritage Inc. (GTWHI).

Type of tour: Guided (free)
When: Every last Saturday of the month, 9.30am – 11am
Meeting point: GTWHI, Lebuh Acheh
Contact: +604-261 6606 / info@gtwhi.com.my

4. George Town Night Trail

For a different side to the city sights, take a tour of Penang after dark. Be it flora and fauna or George Town’s heritage, a night tour promises to be an eye-opener to many. Registration required.

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Type of tour: Guided
When: Last Friday of the month, 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Meeting point: Main entrance of The Whiteaways Arcade
Contact: +6017-4207942 / lfsspenang@gmail.com

5. Francis Light Cemetery Tour

Of great significance within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town, the Protestant Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Penang’s European pioneers, as well as the founder of Penang, Captain Francis Light. The Francis Light Cemetery Tour is held by the Penang Heritage Trust. Registration is required.

Type of tour: Guided (free)
When: Every last Sunday of the month, 1.50pm
Meeting point: Entrance of Protestant Cemetery
Contact: +604-264 2631 / info@pht.org.my

Kuala Lumpur

Kampung Baru in KL to be Developed
Kampong Bharu next to KL City Centre

There are four free guided walking tours in KL organised by DBKL (KL City Hall): KL Heritage Trail, Old KL & Nature Walk, Jalan-jalan at Kampong Bharu, and KL Night Walk. All these tours run for about two to three hours and cover the best that KL has to offer.

6. KL Heritage Trail

This trail covers the historic buildings around Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). It is considered the birthplace of KL and is located just beside the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers, which give Kuala Lumpur (meaning ‘muddy confluence’) its name.

Type of tour: Guided (Free)
When: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 9am
Meeting point: Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, Dataran Merdeka
View map: www.visitkl.gov.my

7. Old KL & Nature Walk

Before KL became the bustling metropolis it is today, the old city was dotted with settlements linked by small tracks through the rainforest. This tour reveals how these areas have evolved over time and the economic, cultural, and historical roles they played in the formation of KL.

Type of tour: Guided (Free)
When: Tuesday and Thursday, 9am
Meeting point: Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau, Jalan Tangsi
View map: www.visitkl.gov.my

8. Jalan-jalan Kampung Baru

Kampung Baru, which means ‘new village’, was first settled in 1890 by Malay farmers. There are seven traditional villages located here between the Klang and Gombak Rivers. The close-knit community has been here for generations and its residents have retained their heritage and traditions.

Type of tour: Guided (Free)
When: Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, 4.15pm registration
Meeting point: Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru
View map: www.visitkl.gov.my

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9. Kuala Lumpur Night Walk

Get a feel of the Saturday nightlife of KL, starting at the historic Medan Pasar area and finishing with a focus on the vibrant street markets from Jalan Melaju to Jalan Masjid India and along the weekly pasar malam (night market) parallel to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. You will also get to see historic and cultural points of interest and hear stories and facts about the diverse cultural heritage of Kuala Lumpur.

Type of tour: Guided (Free)
When: Saturday, 6.30pm
Meeting point: Arch Café at The Old Market Square
View map: www.visitkl.gov.my

Melaka

st-pauls-church-melaka
St. Paul’s Church, Melaka | Credit: Jiw Ingka / Shutterstock.com

10. Old Melaka Heritage Tour

Covering all the key sites of the UNESCO Heritage, this tour takes you through Melaka’s history starting at the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisations. You’ll get to see 12 historic sites around the city including Bukti St. Paul, Dutch Square, Porta De Santiago, the Melaka river, and Kampung Kling Mosque.

Type of tour: Guided (free)
When: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 9am
Meeting point: Tourism Malaysia Tourist Information Centre, Jalan Kota
Contact: +606- 2836220
View map: www.perzim.gov.my

Johor

Sultan Ibrahim Buidling, former state secretariat building
Sultan Ibrahim Buidling, former state secretariat building in Johor

11. Johor Heritage Trail

A tour around the city centre takes you through places like Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Ancient Temple, Sultan Ibrahim Building, and Old Johor Baru Railway Station. JB’s history is often overlooked, but the southern city has some interesting spots that you won’t want to miss. Reservation required.

Type of tour: Guided
Contact: Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) at +607-216-0042 or +607-219-8244

Sabah

atkinson-clock-sabah-kota-kinabalu
Atkinson Clock in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

12. Kota Kinabalu Heritage Walk

The KK Heritage Walk unravels Kota Kinabalu’s rich history in a two-hour walk through the city’s streets and landmarks, each with an interesting story of its own. Stories date back to pre-war, post-war and post-independence days, from Australia Place to the Museum Kopitiam, Atkinson Clock, Community Centre, Sabah Tourism Building, Jesselton Hotel, Malaysia Monument, War Memorial, and the City Council Building.

A short treasure hunt, tea break, batik bandana and KK Heritage Walk booklet is included. Booking required.

Type of tour: Guided (RM120/person)
When: Daily, 9am – 11:30am
Contact: +60 12-802 8823 / info@kkheritagewalk.com

13. Sandakan Heritage Trail

The Sandakan Heritage Trail is a comprehensive walk that covers the town’s important and interesting sites which have contributed to Sabah’s rich historical past. You will get to see the 100-year-old Masjid Jamik Pryer Memorial, Stairs with a Hundred Steps, Agnes Keith House, St. Michael’s and All Angels Church, Sam Sing Kung (Three Saints) Temple, and Goddess of Mercy Temple.

Type of tour: Self-guided
View map: ilovesabah.info/exploring-sandakan-heritage-trail

Tell us your favourites

Are there any walking tours you would recommend to fellow explorers? Let us know in the comments below.

Now it’s time to put on some comfortable shoes and get walking!

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