A unique travel experience doesn’t have to involve a passport and a plane ticket, especially when your own backyard is full of beautiful contradictions, untold stories and hidden destinations. That’s right KL, we’re talking about you.
It all started with data revealing KL’s travel behavior and patterns. The data also revealed the spots with the least drop-offs in the entire city. Uber soon realized that these destinations give the concept of hidden gem a whole new meaning—”hidden” doesn’t just refer to places that tourists haven’t discovered yet, hidden places are where even locals don’t go.
Uber partnered with Canon and KL’s top Instagrammers to capture the beauty of these hidden destinations through photos. Check out what Ida, who uses her Canon EOSM5 to capture KL’s busy streets and architecture, Patrick, a photographer capturing colorful cityscapes with his EOSM6, and Jane, a social media superstar armed with an EOSM100, have discovered. Then, check out these places for yourself. All you need is an adventurous spirit, a camera to capture it all, and a ride to get there!
Hidden back alleys in Lorong Panggung
Lorong Panggung is a small L-shaped alleyway in downtown KL that connects Jalan Balai Polis and the main road of Jalan Tun HS Lee. It’s one of the charming nooks and crannies of the city where you can really soak up the vibes of KL’s yesteryears.
The alley is lined by old shophouses, with strings of bright red Chinese lanterns guiding the way. The pastel walls are covered in moss, and the shutters could use a new coat of paint, but this sleepy little lane still has so much to offer. Arched walkways provide shady spots for residents, and the improvised awnings made of old billboards just add to the ambiance. Little details—shrines jutting from the concrete walls, brightly painted doors—make this small area unique.
Take a moment to notice the simple beauty of the kaki lima (five-foot-way), a common a feature of colonial era shophouses, that makes a beautiful, symmetrical backdrop. A dramatic street art mural by renowned KL street artist Kenji Chai clashes (in the best way possible) with the age-old shophouses.
It’s not just the old world charm that makes this underrated lane so special, it’s the food. Check out the old school Chee Cheong Fun Yong Tau Foo for a quintessential KL snack. But Uber over early, because the Cheong Fun and Yong Tau Foo are sold out by mid-morning.
Speaking of breakfast, Hor Kao Teashop is another gem from a bygone era. The small lofted shop looks like it’s a hundred years old (because it is!). Forget ‘gramming an expensive eggs benedict and snap a photo of teh tarik, kaya toast and half boiled eggs, here among the brightly colored shophouses. No sleeping in though, Hor Kao Teashop opens bright and early at 6am and closes by 3pm.
It’s a simple setting, yet somehow the ambiance, street art, and classic Malaysian food combine to create the perfect KL experience.
KL Forest Eco Park at Bukit Nanas
Bukit Nanas, aka Pineapple Hill, is a lush green oasis in the middle of KL. It’s the home of KL Forest Eco Park, another of KL’s least-visited destinations.
One of the oldest forest reserves in the entire country, the 11 hectare forest dating back to 1906, is the last remaining tropical rainforest in KL. It’s open every day, free of charge, and the lush greenery is visually stunning. So why don’t KL-ites visit this area more often?
Enter the forest through the unique canopy walkway and be suspended above a world of lush foliage, birds and butterflies. This canopy walk will transport you to a jungle paradise, without leaving downtown KL.
Come with camera in hand and capture shots of KL’s rare herbs, beautiful giant ferns, towering bamboo grass, and creeping vines. The area lends itself to both macro and micro photography, from portraits of bright yellow butterflies to wide shots of the iconic cityscape.
Serani Row in Bukit Nanas
Our final least visited destination is one that’s hiding in plain sight. Serani Row in Bukit Nanas is a row of eight derelict houses facing Jalan Raja Chulan, and it offers one of the most interesting slices of KL history, told through architecture, street art, color, and decay.
Beautiful art deco archways adorn homes where wealthy Eurasians once lived in the 1930’s. Now the houses range from run-down to practically ruined. But with that ruin, comes another type of beauty.
The detailed moldings are still visible, if covered with peeling paint. Plants grow through cracks in the door frames, providing a colorful contrast with red Spanish tiled floors. Art deco flourishes on the second floor balconies and brightly colored shutters provide glimpses of the houses former glory.
Lush greenery creeps into the back of the houses from the rainforest behind, while the walls themselves are painted with bright murals and giant hashtags. #Tanahairku (“my homeland”) can be found painted on the walls among vibrant murals and colorful graffiti. This is more of Kenji Chai’s work, along with another well known Malaysian street artist, Cloakwork.
What will become of this forgotten, but highly visible zone? Nearby houses have been repurposed as fashionable restaurants. Others have been torn down. Our advice? Uber over there with your camera and explore this unique slice of history in the heart of KL while you still have a chance.
What are you waiting for?
Next time you feel the urge to expand your horizons, start in your own backyard. Open up your mind and go off the beaten path to some of the least visited destinations in KL, and the city you thought you knew might just surprise you.
No matter how well you think you know your city, there’s always more to discover, and Hidden Cities is proof. Let Canon provide the expert tips you need to see KL through a whole new lens (literally) and let Uber show you the way with guides and maps.
Capture your best photos and share them on Instagram using #HiddenCities, #WhereTo and #CanonxUber. Then, check out more hidden gems in other Southeast Asian cities like Singapore, Jakarta, and Manila for even more travel inspiration. Happy exploring!
Header photo: @heartpatrick