what to do in kuala lumpur

Keep your eyes above as well as on the ground when you run in KL. (Photo: Getty Images)

Health + Fitness

Running Kuala Lumpur: Welcome to the Jungle

These three runs range in scope from the relatively easy and flat Metropolitan Lake Garden to the longer and more undulating Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) reserve, and, for those looking for a challenging dose of jungle running, the steamy Bukit Kiara.

Route 1: Kepong Metropolitan Lake-Garden (Easy; 2.4 miles)

This is a fairly short and mostly flat route through the pleasant Kepong Metropolitan Park located in the northern part of Jinjang. Start at the car park at the northern entrance (just off the MRR2 highway, with ample on-site parking) and head down toward the lake.

Take a left just before the playground and head slightly downhill along the shaded road toward the boathouse. As you approach the lake you’ll spot the bright blue running track; turn left and follow the shoreline where a cooling breeze often blows in from the lake.

Continue around the shore until the path splits off sharply to the left. Carry on straight ahead, onto the thin spit of land and over a small footbridge. There are magnificent views of the wooded peaks of the FRIM (see Route 2) to the right and often you’ll spot local fishermen trying their luck in the nearby lake.

Follow the sweeping curve to the left, through small trees, until you join the main track again at a T-junction. Turn right and follow the perimeter of the lake in a large arc before running over the long, raised footbridge, often with more fishermen perched underneath.

Follow the track slightly away from shore and uphill before taking the first right up the short, steep hill toward the observation towers. Take the right-hand fork and run past the base of the second tower (which has excellent views of the Petronas Towers and KL Tower—haze permitting!) and over the raised wooden walkway. Loop back around to the first tower and head back down the hill, before turning right.

Take the long gentle curve to right and slightly uphill before following the track straight ahead into the trees. At the small crossroads, turn right and cross the small bridge to pick up the bright blue running track again.

Follow the track around the shoreline, past the restrooms and refreshment kiosk until the main road is on your left and the impressive KL skyline on the horizon to the right. The path will undulate slightly and after the second refreshment kiosk take the left fork to head back toward the starting point.

The park is open daily from 6am to 8pm and in the evening often becomes a haven for KLites to fly large kites.

what to do in kuala lumpur
Run away from your cares in this peaceful park. (Photo: Getty Images)


Route 2: Forest Research Institute Malaysia (Intermediate; 4 miles)

FRIM is an oasis of tranquility amid the bustle of greater Kuala Lumpur. As soon as you pass through the gates, the birdsong and insect noise drown out the roar of traffic and you’ll feel more like you’re in Jurassic Park than a metropolis of millions of people.

Start near the sports pitches on Jalan Foxworthy (there is parking throughout the reserve and the route is circular so feel free to change this to suit your needs) and run west along the right-hand fork, past the traditional raised Malay house.

If you fancy a longer workout then there are numerous side trails along the route that can easily be tacked on, including one with a pretty waterfall on the right. Continue along Jalan Foxworthy and loop back around past the sports fields and buildings before taking a right down Jalan Jelutong.

Here the road twists and turns through magnificent, towering hardwoods that are often the scene of wedding photoshoots on the weekends. Follow the road all the way down to Jalan Kapur, via a brief stint on Jalan Bukit Watson, and continue past the Technology Centre.

After running through the Fruit Tree Arboretum turn right at the T-junction, onto Jalan Frim, and head down the hill. After 200 meters take the sharp left past the small wooden footbridge and head uphill, veering left onto Jalan Balau.

Wind uphill through deeper and deeper forest, and after the yellow fire hydrant take the track to the left into the jungle, rather than continuing up the road to the house. You’ll be assailed by the sounds of the jungle before reaching a junction in the track; continue to the left, past a delightfully rustic house with lemon trees growing out of old car tires.

Follow the paved track down and left before joining back up with Jalan Frim by cutting along the path down the grassy hill, then turn right. Turn left at the large wooden signpost with the distant locations and head back toward your starting point.

Route 3: Bukit Kiara (Difficult; 5 miles)

Bukit Kiara is known as the ‘green lung’ of Kuala Lumpur and this route provides a challenging mix of hills and jungle trails where it’s often possible to spot monkeys, lizards and even the occasional tortoise. Start from the car park at the main Bukit Kiara guardhouse on Changkat Abang Haji Openg, heading through the gate and uphill past the large white water-storage building.

Over the crest of the hill you will come to a four-way junction with a smaller guardhouse. Cross the ditch on the two planks of wood just before the left-hand road, and follow the jungle trail upward into the forest. Head uphill and generally north (most of the side trails rejoin the main path higher up) until you pass through a small gorge and come out at the destroyed shrine and large mountain-bike ramp. This area was previously part of a rubber plantation and often the scars of rubber tapping are still visible on the older trees.

Continue uphill past the ramp, through the bamboo groves, and after about 20 meters look for the small wooden ‘Twin Peaks’ signpost on the tree on the left. Take the steep and rutted trail on the left immediately behind the sign and follow this down (straight over at the small crossroads) before exiting onto a large trail, just to the right of a three-way junction.

Head along the trail, under a fallen tree and through two sets of metal fences, before taking the leftmost trail at the four-way junction. Run upward, turning left at the top of the hill to follow the fence, then following the track down to the right and joining the larger gravel track.

As the track levels out and approaches the paved road, two trails—one on each side—join at sharp angles. Take the trail on the left back into the jungle and at the next junction head right and downhill. At the sandy T-junction, go right and continue until you emerge onto another gravel track. Stay on the track for a short distance before re-entering the jungle, then bear right to exit onto the paved road next to the rain shelter.

Follow the road to the left, then head right and uphill at the junction that will take you back to the crossroads with the second guardhouse. Here, take the road on the left and run downhill, looking out for glimpses of the stunning forest canopy on the right.

At the end of the road, make a U-turn and return to the guardhouse before turning left and retracing the route back down to the main entrance.

Running Tips

The constantly hot and humid climate of Kuala Lumpur means that these runs are best suited to cool early mornings or late evenings, although the adventurous can head out at any time.

Lots of water is recommended and if you’re the type that bugs find tasty then insect repellent is a good idea for the latter two routes.

Kuala Lumpur has many other hidden gems for runners and walkers, and regularly holds running events. Check out your local running club for more details.