One of the things about Malaysia is that it’s loud. From the food to the people to most of the famous attractions, everything about it shouts “in your face loud.” It’s quite easy to paint Malaysia, and especially Kuala Lumpur as a noisy city, but there are parts of the city which offer a welcome refuge from the noise while allowing you to immerse yourself in the history of the country.
If you’re a lone traveller who just wants to walk around and don’t mind the heat, then you might want to check out Tugu Negara. Known as the National Monument in English, it is a tribute to soldiers who died fighting for Malaya in the first two World Wars, and then in the subsequent Emergency Period from 1948 to 1960.
Walking from the nearest public transport to Tugu Negara can be dehydrating. I would recommend bringing a bottle of water if you’re headed there anytime after 10am. The sun can be quite hot as you walk from Dataran Merdeka, then Padang Merbok, and finally, a quiet and yet contemplative 1km stretch towards the Botanical Gardens and Tugu Negara.
If you take this road, you’ll be entering Tugu Negara through the park side. You might think the place is abandoned when you first step through, but press on and you’ll soon come out to the monument area.
The Central Pavilion is a crescent-shaped area that houses two points of interest: the emblems and names of the regiments that served in World War 2 and during the Emergency Period, and the microfilm vault where the names of the fallen heroes are recorded. The metal grille that houses the vault also displays the different state emblems of Malaysia. Sadly, these emblems are slightly rusty and dull due to neglect.
Right in front of this is the Reflection Pool, an impressive fountain flanked by waterlilies all around. They invite you to take a moment to reflect before making your move to the main attraction. In case you’re wondering, the waterlilies are made from pewter, which is one of Malaysia’s most well-known exports.
The main attraction, Tugu Negara is one of the most impressive and largest free-standing bronze sculptures in the world. Crafted by Felix De Weldon, the 7 figures represent courage, leadership, sacrifice,strength, suffering, unity and vigilance. It’s also the best place to take a selfie to show everyone you actually went here.
Protip: the lighting around late morning, before the afternoon sun appears with a vengeance, would probably be the best time to take photos.
And depending on your luck, the weather might be good enough for you to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. In a way, it would not be too far off to say that the warriors enshrined in Tugu Negara are actually still looking after the city. There are days when you’d get hazy pictures like these though.
Once done, make your way to the Cenopath, which was the original inspiration for Tugu Negara. This 10 metre cenopath commemorates the fallen of the British’s fallen in the world wars. If you can, take a moment and have a really close look at the names. They’re quite interesting and can be inspiring for the writer-traveller.
After all that walking around, check out the Tugu View Cafe nearby for refreshments.
Tugu Negara is accessible by public transport, but I would recommend visiting on the weekends as there’ll be plenty of people walking about. To get there, take the Kelana Jaya LRT line to Masjid Jamek, and then get out on the same side as the OCBC HQ. Walk towards Lake Gardens via Jalan Tun Perak and then onto Jalan Parlimen (it’s a fairly straight road) until you see the signs that say Tugu Negara on your right.
The walk will take you through some of the busiest roads in Kuala Lumpur, so watch the crossing signs.
There are also some underground paths that’ll help you skip the road crossings, but I would recommend only using them if you have a companion.
Alternatively, you can hail a cab and ask them to take you to Tugu Negara.
Entrance Fee: Free
Operating hours: 7AM to 6PM daily