More often than not, we spend a lot of our free time in air-conditioned malls or at neighbourhood cafes, but why not spend your next afternoon off doing something different? Play tourist in Downtown Kuala Lumpur (DTKL) and discover some of the most beautiful street art you’ve ever seen.
From abandoned dark alleys transformed into colourful displays of local talents to urban spaces with beautifully painted walls, here is the street art in DTKL worth braving the heat for.
1. Jalan Alor
Known mostly for its delectable street food joints, Jalan Alor is more than just a road filled with options for you to fill your belly. Along some streets, you can find some of the cutest street art that takes inspiration from nature (hello, colourful bunny). The central alleyway is a delight to explore on foot and will be a colourful treat to your senses.
2. Jalan Raja Chulan
Looking for somewhere to shoot your next Instagram post? Well, the cute mural of a little boy wearing a tiger hat may just do the trick. Titled ‘Brave’, this art initiative was by local artists Anokayer and Yumz as part of Petronas’ #Tanahairku campaign in 2014.
There’s also ‘Love Respect Unity’ by Art Battalion opposite Menara Olympia, one of the entries for a mural competition organised by Yayasan Permai and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.
3. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
Famed for its lively street bazaar, especially during Hari Raya (Eid), Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman also has a notable mural worth checking out. Located on the side wall of Roshni Bazaar is a striking mural of an Indian Muslim woman donned in vibrant yellow garb with a hot pink backdrop.
4. Masjid Jamek
What was once old and dreary is now a beautiful tourist attraction known as the River of Life. Get lost in street art showcasing the beauty of lush greenery and the daily life of a fisherman. At the Masjid Jamek LRT station, there are paintings of Old Malaya and scenes of what makes Malaysia the cultural mosaic it is today.
5. Jalan Dang Wangi
Take a walk down our country’s memory lane through sepia-toned and black and white murals along Jalan Dang Wangi, previously known as Campbell Road. Be enthralled by paintings of a scene from Seniman Bujang Lapok, Malay kampung house, and more. On the side of Red by Sirocco, you can also find a 25-storey high mural by Malaysian artist, Kenji Chai. ‘Courage To Dream’ is the most prominent piece that features a Dayak woman in traditional clothing.
6. Jalan Sultan and Lorong Panggung
Take a trip back into the 1960s at Lorong Panggung and marvel at the golden era of Malaysia. Take in the beautiful murals of heritage buildings and even the landlady of Kung Fu Hustle. The hanging lanterns and red wooden bridge are also an excellent addition to the already impressive scenery. Stay till sundown and hop on the interactive bicycle which lights up once you start cycling.
7. Jalan Panggung
In Jalan Panggung, you’ll find the famed ‘Goldsmith’ mural – an elderly goldsmith at work, which happens to be one of the first of many street arts in DTKL by Russian artist Julia Volchkova. And if you clock in some steps to go a little further, you’ll see a mural of two birds – one in blue and the other in red. Strikingly colourful, these magnificent artworks truly encapsulate the city’s spirit.
8. Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin
Painted in 2019, Kiehl’s signature art originally done in Melaka can now be found in the heart of DTKL. The mural features a collage of vibrant colours of a neighbourhood made up of houses, towers, and shops, with a bunga raya painted on each end of the artwork.
9. Jalan Tun HS Lee and Jalan Tun Perak
The list continues with street art between Jalan Tun HS Lee and Jalan Tun Perak. Along these roads, you’ll spot a black and white mural of Old Malaysia and a striking heart shape in red with the words “We Love KL” proudly painted on it.
10. Jalan Gereja
On your day out to discover all the street art in DTKL, be sure to not miss out on this legendary piece by Ernest Zacharevic. This enormous funeral was first commissioned as part of an awareness initiative for an insurance plan by Allianz Insurance, but now it has become one of the main street art attractions. Truly an unforgettable piece, one can’t help but be in awe of the boy in his sampan.
11. Jalan Balai Polis
Why not kill two birds with one stone? Add yet another street art to your list and grab a delicious cup of teh tarik while at the Ali, Muthu and Ah Hock outlet on Jalan Kalai Polis. This branch has an exterior unlike any others, with its signature Ali, Muthu and Ah Hock logo turned into a massive mural by SemangArt.
If you plan to have your little tour in DTKL, we suggest a bike ride during Kuala Lumpur’s Car Free Morning, which covers about seven kilometres from Dataran Merdeka. This happens every first and third Sunday of the month, from 7am to 9am. So, don’t forget to mark your calendars!