15 Famous Buildings in Malaysia: Where to See Architectural Attractions

2022-09-24 00:52:55 By : Ms. Joanna Wang

There’s a lot that Malaysia is known for. Beyond the food, nature, and islands, the beautiful architecture of countless buildings in Malaysia are also a must-see. After all, the surest way to learn about a culture is through its rich history — and these buildings have a story to tell. From modern architecture to traditional Malaysian architecture, here are the 15 architectural attractions you ought to visit to make your trip complete!

Also read: 21 Dos and Don’ts in Malaysia That Travellers Should Know About

You probably expected this entry, and rightfully so. Even as Taipei 101 took its place as the tallest tower in the world in 2004, the wonder of Petronas Twin Towers never gets old. 

Though it was the world’s tallest building from 1998 to 2004, it remains a phenomenon as the tallest twin skyscrapers. Take a lift to 170m above ground to enjoy a 360° view of Malaysia’s capital. This is definitely what first comes to mind when most people think of Kuala Lumpur architecture. 

Also read: ​​ 9 Best Kuala Lumpur Shopping Malls for Avid Shopaholics

Image credit: Lionel Chu; The TOP Penang

The tallest skyscraper in Penang, the KOMTAR Tower, resides in George Town. The tower houses the Rainbow Skywalk, the highest outdoor glass skywalk in Malaysia, as well as The TOP Penang, the city’s largest indoor theme park. 

It is one of the buildings in Malaysia that is also an ideal family-friendly destination! Explore over 120 interactive technology and science exhibits before heading to the Jurassic Research Centre and Top Boutique Aquarium in the same building. Or, try your hand at the world’s highest rope course challenge on the building’s 65th level: The Gravityz.

Also read: 10 Interactive Museums in Penang to Visit on Your Next Family Outing

Image credit: pat138241 via Canva Pro

Coated in steel, glass, and crystals, the Crystal Mosque is a resplendent structure looming over the river in Wan Man, Terengganu. 

Built for worshippers to perform prayers, it’s the star attraction within Islamic Civilisation Park, a theme park which opened around the same time in 2008. The theme park replicates some famous global attractions as miniature versions. That said, the likes of the Great Mosque of Xian and Great Mosque of Samarra are replicated for a “globe-trotting” adventure .

Formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Building, Tun Mustapha Tower was renamed to honour a former Sabah chief minister. It resembles a battery and even appears to be docked on a launchpad like a spaceship. 

But it’s more than its eccentric facade; this functional building serves as the headquarters of the Yayasan Sabah Group. Decked with a floor that revolves a full 360° every hour, it promises the best view of Likas harbour. 

Fun fact: The building was scaled by urban climber Alain Robert as part of a fundraiser in 1997!

Image credit: Menara Alor Setar Official Website

Appraise the view from a stunning observation deck that’s 165.5m tall. As Malaysia’s third tallest tower and the tallest one in Kedah, Alor Setar Tower doubles as a telecommunication tower and tourist destination. You can find restaurants and a souvenir shop here to fulfil your sightseeing, foodie, and shopping needs. 

However, this tower is not just your typical observation spot. It is also used to observe the crescent moon that marks the beginning of important Muslim occasions, such as Ramadan and Zulhijjah (Hari Raya Aidiladha). 

Image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Official Website

Situated in UNESCO Georgetown, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (more famously known as The Blue Mansion) is named after a Chinese businessman who called this place his home. Though the blue is what makes it stand out today, it was a very popular colour during British colonial times. The colour is created through mixing lime with natural blue dye, and absorbs moisture to keep the building cool. 

If you’ve seen the film Crazy Rich Asians , you would have spotted this blue beauty in Penang. Peek into the building that served as the iconic mahjong parlour, where Rachel (Constance Wu) and Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) had a battle of wits. 

Since you can even rent the whole house to be a “crazy rich Asian” yourself, it’s no wonder it’s a tourist hotspot. Inside, you’ll find a pool, a reputable restaurant, private jacuzzis, and five courtyards — where you’ll be serenaded with a private guzheng performance!

Also read: 13 Hollywood Movies That Perfectly Capture the Beauty of Asia

Heralded as one of the first buildings in George Town that were furnished with electric lights and fans, Penang Town Hall was opened in 1906. A Victorian-style building, it’s one of the best examples of modern architecture in Malaysia, especially so in George Town. 

In fact, the city has one of the largest collections of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia. More importantly, the building is situated within the core zone of George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s a must-visit while on a tour. 

Image credit: Ipoh Heritage Trail Official Website

Billed as one of Malaysia’s National Heritage sites in 2017, Ipoh Town Hall and Old Post Office holds a lot of history since its construction in 1916. Designed by British architects, the Baroque architecture with Greek and Roman columns was frequented by high-ranking officers and British elites. 

Then, they would enjoy musicals, performances, and plays here. Now, it’s among the stunning heritage buildings in Malaysia that can be used for weddings and events. 

Also read: The Ultimate 6-Day Singapore-Malaysia Itinerary For First-Timers

Featuring a mix of Classic Renaissance and Indo-Saracenic architectural styles, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is a stunning snapshot of modern architecture. Constructed in the late 19th century as an administrative building, it was once the location of Malaysia’s superior courts. Now, it houses the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, as well as the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

Image credit: Erik’s iMirror Photography Studio

Easily the most recognisable landmark in Melaka, Christ Church Melaka is a symbol of Dutch colonisation. Also, it’s the oldest operating Christian church in Malaysia. With a record like that, it’s hard to say why you shouldn’t make time for a stop here. Or, maybe even if you’re passing through on one of Melaka’s famous trishaw rides. 

Also read: Top 10 Things to Do in Melaka for a Complete Experience

Image credit: Khai_n via Canva Pro

Among the treasure trove of architectural attractions in the capital city, one you definitely have to see is the National Mosque of Malaysia. The largest mosque in Malaysia and the second-largest in SEA, it was built to memorialise the country’s independence in 1963.

Image credit: Lisa Moiseinko via Canva Pro

To represent the 13 states of Malaysia and the five pillars of Islam, there’s a significant 18-pointed star dome at the top. It was named Masjid Negara after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. 

Furthermore, the mosque was built with the intention of emphasising the spirit of unity and tolerance between different races and religions of the citizens in Malaysia. Now, it also boasts the brilliance of Kuala Lumpur architecture. 

Also read: 10 Restaurants in KL & Selangor to Fix Your Indonesian Food Cravings

Image credit: Malacca Museum Corporation Official Website

Intended as a replica of the sultanate’s palace from the 15th century, Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum is dedicated to Melaka’s culture and history with more than 1,300 displays. The modern adaptation follows the original closely, with a hardwood structure, belian (aka the official tree of Sarawak) roof, and wooden pegs in place of nails. It officially opened to the public in 1986 and is an important cultural museum today. 

Not only is Kek Lo Si Temple Malaysia’s largest Buddhist temple, but it’s also one of the largest in SEA. To top it off, it’s an easy bus ride from KOMTAR bus terminal; so you could easily make a trip to the temple and KOMTAR Tower in one day!

Stretching across 12.1ha, the temple has several attractions. Most notable are the bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, as well as the seven-storey Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The latter features 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha. 

Also read: 10 Breathtaking Temples in Southeast Asia You Might Not Know About

Image credit: Chalabala via Canva Pro

Situated next to the man-made Putrajaya Lake, Putra Mosque is a pink-domed wonder. Eight smaller domes flank the main dome and are spread out across the building. The architecture definitely makes a grand statement, along with intricately embellished floral and decorative motifs. Apart from its beautiful exterior, it also has a majestic interior capable of holding 15,000 worshippers at any one time. No wonder many would consider it one of the most impressive buildings in Malaysia!

Just a little ways down Tun Mustapha Tower is the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, fondly known to the locals as Likas Floating Mosque. No stranger to many visitors, the mosque is surrounded by a man-made lagoon and is modelled after the Nabawi Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Do note that the mosque is open to non-Muslims every day except Friday (Islam’s holiest day)! 

Also read: Where to Travel in Malaysia: Top Destinations From Every State in the Country

With all these famous buildings in Malaysia to put on your travel itinerary, we hope you’ll find the architectural style in Malaysia you adore! Whether you’re a fan of Kuala Lumpur architecture or the more hidden buildings in Sabah, the many works of architecture in Malaysia are definitely worth fawning over. 

Tamlyn enjoys collecting mementos, from flight tickets to photo booth pictures, for her journal entries. She can often be found trawling the internet for the next rom-com or horror show to binge when she isn't planning for her next getaway.


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