Merdeka Square is an iconic square in Kuala Lumpur.

This is where the Union Jack was lowered, and where the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time on 31 August 1957. From then on, Malaysians celebrate the day as National Day.

You can still find the flagpole that was used during the commemorative event right opposite Sultan Abdul Samad Building’s clock tower. The base of the flagpole has a black marble plaque to commemorate the event.

Today, the Merdeka Square is the preferred location for Makllaysia’s National Day parades. On some weekends, the square also hosts large scale carnivals, festivals or marathons.

Water Feature and 'Dataran Merdeka' Signage
Water Feature and ‘Dataran Merdeka’ Signage

You can find beautiful terraces, gardens, and fountains forming the square’s perimeter. The most remarkable element of the Merdeka Square is the 95-meter flagpole at its southern end. It is one of the tallest in the world.

Surrounded by buildings of historical significance such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Royal Selangor Club, Merdeka Square is also a popular spot for photos.

Attraction Type

History

Name in Local Language

Malay: Dataran Merdeka
Mandarin: 独立广场 (dúlì guǎngchǎng)

History

The land where Merdeka Square is sitting on was originally a vegetable farm owned by Yap Ah Loy, who is the Kapitan Cina and founding father of modern Kuala Lumpur.

It was then leveled and drained to become a training ground because a residential building for the police was erected on a nearby road called Jalan Tangsi (formerly known as Barrack Road). People call it the ‘Parade Ground’ during this time.

In 1882, British Resident Frank Swettenham acquired the land from Yap Ah Loy for $50 per acre, and it was renamed as ‘Padang’ (Malay word for ‘field’). In 1892, Ernest Birch the acting British Resident at that time, smoothen the land so it can be used to host cricket games and other sports activities.

In 1897, the construction of Sultan Abdul Samad Building was completed, and government offices moved in to occupy the space. In conjunction with the relocation of government offices, Padang became the default location for many national events. The field was also leased to the Royal Selangor Club to host rugby and cricket games.

The Padang became a memorable place for all Malaysians on the midnight of August 30, 1957, when the Union Jack was lowered. It was replaced by the Malaysian flag as Malaysia, which was known as Malaya back then, achieved its independence.

The commemorative plaque indicating the flagpole which was used to raise the Malaysian flag for the first time.
The commemorative plaque indicating the flagpole which was used to raise the Malaysian flag for the first time.

‘Padang’ had a name change to ‘Dataran Merdeka’ or Merdeka Square in October 1989. The name change was in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 1990 campaign. Today, some Malaysians also call it the Independence Square because of the location’s symbolic role in the celebration of Malaysia’s independence.

Key Attractions

Merdeka Square does not offer a lot of things to do for travelers unless you happen to stumble upon the National Parade held annually on August 31.

Yet, travelers like to drop by to take photos with some of the most popular Kuala Lumpur buildings as the background.

Photoshoot with Kuala Lumpur’s Iconic Buildings

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building beside Merdeka Square is no doubt an attention grabber for those who wants to snap some pictures while they are exploring Kuala Lumpur.

Turn around and face the Sultan Abdul Samad Building when you step on the large field at Merdeka Square. Doing so presents you with a beautiful view comprising of existing as well as up-and-coming skyscrapers, resembling the rapid development of the city.

You can even spot the iconic KL Tower and PETRONAS Twin Towers from here.

Dataran Undrgrnd

Dataran Undrgrnd at Merdeka Square
Dataran Undrgrnd at Merdeka Square

Dataran Undrgrnd is a retail and event space under the 95-meter flagpole at Merdeka Square.

You can find shops selling tour packages, guided tours, jewelry, souvenirs, and snacks here. It also has a food court for those who would like to take a short breather or have a meal before exploring Kuala Lumpur further.

From time to time, Dataran Undrgrnd will host exhibitions related to art and culture.

Gallery

Getting There and Around

Getting to Merdeka Square is easy, thanks to its location beside an LRT train station.

Once you are here, you can explore other nearby attractions such as the KL City Gallery, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek), and Central Market by foot.

By Train

The nearest LRT Station to Merdeka Square is the Masjid Jamek LRT Station.

Here are the directions to go from Masjid Jamek LRT Station to Merdeka Square:

  1. Walk out of Masjid Jamek LRT Station.
  2. Walk along the overhead railway tracks towards the direction of OCBC Bank until you reach a busy intersection.
  3. Make a left turn and continue walking for 5 minutes.
  4. You should then be able to identify Merdeka Square by spotting the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, the 100-meter flagpole with a Malaysian flag, and the large field next to it.

By Bus

You can also reach Merdeka Square by taking the GOKL CityBus free bus service or KL Hop-On Hop-Off.

GOKL CityBus

GOKL Citybus
GOKL Citybus

GOKL CityBus is a free bus service. It was introduced to ease traffic congestions around the city center. You can spot these buses from far because their purple exterior is unique among buses in Kuala Lumpur.

GOKL CityBuses on the red route has a stop at Merdeka Square.

Aside from Merdeka Square, key stops for GOKL CityBuses on the red route include:

  • National Mosque
  • National Museum
  • KL Sentral
  • Kuala Lumpur KTM Station
  • Chow Kit Wet Market
  • Chow Kit Monorail Station
  • Titiwangsa LRT and Monorail Station (interchange stop between red and blue bus routes)

You can take the bus from any of the places above to get yourself to Merdeka Square.

KL Hop-On Hop-Off

There is a KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus stop at Dataran Merdeka and Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Stop 17). A bus will arrive every 30 to 40 minutes.

KL Hop-On Hop-Off is a bus service that ferries travelers from one attraction in Kuala Lumpur to another. After boarding the bus, travelers can then choose when to get off, depending on whether they would like to explore an attraction further.

There is a 24-hour and a 48-hour ticket for the bus service. You can buy the tickets online or as you board one of the distinguished double decker buses.

The prices of tickets are as follow:

24-Hour Ticket (Without MyKad / MyKid)
Adult: RM45.00
Child: RM24.00

24-Hour Ticket (With MyKad / MyKid)
Adult: RM19.00
Child: RM12.00

48-Hour Ticket (Without MyKad / MyKid)
Adult: RM79.00
Child: RM43.00

48-Hour Ticket (With MyKad / MyKid)
Adult: RM32.00
Child: RM20.00

If you are a foreigner, buying your tickets on their website get you RM5 off every ticket purchase.

By Ride-hailing Services

Registering an account with GRAB or Uber after clicking on the links below gives you and kuaby RM10 worth of free rides.

GRAB and Uber are the preferred ride-hailing services in Kuala Lumpur. You can use them to travel from the city center or anywhere in the Klang Valley to Merdeka Square.

If you have never used either of these services before, here are the steps to register an account:

GRAB

  1. Click on this link to register a GRAB account.
  2. Download GRAB to your mobile phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  3. Open the app and follow the steps to sign in.
  4. Select your pickup spot.
  5. Search for “DATARAN MERDEKA” and use it as your drop-off spot.
  6. Click on “Book” and a driver will be on his or her way.

Uber

  1. Click on this link to register an Uber account.
  2. Download Uber to your mobile phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  3. Open the app and follow the steps to sign in.
  4. Tap on the ‘Where to?’ field.
  5. Set your pickup location by either searching for it or by moving the pin on the map.
  6. Tap on the ‘Where to?’ field.
  7. Search for ‘Merdeka Square’.
  8. Tap on the ‘Merdeka Square’ located in Kuala Lumpur to set it as your destination.
  9. Tap on ‘uberX’, followed by ‘REQUEST UBERX’, and a driver will be on his or her way.

Taking a ride around the city center using either of these services will cost around RM5 to RM20, depending on distance and traffic conditions. These apps will show you the approximate fare before you confirm your request.

By Taxi

Most taxi drivers in the city center know the directions to Merdeka Square or Dataran Merdeka in Malay. They will drop you off somewhere in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

It is a well-known fact that taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur may quote exorbitant fares for travelers, citing poor traffic conditions, the long distance, rain or other excuses. Insist on paying according to the meter or at least a reasonable fixed fare.

Use a ride-hailing service if you cannot find a taxi driver who is willing to cooperate.

The following is a list of estimated taxi fares from key attractions around Kuala Lumpur to Merdeka Square:

  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Merdeka Square: RM70 to RM120
  • PETRONAS Twin Towers to Merdeka Square: RM10 to RM20
  • Bukit Bintang to Merdeka Square: RM10 to RM17
  • Mid Valley Megamall to Merdeka Square: RM10 to RM20
  • KL Tower to Merdeka Square: RM10 to RM17
  • Batu Caves to Merdeka Square: RM22 to RM37

The estimated fares above are for budget taxis, and the final amount may vary due to traffic conditions. Also, the estimated fares above do not include the 50% midnight surcharge.

Things to Note

  • The field may have water puddles and mud, especially after a downpour. Watch your steps!
  • Unless you are comfortable exposing yourself to the hot sun, visiting the square in the afternoon on a sunny day is not advisable.
  • Avoid any forms of protest happening in the area if you happen to bump into one.

Opening Hours

24 hours, and 7 days a week unless there is an event like a marathon or the annual National Day or Independence Day (Merdeka) celebrations.

Many attractions and shops around the area close after 9:00pm.

Admission Fees

Free

Facilities

Almost all the following can be found at Dataran Undrgrnd, a retail and event space located below Dataran Merdeka.

  • Toilet
  • Disabled-friendly washrooms
  • Money changer
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Prayer room

Parking

You can park your vehicle at the parking bays provided by Dataran Undrgrnd, an underground retail and event space below Merdeka Square.

For Cars

7:00am to 5:00pm

  • First hour or part thereof: RM​5.00
  • Every subsequent hour or part thereof: RM​4.00
  • Maximum daily charge: RM30.00

5:00pm to 7:00am

  • RM6.00 per entry

Penalty

  • Penalty for loss of ticket: RM50.00
  • Penalty for clamp release: RM100.00

For Motorcycles

  • RM1.00 per entry

Penalty

  • Penalty for loss of ticket: RM10.00
  • Penalty for clamp release: RM100.00

Contact Information

Address:
Dataran Merdeka
57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Phone Number:
+603 2693 7905

GPS Coordinates

3.1479246, 101.691084

Travel Blog Mentions

Tourists Arriving at Merdeka Square
Tourists Arriving at Merdeka Square

KL Day 1: Merdeka Square, KL Tower, Petronas

Merdeka Square was Mary Ballesteros’ first attraction when she visited Kuala Lumpur with her besties in January 2017. The blogger from the Philippines, together with her friends, explored the area surrounding the square, and they took very charming pictures of the place and its landmarks.

Her blog post can help you out too if you are wondering where to grab food after visiting Merdeka Square.

Free Dataran Merdeka Heritage Guided Walk

Celine Lee, a food and travel blogger from Malaysia, explored Merdeka Square and all the heritage buildings around the square by joining a guided walking tour. The tour allowed her to learn more about the 11 historical sites around the area. If you are eager to find out more about the history of heritage buildings surrounding Merdeka Square, or the guided walking tour, head over and start reading Celine’s blog post.

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Wayne Liew
Wayne fell in love with traveling and every aspect of it when he traveled to Singapore in 2013. He is a newbie when it comes to traveling and he loves chatting with other travelers to learn from their experiences. Are you a traveler? Let's connect!

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