Istana Budaya (National Theatre)

Inaugurated in 1999, Istana Budaya is widely regarded as one of Kuala Lumpur’s first architectural attractions due to its sophisticated and eye-catching design.

The Istana Budaya building is a splendid mélange of Malay palatial and folk architecture.


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Istana Budaya,
Jalan Tun Razak, Titiwangsa, 50694 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Istana Budaya, which literally translates into ‘Palace of Culture’, is Malaysia’s main venue for all types of theatre performances ranging from operas and musicals to classical as well as traditional concerts.

It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, Malaysia Traditional Orchestra and in-house Dance Troupe (Artis Tari).

Located next to the National Art Gallery in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Istana Budaya was designed by local architect Muhammad Kamar Ya’akub to resemble the shape of a traditional Wau Bulan or Moon Kite, one of Malaysia’s traditional symbols. Its azure-turquoise jagged roof makes it one of the most recognizable buildings in the capital.

Its main building takes the form of the Sirih Junjung, a traditional arrangement of betel leaves commonly used during Malay weddings and welcoming ceremonies.

With white marble from Langkawi and handmade doors made from high-quality tropical wood designed with special flower and leaf motifs, it comes as no surprise that the total cost of construction reached more than MYR200 million.

The building is divided into three main segments, similar to that of a traditional Malay house: the serambi (lobby/foyer), the rumah ibu (living room/auditorium), and the rumah dapur (kitchen/stage/rehearsal room).

The entrance to the theatre resembles that of a traditional Balairong Seri, or Palace main hall, modelled after a palace in Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rich and luxurious interior of the theatre hall or Panggung Sari, which is capable of seating 1000+ at a time, has royal boxes that surround the Grand Circle and are patterned after the window designs of a traditional Malay house.

There is also a costume gallery on site featuring clothes and accessories used for traditional Malay theatre performances.

Comparable to top theatres around the world such as London’s Royal Albert Hall or the Sydney Opera House in terms of design and state-of-the-art equipment, Istana Budaya has staged many theatre classics such as Phantom of the Opera, Carmen, Turandot, Tosca, La Bohème, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and has hosted world-class performers such as the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre and the Russian Ballet Theatre.

Price/entrance fees

Ticket prices are determined by the organizer of each show and the estimated ticket price is between RM20 – RM1,500 depending on the type of seat or show.

Tickets can be purchased online from the respective ticket agent for each show, or at the Box Office counter at Istana Budaya.

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Opening hours

Open daily from 9.00am to 6.00pm including Public Holidays and School Holidays (Last admission is at 5.00pm).

Istana Budaya ticketing counter/box office opening hours:

  *11:00 am – 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturday / Sunday / Public Holidays *11:00 am – 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm – 8:00 pm (if there are performances on that day)

*This information can change at any time and should be double-checked.

Istana Budaya Dress Code

For orchestra and choir performances, visitors will need to wear a lounge suit, Batik shirt or long sleeve shirt. For theatrical and dance performances, visitors may wear casual attire. Jeans, round neck t-shirts, revealing clothes, shorts, sports attire, sports shoes and slippers are not allowed.


How to get to Istana Budaya

Istana Budaya is located along Jalan Tun Razak in central Kuala Lumpur. Free parking spaces are available.

By Train
Catch the LRT or Monorail and alight at Titiwangsa LRT/Monorail station.

By Bus
The KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus brings you to Istana Budaya. Alternatively, board bus 402 (formerly B114) and disembark at the theatre.

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