Markets, full of curiosity and adventure, are wonderful places to watch how people, both local and foreign, operate on a daily basis. Kuala Lumpur‘s markets are especially fascinating grounds, where everyone from everywhere comes together to make a home for themselves and add more flavours to the already dazzling multicultural diaspora. Here are the best markets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Chow Kit Market
Market, Farm Shop, Farmers' Market, Greengrocer, Malaysian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Fast Food, Street Food
Chow Kit Market, Kuala Lumpur
Considered the largest wet market in Malaysia, certainly the largest in Kuala Lumpur, Chow Kit (Bazaar Baru Chow Kit) is a local habitat for fresh produce, meats, fish, and food and drink at dirt-cheap prices. By day, it is a bustling centre for locals to purchase home cooking ingredients or to grab some hawker meals. By night, it edges on the area’s infamous reputation of Kuala Lumpur’s red light district. As it is not a tourist area, local life is more prevalent and vendors are often less willing to bargain. The market’s attraction lies in its more normalised operations (areas targeting tourists tend to be more flashy), but people are still relatively friendly and welcoming to curious wanderers looking for local flavour. HOURS: 9am–5pm
This weekly upscale night market is a favourite among expatriates and locals who want a higher quality of good and more international foods. This cluster of about a 100 stalls offers a range of items in an open-air retail concept where mall brands, independent entrepreneurs and food trucks gather for a fun, carnival-like atmosphere. While the prices may be a little higher than at basic night markets, the wares on sale are definitely not found in a regular pasar malam since items like handmade soaps, vintage clothing and foreign trend foods are considered upper-class commodities.
An old residential haunt and local favourite, the Bandar Baru Sentul (Pasar Sentul) Market is crowded in the morning for breakfast and produce while nighttime features cheap goods and even more hawker foods. Things may seem more on the simple side, with vendors sticking to crowd favourites yet remaining full of life with traditional street cart foods. Leaving the crazy, trendy eats and drinks to the larger night markets, where visitors tend to outnumber the regulars, Bandar Baru Sentul Market keeps it old fashioned and familiar with Chinese hawker specialties and a few night market basics.
Immersed in Oriental architecture and influences, Petaling Street is noisy, vibrant and bustling with people, cheap goods and street food, and (ironic to its warning signs against counterfeit items) it’s an absolute haven for imitation products. Be sure to have some hard bargaining skills to avoid being ripped off; some say dressing down may help as some vendors have a keen eye for expensive belongings and may charge more based on how rich visitor appear to be. With the allure of well-established local restaurants and a maze-like market atmosphere selling practically everything a fun afternoon shopping can offer, Petaling Street maintains its standing as one of the best markets in Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. HOURS: 11am–10:30pm
This flea market caters more to Malay and Indian communities as many of its shops offer more products needed by the city’s Muslim population. Beautiful Punjabi scarves, shoes, fabrics and clothes are sold in the shop lots while the stalls offer food and drinks to combat the city heat. The Indian Muslim community, dubbed the Mamak, is a friendly bunch and sells good food, like curries and roti canai, at extremely affordable prices along with the nationally beloved teh tarikand variations of the nasi lemak. HOURS: daily, 9am–10pm
While this market may seem as if it’s curated specifically for tourists, it is no doubt a place where Malaysia’s multicultural residents showcase their best handicrafts. With sections of the famous blue art deco building dedicated to different cultures, like the Baba Nyonya, and unique Malaysian settings, like Malacca‘s Jonker Street, Central Market is not to be missed by arts and craft lovers and souvenir collectors. HOURS: daily, 10am–9:30pm
This market area predates even the country’s independence in the late ’50s, and many of its vendors have easily been around for at least 20 years. Since combining with the recently relocated Imbi’s market, the Pudu Wet Market contends with the Chow Kit Market for the biggest wet market in Kuala Lumpur. Like Chow Kit, the wet markets are not for the faint of heart, as livestock like chickens and frogs are at their freshest and slaughtered on the spot and seafood is displayed whole on ice. For a less gruesome side to the market, stick to the drier outdoors, where all kinds of garden plants, herbs, fruits and trinkets crowd under tarpaulin tents. The area is also a notable hawker street, and delicacies like wan tan mee and curry mee are great for breakfast and brunch. HOURS: daily, 6am–5pm
Market, Farmers' Market, Malaysian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Street Food
This delight is mostly a dry market with emphasis on green produce like fruits and vegetables, but a small section still offers fresh and dried seafood for sale. Regulars and visitors alike put Bangsar Sunday Market in the spotlight for its delicacies and treats that keep people coming back. Savour little Indian packaged snacks or full Chinese hawker meals, and cool down with Malay beverages, like iced syrup and rose milk teas. HOURS: Sun, 1–9pm