The wet markets of Kuala Lumpur embody the city’s culture and provide an opportunity to engage with the local communities, says Akanksha Madiraju. So pull on some rubber-soled shoes and set off to explore.
1. Pasar Besar TTDI
Located inside a multi-storey complex, Taman Tun’s wet market is heavily visited by expats living in the area because of its cleanliness, availability of fresh produce, and reasonable prices to boot.
The ground floor has an array of shops selling both local and imported fruit and vegetables, fresh seafood and meat, plus soy and tofu products. There is also a tiny stall that sells fiery curry pastes that are ground by hand on the spot and can be customised to your liking.
The first floor has a couple of organic shops, local boutiques, florists, and a food court, while the lower ground floor contains the non-halal section. Parking is easily available, and it is advisable to visit early to snatch up the freshest items. The market starts winding down around lunchtime and is closed by 2pm. Of note, the TTDI station on the new MRT line is a short stroll from the market.
2. Pasar Chow Kit
The largest traditional outdoor wet market in KL, Chow Kit is not for the faint-hearted: row upon row of decapitated chickens greet you at the entrance, along with piles of fresh, cheap seafood.
The market is divided into wet and dry sections; the wet section sells fresh meat, and the smell can knock you off your feet. Locals flock here for the unbeatable prices and variety on offer.
If you’re brave enough to pass through this area, you will reach the dry market where fruit, vegetables, soy products, clothing, spices, and electronic items are sold.
Local fruit like longans, durian, and rambutan compete for your attention alongside imported apples and mangoes. Be warned: the fruit is delectable, the vendors are pushy, and the prices are low – I came out carrying 6kg of fruit!
3. Pasar Pudu
This one is for the early birds. At this labyrinth of stalls, the action starts at 3am and most of the selling is over by 7am. Vendors are extremely business-like and don’t have time to chat. The whole atmosphere is loud and frenetic.
In addition to cheap fresh produce and meat, you can buy Asian herbs and spices, chilli and curry pastes, fresh Chinese herbal plants and teas, and even pet fishes. It’s best to wear covered shoes to avoid the puddles of water on the floor.
4. Pasar Besar Pekan Ampang
This Chinese market has an easygoing air that allows and encourages you to linger and take your time so you can soak it all in.
Hawkers peddle everything from fruit to spices to holiday packages. Chinese dry goods stalls are popular with the locals, and there is even a vegetable stall with an organic section. Vintage-style cutlery with dragon motifs sells for as little as RM5-10.
The food stalls are a hit with locals and tourists alike for their fresh and flaky curry puffs, egg tarts, kaya puffs, and siew pau, the buns (often meat-filled) made famous in Negeri Sembilan.
5. Pasar Dato’ Keramat
The wooden-style architecture and old school calligraphy on the signboards point to the 40-year history of this Malay market. The authorities are trying their best to shift the stalls, run mostly by second-generation owners, to the nearby Keramat Mall, though the proprietors show no signs of wanting to move.
You can find dozens of varieties of rice, dried fish, spices and other condiments here. Parking spots fill up really quickly on weekends so it’s best to take the LRT to the Keramat station and walk. Expect to work up a sweat in the narrow, wet lanes.
6. Bangsar Night Market
Located on a street just behind Bangsar Village 2, the night market is an expat’s delight. It’s a great place to pick up fresh vegetables, fruit, and seafood and click some Instagram-worthy pictures.
You can also sample mouth-watering local treats ranging from samosas to laksa to a wide variety of skewered meats. The party starts at around 5pm and continues till midnight. Expect Bangsar’s notorious parking travails to be even worse here when visiting at peak times!
7. Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman
This busy street is closed to traffic on Saturday nights to make way for a massive market than runs from 6pm to 10pm. An interesting place to walk through, you can find a bunch of vendors selling a staggering variety of goods. Pick up some local produce and do not leave without trying the amazing street food.
Do you have any to add?
Have you found any wet markets or hidden shopping gems serving fresh produce that deserve to be on this list? Let us know!