Chow Kit Market is recognised as one of Malaysia’s most infamous landmarks. Located at the northern end of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, it is divided into two halves: the first half is home to the city’s unofficial Red Light District, while the other part is KL’s most popular local market.
Even though it is not as well known to tourists as its starlet cousin, Petaling Street (which is located within the same area), Chow Kit Market is definitely exciting. However it is not a place for the faint hearted, with vendors who are pushy and it takes a thick skin to get serious bargains here.
The spotlight on Chow Kit Market focuses on its main street: a lively and culturally-enriching scene. Although the area may not be the most kosher quarter of KL it plays host to the largest wet market in Malaysia. Also known as the Bazaar Baru Chow Kit, this rustic makeshift market is a kaleidoscope of colours and fragrances.
The bazaar is shaded by oversized, colourful umbrellas and divided into a wet and dry section with the colourful souk commonly frequented by locals, especially the neighbourhood’s Malay community.
The dry section is without a doubt the cleaner part of the market and more appropriate for tourists: this section has a maze of stalls with fruit, vegetables, tofu, spices as well as clothes, shoes, CDs, DVDs and textiles. Vendors here are polite and this is one of the areas where you can see Malaysian hospitality at its best. Meanwhile the wet market has stalls that sell a variety of meat, from fish and chicken to beef, mutton and pork. Naturally it smells quite strongly, but locals unfailingly frequent this section of the market for the dirt cheap prices.
Red Light District
The other half of Chow Kit resembles Amsterdam’s Red Light District – though it is not as prolific or as seedy. The notorious side avenues house a labyrinth of buildings that are home to some of the area’s more shady ‘businesses’ including, but not limited to, ‘working girls’ who hover near doorways along the inner lanes and try to solicit customers. Though Chow Kit is slightly dodgy, with many Malaysians lamenting this area for its sleazy reputation, its presence enriches the city’s tourism scene.
Chow Kit Market
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
- Location: Jalan Haji Hussein, Chow Kit