Kuala Lumpur’s cramped and colourful Chinatown is no different from its counterparts around the world. It is an exotic emporium where you will find temples, tea houses, kopitiams (coffee shops) and a thriving street market scene, making it one of the country’s greatest tourist draws.
Shopping and eating are the main attractions here and come nightfall this is not the sort of area you head to when you are in the mood to get footloose – rather it is perfect to see some of the city’s alternative nightlife offerings. From an art gallery with a café that morphs into bar at night, to a 24-hour snooker centre, check out our Top Five picks for the best places to go at night in KL’s Chinatown!
Petaling Street Night Market
If you are looking for a more down-to-earth Kuala Lumpur Chinatown nightlife experience, veer off course from the main road (Jalan Petaling) and head into the narrow side streets where the area’s thriving street market is, with stalls cluttered close to one another, selling everything from Hello Kitty watches to fake-label Gucci clutches. Simply called Petaling Street by locals, it is the go-to place if you want to purchase local handicrafts, souvenirs and batik-print shirts, largely because it is so much cheaper here than in large indoor air-conditioned handicraft emporiums like Central Market.
Additionally, the stalls along these streets have also gained a reputation for supplying the city’s locals with knockoff designer apparel, handbags, shoes, watches and even, pirated DVDs. If you are looking for some bargain merchandise we recommend strolling along, ‘window-shopping’ first, bargaining as you go along – then return to the stalls which offer the best prices and make your final purchases. A good rule of thumb – prices quoted by the seller are usually marked up by approximately 50 percent.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 12:00 & 18:00 - late
- Location: Along Petaling Street and the intersecting road, Jalan Hang Lekir
- Tel: +603 2693 6661
PS150 Bar Kuala Lumpur is the first-ever cocktail bar in Chinatown KL, offering an impressive list of Southeast Asian-style cocktails by prominent local mixologist Angel Ng. Occupying a long-abandoned brothel along the back alleyway in Jalan Petaling, this venue is fitted with three distinctive spaces, each of which inspired by different Indochinese eras.
After passing through a deceptively rundown entrance, you’ll reach Opium Den, which features private seating booths, bare-bricked walls, and red lanterns, followed by Tiki, an open-air courtyard that can accommodate large crowds. Lastly, the speakeasy-inspired main section is where you’ll find a fully-stocked bar that’s fitted with an array of repurposed furniture while oriental-style music plays unobtrusively for easy conversation. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 18:00 – 02:00, Sunday 15:00 – 22:00
- Address: 150 Jalan Petaling, Ground Floor, Chinatown Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +6010 260 6013
Reggae Bar Chinatown is exactly what it says it is: a groovy and colourful bar playing reggae music, with photos of Bob Marley and other legends of the genre on the walls. The only bar in the area, it is an ultra friendly place knee-deep in backpackers, set along Jalan Tun HS Lee.
Just down the road is the Reggae Bar Guesthouse, which explains some of its popularity with travellers. Ladies are given especially good prices on drinks. Bob Marley songs seem to be on constant rotation and the place is artfully decked out in red, yellow and green. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 12:00 – 02:00
- Location: Across the street from Popular Bookstore
- Address: 158, Ground Floor, Jalan Tun H. S. Lee
- Tel: +603 2026 7690
The colourful, dimly-lit Golden Break resembles quite a number of fun-filled bars in the city – the only difference is that here patrons are a little more sedate and their focus is on the pool tables. Just so there is no mistaking its serious attitude towards snooker, the bar has three tables set up at the front of the house: walk past them and you will see the bar lined up along one of its turquoise walls, along with several dart boards for those not keen on pool.
Part of a chain of snooker centres, it is a great place to grab a pint of beer after some shopping along Petaling Street: we love the fact that it is not too crowded, the atmosphere is friendly and there is free Wi-Fi. Add to that the fact that it is open 24-hours, and we have truly found a great Kuala Lumpur Chinatown neighbourhood bar.
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
- Location: Jalan Petaling
Restoran Kim Lian Kee
If you want to drink like a local in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown, grab a seat at Restoran Kim Lian Kee to enjoy a bottle of beer at unbeatable prices (RM18 for a big bottle of Carlsberg beer). This Chinese restaurant is most popular for its old-fashioned hokien mee (fat yellow noodles, stir-fried and doused in thick soy sauce gravy), but it is one of our choices for a casual drink because its location in the thick of the action means you will never be too far off from Petaling Street’s shopping scene. Sit back, relax and watch the endless stream of people going about their business.
The atmosphere is friendly, the open-air seating comfortable and best of all, the restaurant is open till the wee hours of the morning (05:00), which means you can enjoy your drink all night long. A real local's tip!
- Opening Hours: 17:00 – 05:00 (Hokkien fried noodles) closed on Wednesdays
- Address: 49-51, Jalan Petaling, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2032 4984