What to See in Chinatown
Chinatown Kuala Lumpur attractions are made up of beautiful temples, sprawling flea markets, and quirky art galleries, all of which are definite must-visits on any traveller’s sightseeing itinerary. Accessible within a five-minute walk from Pasar Seni LRT station, the blue-hued Central Market and the neighbouring Kasturi Walk house a warren of boutiques, handicraft and souvenir stalls while Petaling Street is a lively and vibrant night market with hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of stuff at dirt-cheap prices.
Many of the attractions in Chinatown Kuala Lumpur are perfect for those who want to soak up the local culture, as there are plenty of ornate Buddhist and Taoist temples that are hundreds of years old. From the gleaming Sri Mahamariamman Temple to the tranquil Kuan Yin Temple, visitors can’t help but be mesmerised by these well-preserved landmarks. Meanwhile, aspiring artists and travelling art lovers can also drop by at Chinatown’s numerous art galleries, which host exhibits by modern local and regional artists.
More Attractions in Chinatown
Central Market is one of KL’s most familiar landmarks and a popular tourist attraction. Built in 1928, it is a short walk away from Petaling Street, along Jalan Hang Kasturi. Also called Pasar Seni, it used to be a simple wet market but in the early 1980s was revamped into a handicrafts outlet. The focus for the city’s artistic community, inside the building is a warren of boutiques, handicraft and souvenir stalls with traders selling local merchandise such as authentic Malaysian batik prints and more. Central Market is located on the opposite bank of the Dayabumi Complex and is an art-deco style building with local ‘Baroque’ trimmings. Read More...
- Highlights: Arch Collection, Actop Craft, Asli Craft, Borneo Pearls, Cute Fish Spa, Dodo Art & Craft, Fine Batik, House of Silver, Kheng's Antique and Collectible, Success Portrait, Suria Portrait Centre, Swartz Creation.
- Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: Just around the corner from Kota Raya Shopping Centre
- Address: No. 10, 1st-3rd floor, Jalan Hang Kasturi
- Tel: +603 2031 0399 or +603 2031 5399 or +603 2031 7399
Chan See Shu Yuen Temple is one of the largest and oldest surviving Buddhist temples in Malaysia. Located at the southern end of Jalan Petaling, it is characterized by a typical open courtyard and symmetrical pavilions, and decorated with colourful paintings, woodcarvings and ceramic fixtures. Built between 1897 and 1906, it is quite an elaborate temple: from outside you can see the intricately carved kwang-tung roof, gables and specially-crafted terracotta friezes with monumental Chinese history and mythological scenes. The interior of the main temple has pillars with scenes of gold-painted warriors battling lions, dragons and other mythical creatures. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
Ask anyone who’s been to Malaysia about Petaling Street and they will cite it as a shopper’s haven, albeit in a different league when compared to its more glamourous counterparts, Bukit Bintang and KLCC. A well-known shopping district, the whole area transforms into a lively and vibrant night market after dark, with hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of stuff at dirt-cheap prices, making it the most happening night market in the city. Read More...
Kasturi Walk is a covered, open-air flea market set along Jalan Kasturi, a lane running alongside Central Market. Here, you’ll find local snacks and vendors selling fake label handbags, watches, T-shirts, flip flops and more as well as fruit stalls. It is similar to Petaling Street but not as crowded. Right over the front entrance of the tiled walkway is a pewter wau bulan (a type of Malay kite) which looks like a butterfly. Although Kasturi Walk does not have the same extensive range of traders as Petaling Street the goods are reasonably priced plus its convenient location makes a trip here worthwhile. It was established in early 2011, so it all looks fairly new with clean kiosks and stalls. Read More...
- Highlights: local snacks and vendors selling fake label handbags, watches, T-shirts, flip flops and more as well as fruit stalls.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:30
- Location: Jalan Kasturi
Kuan Ti Temple is a 121 year-old Taoist temple located along Jalan Tun HS Lee. An easily recognisable building with a bright orange façade, it is dedicated to Guandi, the Taoist God of War and Literature; there is a red-faced, long beard statue of Guandi at the rear of the temple. Also known as Guan Di Temple, on the altar in front of the statue of Guandi (also called Guan Gong or Guan Yu) is guan dao and guan jie – a famous sword and spear. Deified in the Sui Dynasty (580-618 AD), devotees believe that Guandi’s weapons have special powers and that they will be blessed by ‘touching’ or ‘lifting’ the 59kg copper guan dao three times. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily, 07:00 – 19:00 (opening hours may vary, so please check with the temple keeper)
- Location: Right across the street from Popular Bookstore, and just opposite Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
- Address: Along Jalan Tun H. S. Lee
Kuan Yin Temple was built in 1880 and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin. Also known as Guanyin Temple, it is located across the road from Jalan Stadium in Chinatown. Featuring distinctly Chinese and European baroque architecture, the temple is one of the most colourful shrines in the city. Kuan Yin Temple faces the Bulatan Merdeka roundabout, across the street from the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. Since it is nearby the Masjid Jamek LRT station, it is easy for tourists to get to. Though the temple is not as extravagant as others in the city, it is worth a visit to see the three golden Chinese Buddhist statues inside. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 17:00
- Address: Jalan Stadium and Jalan Maharajalela, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
Sin Sze Ya Temple, built in 1864 by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, is hailed as the oldest Taoist temple in Kuala Lumpur. Situated just a three-minute walk away from Petaling Street, the temple also functions as a cultural centre for the city’s Chinese community and is usually filled with devotees during significant occasions such as Chinese New Year. Sin Sze Ya Temple is dedicated to patron deities Sin Sze Ya and Si Sze Ya, who played significant roles in Yap Ah Loy's ascension to Kapitan status during the 19th century. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00
- Address: 113A Jalan Tun HS Lee, 14A Leboh Pudu, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2078 9052
South of Jalan Hang Lekir, tucked away on Jalan Tun HS Lee, is the extravagantly decorated Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Incorporating Spanish and Italian tiles, precious stones and gold in its design, KL’s main Hindu temple is an incongruous sight situated between two Buddhist temples at the edge of Chinatown. This large and elaborate Hindu temple was founded by Tamil immigrants, from southern India, who arrived in Malaya as contract labourers to build the railways and roads or work in the rubber plantations – its primary purpose was to serve as a solace from the rigours of their working life. Construction of the temple began in 1873 with plenty of ongoing restoration and embellishment occurring over the years. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 06:00 – 21:00
- Address: 163, Jalan Tun H. S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur.
- Tel: +603 2078 3467
A great addition to the popular tourist spot Central Market is the Annexe Gallery, a modern art gallery located on the second floor of Annexe Central Market. You can’t miss it if you’re coming from the back entrance of the local handicraft centre, but if you’re coming from the main market building, take note of the Gajah-Gajah Gallery on the ground floor, and climb up the stairs to find it. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 20:00
- Address: 1st and 2nd Floor, Central Market Annexe, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +6 016 489 2603