Chow Kit Market

Chow Kit Market

KL’s largest wet market

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Chow Kit Market is Kuala Lumpur’s largest wet market and while you can see small wet markets scattered across the city, if you want to see the real deal, head straight to Chow Kit.

Travelfish says:

The covered market encompasses two main, and clearly delineated sections—the dry market, essentially fruit and vegetables—and the wet market, pretty much everything that used to draw a breath (over- or under-water). There’s also a typical clothes and “other stuff” market attached to it, but the wet and the dry are the main attraction to Chow Kit.

We have bananas too. : Stuart McDonald.
We have bananas too. Photo: Stuart McDonald

In the dry section you’ll have everything from oranges, apples and persimmons, jackfruit and durian (when in season) and all manner of other oddly shaped and coloured vegetables and fruits. Not everything is local—we were told the grapes are from Australia for example. Don’t hesitate to ask to taste something you have no idea of—the vendor will carve a little off for you to try.

Now a word of warning before we go any further. If you decide to buy a tray of jackfruit “for later” don’t leave it in your daypack for the rest of the day unless you want a day pack that smells like a wet dog wrapped in wet socks. You have been warned.

All the stuff that stains your fingers. : Stuart McDonald.
All the stuff that stains your fingers. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The Dry Market transitions from fruit to vegetables seamlessly—vast trays of turmeric, galangal and all manner of chillies. It is all very photogenic, but please if you’re planning on taking photos of the vendors (rather than just the produce) always ask first—even if by simply gesturing with your camera. It is the polite thing to do and ninety nine times out of a hundred, nobody will mind.

Before you know it you’ll leave the spuds and durian behind and head straight into the beef section. If you’ve never seen an Asian wet market before, it might be a little confronting. We were quite used to seeing pig and goat heads in the market, but have to confess we’d never seen a cow head like we did in Chow Kit. There’s also the trotters hanging above, enough intestines to wrap the largest of Christmas trees, enormous livers and piles upon piles of beef. No pork though—Chow Kit is halal.

Just in case you didn’t realise you were in the beef section. : Stuart McDonald.
Just in case you didn’t realise you were in the beef section. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Move on from the beef section into chicken and then seafood. We visited in the early afternoon, so much of the prime fish had already gone, but there were still racks of beautifully streamlined tuna, flopping catfish and trays upon trays of neatly tied up crabs.

Chow Kit is both a wholesale and consumer facing market and when the main centre closes in the very early hours, a side market in an adjoining road gets going to tide things over till the main affair gets going again.

No need to pack your heels. : Stuart McDonald.
No need to pack your heels. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Chow Kit is easily reached by Chow Kit Monorail station, from where it is just a five minute walk and from the market it is only another a ten minute walk onwards to the western periphery of Kampung Baru. So for those with time on their hands and up for a bit of exploring, you could get the monorail to Chow Kit, walk through the market and then dog leg your way down through the streets and back lanes of Kampung Baru till you reach Kampung Baru railway station to whisk you back to the big smoke.

Contact details for Chow Kit Market

Address: Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman just south of UO Superstore
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º41'54.44" E, 3º9'55.46" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Free

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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