A mecca for touts and knock-off goods
People still buy fake Rolexes? Who knew?! Petaling Street Market is your classic tourist tat and counterfeit goods market, with stall after stall selling swag and each seemingly with a team of two or three touts to call for your business.
Fake Rolexes, faux-pewter plates, replica Petronas Towers (not full size), Thai kick-boxing shorts, radios, handbags, flip flops, cut flowers, stickers and scaled-down Iran Air jets, none of it with marked prices and near all of it totally (and highly) negotiable. If you’re in a rush for some gifts for friends back home then you could certainly fill a backpack with swag from here, but don’t expect top quality gear and do be prepared to bargain—hard.
Each stall has a couple of guys who stand there trying to browbeat passing tourists in to buy their trash and it gets tedious—fast. They all seem to have memories like an elephant—when we paused to look at the above-mentioned Iran Air plane, the price went from 25 ringgit to 20 to 15 to 10 as we walked off. Two days later when we walked past the same stall the same guy leapt out and asked if we’d finished “thinking it over”! Everyone is polite—there is no super hard sell, it is just very persistent.
Aside from the tourist tat vendors there are also plenty of food and drink carts and stalls and then, in the shopfronts themselves more restaurants still plus hotels, hostels and retail outlets. In the morning all is quiet and it doesn’t start to hum till about 11am, but by early afternoon it is quite busy and in the evening, as long as it isn’t raining, it can be very busy.
The market runs through the heart of Chinatown, from the junction of Petaling and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng in the north down to Jalan Sultan in the south. It also has absorbed just about all the the cross street of Jalan Hang Lekir, the eastern end of which has a couple of cafes with cold beers you can relax in and watch the crowd roll back and forth. Note though that this section is unprotected from the rain—only Petaling has the cover (which was added in 2003).
We think the selection of souvenirs is better at Pasar Seni, but there is less scope for bargaining there, and if you enjoy haggling back and forward to get a Hello Kitty T-shirt or a fake pewter plate, then you’ll be in your element here. As already mentioned, don’t be shy about bargaining hard, start with half the proffered price and take it from there—and be willing to walk off...or pay if they accept your price!
The closest LRT is Pasar Seni, a five to ten minute walk away.
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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