Central Market in Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic piece of Malaysian heritage that began as a wet market way back in 1888, and I think it has many similarities in both appearance and purpose to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
It seems you can find anything you want at Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, from local eateries all the way to bargain basement clothing and handmade jewellery and trinkets. There really is something for everyone here. I guess Kuala Lumpur is not known globally for its shopping opportunities, even though it does have many luxurious shopping malls over at nearby Bukit Bintang, so a little side trip during your day to Central Market near Chinatown will be a nice opportunity for you to peruse things perhaps a little more affordable.
The Central Market was built in the vicinity of Chinatown back in 1888 by the city’s ruling Chinese ‘Kapitan’, and served immediately as a significant landmark of the city, with all kinds of meats, fish, vegetables, and other foodstuffs being traded. Now, it has become something of a cultural hub showcasing the nation’s rich heritage while allowing the hundreds and of tourists who come here each year to continue with their shopping (and eating).
As with everything in Kuala Lumpur, it can seem a little daunting with the hustle and bustle going on around you, and even early in the morning I was a little taken aback at just how busy Central Market was. Maybe my photos do not do the business justice, but I can assure you it was often difficult to move because of the sheer number of people – a mixture of locals and tourists – cramming into the narrow walkways.
As it was fast approaching noon, I decided to grab myself a little bite to eat, which is quite unusual for me, as in KL I would normally go to a trusted fast food franchise for my lunch, rather than street food vendors or markets, due to illnesses I have had in these parts in the past. That said, what I ended up buying was something of a “late breakfast” (or elevenses, as we call it in the UK) as I spotted a seller of Bubur cha cha, which is kind of like a Malaysian porridge. I am told it is also eaten here for dessert (a bit like Chinese Chatang, I guess). I really enjoyed my Bubur cha cha, and it was great to randomly experience one of the classic Malay dishes when I was actually looking for a cheeseburger!
Outside the main building of the Central Market in a covered pedestrianized zone called Kasturi Walk, which very much reminds me of Clarke Quay in Singapore. Kasturi Walk is lined with even more kiosks and stalls with an abundance of Malaysian flags draped overhead.