In Malaysia, night markets are locally referred to as pasar malam. To explore pasar malams is to go into the heart of Malaysian culture itself. I’m not simply talking about Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang. Although Jalan Alor is a good night market in itself, it caters especially to tourists so it has lost that bit of authenticty — not to mention that the prices are also more expensive. No, I’m talking about the night markets frequented by locals themselves.
Here I’m going to tell you all about pasar malams or night markets in Kuala Lumpur.
Night markets in Kuala Lumpur
Basically, pasar malams are street markets that operate from mid-afternoon ’til night. Here you can find local cuisines and other products created by local businesses and artisans.
Pasar malams are often located in residential neighborhoods. In Kuala Lumpur, you can visit a different pasar malam every day of the week.
I lived in KL for a year and visiting pasar malams holds a special place in my heart. For one, as an expat it gave me a feeling of belongingness. I may be a different nationality but when I’m in a night market I’m just like everyone else — up there to eat some food, do a little shopping, chit chat with friends and more.
The other reason is that after half a year staying in the city I was feeling a bit jaded. The initial euphoria of moving in the country has died down and I resorted to a daily work routine, similar to how I was living in the Philippines. In one weekend, my friend Hermes invited me to go to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman pasar malam in Bandaraya (we simply call in Bandaraya night market). That experience reminded me why I was happy here — the quirkiness of the city, the distinct flavors of each cuisine, and the elation of partaking in all of these.
If you want to go on a food trip in Malaysia, you can explore a pasar malam and taste different local dishes in one go. I recommend visiting a pasar malam if you want to go local or you want to have an authentic experience of how locals go about in this country.
Pasar malams are currently out of the tourist radar. Most travel guides in Kuala Lumpur focus on Jalan Alor and nothing more.
Related Read: Pasar malams as tourism gold mines
What items to see
Pasar malam is a great place for food tripping. You can find common Malaysian food such as nasi goreng, char kway teow, grilled items such as breaded mushrooms, tofu, vegetables, and more. Aside from this, you can also find Western, Thai, Indonesian, Korean and Japanese fare.
You can also see stalls selling cheap gadgets, clothes, and other common household items.
A lot of pasar malams dedicate a great portion for food, but there are also pasar malams serving as wet or fresh markets or whole-good sales markets.
Schedules of night markets in Kuala Lumpur
A pasar malam opens usually once a week, from 3PM onwards. There’s actually a pasar malam for most days of the week.
Here are the schedules of night markets in Kuala Lumpur:
- Monday – Taman Len Sen night market
- Tuesday – Sri Petaling night market, Taman Melawati night market
- Wednesday – Taman Connaught night market (Cheras), Taman Maluri night market
- Thursday – OUG night market, Taman Melawati night market
- Saturday – Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman night market, Happy Garden night market, TDDI Ahad night market, Taman Melawati night market
- Sunday – Taman Maluri night market
What dishes to try
Oh, boy. There are tons of food to try in a pasar malam. If it’s your first time here, it may be overwhelming. Here I’ll recommend some of the food that I like.
Also Read: My favorite foods in Malaysia
One of my ultimate favorites is salted-egg food. These can be chicken, squid, fish skin, or vegetables. You can order 1 item or have them mixed. I find it cheaper compared to the salted-egg snacks in Singapore, and they are freshly made too.
There are common Malaysian fare that you should try as well, including:
- Char kway teow — a type of fried noodles
- Chai kway teow — similar to char kway teow, but consists of radish cake
- Scallop omelette
- Chicken or beef satay with peanut sauce
- Other skewered meats such as tofu, cheese tofu, chicken liver, mushrooms and other vegetables
- Salted herbed chicken — chicken cooked in a salt wok
- Sticky brown rice with chicken — sold in aluminum-covered bowls
For dessert, these are the ones I like the best:
- Bird’s nest
- Taufufa — soya with your choice of liquid sugar (similar to taho in the Philippines, minus the pearls)
For drinks, I always go for juice with longan fruit.
There are also fresh fruits you can buy. I recommend the jackfruit, watermelon, and more. If you haven’t tasted durian yet, you can also get one here.
As said above, there are different items you can try in a pasar malam so consider this a rough guide.
Suggested night markets in Kuala Lumpur
1. Sri Petaling night market
This is my favorite night market because it’s close to where I lived in Bukit Julil (about a 10 minute drive). I used to come here every week to get my share of salted-egg chicken and squid, fruits for take-home, and more. Every now and then I’d be daring and try a new local food (stinky tofu, ugh).
How to get here: The easiest way to get here is via Grab/taxi from Sri Petaling train station.
2. OUG Night Market
OUG night market is a huge night market, but with a relaxed crowd. It’s easy to walk around without bumping against other people in the area.
Aside from the food, there are also a lot of stalls here selling clothes and other homeware stuff.
How to get here: The easiest way to get here is to take a Grab/taxi from Awan Besar train station.
3. Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman night market
This is actually the first night market I visited. Because it’s located in the city center and opens on a weekend, it’s a go-to shopping location for locals. Expect huge crowds when you visit.
Jalan Tunku Abdun Rahman night market occupies a large area including various streets. You can see various stalls selling street food, native delicacies and cakes, and fresh fruits and juices. There are also specialty items such as durian ice cream.
How to get here: Take a train to Bandaraya station. From there, it’s walking distance to the night market.
Tip: If you haven’t had enough food, you can also drop by RSMY restaurant in the area, which offers the best cheese naan in Kuala Lumpur.
4. Taman Connaught night market
Taman Connaught night market is the longest night market in Kuala Lumpur, spanning 2 km in length and featuring over a hundred stalls.
Aside from the usual food items, you can also find trendy offerings including coconut ice cream, juice served in inflatable holders, various cakes and tarts, and so on. There area also stalls offering food from other countries in Southeast Asia
How to get here: The easiest way to get here is via Grab/taxi from either Cheras or BTS train station.
5. Jalan Alor night market
If you’re unsure where to go, it’s still worth visiting Jalan Alor night market. As I mentioned above though, the prices here are relatively more expensive and based on my experience it’s best to go here with someone else. A lot of items are meant for group buying (e.g., satays are sold per 10 pieces) and Chinese restaurants in the area offer dishes good for sharing.
Schedule: Open daily
How to get here: Take a train to Bukit Bintang station. From there, it’s walking distance to the night market.
Visiting a pasar malam is one of the free things you can do in Kuala Lumpur. Have you been to a pasar malam in Kuala Lumpur? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below! 🙂
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