One of the best ways to get to know a country — and taste the best local dishes — is to visit its markets. In Malaysia, a night market is locally referred to as “pasar malam.” There are different night markets in Kuala Lumpur and this guide will tell you the best ones and which food to try.
- What you need to know
- What to see in a pasar malam
- List of night markets in Kuala Lumpur
- Recommended night markets in Kuala Lumpur
- What dishes to try
- What to read next:
What you need to know
Most tourists visiting Kuala Lumpur is familiar with Jalan Alor night market. Although it’s a good option, it’s important to know that it caters especially to tourists, so the prices here are more expensive and it has lost that bit of authenticity that you can find in regular night markets that locals go to.
Basically, pasar malams are street markets that operate from mid-afternoon ’til night. They are often located in residential neighborhoods. In Kuala Lumpur, you can visit a different pasar malam every day of the week. They offer local dishes and other products created by local businesses and artisans.
I lived in Kuala Lumpur 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. One weekend, my friend Hermes invited me to go to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman pasar malam in Bandaraya (which we simply refer to as the Bandaraya night market). The experience reminded me why I was happy here — I’ve rediscovered the quirkiness of the city, the distinct flavors of each cuisine, and the elation of partaking in all of these.
In my opinion, visiting a pasar malam is venturing into the culture of Malaysia itself. If you want to go on a food trip in this city, you can explore a pasar malam and taste different local food in one go. It also lets you see how locals go about daily in the country.
Another great thing about pasar malams are that they are currently out of the tourist radar. Most guides feature Jalan Alor alone, so this is a great opportunity to do something a little “under the radar” as well. However, this might not be for long! The Malaysian government recognizes the potential of pasar malams as tourism gold mines to be cultivated in the coming years.
What to see in a pasar malam
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.
List 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 is a list of night markets in Kuala Lumpur and their schedules.
|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|
Recommended night markets in Kuala Lumpur
These are the night markets in Kuala Lumpur that I’ve personally visited and vouch for.
1. Sri Petaling night market
This is a huge night market that offers a variety of food and other items, such as trendy clothing.
This is my favorite night market because it’s close to where I lived in Bukit Julil. I used to come here every week to get my share of salted-egg chicken and squid, fruits such as jackfruit for take-home, and more. Every now and then I’d be daring and try a new local food (stinky tofu, ugh). I easily spend around RM70 in one visit.
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 another huge night market, but with a relaxed crowd. It’s easy to walk around and shop without bumping against other people.
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 night market is located in the city center and it opens on a weekend, so it’s a popular shopping destination for locals. Expect huge crowds when you visit.
It is so huge that it occupies a number of streets. There are various stalls selling street food, native delicacies and cakes, and fresh fruits and juices. There are also specialty items such as durian ice cream.
This is actually the first night market I visited. I suggest wearing comfortable shoes and prepare for a walkathon. If you haven’t had enough food in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman night market, you can also drop by RSMY restaurant in the area, which offers the best cheese naan in Kuala Lumpur.
How to get here: Take a train to Bandaraya station. From there, it’s walking distance to the night market.
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 at least one other person so you can share food and expenses. 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.
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. I suggest that you also take a look at 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 one item or have them mixed. I find it cheaper compared to the salted-egg snacks in Singapore, and they are freshly cooked too. The added curry leaves add extra flavor and crunch!
For standard Malaysian fare, here are the ones you should try:
- 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 — chicken satay is one of the most famous dishes in Malaysia, so you should give it a try!
- Skewered meats such as tofu, cheese tofu, chicken liver, mushrooms and other vegetables — typically, these can be found in a rolling station that offers various grilled items for cheap
- Salted herbed chicken — chicken cooked in a salt wok. This one is simple yet very flavorful.
- Sticky brown rice with chicken — sold in aluminum-covered bowls
For dessert, here are my recommended ones:
- Bird’s nest — a Chinese dessert consisting of different toppings. It’s somewhat similar to a halo-halo in the Philippines
- Taufufa — soya with your choice of liquid sugar. It’s similar to taho in the Philippines, but without the pearls
There are also fresh fruits you can buy. I recommend jackfruit, watermelon, and more. If you haven’t tasted durian yet, you can also get one here.
For drinks, you can choose among different types of fruit juices. I always go for longan fruit juice.
There are many items you can try in a night market, so consider this only as a rough guide. Be adventurous and try out what looks good!
Visiting a pasar malam is one of the free things you can do in Kuala Lumpur. Have you been to any of these night markets in Kuala Lumpur? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below! 🙂
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Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).