Kuala Lumpur is well known among travelers as a bustling, metropolitan city – and it’s usually the go-to place for tourists if they are seeking for some culture, shopping and food while in Malaysia. Although it’s less than 40 mins away from my suburban neighbourhood, I rarely venture into the heart of KL unless if it’s for work. There are a few favourite spots though : While out on an assignment the other day (which was cancelled due to bad timing .__.) I dropped by Central Market, or Pasar Seni to look for some creative inspiration and cutesy deco items for my room.
A major tourist hub located just a few streets away from KL’s Chinatown, Central Market was built in 1888 by the British. It functioned as a wet market for citizens as well as tin miners. The current building was erected in 1937 and has since become a place for the arts – featuring an annexe for art and theatre events, stalls selling both touristy stuff and niche craft items, as well as a caricature lane where artists sketch out faces for a fee.
There are two floors inside the building, with sections themed around the major races in Malaysia which have contributed to our diverse and colourful cultures today. Apart from the shops, there are also many pushcart stalls selling things like pashmina shawls, bright batik-print clothes, miniature replicas of KL’s landmarks, and many more.
The second floor is a medley of items, from wau (Malay kites) to Buddha statues, hats, beanies, full costume regalia, and other knick knacks. A haven for tourists who want to get everything under one roof or show off their ‘exotic’ new wares back home.
On the first floor, there are interconnecting ‘themed’ streets, each representing one major race in Malaysia. This one is aptly dubbed ‘Little India’ and has a Kashmiri silk shop, carpet traders and clothing stores. This was also where I met the weird hippie guy who asked for my phone number at his Red Indian themed shop.
Love the cloth lanterns!
The Red Indian accessory shop.
So many lovely bag designs! I wanted to buy all of em but budget
A shop specialising in wooden mask carvings. They were varied, from fierce Indonesian demons to serene, smiling Buddhas.
‘Wayang Kulit’ aka shadow puppets, which are popular in the Malaysian states of Kelantan and Terengganu, as well as in parts of Indonesia and South East Asia, where designs may differ.
I KL tees!
There are lots of things to see and buy in Central Market – especially if you love arts and crafts, or want to get something for friends and family back home. The stuff can be a tad overpriced but there are some real bargains if you hunt well enough.
From KL Sentral: Take the LRT Kelana Jaya Line. It’s only one stop to Pasar Seni. From there, walk down from the station and Pasar Seni is just across the road.