Kuala Lumpur has captured the fascination of many travelers on their South-East Asian adventure. Kuala Lumpur has evolved into an air transportation hub with over 28 million (2018 figures) visiting Malaysia. The mix of modern and traditional culture side makes Kuala Lumpur a great place to visit for families as well as solo travelers. Chinatown Kuala Lumpur is located in the old part of KL City and is a starting point for many travelers exploring the local cuisine and colorful culture of this iconic city. During my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur in July 2022, I stayed in Chinatown and explored the entire district on foot. Here is some interesting information that can help you plan your next trip to KL!
What is the best way to travel to Chinatown from other parts of Kuala Lumpur?
Catch the Kelana Jaya Line from KL Sentral going towards Gombak. Disembark at Pasar Seni LRT. Chinatown is 300 m from the train station. The area can also be accessed from Masjid Jamek LRT as you can walk across Leboh Ampang to reach Petaling Street.
What makes Chinatown such a special place to visit?
Chinatown has been the heart of tourist activities for years before, other modern development in KLCC, Bukit Bintang, and Bangsar along with other suburbs started attracting international visitors for their unique mix of modern lifestyle and travel experiences.
Chinatown and Jalan Petaling in general experiencing a cultural renaissance where a resurgence of trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants is giving a new color and personality to the old part of the town. A number of quality refurbished budget hotels and hostels have sprung up in the last two years offering an interesting opportunity for budget-conscious travelers to re-experience the past glory of the KL cultural hub.
I stayed in Travelodge City Center in August 2022 and explored most historical places on the Heritage Trail starting from Chinatown Kuala Lumpur. I think this part of the town has a lot more to offer than other areas in the city like KLCC that are catering more towards shopping, fine dining, and luxury hotels.
What are some of the best things to do in Chinatown?
Some old traditional restaurants in Chinatown have still retained the old-style charm and attract a regular army of food lovers flocking to this old part of the town on regular basis. Jalan Petaling has some a transformation with a number of the old run-down buildings transformed into trendy coffee shops, bars, and cafes. This trend can be seen in all the streets surrounding Chinatown.
What are some of the popular dishes to try in Chinatown kl?
Noodle and beef soup dishes are popular as a restaurant like Song Kee ( non-halal option) has been serving them for over 70 years. The aromatic beef soup is served with braised beef, beef cuts, and soybean paste to create a perfect flavor. The soup dishes are priced at around RM 10. The service is quick and the presentation is quite simple. Nothing much has changed through the years.
Must-try traditional dishes include:
- Che Cheong Fun
- Egg Tarts from Bun Choon
- Hokkien Mee
- Hon Kee Porridge
- Peranakan Food
Old China has seen a facelift and the decor is still old-styled and takes you back in time. The Peranakan food is very popular in certain parts of Malaysia offering a mix of Malay Chinese dishes cooked in curries and sauces prepared with local condiments. A new Four Points Sheraton hotel has added a bit of personality to these streets with a number of trendy bars including G-String, PenrosKl, and PS150.
The corner of Jalan Hang Jabat and Jalan Sultan is full of activity with a number of trendy average-priced cafes serving a mix of Malay and continental dishes. Mee Tarek and MYHUB Kopi are must-visits if you are exploring the area at a casual pace or staying nearby for a couple of days
Leaf & Co. coffee shop is located across the street and you can spot occasional digital nomads busy with their laptops. Western-styled coffee and desserts are the latest trends and the local population is catching up with this hype.
Lorong Panggung has a beautiful collection of wall art and mural capturing the rich cultural history of Chinatown. Brightly colored facades and shopfronts take you to hidden side street cafes offering a mix of local delights, dim sum, and cocktails. Visit Baijiu & Concubine KL to feel the modern and trendy flavors of Chinatown.
wHAT ARE SOME INTERESTING SPOTS NEAR CHINATOWN?
Chinatown is surrounded by Jamek Masjid and Central Market which are some of the popular landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. The Leboh Ampang Street close to Jamek Masjid LRT has a number of south Indian and vegan restaurants, particularly from the Chettinad Region.
You can find a number of Indian snacks including samosas and sweets as the shops are very close to Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu Temple. Many flower shops sell colorful flowers to temple visitors.
Pasar Seni or Central Market is somewhat of a cultural icon that I visit every time I travel to Kuala Lumpur. The old building was constructed in 1888 and is restored to the original plan. The tourist attraction is home to a large number of boutique stores selling batik and locally manufactured clothing as well as souvenirs and cultural artifacts from all regions of Malaysia. Central Market Kuala Lumpur is a great place to shop for gifts and souvenirs.
The rear section of the Market has a number of art galleries and DIY art and craft stores that are ideal for a group activity if you are traveling with kids or your family. The local artists are experts in making caricatures and sketches in various mediums.
A little walk from the central market is the historical Merdeka Square with Abdus Samad Building, Royal Selangor Club, and Kuala Lumpur Art Gallery. This part of the town must be explored on foot at an easy pace, as there is plenty to see and absorb. The art gallery holds local exhibitions providing very useful information about Kuala Lumpur City.