KL markets come to life when the city is still asleep. They’re messy, chaotic and irresistibly atmospheric: The sharp tang of spices competes with the heavy aroma of sweet roasting meat and ripe fruit, wafting over the jabbering cacophony of commerce. We’ve put together a list of the top eight wet markets you should visit – but if sourcing for fresh seafood at 3am doesn’t bait you, check out our list of the best night markets and other bazaars in town. Are you ready to haggle?
Best wet markets
At 3am, the largest wholesale market in the city with 448 stalls jumps into frantic activity. Vegetable trucks – the midnight express – hailing from as far as Cameron Highlands repackage their goods at this hangar-like pit stop in Selayang before hauling them to wet markets around the city.
Heavily patronised by expats, this covered market is clean and dry, so there’s no chance of tripping on slippery floors or of coming away with your clothes reeking of fish. For a wet market, it’s not very wet at all. Visit early for dibs on a fair range of vegetables and fruits including hard-to-find ones like Australian mango, artichoke and passion fruit.
The fourth farmer’s market in Selangor to earn the Ministry of Agriculture’s ‘Mega’ status takes place every Thursday morning along the road that also houses Tuesday night’s pasar malam. Section 17 residents have long endured a love-hate relationship with this bustling, sprawling farmer’s market.
Established more than half a century ago, this wet market is one of the most comprehensive in the city, offering a plethora of vegetables, meat, clothing and even pastries. Food lovers are in for a treat: Indian kuih, putu mayam, chicken rice and assam laksa can all be found here under one roof.
It’s the largest wet market in KL, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Meats are butchered in the open while live fish swim madly in pails. But once you’ve passed the rows of vegetables, local fruits and spices, a staggering array of street food await you (go for the laksa).
In addition to the run-of-the-mill live poultry, fresh produce and seafood, SS2’s packed-to-the-rafters neighbourhood morning market is perhaps most synonymous with its non-halal breakfast offerings. Chinese street food vendors are plentiful here, with topnotch yao char kuey, stir-fried carrot cake and curry noodles.
Best night markets
One of the highlights of this pasar malam is the vegetable stall that stocks tomatoes and leafy greens from Cameron Highlands. But what you’re after here is the homemade mini apams with red bean or peanut filling. Did we also mention that the night market’s location (also a hot spot for fireworks-viewing) offers a clear view of the Twin Towers?
The humming Taman Connaught night market best illustrates our obsession with street food. Perched behind their stalls, vendors offer slap-up versions of fried chicken, curry noodles, char kuey teow, laksa, satay and ABC that will keep you going until midnight. Stay for the stinky tofu – you’ll spot (or smell) it easily by the queue that snakes around the block.
Plaza Mont’Kiara’s courtyard hosts this nifty weekly market where you’ll come across stalls selling trinkets, household knick-knacks and hot Korean food. Don’t forget to stop by California Cookie Company’s stall for the softest, chewiest chocolate chip cookies in KL.
One of the country’s longest night markets, the massive 2.4km-long Setia Alam pasar malam is home to a smorgasbord of street food, ranging from ubiquitous Malay and Chinese offerings to Japanese and Korean cuisines. The stinky tofu here is an institution, as is the assam laksa and pan mee.