Pasar Seni (Central Market) is where you can go and find some craft and various souvenirs for your keepsake about your travel to Kuala Lumpur. Pasar Seni Central Market was designed by TY Lee, an architect and engineer, in the Art Deco style of the 1930s. Its original purpose was as a wet market where you can get fresh vegetable produce, fish and other meats. As Kuala Lumpur was burgeoning into a very busy business centre, the location of Central Market within the heart of KL was not so conducive. With the Lorries trying to find their way into the congested city and lack of available parking space around the wet market, the town council decided it would be better to move the Central Market to another location away from the city centre.

As the structure was very old and had some historical nostalgia, someone threw in an idea that the place should be converted into an art centre. And thus after some renovation in 1986 it became the Pasar Seni, (“pasar” meaning market, and “seni” meaning art or culture). Though the English name was still retained as Central Market which was the old name. I guess they didn’t want to change the old familiar English name for it because to call it “Art Market” or “Culture Market” didn’t have a ring to it like “Central Market”, I suppose.

The Pasar Seni still has a big space feeling of an old wet market, though they have made the place into a two-storey building inside. You can find all kinds of knick-knacks, arty stuffs and cultural products. Though in terms of cultural products some of them aren’t even originated from Malaysia! You can find all sorts of crafts products from Middle East, Bali, even silk products from China and Korea!

If those craft products aren’t your style, you could have your portrait drawn by various street artists. Maybe I should call them street artist as they have rented booths show casing their various art works. Bring along your portrait photo and have them render into a canvas. If not, try to sit still as they draw your portrait there and then with curios onlooker having a glance at what you are trying to do.

If you don’t like to have your beautiful mug drawn, well you could always settle for some simple handmade souvenirs like hand painted key chains, or what the ingenuity of the artist can think up to make into handmade crafts.

Wait around till evening go out the streets outside the central market and look out for baskers. If you like their performance, do throw in some tips. I’m sure they would appreciate that.

You could also go for walk along the esplanade side beside the dirty Klang river. But I wouldn’t give the notion of a romantic walk by the river as the river doesn’t smell that nice!

Getting There

The Pasar Seni LRT station would be the right place to get off and about for some exploration to this Central Market.

If you driving there, there are some parking available, however it is limited so you just have to take your chances there. If you don’t mind a bit of walking, you could park around Dataran Merdeka and walk towards Pasar Seni.

Other points of interest nearby

Market Square – a collection of old pre-war shophouses including this Pasar Seni (Central Market).

Dayabumi Building – cross over the river if you want to have a closer look at this building which infused some Islamic motifs into their facade. The “Pejabat Pos Besar” or the main post office is located here too. You can get some Malaysian philatelic stamps as souvenirs if you are into stamp collecting.

Kuala Lumpur China Town (aka Petaling Street) is some 10minutes walk away if you are looking into some knock offs and other souvenirs.

Or walk in the opposite direction to Dataran Merdeka and view some heritage buildings.

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Hotel reservations in Kuala Lumpur

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