Vive l'amour, May Love Live Forever .....
Gracias a la Vida !

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Petaling Street and Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown

Petaling Street is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. Like many Chinatowns around the world, the gateway is denoted by this entrance archway with elaborate chinese designs and architecture. We call this the Paifang in mandarin or Pailau in cantonese.

The giant signboard here is written in 3 different languages:
a) Jalan Petaling (Malay)
b) 茨廠街 - pinyin (茨厂街) i.e. Cíchang Jiē in mandarin
c) Petaling street (English)

What puzzles me are the Chinese characters written on the signboard - 茨廠街 because 茨 is used in 茨菰 (ci gu as in arrowhead vegetable - Sagittaria sagittfolia). Taipioca is "mu shu" -木薯 but the "shu" character is  different. Please pardon me as I can't read Chinese characters.

Petaling Street is named as such because the road leads to the then Petaling tin-mining area.

 Petaling Street is "Shu Cheong Kai" or Chee Cheong Kai" in Cantonese, meaning "Tapioca Factory Street". Yap Ah Loy who was the third "Kapitan China" (Chinese Capitan) owned numerous tapioca mills around the street.

Some people also call this "Chee Cheong Kai" as in "Chee Cheong Fun", a kind of rice noodles named after the pig intestine that it resembles! This mystery is still puzzling me.

Petaling Street is a popular tourist destination and it is known to them as 'Kuala Lumpur Chinatown'. Locals also come here to visit, dine and shop. Some do their marketing here. Pre-war shops and modern highrise buildings stand side by side in this melting pot of cultures where East meets West.

This is the covered pedestrian walkway which brings relief from the sun and rain for many visitors. During the day, it is a hive of activity with many vendors, young and old peddling their wares. By late evening it will be closed for traffic as the night market stalls and bazaars take over. The night market here is a daily affair. Malaysians call this type of night market a 'pasar malam'. There will be a din of excitement and noise throughout the day and night as cutomers and vendors haggle over prices and stuff.

The lingua franca here is global - English, Manglish (Malaysianised English), Cantonese, Malay, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia, Myanmar, Tagalog, Tamil, etc, etc. but no Greek, I guess.

Some of the street and hawker food served here include

  1. steamed dumplings
  2. raw snakehead fish porridge and minced meat with century egg porridge (Hon Kee Porridge)
  3. chee cheong fan ( rice sheet rolls) with tasty chilli sauce, homemade gravy, sesame seeds and pickled green chillies
  4. fried pastries such as curry puffs, fried sweet potato balls and chinese crullers 'You Tiao' or 'Yau Char Kwai'
  5. sweet meat, barbecued meat, meat floss (e.g. Wo Lai Yeh dried meat)
  6. roasted duck and "ngap keok pau" (duck leg wrap) by Sei Ngan Chai (Spectacled Guy or 4-Eyed Boy - you choose the name)
  7. wantan noodles
  8. shreded chicken meat with hor fun noodles (kai see hor fun) 
  9. cool refreshing longan, soya bean, cincau and sea coconut drinks
  10. roasted chestnuts 
  11. Chinese styled crispy pancakes or Tai Kow Min
  12. Hokkien/Cantonese/Singapore style noodles and a variety of stir fry dishes served with beer or soft drinks in open air restaurants.
There are many more mouth-watering sweets, deserts, confectioneries and foodstuffs that you can find out when your visit Petaling Street. If you wish for western, vegetarian, muslim, mamak, indian or fusion food, no problem. You can find them all here. Some of the outlets and restaurants open until late at night.  After all, Kuala Lumpur is a city that never sleeps, 24/7.

Does a Food Discovery Trip look good? I'm sure the Globe Trekkers and Lonely Planet have already beaten me to it.

Can you see Hong Leong Bank along this road? This is Jalan Hang Lekir. Opposite the bank is the Hon Kee Porridge stall. The Chee Cheong Fun stall is just around the corner here. Here is where you can find most of the food mentioned above. This is truly a foodie's paradise.

This is the entrance to another hawker centre and more eateries. It is located in Off Petaling Street. Penjaja Gallery Jalan Sultan is also called known as Madras Lane Hawker Centre. There used to be the Madras Cinema but it was burnt down in 1979. Now a carpark occupies the place. I am taking this picture from the car park area. Here you can find delicious asam laksa, curry noodles, famous old Madras Lane Yong Tau Foo (stuffed tofu), chee cheong fun, shreded chicken meat with hor fun noodles (kai see hor fun), etc., etc. Many of the stalls are family owned and had been operating there for decades. E.g. the Yong Tau Foo stall has been there at the same spot for over 50 years! Here you can find old shops, old buildings and even record shops playing music of yesteryears. Further in leads to the wet market that sells groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meat and other farm produce.

Petaling Street is also a shopping haven. The place here is like a flea market or bazaar where you can buy all sorts of things.

An incomplete list reads as follows:

1) jewellery - real, faked, costume jewellery, accessories and bling-bling
2) handicraft such as lanterns, calligraphy, wooden screens, wood and metal carvings
3) fengshui items such as mythical dragons and phoenixes, zodiac animals, pottery etc
4) watches, sunglases, souvenirs, gift items, antiques, paintings, textiles
5) chinese medical practitioners and pharmacies, even traditional street barbers
6) precious and semi precious stones
7) clothes that include evening gowns and suits made to measure, dresses, sarongs, cheongsams, jeans, T-shirts and lingerie
8) traditional chinese style wedding accessories complete with lamps, spittoon and tea-sets

Some goods are 'Made in Malaysia', but many are imported from China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

Well, if you are a champion bargainer or bargain hunter, you may be able to get some good buys at dirt-cheap prices. Otherwise, you have another option, i.e. shop at our fully air-conditioned mega shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur like KLCC, Pavillion, Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang Plaza, Lot 10 and Mid-Valley Megamall.

This is flower street along Jalan Hang Lekir where you can find many florists. They sell cut flowers, bouquets and floral arrangement for all sorts of special occasions.

Some hotels in Chinatown are:
1) Replica Inn Chinatown - Petaling Street
2) Hotel Chinatown 2 - Petaling Street
3) Hotel Chinatown Inn - Petaling Street
4) D'Oriental Inn Chinatown KL - Petaling Street
6) Mandarin Pacific Hotel - Jalan Sultan
7) Hotel Malaya - Jalan Hang Lekir
The building in the picture above is Hotel Malaya at Jalan Hang Lekir.

This is the 121 year old Guan Di Temple located in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee in Chinatown.

The famous Hindu temple, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is also located along Jalan Tun H.S. Lee. Many devotees and tourists vist this temple on a regular basis. It is undergoing some renovation works, therefore I am unable to take any pictures at the moment. To find out more, you may visit this link. Here I have a photo of some flower garlands at a florist stall near the temple. There are many such stores here. These garlands are painstakingly hand strung with chrysanthemums, jasmines, roses and orchids.

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur is a colourful place with character, charm and spirit. There are many activities, entertainment and excitement for visitors. People from all walks of life and nationality come here to visit. It is definitely a great place for photography enthusiasts looking for inspiration. If this is not enough, Masjid Jamek and Central Market is just within walking distance away. For transportation, there are the taxis, buses at Klang Bus Stand, and trains at the Pasar Seni LRT station and Maharajalela Monorail station.

Chinatown is ever-changing. What we have today may disappear tomorrow and replaced with new experiences. Therefore, my word of advice to tourists and newcomers who wish to visit here is to travel smart and do your homework. Check the travel sites/forums/blogs and all information you can get before you start your journey of discovery.

Chinatown Kuala Lumpur is made up of 7 streets namely:
  1. Jalan Petaling
  2. Jalan Sultan
  3. Jalan Tun H.S. Lee
  4. Jalan Hang Lekiu
  5. Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
  6. Jalan Hang Jebat 
  7. Jalan Panggung. 
The nearest LRT station is the Central Market Putera LRT Station - about 10 min walking distance.
If you take KTM, you need to get down at the Kuala Lumpur station - about 15 min walking distance
GPS Coordinates are 3° 8′ 37″N, E101° 41′ 52″E.

To those who are coming to visit Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, I wish you a warm


This is my entry for My World Tuesday Season 2 Episode 2, a meme, strictly non-profit, where we have fun by showing you our world. My special thanks to the MyWorld team: Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy, Louise and Sylvia. See how others view their world or to participate, click here.


  1. You've done quite some research. Bravo!

  2. Thank you for the tour of Petaling Street. I've been to Central Market but not really walk in the Chinatown area. Have a great week.

  3. hvn't visited petaling street a long time already..

  4. What a marvelous, colorful, informative tour of Petaling Street! And your photos are terrific! They really give such a great feel for the area!



  5. That is a great write up Autumn Belle, you've expanded a lot of time and research on it. I voted for you blog. Hope you win, good luck.
    Melbourne Daily Photo

  6. hi..thx..i hv posted for FT n voted yours..

  7. Kengsiong, Irene, Slyvia. Thank you very much for the encouraging comments.

    BlossomFlowerGirl, Wenn
    Thank you very much for voting for my entry. I trully appreciate that.

  8. I have been to Petaling years ago and it's interesting a lot of pictures of it:) This is really very informative post. Nice.

  9. I'm most impressed with your informative post on Petaling Street, Autumn Belle! Besides, you've presented the whole area so well with fantastic pictures too. Thanks for the wonderful update...I haven't been there for quite a while, probably 2 years since my last visit. Hope my vote counts and really wish you win!
    God bless you!

  10. Marites, thank you for your encouraging comments.

    Jacqueline, thank you very much for the nice compliments and I am so grateful for your vote. I hope you and John will enter the contest too for the fun of it. I see that you have lifestyle and travel blogs too which I surely visit whenever time permits. I always have a longing to go to PJ street during the Chinese New Year season. That's when I can truly feel that the CNY season has arrived.

  11. Wow.. I think even the Tourism Dept. wouldn't able to give such a great detail compared to the research and information you have put here. I often visit Chinatown time to time, there is always something new sold there.

    Great work & I had voted for you.

  12. Wrong information

    Only Hotel Malaya is at along Jalan Hang Lekir, the other 4 hotels are located in Petaling Street.

    I am working in Chinatown, Petaling Street.

  13. James, thank you very much for the compliments.

  14. Dear Sir/Madam Anonymous.

    Firstly, I would like to thank you very much for visiting my blog. But most importantly, I wish to gratefully thank you very very much for taking the trouble to write a comment here and for correcting my error. For this, I salute you. I have since corrected this in my post.

    Welcome to my blog!


Yay, I have comments!

Thank you very much for visiting my blog.

Autumn Belle


Blog Widget by LinkWithin