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Chinatown Walking Tour, Kuala Lumpur

Posted by on May 2nd, 2007
Filed Under: Kuala Lumpur, Travel Details

chinatown walk Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

South of Masjid Jamek are the teeming streets of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. This crowded, colorful area is the usual mélange of Chinese signs and shops, activities and noise, and is bounded on two sides by Jl Hang Kasturi and Jl Sultan. The central section of Jl Petaling is closed to traffic and is a frantically busy market, at its most vivid at night when brightly lit.

Starting from Masjid Jamek (1), cross over to the northern side of Jl Tun Perak and walk one block east to Lebuh Ampang. A short detour up this narrow street reveals a South-Indian Chettiar community, full of moneychangers and street vendors selling Indian sweets and flower garlands. Note the striking old shophouses (2) at Nos 16 to 18 and Nos 24 to 30, and the ceramic peacock-tiles on the Chettiar House (3) at No 85.

Backtrack across Jl Tun Perak and follow the path along Jl Benteng until the street splits at the clock tower. This is Medan Pasar, the site of the city’s original market and gambling sheds set up for early tin miners. The row of painted shophouses (4) at Nos 2 to 8 on your right was all designed by the same Chinese architect in 1906.

Head south to where Medan Pasar meets Lebuh Pasar Besar. On the southeastern corner is the OCBC Building (5), an imposing Art Deco structure built in 1938 for the Overseas Chinese Banking Company.

Turn east along this street, passing the whimsical, pink and old Federal Stores Building (6), dating from 1905 and taking up an entire side of the block on your left. Opposite is the rose-pink and white MS Ally Company (7), one of Kuala Lumpur’s longest-running and most venerable pharmacies.

Turn south at the next block onto Jl Tun HS Lee. Twenty meters down on your right is the orange and green Bank Simpanan Building (8), bearing the date 1914. It was originally a printing press and the upstairs is now home to the Backpackers Travellers Lodge.

At the end of this block, cross Lebuh Pudu, turn right and, after 25 meters, duck left into an alleyway, which leads to the small Taoist Sze Yah Temple (9). The construction of this temple was organized by “Kapitan China” Yah Ah Loy himself in 1864 and to the left of the altar is a statue of his likeness. You may see worshippers crawling in homage and penitence under the altar in front of the main shrine. Outside the temple are two gilded sedan chairs.

Exit the way you came in, cross the street and walk through the alley opposite the enormous Central Market (10). Previously the city’s produce market, the Central Market is an Art Deco building that was saved by preservationists and refurbished as a center for handicraft, antique and arts sales.

At the southern end of the market, turn left into Jl Cheng Lock, then right onto Jl Tun HS Lee and head south, passing Hotel Malaya and the bright red, incense-wreathed Guan Di Temple (11). The figure at the rear of the temple is Guan Di – the Taoist God of War – and on the altar infront of him are arrayed an impressive sword and halberd.

Cross over to the western side of the street to No 163, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple (12) and then walk to the end of the block and take a look at the old shophouses on Jl Sultan. You can detour to the Chinese tea shops on the southern side of the street leading back along Jl Panggong and Jl Balai Polis. Finish by walking south to the end of Jl Petaling, where you’ll find two late 19th century Chinese temples; Chan See Shu Yuen Temple (13) and, across Jl Stadium, the Koon Yam ( Guan Yin ) Temple (14), dedicated to the God of Mercy. The central effigy inside Sakyamuni, to whose right is a statue of the South Sea Guan Yin; to his left is a Qian Shou (Thousand Hands) Guan Yin.

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