The Central Market was one of the last things we checked off our list of things to see in Kuala Lumpur. We didn’t spend much time here, but it still stuck with us as a cool place to visit when you’re in Malaysia.

History of the Market: 

central market

Originally built in 1888 and used as a wet market, the Central Market is now one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular tourist attractions. As the market grew, the city built a structure to contain all of the vendors, and once the wet market moved out of the building, the Malaysian Heritage Society fought to keep it up and running.

Over the past 20+ years, the market has morphed and changed, but one thing that has remained is its celebration of culture and heritage. Presently, the market highlights three main races that are found in Malaysia, and visitors can experience their art, jewelry, clothing, and culture in each zone of the market.

Our Visit to KL Central Market: 

We visited the Central Market on our third day in Kuala Lumpur. We had spent the morning visiting museums and the National Mosqueand then headed over to check out the market that so many travelers have raved about.

We walked from the National Mosque to the market, and it was a little bit hard to find. The intersecting roads in KL can get pretty confusing, so don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions.

Unique Art of Henna Stall: 

central market

Our first stop in the market was at the Unique Art of Henna Stall. They sell scarves, jewelry, and other trinkets, but what I was most interested in was their henna tattoos. I had been wanting to get henna since we started thinking about visiting Malaysia, and I felt like this was the perfect time to get a pretty design.

central market

Compared to other places in the country, the henna at this stall was on the pricier side (RM20 – RM40 per design/hand), but I’m still glad I decided to get it done here. My design took about half an hour to complete, and then we headed off to see more of the market.

Jamal Tommy Gallery: 

central market

Our second and final stop of the market was at the art section. We like to try and find a piece of artwork from each country that we visit, and knew that the Central Market was the perfect place to buy traditional/unique art.

The first stall we stopped at had a lot of beautiful art, but the vendor/artist was out for lunch, so after waiting about 15 minutes, we moved on. Eventually, we found the Jamal Tommy Art Stall where we watched Jamal Tommy (in the flesh!) painting beautiful portraits and other commissioned art pieces. One painting in particular caught our eye (it was of a traditional house in Kampung Baru), and he signed it before selling it to us at a discount.

Should I Visit the Central Market? 

central market

If you want to do some serious shopping, or are looking for souvenirs to bring home to your friends and families, the Central Market is the place for you! We didn’t spend very much time in the market, but you could easily spend hours checking out each and every stall. There are also a lot of unique experiences you can have at the market, like indulging in a massage, getting a fish pedicure, making a DIY Batik painting, visiting the 3D Art Museum, and much more.

If you’re not sure what other things you should see in Kuala Lumpur, the market offers visitors a special “Must Visit Trail Card.” Each time you visit a site listed on the card, you get a stamp, and once you collect all of the stamps, you can trade it in for a certificate of completion from the Malaysia Tourism Centre.

Even if you don’t buy anything, simply walking through the different floors of the market is an experience in and of itself.

Visiting Information: 

central market

Price Hours Closing Days
Free to enter, but be prepared to shop! 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Open daily, but individual shops may be closed at different times.