The late Sudirman, one of the most popular singers in Malaysia, sang about Chow Kit in one of his songs. The song aptly titled, ‘Chow Kit Road’, talks about its people, its vibrancy, and its amazing diversity and in general, a generous homage to one of the busiest areas in Kuala Lumpur. If you’re looking to truly experience the city, then head on to Chow Kit. Its unabashedly loud, dirty, a bit scary at times and it is without a doubt, a place that is the opposite of glitz.
There is almost a sense of mystery and aura surrounding this seemingly backwater part of the city. Indeed, this gangly collection of old buildings, a myriad of food stalls and textile shops peopled by the most diverse of individuals one could find in the whole country is what made KL an interesting melting pot of culture that’s worth exploring.
Chow Kit is basically located around the vicinity of Jalan Chow Kit, Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. It was actually named after Loke Chow Kit, a tin miner and municipal councilor. It’s a conclave for a large Malay community who resides in Kampung Baru, just a stone throw away from Chow Kit. However, in the last few years, you can actually see a large Indonesian community, as well as other migrants from Africa and Bangladesh.
Chow Kit’s main attraction is its people. It’s a large melting pot of culture, food and lifestyle. You may also want to check out its daily wet market called Bazaar Baru Chow Kit which is reputed to be the largest in KL. Shopping is quite an experience itself. Don’t expect high-class and expensive brands here. Instead, it is more of exploring small stalls selling all manner of things and the specialty here is the ‘bundled clothes’. They are mainly used clothing and accessories and can be found along Lorong Haji Taib.
Food is abundant and cheap. Again, don’t expect fine dining here. It’s all about speed, variety and price. Due to the different background of its inhabitants, you can find a variety of food from Malaysia, Indonesia and even Bangladesh. They’re cheap, good and available throughout the day and night. Getting to Chow Kit is not a problem at all. Buses are aplenty from all corners of the city. You can also take the monorail and stop at the Chow Kit station and of course, there are taxis available 24 hours.
Accommodations are aplenty in Chow Kit and the nearby areas. A popular budget hotel is the Vistana Hotel. It’s a fantastic 3-star hotel that offers comfortable accommodation at a great price, standard amenities as well as facilities you may find in a more expensive hotel, such as wireless connection, satellite channel and warm hospitality. From just RM 240 (USD67) for a deluxe room, it is value for money to stay in Vistana Hotel. However, its winning feature would be its location. It’s situated near the monorail stations, near to many restaurants and it’s far enough to be away from the hustle and bustle of Chow Kit.
The Grand Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur is actually the tallest hotel in Malaysia. Its towering presence dominates the Chow Kit area and with 800 rooms, it is quite an impressive hotel. The avant-garde design is tasteful and unmistakable. Their hospitality is legendary and with a strategic location that provides easy access to the city and its surrounding neighbourhood, the Grand Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur truly does stand out. All its rooms are elegantly appointed with plush soft furnishing and standard room amenities. They come at a starting rate of RM138 (USD37) which is really affordable and amazing really for a hotel of this class. Although it is positioned as a four-star premier business-class hotel, the Grand Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur is also suitable for tourists and leisure travellers alike.