One of the prime tourist destinations in downtown Kuala Lumpur is Petaling Street. Guide books often refer to this area as ‘Chinatown’ which I always think is a bit odd considering that Malaysia has such a huge and widespread ethnically Chinese population. Still, the overwhelming influence in Petaling Street is Chinese and it is a good place to sample excellent Cantonese cuisine and local favourites. The street is probably more famous for the shopping and vendors’ stalls line the road selling t-shirts, souvenir items, fake Mont Blanc pens, imitation Coach handbags and so on. If you are in the mood to buy, bargaining is a must. Aim to pay no more than a third of the vendor’s opening price.
Many tourists only walk the length of the covered portion of the street, then turn around and jump back in a taxi or bus. That’s a pity because, by not continuing to the end of Jalan Petaling toward Maharajalela, they miss out on some interesting sights.
First of all, in a side street (Jalan Balai Polis) is one of my favourite restaurants, Old China Cafe.
This restaurant is located in what was once the guild hall of the Selangor Laundry Association. It oozes character and serves tasty Nyonya cuisine.
In the same street is an old police property which has seen better days and a Sikh temple dating from the era when Sikhs made up a large number of the local police force.
Where Petaling Street meets Jalan Maharajalela there are a few more interesting old buildings.
Chan See Shue Yuen is an elaborate clan house decorated in ornate green tiles. Built in 1906.
Next door is the Guan Yin Temple, built in 1880, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.
Across the street lies the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, an actively used venue for meetings, lectures, performances and banquets.
From here you can hop on to the monorail to your next destination to save you walking back to your starting point (and to save you from being fleeced by Petaling Street taxi drivers).