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Chowrasta Market Penang – Experience Local Lifestyle

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Penang Chowrasta Street Wet Market Toned Down

Chowrasta Market, Penang

Chowrasta Market Penang – Experience Local Lifestyle

This is the best Asian wet market experience in George Town – Penang’s Chowrasta Market.

Wake up early for a true blue Penang experience of shopping at an authentic, lively wet market.

Watch the street vendors set up their stalls just before the crack of dawn. By 6 am, most of the roadside stalls would be set up with vans parked and goods offloaded.

Watch how the local housewives shop as they moved from stall to stall to do their marketing. Most of the shoppers and vendors know each other.

It’s the daily chat and mingles they look forward to.

It’s worth the effort to walk through the market even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Just taking in the colors, smells, and people-watching is a great pastime.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
A view of the spanking new Chowrasta Market known as “Kalinga Ban San” in Penang Hokkien Photo: Doris Lim

What is the Chowrasta Market?

The Chowrasta Market is known as “Kalinga Ban San” in Penang Hokkien. Translated it means “South Indian Market”.

Where is the Chowrasta Market located?

Four roads are bordering the Chowrasta Market. 

Most of the market activities spill onto the three bordering roads.

When is the best time to go?

For my jaunts, I head there during the weekends. A fun place to immerse yourself in on Sunday morning.

Where do the locals go?

I seldom go into the Chowrasta Market building. Like most locals, I prefer the open-air section street wet market along Kuala Kangsar Road.

What do the bargain hunters look for?

I can get fresh meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, plump juicy fruits, and vegetables.

How do you enter the Chowrasta Market?

Most visitors would enter Kuala Kangsar Road from either Kimberly Street or Campbell Street. 

The two shorter roads, Chowrasta Road and Tamil Street connect to Penang Road.

As there are vans and lorries parking on both streets, there are fewer street vendors here.

What is sold prominently on Chowrasta Road?

Dried foodstuff from China and women’s clothes wholesalers are predominant on Chowrasta Road.

What is on Tamil Street?

Along Tamil Street, there are Indian grocery shops.

What can you buy in Chowrasta Market?

Chowrasta Market itself is a haven for tourists looking for cheap bargains, souvenirs. Food is abundant with a large range of local goodies. 

There are pickles, sweets, dodol, tempoyak, cincaluk, and tambun biscuit and even homemade cookies.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
In Malaysia, there is a NON-HALAL section, where pork is sold. Photo: Doris Lim

Everything can I eat at Chowrasta Market?

It is easy to find good and cheap food for breakfast in most outdoor food markets. There are five “kopitiam” (coffee shops) on Kuala Kangsar Road.

These are hidden just behind the umbrella hawkers selling decent, affordable breakfasts.

I head to my two favorite breakfast food here.

What is the most popular street food found at Chowrasta Market in Penang?

There is a popular Chee Cheong Fun cart that serves steamed flat rice noodle rolls is without any filling. The springy rice rolls are drizzled with oil and three types of sauces. The pungent prawn paste (hae ko), sweet red sauce (tee cheou), and chili sauce.

Another breakfast favorite is the Chee Cheong Chok, a thick flavourful congee cooked with pig innards and blood cubes. This is topped with loads of white pepper, spring onions, and chopped crispy deep-fried pig intestines.

Is there a good coffee there?

I down that with ‘Kopi C’ a thick local coffee with thin evaporated milk. ‘Kopi‘ is local coffee with thick sweetened condensed milk. ‘Kopi O’ is just black coffee with sugar.

You could grab a cup of cold soybean milk to go and walk off those calories.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
This elder Chinese man squats on a small stool to gut fish deftly much to the amazement of watching crowds! Photo: Doris Lim
Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
If you’re a first time visitor to an Asian wet market, you may find it a little unnerving. Watching fresh poultry and fish being gutted and chopped is common here. It makes a great experience to film or video the locals selling fresh fish and poultry. Photo: Doris Lim

The Morning Chowrasta Market is an Adventure

It takes a while to get used to the smell of a wet market. Sidestepping the puddles and no tripping over the tripod legs of huge umbrellas soon becomes second nature.  It takes about half an hour to walk the length of Kuala Kangsar Road.

Brace yourself for a Malaysian Experience

For a truly Malaysian experience, watch out for the motorcycles balancing containers and goods riding through the crowd of pedestrians and shoppers! 

Seriously no one seems to care as everyone just goes at their own pace as they jostle for space on the narrow road.

A few kids take turns pulling each other as they ride in discarded boxes on the pavement.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
The kids live it up whilst the motorcycles continue to ride through the pedestrians narrowly squeezing through. I was there taking photos up close! Photo: Doris Lim
Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
Dried foodstuff and Chinese herbs. Photo: Doris Lim

You can buy cheap cotton Pajamas & Bras at Chowrasta Market 

Even though there are plenty of shops selling clothes at wholesale prices, no one seems to mind the pajamas and women’s underwear on display overhead.

Do walk in some of the regular clothes shops to look around if you want to buy some cheap clothes. There are batik dresses, nice shirts or souvenirs.

Some of these items you won’t find at the Batu Ferringhi night market.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
No one seems to care about Chinese superstitions of “Men should never walk under a woman’s undergarments.” Photo: Doris Lim

Check out the Sports Shoes and Sandals

There are loads of cheap shoes and sandals that look like the original on display.

I bought two pairs of shoes to pair with my fave jeans for my weekend jaunts. One pair of sandals I wore hiking up Pala-U waterfall in Hua Hin, Thailand.

I kid you not!

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
I love the funky colors of the shoes. The seniors would buy tai chi shoes from this friendly seller. Photo: Doris Lim

Lots of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for Choice

Penangites love a good bargain. More than that they love to pick and choose their fresh produce and fruits. So it’s okay even if you’re picky and take your time choosing. The vendors are friendly even if you don’t buy.

There are fresh banana combs on sale. Fresh jackfruits cut and sold in plastic packets and imported grapes and persimmons. There’s another morning flea market at Lorong Kulit worth checking out.

Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
Lots of fresh plumps and juicy fruit on display. The day we went there were sweet crisp moon drop grapes on sale! Photo: Doris Lim
Chowrasta Market Penang - Experience Local Lifestyle
Colorful leafy veggies and root veggies. Photo: Doris Lim

Chowrasta Market Penang never closes and is opened daily

*This hive of activity with random wet market stalls on Kuala Kangsar Road is now cleared. 

They allocate the vendors stalls along Chowrasta Road.

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