Air Itam Market or Pasar Basah Air Itam is a historical wet market in Penang. The market was already doing business in the early days even before Air Itam was developed, serving the small community living there at the time. In its rural days, farmers come down from their farms on the hill to sell their fresh produce to customers in the valley. The population of the area has grown and the area has progressed to what it is today.
Air Itam is famous for the iconic Kek Lok Si and its asam laksa, a foodie’s delight. Apart from this, the market is also popular among the community for its supply of fresh produce and spices.
The wet market building is located at the junction of Jalan Air Itam and Jalan Pasar. Inside you can see separate section for vegetables, fruits meat, fish, seafood and dry goods. You can buy live chickens and have them dressed. Outside, there are many other shops lined up along Jalan Air Itam selling clothing and apparel, shoes and housewares. There are also small stalls selling fruit, meat and knickknacks.
The original market building has been renovated a few times, the last one being in 2011 and completed in 2012. Together with the change in look, the original name “Ayer Itam” was also replaced with its current name, Air Itam.
When you talk about Air Itam, the first food that comes to mind is the asam laksa, and the most famous shop here selling laksa is located just outside the wet market, at the corner of Jalan Air Itam and Jalan Pasar. The Penang Air Itam Laksa has been operating for decades and the business has been passed down for generations. There are other laksa stalls in the area and they all taste as good. It would be interesting to note that the famous Penang asam laksa was ranked 7th by the CNN Travel in their countdown of the top 50 most delicious foods in the world.
Another favourite here is the curry mee sold by 2 elderly Lim sisters. The Lim sisters have been selling their version of curry mee for more than 60 years. What makes it most interesting is that their makeshift stall is set on the ground, under a tree. They sit on a “bangku” or stool and dish out their curry noodles. They do provide tiny stools where you can sit and enjoy your noodles. If you prefer a table, you can bring your bowl to the opposite café and savour your meal with coffee or tea.
Air Itam is a food haven for those craving street food in Penang; the food court on the other side of Jalan Pasar offers a wide selection of local favourites like kuih chap, duck rice, hock kean char, char koay teow, char hor fun, among several others. So next time you visit the Air Itam, make sure to drop by the market and the food court for some authentic local experience.
How to get to Air Itam Market?
You may take Rapid Bus Penang Bus No 203, 204 and 502, and alight at Pekan Air Itam, before Jalan Pasar and walk to the market. Other bus services that go to Air Itam are Bus No 201, 202 and 206.
If you are driving from George Town, Jalan Air Itam is accessible via Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong or via Jalan Scotland, heading toward Jalan Air Itam to Jalan Pasar (Route 220). You will need to park on the allotted parking lots on the roadside along Jalan Pasar.
Nearby Sights and Properties
• Kek Lok Si Temple
• Ayer Itam Mahamariamman Temple
• Cheng Kon Sze Temple
PASAR BASAH AIR ITAM
Address: Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Air Itam, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia