Chowrasta Market is a wet market like no other in Penang. Built more than a century ago, it is older than many towns and cities in the country. It is perhaps the island’s most popular market, not only to locals but also to tourists. Chowrasta Market is the bubbliest market in George Town’s historical shopping district. It is located at the centre of Jalan Chowrasta and bordered by Tamil Street and Kuala Kangsar Road and the southern end of Upper Penang Road.
Chowrasta Market has a variety of vendors and stalls, some items are sold in carts while others are laid down on the concrete. This well-stocked bazaar brings colour to an authentic heritage city, which cannot be taken away by the modern shopping complexes. It is a good place to really experience the life of the locals in Penang.
Chowrasta was established in the late 1890s by the Commissioners of the Municipality of George Town. The front part was rebuilt in 1920 and remained unchanged until 1960 when it was demolished and replaced by a new market in 1961. Up to now, it still serves the locals every 6:30 in the morning until seven in the evening.
The wet market is located at the back where you can find all the fresh produce like seafood, poultry, beef, vegetables and fruits. At times you can find eels, frogs and other “exotic” foods. You can buy alive “kampong” chickens and have them slaughtered on the spot.
The front part is filled with stalls covered under colourful umbrellas, selling traditional sweets and pickles, a favourite among tourists. It is frequented because of its preserved fruits, fresh nutmegs, tao sar piah or the classic Ghee Hiang biscuits. The second floor of the market building is filled with thousands of second hand books and other funky items, piled up from floor to the ceiling. You can also find clothing, watches, shoes and other general merchandise.
Shoppers say that produce and merchandise here are cheaper than any markets in Penang.
The second hand items are worth digging as you can buy them at a fraction of the original price. Parking may be a hassle as it is crowded most of the time, but there is ample parking quite far from the market, like the multi-storey parking on Hutton Lane.
In 2016, the state government plans to upgrade the iconic Chowrasta Makret into a redecorated indoor business. The multi-million ringgit restoration will be headed by architect Laurence Loh, who is known for his restoration works in the Khoo Kongsi and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Some welcome the makeover but many business owners and stallholders are reluctant about the upgrade saying it will greatly affect their business especially if they are placed in the inside most of the market.
How to get to Chowrasta Market?
There are many buses that stop in front of the Chowrasta Market. You may take Rapid Penang Bus No 10, 11, 101, 103, 104, 201, 202, 203, 204 and 206. Alternatively, you can take the Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus.
Nearby Sights and Properties
• Wat Chaiyamangkalaram
• Little India
Address: Jalan Penang, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia