KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — A tourist attraction as well as a familiar place among locals, Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur is one of the few areas in the city with that rustic, kampung charm.
Many of the houses here are made of wood, with some standing on stilts as protection against flash floods and to keep off rodents and such, just like traditional homes of yesteryear commonly found in villages in smaller states in the country.
The historical Malay enclave which dates back to more than 100 years ago is spread over 100 hectares and is home to approximately 19,000 residents.
It was gazetted by the British in then Malaya to be a Malay agricultural settlement in 1900 so the residents could retain their kampung lifestyle in the heart of town. So much so that till today some residents even raise chickens in their backyard!
No surprise then that Kampung Baru (which literally means “new village”) comes highly-recommended as a tourist destination.
In fact, it is one of the world’s top trending neighbourhoods as revealed by Airbnb (an online marketplace and hospitality service) in an exclusive interview with its South-east Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan country manager Robin Kwok with Malay Mail recently.
“Kampung Baru is the most sought-after search (request) for Airbnb. Even foreign guests are excited to visit the place,” she was quoted as saying.
Take a leisurely stroll and you’re likely to find stalls selling tasty treats such as fried cempedak (a jackfruit variant), steamed sweet corn, sugarcane juice, lontong (rice cake dish), nasi lemak (fragrant rice dish cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf), nasi Padang (rice with a variety of dishes unique to Padang in West Sumatra, Indonesia) and more.
Don’t forget to take the obligatory picture showcasing the juxtaposition of the old and the new. This photo opportunity can only be shot in Kampung Baru where you’re bound to find a view of classic Malay homes against the backdrop of modern skyscrapers including the imposing Petronas Twin Towers.
Apart from the quaint, Instagram-worthy kampung homes, the Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru mosque is a must-see too. Built in the 1880s, the mosque, enhanced with tiles in Middle Eastern designs, underwent a major renovation several years ago at a cost of RM20 million.
It can accommodate up to 11,000 worshippers and it is furnished with a main prayer hall, lecture hall, multi-purpose hall, office and kitchen, among others.
Getting to Kampung Baru is easy via the LRT (Light Rail Transit) Kelana Jaya Line. If you’re coming from a landmark station like KLCC, the fare is RM1.20 and RM2.10 from KL Sentral, another key station.
Situated on the southern edge of the historical neighbourhood, the Kampung Baru station is located directly beside the Ampang–Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway and Klang River.
The underground station is next to the Flat PKNS and behind it is Legasi Kampong Bharu, a 43-storey residential apartment project still under construction.
Within the station there is a 7-Eleven convenience store which does not only sell food and other daily needs but also stocks mobile starter packs as well as mobile phone reloads, internet games and Touch ‘N Go, among others.