Searching For A Songkok- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

a man wearing a black hat

I’m always on the lookout for authentic and local hats to add to my collection.
While visiting Kuala Lumpur, I came across a hat that I had to buy before leaving Malaysia.
Here is the story about how I came across it and went on a little adventure to find it.

After stopping by the Petronas Towers (to buy tickets for a visit to the Sky Bridge & Observation Deck for the following day) we decided to check out the Suria KLCC Shopping Center. The main purpose of the visit was to stop by the food court which we had read about in our guide book.

While our main reason for visiting the Suria was to try the food, we also stopped by a few of the stores. One of them sold local clothing and things of that sort. I tried on a hat that we had seen some locals wearing but it was pretty expensive. I chatted a bit with the clerk and was told how it was a very popular hat among the locals.

I was hoping to find this hat somewhere else but for a lot cheaper than it was going for at the mall.

a man holding a baby
Outside the KL Tower

After we finished our visit to the Suria KLCC we headed over to the Kuala Lumpur Tower. The KL Tower offers great views of the city and is the highest viewpoint in the city open to the public. It’s also the seventh tallest telecommunications tower in the world.

When we arrived at the KL Tower, we were greeted by a friendly staff member before going inside to buy our ticket to the top. He was wearing the hat that I had seen earlier in the day at the mall.

I asked about the hat and was told it’s name, the songkok. I also asked where I could buy one and what the price would be. The guy went on to tell me that I could buy a songkok on Chow Kit Road and that it was a lot cheaper than the price I saw it for in the mall. He was also kind enough to let me try on his songkok. (photo above)

a sign on a pole

After we spent some time at the KL Tower (taking in some great views of the city), we headed for the train to go hat shopping near Chow Kit Road.

When we got off the train at Chow Kit, we had no clue where to go. Across the street from the train station was a local market so we headed towards it. We walked up and down the stalls but had no luck finding any songkoks at first. I then decided to ask around about the elusive hat. A vendor or two pointed for us to go around the corner to find a store which sold them,

a group of people selling food
Some scenes from around the market
a group of people walking in a market

Before heading around the corner, we came across a couple of stores selling songkoks. The first booth had junky, poor quality hats.

The second stand seemed more promising. The lady running the booth showed me a few styles and qualities of hats. I got to try some on and found one that I liked. I wanted a plain, black songkok and it had to be decent quality.

While I was trying on the songkoks, a local man stopped by the booth. He spoke pretty decent English so we chatted for a few minutes. He told me that he needed a songkok for a party he was attending. I assumed it was a religious item and he said that it wasn’t and that many men in Malaysia wear them.

two men standing in a market

We spoke a little more and decided to take a picture together wearing the songkoks. I tried getting the price down a little but the lady would not budge on her price. My new, local friend decided to buy a cheaper quality songkok than what I was looking at. I said goodbye and went off to find the store I was told about.

a tall buildings with trees in the background with Petronas Towers in the background

We found our way around the corner by walking through a back road (more like a dirt path) behind the market. There was garbage all around and it stunk pretty bad. Kim was not happy with the path we took.

We got to the street and didn’t see any stores selling songkoks. The street had shops and vendors on both sides selling all different items but no hats. We walked for about 10 minutes down the road and did not have any luck finding the hat. The only good thing to come from this walk was great views of the Petronas Towers.

I didn’t have much time and needed to rush back to the market to buy the songkok I had tried on a short while back. We made our way to the stand but the lady was not there.

a stack of boxes in a storage rack
Boxes of songkoks
a man wearing a black hat and a white shirt
The Shopkeeper and my songkok
We waited around for a few minutes and she finally showed up. I tried on the songkok again and decided to make my purchase.
After what seemed like a wild goose chase, I finally had my songkok to add to my hat collection!

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