Royal Selangor is one of the world’s largest pewter manufacturers, founded in 1885 at the start of Malaysia’s Tin Rush by a young Chinese immigrant named Yong Koon. The Royal Selangor Visitor Centre offers insight into Malaysia’s cultural heritage with a museum, store, factory tours, and hands-on pewter workshops.
Tours of the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre are free. Make advance reservations for one of the two paid workshops—the 30-minute School of Hard Knocks or the hour-long Foundry—and take home your own pewter piece. Most Kuala Lumpur city tours stop at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, and a handful include participation in one of the company’s workshops.
Things to Know Before You Go
Quirky as it may sound, the visitor center is a must for anyone with an interest in crafts, and the workshops are great for older kids.
Royal Selangor has kept up with the times, selling products that run the gamut from traditional Malay/Indonesian keris (daggers) to flash drives.
The on-site museum, which explains the role of tin in Malaysia’s history, is worth a visit for history buffs.
How to Get There
Royal Selangor runs a free shuttle bus from more than 30 downtown Kuala Lumpur hotels to its suburban location; book through your hotel concierge. Alternatively, the visitor center is about a 20-minute taxi ride from the center of town or a 5-minute taxi ride from Wangsa Maju LRT stop on the Kelana Jaya line.
When to Get There
The Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and pewter factory is open daily year-round. Weekends are the busiest times, so it’s best to go midweek, particularly if you hope to do a workshop. Just after opening is the quietest time of day.
What Is Pewter, and Why Malaysia?
Pewter is a silver-colored metal alloy made mainly from tin; Royal Selangor’s pewter contains around 96% tin. During the Tin Rush period (roughly 1880–1930), the region now known as Malaysia was the world’s number one tin producer. Malay artisans who had worked with gold, silver, and brass began to employ traditional metalworking techniques with pewter, creating a new tradition.