Malaysia has plenty to lure the world traveler. The country is brimming with natural beauty, friendly people, unique cultures, unforgettable food, arresting architecture and perfect, sunny beaches. But there’s one more aspect that has proved absolutely irresistible for visitors to this country – SHOPPING!
Shopping in Malaysia has been elevated to something of an art and a sport by both foreigners and Malaysians. The array of goods and the variety of shops that sell them is delightfully mind-boggling. Malaysia is a veritable paradise for shopaholics.
On any given expedition, you’ll find the most fascinating products from Southeast Asia along with the best of Western branded items. In charming Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, for instance, you’ll see delicate hand printed batik material alongside intricately-carved Tibetan bowls and beautiful pewter photo frames. Further downtown, you’ll encounter the best of Hermes, Prada or Diane Von Furstenberg.
The fact that most foreign tourists enjoy a favourable exchange rates only adds to a shopper’s ecstasy. There’s also the added bonus of duty exemption on specific items. You’ll find quite a number of items are far less expensive when purchased in Malaysia which explains why the influx of visitors who arrive on these shores are more than happy to spend every last minute of holiday time at the shops.
Malaysians think nothing of spending their weekends in any one of the colossal malls in major cities such as Penang and Kuala Lumpur. It seems that almost every year, newer and more impressive shopping sanctuaries sprout up. raising the stakes. The latest addition to Kuala Lumpur’s long list of shopping malls is the award winning Pavillion in the heart of KL where you’ll find highly exclusive boutiques, mid-range shops and cult brands.
There are several world-class shopping centres around the country. Most of the major ones are huge, mega malls while there are many community-based malls as well. Some of the more popular ones include:
The Gardens – located just outside KL city centre, is also a new mall with a relaxed ambience. Branded items are a dime a dozen here and you’ll notice names such as Coach and the reputed Singaporean label Raoul as you stroll along the clean, well-designed walkways. Shoppers who are addicted to the thrill of finding a bargain won’t be disappointed. Unique, affordable goods can be found at the immense Mid Valley Megamall in KL or One Utama in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
The Curve, which is close to One Utama, has an al-fresco feel to it and offers a pleasant shopping experience especially on sunny days. Deeper in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, you’ll find the gigantic lion-head that greets visitors at the entrance of Sunway Pyramid. There are literally hundreds of charming, little shops and boutique offering inexpensive items. Gurney Plaza in Penang is also a great place to spend your day without spending too much cash.
But the centre of every bargain hunter’s dream has to be Sungei Wang Plaza and Bukit Bintang Plaza where there are thousands of unusual and inexpensive items up for grabs. These older shopping centres are also a great place to people watch.
Malaysian brands have begun to make a beep on the savvy shopper’s radar. British India, a clothes and accessories store, is a favourite among Malaysians and the expatriate crowd. You’ll love the long, cottor pants and tops for men and women as well as beautiful beaded necklaces or bracelets and basic home furnishing. Designs are influenced by the colonial era and retain a cool, airy, old-world charm.
If you’d like to take home local goods as souvenirs, don’t miss stopping by at Peter Hoe, which is tucked in the Lee Rubber Building on Jalan Tun H.S.Lee in KL. You’ll be delighted by the pretty fabric, batik clothes, curios, linen outfits, intricate silver jewelery, silk cushions and pillows and many more.
Hand-crafted local items can be found all across the country and most shopping centres have boutiques that sell them. Malaysian handicrafts range from intricate silver, brass and pewter products to pottery and rattan baskets and furniture. These items are available at different levels of quality but for high-end goods, visit Aseana at Suria KLCC.
Batik is one of Malaysia’s most prized local products. This hand-painted fabric has been around for years but is slowly making its presence felt on the world of fashion stage. Malaysian batik is known for its beautiful, coulourful and bold designs, quite different from any other kind of batik that can be found in this region.
Wau or the Malaysian kite is another special locally-crafted item. These beautifully-patterned kites will make a great wall adornments and conversation starters! You’ll find them, at economical prices, on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The indigenous tribes of Malaysia are well-known for their creativity in woodcarving. Their beautiful handiwork can be found in many states but perhaps the best can be found in East Malaysia.
Malaysia is also well-known as THE place for stocking up on electronic products ranging from state-of-the-art cameras to the tiniest MP3 player. Major malls across the nation sell these items but Bukit Bintang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur is one of the best places to purchase them at a bargain.
Computer devotees and IT aficionados will be transported to paradise at Low Yat Plaza, which is next to Bukit Bintang Plaza. Anything and everything related to computers can be found under one roof and what’s more – the prices are unbelievably economical. The Digital Mall in Petaling Jaya works on a similar concept as Low Yat Plaza.
Branded computer names such as Sony and Dell are to be found in almost every shopping complex but the area dedicated to computers at the Mid Valley Megamall is probably the most comprehensive and includes an Apple store.