A Shopaholic's Guide to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If you’re a shopaholic looking for places to shop in Kuala Lumpur, you’ve come to the right place!
There're quite a few shopping malls in KL, which are large, Westernised shopping complexes selling everything you'd want to buy back home but 'Malaysia-flavoured.' Great food, great clothes, quality designer goods, and home-grown fashion labels are rife and more affordable here. There’re excellent book shops with thousands of interesting titles you’ve never seen before, Malaysian-style jewellery, and lots of colourful trinkets for people of any age.
The main shopping malls in Bukit Bintang (otherwise known as the "golden triangle") are Pavilion KL, Berjaya Times Square, Sungei Wang Plaza, BB Plaza, Low Yat Plaza and Lot 10, to name a few.
For those who are looking for a more unique and ethnic shopping experience, try Jalan Petaling and Central Market in Chinatown and Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Kuala Lumpur’s Little India – also known as the old Brickworks area.
I can only comment on all the places I personally visited – but I hope my experiences will be able to assist you in seeing what's out there in one of the great shopping capitals of the world.
Looking for designer clothing, fashionable jewellery, a high-end haircut or fine dining restaurants? The Pavilion KL has seven floors and over 450 retail outlets selling internationally renowned brand name items.
- Couture Pavilion (designer luxury and international boutiques)
- Centre Court (events and festivals)
- Connection (street bistros, cafes and urban leisure)
- Gourmet Emporium (cusines, conveniences, groceries)
- Home (home décor, designer furniture)
- Seventh Heaven (relaxation therapies, rejuvenation, renewal)
The Pavilion also houses a fitness centre, karaoke lounge and a cinema. I found the goods at Pavilion to be of the highest quality and worthy of an international reputation. However, I did find the price tags a bit much for the clothing (about AU$500 a dress) whereas the fine dining was much more reasonable (a main meal for approx AU$40).
Berjaya Times Square
Lots of bargains abound at Berjaya Times Square – home of 1000 shops – with a mix of well known and new brands of clothing. You’ll pick up fantastic clothes, such as a brand-name top for as little as AU$5 and the groceries available here are quite cheap.
I was introduced to the bargains of Berjaya by a local worker who took me on a little tour where she shopped because it offered “the best value for money in the area”.
Berjaya Times Square also has an IMAX 2D & 3D cinema, as well as a theme park. Yes, you read correctly, it has a functional roller coaster for the children to enjoy. I do believe it was the first time I ever saw a real roller coaster inside a shopping centre and it felt very decadent!
Sungei Wang & BB Plaza
If you’re very tall, you might have to stoop a bit when visiting Sungei Wang Plaza. The roof is set low on some floors but you’ll find a variety of trinkets in this plaza, including jewellery, Japanese stationery, mobile phone ornaments, children’s toys, shoes and clothing.
There’s a huge open area in the centre of the plaza where a variety of live performances take place and there’s lots of small cafes and bakeries to enjoy a quick snack.
Shoe shoppers beware – there’s a dazzling array of shoes to choose from, however the prices are quite steep for the quality you are getting. They look great on top – embroidered, painted, glitzy, but turn over the shoe and examine how good the sole is before buying.
Be aware that some locals like to follow you and try to engage you in conversation at Sungei Wang, in the hope you will involve them in your life and part with some cash quickly. Just walk on and don’t respond to persistent people.
Adjacent to Sungei Wang Plaza is Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza) which has a few floors of interesting goods, including shoes, backpacks, electronic gadgets, jewellery, T-shirts and other market-type items. You’ll find a lot of haggling goes on in BB Plaza and you’ll have to hang onto your handbag as some unscrupulous people hang around the area looking for an opportunity to grab quick cash.
Low Yat Plaza
If you’re looking for mobile phones, IT-ware and electronic gadgets, then Low Yat is the place to go. I can’t tell you if it’s cheap or not as I wandered through Low Yat and was impressed with the variety of offerings but didn’t need to buy anything at the time. My sister tells me that she got some good deals though.
Little India (Indian Quarter)
My hotel staff recommended a visit to the Indian quarter of Kuala Lumpur, especially as I like Indian food and clothing. I took a long walk there and wandered through a market of interesting goods, including all the usual overpriced handbags, designer sunglasses and fragrances that proliferate among the Malaysian tourist trail. However, I got a little lost and a few streets away from the market, found the “real” Indian quarter in Kuala Lumpur; full of bargain shops the local Indians buy from, lots of beautiful, tailored Indian clothing, heaps of street food and cafes and the food tasted great!
I found lots of clothes for around AU$5 (all handmade and embroidered) and a few brightly coloured Indian scarves for AU$2 each. Kmart sells the same ones back home for AU$40, so you can see what type of profit margin is being tacked on by our big stores back home!
Everywhere there were friendly locals who were happy to chat and interesting Indian music to listen too - during Deepavali (the Indian "Christmas" festival held in late October/early November) there is more adornment and loud music in the streets than usual, plus a lot of additional goods especially displayed for this occasion.
The Indian quarter in KL was very large, streets and streets and streets filled with it (a few kilometres in circumference). The best part was that there were absolutely no hawkers as it was a bit off the tourist trail. You had to literally force the attention of the shopkeepers in order to pay for goods as they had a really laidback attitude and didn’t want to hassle anyone - they’d rather read the paper or have a nap! I highly recommend visiting Little India to anyone who has an interest in shopping Indian. The prices are fairly reasonable and you can haggle a little if you want.
Chinatown & Central Market
A little more risqué than Little India, the Chinese quarter is well worth a visit. Catch a train trip from central Kuala Lumpur for about AU$1.20 and end up at the Central Market, which sells a stunning array of handcrafted Malaysia goods for tourists. Sarongs, bags, clothes, jewellery all abound, although (being designed for tourists) they are only slightly cheaper than at home. Still, the variety covers two floors of handcrafter’s heaven – be prepared to empty your wallet as it’s crammed with exciting hippie-type stuff – I did!
Outside the market is Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown, full of Chinese shops, services and street food. You might feel a little ill-at-ease here if they're having a bad week (I attracted a lot of stares and pushy hawking, something I didn’t get anywhere else around KL) and there seemed to be quite a few desperate people hanging around near the market. But if you want to feel like you are mingling with the locals and experiencing some excellent Chinese cuisine, this is the place to be!
Around Chinatown are quite a few decorative Chinese temples, also worth having a look at.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my blog about shopping in Kuala Lumpur, and I look forward to hearing about any new shopping experiences you've discovered or special purchases you've made in KL!
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© 2013 Suzanne Day