Shop till you drop
Roughly a quarter of all the money tourists spend in Malaysia every year goes on shopping—a figure second only to accommodation. Spend some time strolling around KL and it is easy to see how this can happen.
Most of KL’s retail activity these days is carried out in massive air-con malls, which have become one of the city’s number one leisure destinations. The most popular central ones include Pavilion KL and Suria KLCC. They all offer much the same selection of local and international brands. The pick of the bunch is Pavilion, mainly because of its sense of space—it also has quite good cinemas. The malls can also be good for eating—don’t turn your nose up at mall eating as being some how “inauthentic” and there are no shortage of decent (and affordable ... and air-con) meals to be had.
When it comes to electrical goods, KL’s biggest central hub is Low Yat Plaza. The prices are about as keen as it gets in the city, with some built-in wiggle room for small discounts. But still, do not be surprised if you see the same camera or phone for less money when you get back home—and always compare the prices to what you might spend online. Low Yat is a five minute walk from both Bukit Bintang monorail station and Bukit Bintang LRT line.
In terms of books, Kinokuniya in Suria KLCC is the foremost book shop in Kuala Lumpur. It offers a solid range of English language fiction and non-fiction, and vast travel and food sections (among many others). This should be every book-lover’s first stop in KL.
If you don’t want to make the trek over to KLCC, there is a far smaller Times outlet in Pavilion Mall. A third option for books is the Junk Bookstore at 78 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee in Little India—described as one of the largest second hand bookstores in Malaysia, prices can be quite high, but it may be worth a dig around.
For souvenir shopping, the two prime spots are Petaling Street Market and Central Market—both in Chinatown. These are a short walk apart, so if you want to get all your shopping done in one session, this is where to head. Petaling Street is more for fake handbags, I Love KL t-shirts, Petronas Tower pencil sharpeners and fridge magnets—bargaining is essential. Central Market, and the adjoining Katsuri Walk, are also good for souvenirs, but the standards tend to be higher and there is less scope for bargaining—we’d shop here first then head to Petaling for last minute junk.
On the topic of junk, Plaza Karat is a Chinatown flea market which runs daily from early morning to mid afternoon and is a great place for picking up old LPs, mismatched shoes, padlocks, phone chargers and other random stuff—there are probably some gems among it all. You’ll find it between Jalan Sultan and Jalan Petaling, running parallel and towards the southern end of the two streets.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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