Shopping in Kuala Lumpur

Shopping in Kuala Lumpur can be very rewarding. You’ll find a mall, market, or night market (pasar malam) in practically every corner of the Malaysian capital, almost all of them accessible by monorail or LRT. The KL shopping scene is such a big draw, the government sponsors a three-month sale season from June to September. In this article, we’ll show you what you can buy in Kuala Lumpur, and where you can find what you’re looking for. What to buy Kuala Lumpur is the crossroads for practically everything made in Malaysia – pottery, wood carvings, food products, and traditional fabrics from far-flung Malaysian states can all be found here. Closer to the city, the adjoining state of Selangor is also known for its high-quality pewter craft, which can be purchased at almost any market stall, or right at the factory itself. If you’re in the market for unique Malaysian fabrics, look for shops that sell kain songket: silk or cotton woven cloth brocaded with gold or silver threads. The metallic threads create a shimmering pattern against the non-reflective fabric, and the patterns created by the master weavers are very Malaysian in character. Normal people wear songket fabric only on special occasions; rich garments made from songket are more frequently worn by Malaysian royalty. Kain songket fabric and clothes come in many textures, colors, and styles; simple designs are cheap and readily found almost anywhere, but more intricate songket weaves may cost thousands of Malaysian ringgit per yard, reflecting the effort and thought that goes into their manufacture. To buy kain songket, go to Wisma Yakin in KL’s Masjid India. Wisma Yakin is known for its many tailors and fabric shops; Malay mothers typically go to Wisma Yakin to get clothes made for Eid ul-Fitr. The Malaysian state of Selangor has long been known for its fine pewter craft; pewter is a tin-based metal that finds common usage in drinking implements, tableware, and desk accessories. Selangor long prospered due to its tin mining industry, in fact Kuala Lumpur started out as a trading post serving tin miners. Today, the finest quality pewter is produced by Royal Selangor, Malaysia’s foremost pewterware maker. Royal Selangor creates pewterware fine enough for the Sultan of Selangor’s use, thus the “Royal” in the name. While their work can be found in most shopping malls around Kuala Lumpur, you can best explore the history and craft of pewterware at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre in Setapak Jaya, around 8 km northeast of the city center. Closer to the city, you can visit Royal Selangor’s main outlet at level one of Suria KLCC. Kuala Lumpur’s Shopping Malls Of course, there’s far more to Kuala Lumpur than just pewter picture frames and beautiful fabrics. The many shopping malls in the city are filled to bursting with electronics, modern designer clothing, books, and perfumes. The Golden Triangle is ground zero for KL’s shopping scene: this is where you go to buy a wide range of merchandise from one of the many malls in the area. Suria KLCC, at the feet of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, is perhaps Kuala Lumpur’s most popular shopping stop, with trendy clothes, footwear, and accessories stores sharing space with the entrance to the Twin Towers tours. Bukit Bintang Plaza, one of the first shopping centers in the city, is still going strong with shops selling fashion accessories, sporting goods, footwear, and clothes. For electronics, visit Low Yat Plaza to get the lowest prices possible on laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices. The world’s finest shops – Dior, Kenzo, Valentino and more – can be found at Starhill Gallerynext to the Marriott. Also not to be missed is the Times Square mall.

Times Square mall in Kuala Lumpur. Pic: Shane Dallas.

For a more traditional Malay shopping experience, go to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, whose many buildings dating back from before World War II represent some of Kuala Lumpur’s best-preserved historical structures. Among these buildings, you’ll find a wide array of shopping centers like the Sogo Department Store and Pertama Complex. Kuala Lumpur’s most famous night market occurs along this stretch – every Saturday evening, Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman is closed to traffic and becomes crowded with stalls and hawkers selling all sorts of goods, from local products to cheap tourist souvenirs to excellent halal street food. Near Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Masjid India– the city’s Indian enclave – sells Indian merchandise like bangles, silverware, gold jewelry, and saris.

Indian bangles. Pic: Joanne Lane.

Finally, Chinatown is your best place for cheap bazaar-style shopping. The iconic Petaling Street stretch, covered by a green awning, is lined with shops and hawkers selling all sorts of affordable goods, from fake branded items to delicious local cuisine. Bargaining is highly encouraged for shoppers visiting Petaling Street, if you want to get the best value out of your purchases in this area. Chinatown’s Pasar Seni, or Central Market, is a former wet market and currently a bazaar selling Malaysian products like kain songket, batik, and handicrafts.

Central Market. Pic: Joanne Lane.