Different Shopping Styles in Malaysia

Different Shopping Styles in Malaysia

Malaysia has almost every form of shopping imaginable, from the smallest individual stalls, to shophouses, to bazaars and night markets, all the way up to the highest of upscale shopping malls. Here is just a taste:

Stalls - These small vendors will arrive in the morning, claim a piece of parking lot or sidewalk, and set up shop upon a table under an umbrella. Their wares are too various to list or name specifically. Most often these are low-cost generic products, but you might sometimes find a gem of Malaysian culture among them. Haggling for a lower price is almost expected at these stalls - though no seller will argue if you don't

Shophouses - Some areas of Malaysia's cities and towns designated for commercial use are lined with hundreds upon hundreds of small shophouses. You'll find a plethora of cultural treasures in these shops - jewellery, statues, ornamental crafts, furniture, and hundreds of other items. Try haggling for a better price, though the shophouse owner might be firm on giving deals. If you feel good about the price, buy. If not, walk away towards another shop (which can also be a good haggling tactic).

Bazaars - While not any one hope of shopping, this classification refers to 'everything that doesn't fit conveniently into the other categories.' In most major cities, you'll likely find a gathering of sellers under one roof. Central Market in KL (near the Pasar Seni LRT station) is among the most famous, where sellers of traditional Malay, Chinese, and Indian wares ply their trade.

A stone's throw away is KL's infamous Petaling Street - Chinatown. Here you'll find anything and everything, with the possible exception of 'real' brands. Chinatown is known for its knock-offs of brand-name items. Watch out for 'Roolex' watches and 'Gootchi' handbags.

In these often-crowded areas of commercial competition, you'll get a great price if you compare prices and use some haggling strategy (i.e. be among the last shoppers of the night).

Night Markets (Pasar Malam) - In many of Malaysia's cities, it's tradition that on several nights per week, whole streets will close to traffic at dusk and come alive with the air of the 'pasar malam'. Here you'll find anything and everything - clothing, remote controls, fresh fish and produce, dolls, and much more. Two of KL's (Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia) finest are Pasar Malam SS2 (Mondays and Thursday) and Bangsar Telawi Pasar Malam (Sundays).

Shopping Malls - Malaysians love their malls. Though many may not intend to buy anything, the malls of Malaysia are packed on weekends. You'll find all the names you're familiar with at the largest malls - Sony, Prada, Nokia, Nike, and so on. Parking is sometimes a problem but many malls have this problem covered. Among KL's most expat-friendly malls are Great Eastern, Bangsa Village, 1 Utama, Suria KLCC, and Mid Valley Megamall. There's usually no room for haggling, but you may have success at some malls (especially in highly competitive markets, such as handphone sales).

Comparison - Haggling or not, you'll find great bargains in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysia Ringgit exchange it comparatively low, and tourist dollars are stretched much further here than many other cities in the region.

The 'hot' items for tourists that are a bargain in Kuala Lumpur include fashion, electronics, eyewear, cosmetics and perfumes, as well as a host of other items not found in other countries: exquisite fabrics such as hand-painted 'batik'; gorgeous silver items from Kelantan artisans; hand-woven carpets; and elegant pewter collections from the world famous Royal Selangor.

Travellers will surely want to take advantage of the duty-free stores at KLIA. The stores there offer a wide range of liquor, chocolates, cigarettes, cosmetics, perfumes, apparel, and other traditional duty-free items. Competitive with the duty-free items offered elsewhere in Southeast Asia, they're a bargain for most tourists from other parts of the world.

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