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'
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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