Shopping in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is paradise for shopaholics, with markets overflowing with crafts and cultural bric-a-brac and futuristic shopping centres and department stores packed with international brand-name fashions and the latest consumer electronics. Prices are low by international standards, and bargains abound, particular if you reclaim the duty on departure. Haggling is the norm in the street markets; for the best savings in the shopping centres, visit during the annual Mega Sale Carnival from mid-June to August.
The most important shopping district is the so-called Golden Triangle - the area bound by Jalan Pudu, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Tun Razak. Here, tucked between the skyscrapers, are aircraft-hangar-sized shopping centres and air-conditioned department stores carrying all the top international brands. There are more swish malls dotted around the suburbs. For interesting cultural souvenirs, try Chinatown (for lanterns and other Chinese bric-a-brac) and Little India (for colourful fabrics and depictions of Hindu deities).
The most popular street market in KL is the night market on Jalan Petaling in Chinatown, but most of the items on sale are counterfeit copies of Western brands, usually of vastly inferior quality. More interesting souvenirs can be found on the backstreets of Chinatown, and around Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Little India, which is the setting for a bustling night market every Saturday evening. Alternatively, drop into Central Market on Jalan Hang Kasturi for an impressive selection of handicrafts from around the country.
Shopping malls and department stores abound, particularly in the Golden Triangle. Jalan Bukit Bintang is a good place to start your quest for bargains. Nearby, the swish KLCC Suria mall and the truly extravagant Starhill Gallery offer perhaps the most sophisticated retail therapy in the city.
Most shops are open daily 0900-1700, with malls generally open daily from 1000-2200. However, some smaller shops close on Sundays. Sales tax is generally 10% or less.
While international fashions and electronics are some of the biggest bargains in Kuala Lumpur, traditional crafts abound. Central Market is the best place to come for wood-carvings, batiks, songkets and other handicrafts, but you can find some eye-catching religious bric-a-brac in the backstreets of Chinatown and Little India. Available from outlets throughout KL (or directly from the factory in Setapak Jaya), Royal Selangor Pewter makes for a sophisticated souvenir. The shop at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia has some imaginative gifts based on traditional Islamic art. The kris daggers worn by Malays are also popular souvenirs, but make sure that you are allowed to import such items into your home country.
Tax-free shopping is available, but you'll need to request a tax-refund form before payment. This should be presented at the airport for a refund on departure.