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Local time Kuala Lumpur

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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.

Key areas

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).

Markets

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 centres

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.

Opening hours

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.

Souvenirs

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 information

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.

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MiCasa All Suite Hotels

For a home-from-home experience, this design hotel has accommodation in the form of elegant, well priced one to three bedroom suites with kitchens. There's also a palm-shaded pool, a restaurant and a bar. The hotel is situated in the central business district, opposite the Petronas Towers and near the shopping centres of KLCC.

The Majestic

This lovely heritage hotel retains the refined air of its pre-war days, but recent restorations have added a modern 15-storey Tower Wing. The contrast between old and new plays out in the bedrooms, with those in the colonial quarter boasting wood panelling and claw tubs, while the new wing entices with four-poster beds and sleek glass fittings. The hotel's parlours, smoking lounge and orchid-filled conservatory add further allure.

Mandarin Oriental

Located in the cosy Back Bay, the Mandarin Oriental combines comfort and style to produce one of Boston's most luxurious and trendy hotels. Rooms resonate with classic oriental styles with a modern flare and boast beautiful views of the Back Bay cityscape. After a long day of touring and shopping, enjoy a soak in the oversized Jacuzzi baths or indulge in a massage at the Mandarin Oriental's five-star spa. Perfect for a business retreat or a relaxing holiday, the Mandarin Oriental will not disappoint.

Tune Hotel

Taking the budget airline concept and applying it to hotel rooms, the brightly-coloured Tune Hotel offers limited service at low cost. Its tidy and compact singles, doubles and twins are good value but add a surcharge for air-con, Internet access and other extras. The flagship hotel is located downtown, a short stroll from Medan Tuanku Monorail station, but a new sister establishment has opened in Jalan Putra.

Hotel Capitol

Regular promotions and online booking deals bring down prices at this towering business-type hotel set in the midst of the Golden Triangle. Rooms are neat and functional rather than opulent, but the staff are friendly and the location is excellent, with the Jalan Bukit Bintang shopping strip right on your doorstep. Guest have access to an upscale restaurant, a kitchen-bar and 24hr concierge service.

Sarang Mas

This homely bed and breakfast set in a 1920s brick-built house offers rooms with simple furnishings along with communal lounge areas, and suits both families and single travellers. There's relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that feels far-removed from the business hotels of KLC, and the owners also have various other options, including apartments and single rooms, in six other locations across the city.