Kuala Lumpur ranks fourth in a list of the world’s best shopping cities, according to a CNN Travel survey – and it’s the second top shopping destination in Asia, just behind Hong Kong.
In short, if you’re looking for great deals and quality, bring along a couple of empty suitcases when traveling to Kuala Lumpur. You’ll easily fill them. The city, in fact, is the sixth most visited destination in the world.
There are 66 shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur alone, many of them concentrated in the Bukit Bintang district. Markets, bars, cafes and night markets are all contained under modern infrastructure, and spill out onto sidewalks and outdoor areas.
The Bangsar district is another favorite with the Mid Valley Megamall, The Gardens, Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Center.
Malaysia, easy to visit, hard to leave
Malaysia makes it easy to shop and sightsee. Most people speak English, so it’s easy to get around. People are friendly, and customer service is excellent. The culture is an exotic mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian – there’s always an intriguing encounter around the corner.
Jalan Petaling Street market in Chinatown offers a more authentic shopping experience away from the larger malls. The name means “starch factory,” from an era when tapioca was ground in stalls there. Narrow paths packed with stalls burst with knockoff bags and suitcases, clothing, music, Chinese herbs, toys and my favorite: iPhone cases with unusual designs for $3 ($30 in the States).
The Central Market and Jonker Street
Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, built in 1888, is now a Malaysian Heritage Site. Here you’ll find a near endless variety of arts and crafts, including batik and other textiles woven with silver and gold thread.
A great Central Market restaurant with a storied past:
Precious Old China Restaurant & Bar. Try the delicious Nona Laksa (traditional spicy noodle soup) and the Blue Nazi Lemak (infused rice cooked in coconut milk).
Jonker Street in nearby Melaka also teems with unusual and exotic goods, along with the standard tourist kitsch. You have to hunt around a bit to find an authentic treasure – try the byways that shoot off from the main street. Many street vendors sell chicken rice balls, and a few ladle out the traditional spicy noodle soup, laksa.
- Also, peruse this Trip Advisor guide to shopping in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines offers direct flights from LAX to Kuala Lumpur. Also, consider visiting Malaysia as part of a multi-country stop. Flights into Kuala Lumpur are fairly inexpensive from the nearby countries of Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
Getting into Kuala Lumpur from the international airport is easy with the high-speed rail, KLIA Ekspres. The trip to central Kuala Lumpur takes 28 minutes with trains leaving every 15 to 20 minutes. Tickets are about $12.
Kula Lumpur’s hop on and hop off buses are a great way to see the city. They run from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Cost: $12.50 for one day; $21 for two days.
Peruse Malaysia’s official tourism site for more information on the country.