Kuala Lumpur shopping: 10 best places to bag a bargain

Kuala Lumpur shopping: 10 best places to bag a bargain

With more malls than you can shake a shopping bag at, KL is Southeast Asia's retail capital

From the massive malls that line Bukit Bintang to the backstreet stalls of Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur is a shopaholic’s dream. 

But if you’re in town for only a few days, deciding where to start can be rough.

Here's a look at the top 10 places to shop in Kuala Lumpur.

The Curve

The Curve is a popular venue for KL expats. Its most recent foreign import? Johnny Rockets. It might be located way out in west KL, but The Curve beats many of its competitors with its indoor/outdoor layout, range of al fresco dining and pedestrianized walkways.

Add to the mix Kuala Lumpur’s only Ikea, as well as an adjoining Tesco, and you have the most family-friendly mall in town.

This explains why it fills up on weekends with parents pushing strollers.

But there’s still ample room to shop.

For eating, almost every Malaysian favorite can be found, including branches of Pappa Rich, Little Penang Cafe and Secret Recipe.

The Curve, 6 Jalan PJU 7/3, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor; +60 (0)3 7710 6868 

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Mid Valley Megamall

Mid Valley Megamall, open in 1999, is one of the world's largest retail spaces. While it can’t match Bukit Bintang malls for high-end luxury, Mid Valley is one of KL’s most popular malls for its abundance of affordable shopping -- not to mention a huge array of stores and restaurants (430 and counting), 18-screen cineplex, large Metrojaya and Aeon department stores and exhibition center.

There are two food courts, but those in the know head to Oasis on the second floor, where the prices are cheap, and food more authentic.

If you really need an upmarket fix, you can walk across the connecting passageway to The Gardens Mall.

Mid Valley Megamall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2938 3333

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Royal Selangor

If you're into tin-based alloys -- and who isn't? -- Royal Selangor is the go-to joint for pewter in KL. A huge tankard -- with what appears to be foam overflowing from its brim -- stands at the entrance to the head office of Royal Selangor, one of Malaysia’s most iconic companies.

At the KL visitor’s center, you can learn how to make your own pewter dish at the School of Hard Knocks (RM60).

If you just want to explore, there are free guided tours that take you through the company’s history (it was founded by young Chinese pewtersmith in 1885), the science behind making the alloy and a factory tour.

Naturally, there's a gift shop for those who want to pick up a souvenir. This is a shopping list, after all. 

Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, 4, Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 4145 6122

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Berjaya Times Square

New York has one, as does Hong Kong, so it only makes sense that KL -- arguably Southeast Asia’s shopping capital -- has a Times Square.

Highlights include Malaysia’s largest indoor theme park, split between family-friendly and adult-only rides; a Taipei-style night market on the third floor, complete with flashing neon signs, manholes and food stalls; and the Grand Musical Stairs, where you can pretend to be Tom Hanks in the movie "Big," as you make your own music on giant keys.

All this and much more in what claims to be the world’s ninth largest building in terms of floor space.

Berjaya Times Square, 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2117 3111 

Petaling Street Market

"These Rolexes are a steal!" It might be a little cheesy, with its Disney-esque Chinese arch and blue covered walkway, but Petaling Street Market, the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, buzzes with life.

Here you'll find a variety of tourist trinkets, T-shirts, electronics and DVDs.

As soon as you veer off the main strip, you enter a warren of backstreets where hungry locals go to fill up on bowls of asam laksa, Hainan chicken rice and mee goreng.

Eating on plastic stools next to crates full of squawking chickens, it’s a good pit stop before heading back to to the maelstrom for more haggling over bargain goods.

Petaling Street Market, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 9235 4800

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Central Market

Central Market, a one-stop venue souvenir shopping. Opened in 1936, though a wet market has stood on the site since 1888, KL's Central Market has seen it all.

While once the art deco building was full of stalls selling meat and produce, since the mid-1980s it has promoted Malaysian arts and culture.

The interior is split into themed areas representing the country's diverse population, which include Lorong Melaya, where shops sell Malay handicraft; a replica of Malacca's Jonkers Street; and Little India.

The adjoining Kasturi Walk features an array of food stalls; the Annexe Gallery is a center of contemporary arts.

Central Market, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2031 0399

Peter Hoe Beyond

Despite not having a website, and its out of the way location, Peter Hoe Beyond is on the hit list of every visiting shopaholic.

Run by the eponymous Malaysian designer, this warehouse store, which occupies the second floor of the Lee Rubber building sells a huge range of unique pieces -- housewares, silverware, furniture, clothing -- either designed or commissioned by Peter Hoe himself.

The in-shop cafe sells delicious slices of cake.

Peter Hoe Beyond, 2/F, 145 Jalan Tun H S Lee, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2026 9788

Suria KLCC

For those who judge malls by the height of the buildings that sit on top them, Suria is a clear winner. Suria KLCC is close to the top -- or should that be basement -- of KL's shopping greats.

This luxury mall occupies the bottom six podium floors of the Petronas Twin Towers, and their 170-meter-high Skybridge.

It has everything from luxury goods to everyday items, including branches of Parkson, Isetan, Cold Storage and Marks & Spencer, a fantastic food court, a cineplex, a huge branch of Kinokuniya bookstore and a fun-filled Science Discovery Centre and aquarium.

The adjoining KLCC Park has water fountains and a two-acre playground.

Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2382 2828

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

If Suria KLCC has a rival in the upscale shopping stakes, it’s Pavilion.

Since early 2012, the two malls have been connected by an air-conditioned walkway, which makes getting between the two a breeze.

Pavilion is as much known for its dining as its shopping, with a range of casual places (Fish & Co., Din Tai Fung, Madam Kwan’s) and fine dining restaurants, such as Al-Amar (Lebanese cuisine) and Spice of India.

Where it really wins is with its location -- it's at the top of Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur’s most famous shopping street, lined with a dozen different malls.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur; +60 (0)3 2118 8833

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Malaysia Year-End Sale

It’s not a venue per se, but Malaysia’s annual Year-End Sale (that’s YES, for short) is the best time to find bargains in Kuala Lumpur and the country at large.

Running this year from November 16 to January 5 under the slogan “My Extreme Shopping Addiction,” shopping malls and markets throughout the city offer huge discounts -- up to 50% off selected items -- as well as Christmas concerts, carnivals, clearances, fairs, exhibitions and lucky draws.

For a full list of events taking place from KL to Kelantan, Selangor to Sabah, visit the Tourism Malaysia website.

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Growing up in colonial Hong Kong, Simon Ostheimer always felt more at home in Asia than anywhere else. He is now in Phuket where he is Managing Editor of The Phuket News.

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