Kuala Lumpur is a great place to shop. In recent years, mall after mall has risen from city lots, filled with hundreds of retail outlets selling everything from haute couture to cheap chic clothing, electronic goods, jewelry, and arts and crafts.
The huge Central Market, on Jalan Benteng (tel. 03/2274-6542), offers a wide array of Malaysian handicrafts, but the market has become more gentrified in recent years and, as a result, now offers fewer bargains.
Pasar malam (night markets) are very popular evening activities in KL. Whole blocks are taken up with these brightly lit and bustling markets packed with stalls selling almost everything you can dream of. Two good bets for catching one: On Saturday nights, head for Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, while the Bangsar Night Market starts at dusk and is popular with trendy residents.
Another shopping haunt in KL is Chinatown, along Petaling Street, but for me, this place is more circus than anything else. Day or night, it’s an interesting wander past stalls of knockoff designer clothing and accessories, sunglasses, T-shirts, souvenirs, fake watches, and pirated CDs and DVDs. Hawkers can be quite forward.
Most of the major shopping malls are located in the area around Jalan Bukit Bintang.
Suria KLCC (tel. 03/2333-1888; http://www.suriaklcc.com.my), just beneath the Petronas Twin Towers, has a number of shops worthy of individual mention: Aseana Fashion (tel. 03/2382-9988), located on the ground level, has gorgeous Asian-inspired haute couture; on Level 1, Royal Selangor (tel. 03/2382-0240) sells an array of pewter gift items; on Level 2, you’ll find iKartini (tel. 03/2382-2833), which sells locally inspired high-quality batik clothing; and on Level 3, Pucuk Rebung (tel. 03/382-0769) offers a small but interesting collection of Peranakan antiques and clothing.
Pavilion KL (tel. 03/2188-8833; http://www.pavilion-kl.com), at the corner of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Raja Chulan, is without a doubt the city’s most upmarket mall, with stores including Burberry, Furla, and Gucci. Berjaya Times Square (tel. 03/2117-3111; http://www.timesquarekl.com), in Jalan Imbi, wins the prize for excess, with 900 shops and food and entertainment outlets, plus one of the world’s largest indoor amusement parks.
For Malaysian handicrafts, visit Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur, Section 63, Jalan Conlay (tel. 03/2162-7533), with its warehouse selection of assorted goods from around the country, all of it very good quality. Make time for the artists’ village located behind the complex. This cluster of bungalows houses painters, batik artists, woodcarvers, potters, and other artisans who create their works and display them for sale.
You can also try the Central Market on Jalan Benteng, where you’ll find local artists and craftspeople selling their wares.