A beacon of hope for Southeast Asia’s burgeoning cities, Kuala Lumpur today is a modern capital worth emulating in many aspects. The city is also one of the region’s most well-endorsed shopping hotspots – it’s commercial success led by a tidal wave of expansive malls and popular leisure spots. Keeping pace with the aggressive developments of the city can prove a challenge, but this guide to the shopping precincts in Kuala Lumpur will show you just where to go.
Moving away from KL central towards the south, you’ll reach the Bangsar neighbourhood, a relaxed suburban shopping enclave with a buzzing nightlife scene. Highly cosmopolitan in nature, Bangsar pulls in a crowd of expatriates and affluent locals to its hive of tiered malls and shopping alleys. The twin malls of Bangsar Village I and II in Bangsar Baru are furnished with a kaleidoscope of local indie and high street options. Your passion for all things fashion, home and the arts will be attended to here. Locals also love Bangsar Shopping Centre, a hushed and plush environment to shop exquisite furniture, home accents and stylish accessories.
Bukit Bintang is where the different streams of life in KL merge into a raging rapid in the city’s civic centre. A constant throb of activity is maintained throughout – the area is a magnet for street food vendors and foot reflexology operators in the day and flush with pub-crawlers and barflies come nightfall. Many of KL’s most famous malls dot the famous crossroads of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail, including luxe malls Starhill Gallery and Pavilion. More discreet malls such as Fahrenheit88 and Lot 10 offer more in the way of the indie shopper while Berjaya Times Square, with a hulking indoor theme park and an excess of 1,000 stores, draws in huge crowds. Within walking distance is Suria KLCC, an upmarket mall that sits underfoot of KL’s biggest icon – the Petronas Twin Towers. The view alone is worth the trip.
As you move west of the city, you’ll find that the pace slows down dramatically, the buildings grow shorter, and houses are built larger and further apart. Bukit Damansara is a largely suburban area, which isn’t nearly as upbeat as Bukit Bintang or even Bangsar and Midvalley, but boasts a pull factor entirely its own. In Damansara resides one of KL’s newest shopping destinations, Publika; a creative retail space that features some of KL’s most hyped-about boutiques, restaurants and bars. The artsy mall is as non-mainstream as it gets in a metropolis like KL, with independent labels and artisanal furniture shops making up the bulk of the attractions.
One of KL’s oldest precincts, Chinatown’s vibrant street bustle is a welcome change of scene from the manicured malls and polished sheen of the CBD. Escape the drone of the city into a bustling environment of rowdy market stalls of Petaling Street where peddlers tout their wares and hawkers toil beneath the incandescent glow of burning lamps and floating lanterns. Just a stone’s throw away lies the Central Market or Pasar Seni, KL’s answer to the frantic bazaars of Morocco. Unlike the sometimes unsavoury conditions at these markets, the Central Market is fully air-conditioned, allowing shoppers to dig for an unlimited variety of merchandise such as batik, songket, ceramics, sculptures, antiques and art.
Anchoring the bustling commercial and entertainment district of Mid Valley is the aptly named colossal shopping complex, Mid Valley Megamall. With an inventory that reads like an encyclopedia of fashion, interiors, leisure and lifestyle, the family-friendly mall remains unrivalled in terms of scale. As you’ll expect from a mall this huge, the offerings are diverse – ranging from the usual high street suspects, to the rare local designer. It’s upscale neighbour, The Gardens mall fares better, with a sizeable number of quality furniture stores and galleries showcasing inspiring collections of furniture and furnishings.