Answers from Our Experts (2)
1. Pavilion KL
If there’s one thing KL excels at, it’s shopping malls. And of those shopping malls, Pavilion is the best – the shiniest, the most comprehensive, and the most customer-friendly. Perched in prime real estate on Jalan Bukit Bintang, the Oxford Circus of KL, the mall management faced considerable controversy when it bought and demolished a very old and prestigious school to build today’s mall on its grounds. But all is forgiven by Malaysian and tourist shoppers – where else can you find Prada alongside Padini (one of Malaysia’s super retail chains)? International designers sit cheek by jowl with Malaysian boutiques, the best of the high street chains (Zara and Topshop have quite a presence here) and, of course, plenty of good restaurants. When you tire of shopping, have an alfresco coffee by the boulevard, or sit yourself and your shopping bags at Pavilion’s recreation of the Spanish steps.
Publika is one of the newest malls in Kuala Lumpur, and definitely the most different. Its opening was a revelation in Malaysian retail – a space designed not to fit the maximum capacity of shops, but to be a beautiful art and retail space. Galleries, installations and random pieces of graffiti are scattered among the shops, of which most are independent boutiques and local labels. There’s an outdoors stage where open air concerts and plays are held, several commendable cafes and resturants facing the square, and an avant garde playground for the children. While you’re there, check out thirtyfour, a local leather label that specialises in hand-crafted bags and shoes, and Outdated, a vintage furniture shop that stocks a surprising quantity of restored Eames chairs.
3. Bangsar Baru
Bangsar is the young, urban capital of this capital city. An inner city suburb jam packed with cafes, bars and boutiques, it accommodates hundreds of expats, hipsters and those with plenty of disposable income on the weekends. Shopping-wise, the excellent Bangsar Village malls (there’s part one and part two, right next to each other) house a mixture of family-friendly stores, including some great eco-friendly baby stores, high street labels, jewellery places and high-end makeup. On the streets outside the malls, you’ll find pretty, quirky boutiques catered to teenage girls and fans of Korean fashion – that is, flirty, frilly and floral.
4. Lebuh Ampang
For those looking for more buys of a more local slant, newly gazette Little India street Lebuh Ampang is the place to go. You’ll find a huge variety of Indian fashion, jewellery and sundry goods – calendars emblazoned with the faces of Bollywood stars, colourful printed silks, old-fashioned tins of Yardley talcum powder, curry spices and facial ointments.
Eschew the stalls selling tourist tat, and look behind them – in the main thoroughfare of Chinatown, Petaling Street, and the surrounding roads and alleyways, vendors who have been there for years will be selling far more unusual things. Venus Art Shop on Petaling Street is a time-honoured institution selling everything to do with art, including delicate rice paper and traditional Chinese calligraphy brushes. Wander a little further to Jalan Tun HS Lee and you’ll find Peter Hoe Beyond, possibly one of the best shops in KL. Peter sources beautiful homeware and fabrics from all across the region, and his shop is a riot of colour, pattern and lovely things. (There’s also a little café in one corner of the shop that serves impeccable cake.) Explore the small shops selling dried fruits, traditional Chinese medicines, hand-carved wooden fans – you won’t be disappointed.
A modern metropolis punctuated by finance and oil wealth, Kuala Lumpur is one of the region’s top destinations for shopping. Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest starting in Chinatown, on Petaling Street, where you can flex your bargaining skills and pick up unique items. Your next stop is Central Market, where you’ll find a huge selection of jewelry, Chinese-style jewelry boxes, Malaysian dresses and sarongs. The rest of Kuala Lumpur’s best shopping is found in malls. Berjaya Times Square has 65 restaurants and a 3-D cinema. There’s also a small Borders bookshop here, with a good selection of English-language reading material. Other noteworthy shopping spots are the BB Plaza and Sungai Wang, which are more local and house several beauty treatment spots.