Malaysia was ranked as the 4th world’s top shopping destination by CNN Travel 2012 and the 2nd best shopping city in Asia Pacific by The Global Shoppe Index 2012. From the very old to the ultra modern, the mundane to the unique, the simple to the exotic, the discounted to the duty-free items, you can just shop for anything and everything that tickles your fancy. That’s not all. Enjoy greater value, affordability, shopping convenience and gracious hospitality.
What To Buy?
What better time to shop in Malaysia than Visit Malaysia Year 2014? This is the time when more bargains and great deals come knocking nationwide. It is simply mind-boggling with so many choices at attractive prices. You just feel like buying them all! Check them out here.
Arts and Crafts
Malaysian handicrafts are beautiful objects d’art that reflect the diverse and aesthetic values of the communities. As a truly Asia melting pot of cultures, Malaysian craftsmen are imbued with fascinating skills and materials to create their arts and crafts. From the batik sarong and silverware to tribal bamboo blowpipes and gigantic kites, these arts and crafts make perfect gifts and souvenirs for all travellers and their loved ones.
Wau or Kites make great wall hangings, and one of the best places to buy them is in Central Market in Kuala Lumpur. Wau in Malaysia can be traced back to the 15th century when flying kites remains a hobby and passion for many villagers, mostly in the East Coast including Kelantan state. The uniqueness about Malaysian Wau is it is quite large with some range from 2 metres by 3 metres. Most kites are made from colourful waxed paper that has been glued over a light bamboo frame. These are then decorated with flower and animal motifs as well as geometry motifs. Wau Bulan, or Moon Kite, is the most well liked, and it can be seen on Malaysia Airlines logo. There are still kite makers doing their traditional craft in Kota Bharu, with the best ones being located on the main road to Pantai Cahaya Bulan.
Pottery comes in all shapes and sizes and is a cultural artefact that reflects the skills of the community The 'Mambong’ pottery in Kelantan, are fashioned from clay and characterized by a red shade. Malay pottery can be categorized into Labu Sayong, Belanga, Buyong and Terenang. Labu Sayong of Perak, the most famous pottery is made of clay and shaped like a gourd and used to contain water. The black coloured Labu Sayong is the most popular. The Belanga, often used to cook curry has a round base and a wide rim. The round shaped base makes heat distributed evenly. Smaller Belanga is brown periuk often used to cook rice. Buyung has a bulbous body and straight neck to contain water. Lastly, Terenang is angular-shaped pottery popular in Pahang and Terengganu helps carry water. It resembles brassware, and has a concave neck and a convex-shaped body.
Weaving is a popular traditional craft among village women. In the past, a maiden would be considered incomplete if she did not know how to weave. Pandan and mengkuang leave weaving to make mats, placemats, bags, hats and tudung saji (conical shape food covering) is popular. The process involves leaves that have been stripped of thorns are split into strands, soaked, dried and dyed and then woven according to the required designs. Other kinds of weaving are bamboo and rattan to make baskets, bags, pencil holders and even furniture.
Another interesting souvenir is “Ikat” which stands for cord, thread, knot and part of the weaving process.It is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles. In East Malaysia, woven Ikat cotton cloth featuring ethnic patterns is a common sight in local markets. Cotton ikat is produced on wooden looms and called Pua Kumbu, and it is still woven by villagers. The design can be simple and symbolic and it can also be vibrant with crocodiles, hornbills and lizards as part of the design element. Today, there are many examples of these textiles in the souvenir shops in Sarawak, and the cloth makes great wall hangings, throw-overs, or even blankets.
Wood crafts such as gift boxes, photo frames, lamp stands, musical instruments, utensils, blowpipes, shields, ceremonial masks and decorative figurines reflect the fine artistry of Malaysian wood craftsmen. This craft handed down by generations long ago use mostly floral motifs, geometrical shapes and animal designs that capture the essence of Malaysian elements. In Sarawak, local craftsmen are mostly natives while in Peninsular Malaysia, the Mahmeri and Jan Hut aborigines are noted for their carvings of mythical creatures related to their folklores. Wood crafts also include shutters, friezes and panels of old Malay houses and these are sold as antique items in some stores. You can also find wood crafts of miniature replicas of Petronas Twin Towers, traditional Malay houses and other Malaysian elements. There are also hornbills, figurines and ceremonial masks carved from timber and found aplenty in Sarawak.
Batik and Songket
The word “Batik” means “drawing out with wax”. It is a national symbol and heritage of Malaysia due to its worldwide appeal and affordability. Batik is one of the most sought-after Malaysian products as souvenirs and gifts. This fabric normally carries motifs that reflect the flora and fauna, geometry and landscape of nature. Malaysian Batik is renowned for its vibrant colours, bold prints and its versatility. It is soft, light and breezy and very well suited for summer and tropical climate.
Batik fabric is made into shirts, dresses, crepe de chine, scarves, kaftans, sarongs, pillow cases, bags, table clothes and many more items. The production of Batik involves several processes – dyeing, waxing, and drying are used to create deep and rich colourful patterns on a piece of fabric. The East Coast is home to the craft of batik making. New dyes and techniques have also enabled Batik to be printed onto various materials such as swiss voile, silk, cheese cloth, velvet and satin. Many contemporary designers also incorporate elements of this ancient craft into their colourful creations.
Apart from Batik, Songket is also a favourite souvenir among locals and tourists alike. Songket is a brocade of woven silk or cotton interwoven with either silver or golden threads. Real gold was once used in the past which makes songket become an expensive cloth worn by the well-to-do or royalty. Songket weaving is another old craft used to produce intricate fabric that is still popular for wedding events and official ceremonies; it is known as the “king of local textiles.” Like batik, the best songket is found in the East Coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu.
Cigarettes and Liquor
Shopping for duty-free items in Malaysia is highly recommended. There are many duty-free items and among them are cigarettes, wine and liquor. As a nation which embraces moderation and open market, cigarettes and liquor are available in most cities and towns. For duty-free cigarette and liquor items, drop by duty-free zones like airports, ports, border towns, duty-free islands like Langkawi, Labuan and Tioman; and duty-free shops in Kuala Lumpur, George Town, Melaka, Kuching and Johor Bahru.
Among the famous cigarette brands are Marlboro, Dunhill and Salem. Most hard liquor is imported from overseas. However, tourists can enjoy locally-brewed beer licensed under popular brands such as Carlsberg, Tiger, Heineken and Anchor.
Electrical and Electronic Appliances
Camcorders, video players, LED TVs, digital cameras, digital photo frames, projectors, MP3 Players, cell phones, iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, notebooks and tablet computers. These are some of the countless electrical and electronic items to pamper your shopping adventure. They are competitively priced and best of all, you can even make a bargain in some places!
Generally, with a favourable foreign exchange rate, tourists will find these items to be cheaper and more affordable than buying in their country. In fact, Malaysia as a free trade nation has attracted many international electrical and electronic manufacturers and retailers, making it much affordable to buy directly here. Whether it is the latest version or the smallest and most trendy looking gadgets, you can shop for them in shop houses, large shopping malls or designated IT malls. The brands are simply mind-boggling. Be it a new unknown brand or popular brand, these items give you a choice to suit your budget.
Fashion and Accessories
Malaysia is home to some of the most prestigious brands in the world of fashion and fashion accessories. Whether it is designerwear, footwear, bag or jewellery, some of the homegrown brands have met with international success such as Bernard Chandran, Jimmy Choo, Zang Toi, Tom Abang Saufi, British India, Padini, Bonia, Carlo Rino, Rizalman Ibrahim, Farah Khan, Edmund Ser, Melinda Looi, Ms Read, Lewre and Sembonia. Bernard Chandran is well loved by Lady Gaga, Tori Amos and Rihanna. Jimmy Choo, known particularly for its handmade women’s shoes, creates iconic luxury lifestyle pieces of international acclaim and well loved by the late Princess Diana, HRH Duchess of Cambridge, Zara Phillips, Michelle Obama and many more celebrities. Zang Toi, on the other hand, has several style arbiters such as Sharon Stone, Patti LaBelle, Ivana Trump, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Jennifer Tilly, Meg Ryan and Fergie. The Farah Khan label has also been spotted on Paris Hilton, Kimora Lee Simmons, Sarah Hyland and Vanessa Hudgens.
Besides these Malaysian designer labels, Malaysia is a shopping paradise for renowned international brands like House of Dior, Fendi, Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Armani Exchange, Bally, Bread & Butter, Burberry, Prada, Bulgari, BCBG Maxazaria, DKNY, Dorothy Perkins, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gap, Guess, Hermes, Mikimoto, Ferragamo and many more. Most of the outlets are located in the shopping district of the Golden Triangle, Kuala Lumpur featuring the world-class shopping malls such as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Fahrenheit 88, Starhill Gallery, Suria KLCC, Sungei Wang Plaza, Lot 10, Bukit Bintang Plaza and many more. For the fashion-conscious, Malaysia is truly a shopping paradise with so much to see, so many fashion items to choose and buy!
As a multi-culture nation, Malaysia offers home furnishings with designs that reflect the diverse cultures as well as designs for contemporary urbanites. Home furnishings can be found anywhere in Malaysia, from big retail malls and departmental stores to small specialty stores. The range of home furnishings is so wide, from children’s mattresses, sofas, lamps, kitchen utensils, furniture, textile, gardening items to home accessories and fittings. In Malaysia, we have the internationally renowned home furnishings retail chain, IKEA and Viva Home, a dedicated home, entertainment and lifestyle mall and other retail furniture malls. The country also offers home furnishings with Malay, Chinese, Indian, Balinese, Thai and Western influences. In some stores, shipping services are provided for the convenience of tourists. Due to the favourable foreign exchange rates, home furnishing items are favourite things to buy for the house-proud.
Jewellery and Timepieces
Malaysia houses some of the world’s most celebrated timepieces and jewellery brands such as Bvlgari, Cerruti 1881 Ornament & Timepiece, Tissot, The Hour Glass, TAG Heuer, Guess, STORM London, Omega, Charriol, Rolex, Tiffany & Co and more. These international brands are available in the Golden Triangle shopping district of Kuala Lumpur and other cities.
Malaysia is also well known for cultured pearls, many from East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. In fact, Sabah’s cultured pearls are exported to Japan and America where they are used with jewellery items as well as by designers on their haute couture. Besides international brands, tourists can also check out some of the Malaysian jewellery brands which are high in quality, GIA-certified and much affordable. Among them are Goldheart, Poh Kong, De Gem and Diamonds & Platinum.
To buy jewellery at small and mid-sized shops, bargaining may seem possible compared to the high-end shops. However, it all depends on the sales promoter but one thing is most certain, a workmanship guarantee of one year normally applies for all purchases. Best of all, jewellery is one of the many duty-free items and hence, it helps save cost when you buy it at duty-free zones.
Perfumes and Cosmetics
Your looks define your image and personality. So shopping for your favourite perfume and cosmetics can be truly exciting especially when they are more affordable than your normal purchase price. The good news is in Malaysia, shopping for these items is so convenient with swanky shopping malls offering endless international brands such as Elizabeth Arden, Clinique, Revlon, L’Oreal, Body Shop, Calvin Klein, SK-II, Anna Sui, Coco Chanel, Christine Dior, Estee Lauder, Polo, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Shiseido and more.
With sales and promotions all year-round, this is the perfect time to load up an exclusive array of perfumes and cosmetic products. So surprise everyone back home with a new vibrant, trendy look. Or express your love with gifts of perfumes and cosmetic items to your loved ones.
Pewter, Brass and Silver
Pewter, brass and silver items are metal-based handicrafts that make perfect corporate and personal gifts. Good pewter is hand cast and not spun and therefore, stronger and heavier, enabling more intricate design varieties. Pewter is a soft metal and can be fashioned in finishes like matte satin, silver-like brilliant finish with patterned effects. Royal Selangor is an acknowledged world-leading brand of pewter that crafts innovative yet fashionable tableware, ornaments, home décor objects and other items. The intricate motifs displayed on these items make the pewter a highly favoured souvenir for many visitors.
As for silver, it is produced through two methods such as filigree and repoussé. Filigree is delicate, lace-like ornamental work made of fine intertwined silver wire, while repoussé. is formed in relief as a design or pattern on thin metal, beaten up from the underside. Kelantan is famous for its beautiful silver jewellery. earrings, brooches, bracelets and tie clips as well as the popular cucuk sanggul (hairpin) and kerongsang.
Brass or “tembaga kuning” is an alloy made of copper and zinc and used in a wide range of items such as plates, cake moulds, pans, candlesticks, incense holders and decorative objects. White metal or “tembaga putih” is used to produce more refined items such as the “tepak sirih” (betel nuts) sets. Wax moulds are used to create the shape of the brass objects. Once completed, the brass is polished until its brilliant surface emerges.