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The incredible malls of Malaysia 


With Malaysia’s humid climate and bustling cities, not to mention the locals’ profound love of shopping, it’s no wonder people flock to its hugely diverse malls. Global Blue highlights the coolest and most luxurious malls from around Malaysia

Gwyneth Holland portrait
Gwyneth Holland,

With its unique mix of thrilling street markets, bijou shopping areas and glittering retail palaces, Kuala Lumpur itself could be seen as one giant mall. But for those who prefer to take things bit by bit, one of the city’s world-class malls is bound to offer more than enough shopping satisfaction. Ranging from luxury shopping centres to electrical specialists and art malls, there’s something for everyone.

For those who like to hit as many shops as they can in one place, Malaysia’s mega-malls are ideal. These giant shopping centres offer everything from luxury brands and fast fashion to technology, great food and entertainment. 1Utama, just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, is one the world’s largest malls, with over 465,000 square metres of retail space, filled, suitably, with the world’s biggest brands, from Apple and Chanel to Victoria’s Secret and Zara. Along with the 650 or so shops, the mall also boasts Asia’s largest indoor rock-climbing gym, an expansive rooftop garden and an indoor ‘rainforest’.

For the ultimate luxury mall experience, Pavilion offers eight floors of the world’s finest brands, including a Bentley showroom, Calligaris home furnishings, Sony and HTC stores for the latest electronics, and leading watch brands including IWC, Longines and Patek Philippe. Of course, the selection of designer stores here is world class; Bottega Veneta, Céline, Ermenegildo Zegna, Jimmy Choo, Loewe and Saint Laurent are just some of the brands lining the second and third floors.

And if that’s not enough, across the road is Starhill Gallery, a calm and chic shopping oasis, with boutiques from super-brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen and fine dining in the Feast Village, where you’ll find Malaysian designer Jimmy Choo’s favourite restaurant, Shook.

But it’s not all about the big designer brands – there are malls for nearly every need. If you want to mix sightseeing with shopping, hit Suria KLCC, at the base of the iconic Petronas Towers, the tallest twin buildings in the world. The mall offers a wide array of brands including Balenciaga, Mango and Jimmy Choo, as well a great selection of beauty brands including Bobbi Brown and a specialist Chanel perfume store.

Asia has always been a great place to shop for gadgetry and Malaysia is no exception. Plaza Low Yat, in Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Bintang district, is heaven for gadget fans, with four floors hosting around 500 technology retailers. It’s a world away from the glamour of Starhill Gallery or Pavilion, but the thrill of hunting down the latest tech at bargain prices makes it well worth a visit.

Publika is at the other end of the spectrum. Built to create a platform for up-and-coming design talent, the five-storey mall sits in a residential part of Kuala Lumpur, and its manifesto describes it as ‘a space where ideas thrive, a gathering point where visionaries, artists and the public connect and engage’. With such a philosophy at its core, the mall focuses on art galleries, bookshops and a tantalising selection of eateries from hawker-style stalls to laid-back restaurants, as well as boutiques from niche brands and the country’s hottest fashion designers.

But Malaysia’s mall culture is about more than just Kuala Lumpur, with a great selection of shopping centres in other key destinations such as Johor, Selangor, Langkawi and Penang. Though Penang may be most famous for its street food, its malls can satisfy nearly every appetite, with popular shopping destinations such as Queensbay Mall, Gurney Paragon, Gurney Plaza and First Avenue housing not just major brand stores, but also cinemas, supermarkets, karaoke centres and eclectic food courts. Meanwhile, Langkawi is a haven for duty-free shoppers, with malls offering everything from major brands to local crafts.

The dazzling array of stores, spaces and food courts in Malaysia’s malls is more than enough to keep even the most avid shoppers captivated, but for 10 weeks a year there’s an even more compelling reason to hit the shops. During the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale, which takes place from November to January, luxury boutiques, fast-fashion emporiums and niche brands alike slash their prices to create an even more exciting shopping experience.

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