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MEGA SALES

Kuala Lumpur shopping madness

KL bargain hunting in search of mega sales and wallet-friendly prices amidst the luxury mall avalanche.

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by Sharmila Rajah

with photography by Vijay Verghese

SEE ALSO Kuala Lumpur Hotels | Langkawi Guide | Penang Guide | Malaysia Spas | Sabah Guide | Shanghai Shopping | Hong Kong Shopping | Bangkok Shopping | Singapore Shopping | Digital Cameras and Video Reviews | Tioman Guide | Kuala Lumpur Nightlife

JUMP TO Central Market | Chinatown and a splash of India | Kuala Lumpur shopping malls, Suria | Bintang Walk, Starhill, Pavilion and Lot 10 | Computers, camera, Sungei Wang Plaza | Berjaya Times Square | Bargain shopping in Bangsar, Sri Hartamas | Petaling Jaya | Night markets and weekend flea markets | Golf club | Kuala Lumpur Airport duty-free

GET SET. Strap on your jet packs. Go! No, this is not a space jaunt at the speed of light but an exhilarating – and potentially exhausting – shopping marathon at whatever speed your wallet can muster. From haute couture and high-gloss brands to flea markets and homegrown fashion, Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, has it all.

If you’re truly serious, invest in a large suitcase, leave plenty of room, ensure your credit is humming and block out your calendar from 29 June till 1 September, 2013. This is the official 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival period when shoppers get high on lower than low prices – almost 70 percent off in some cases. More information at the Tourism Malaysia (www.tourism.gov.my) official site. Throughout the year, carnivals and sales are slotted in to keep shoppers busy. There are sales to coincide with sports events (Kuala Lumpur F1 Grand Prix), sales for summer, sales for winter and sales for, well, Malaysia. There's always the Malaysia Year-End Sale – the Mega Sale biggie, 16 November, 2013 to 5 January, 2014.

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Central Market collectables

One of the first things you might do is to pop into Central Market, on Jalan Hang Kasturi (tel: [60-3] 2274-6542), to pick up a host of local handicraft and other quirky souvenirs. It’s little wonder that this art deco market is top on every traveller’s list. It offers a genuinely local feel and, most importantly, friendly prices. Once inside, you’ll excuse the pink and blue exterior, and enjoy ambling past painters, sculptors, fortune-tellers and traders who have made their home in this former wet market – the interior now renovated into spanking new modernity. My pick is the Collectables Centre (G43, tel: 2273-3182), cluttered with every imaginable collectable from old Craven cigarette tin boxes, charcoal irons and oil lamps to century-old Nyonya tea sets and hairpins. If you’re persuasive enough, the owner might just part with original prints of Sun Yat Sen and old family portraits, for the right price of course. Next stop, Songket & Sutera Asli (M53, tel: 2274-2645), for beautiful songket (richly woven silk) fabric from the East Coast. Prices begin at RM75 (US$23) and then climb indefinitely depending on workmanship. The exchange rate is roughly US$1 = 3.04 Malaysian ringgit (RM).

Kuala Lumpur shopping malls, Pavilion fashion show

Fashion show at Pavilion

Be sure to also visit the House of Silver (G15, tel: 2274-4457) to take home, a Kelantanese tea set, antique silverware, jewellery or the Malay keris. A stop at Rhino Art & Design (KB17) provides fashionistas with a wild range of hand-painted clogs – from the conventional to edgy wooden pumps. Check out the Ricecooker Shop (2.03, Mezzanine) which surprisingly dabbles in printing and design services but it's their collection of indie music that will entice the serious music lover.

For kites of every shape and size (the wau bulan being most popular) stop by Wau Tradisi (M51, tel: 2274-1906). Prices here range from RM198 (US$62) to RM500 (US$156). Nearby, Game Corner (M 37) sells traditional game tools such as congkak and gasing (spinning top). Batik is wall-to-wall throughout the market. Pop into Ilham Batik (M25A, tel: 2274-8131) for their hand-drawn batik. Before heading off, rummage through the pottery, pewter, wayang kulit (shadow puppets), traditional costumes and local snacks or have your portrait painted. Don't miss Success Portrait (1.12B) for on-the-spot portraits done in pencil, acrylic or oil; Architecture Designer (1.10A) for art works depicting the city's historical buildings; and WK Clock House (M50A, tel: 2273-1633) for a variety of antique clocks.

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The glorious NY Music (KB06) stocks traditional music instruments like the kompang, gendang, gong and gamelan. The joy of retail therapy at Central Market is, indeed, a well-rounded affair – hunt for all your computer software, accessories and video games at Aware Enterprise (G36). Master Chin (1/F, 3rd bridge), the resident fortuneteller might offer some tips on paying for all that stuff clattering about in your suitcase-on-wheels. For a selection of imported art material, head to T-Square (G1-01, tel: [60-3] 2031-1922). It also sells school supplies, paint and stationery, and dabbles in printing. Tanamera (G25) stocks locally made organic, eco-friendly spa products and accessories. Its specialty is post-natal care products, but the soaps (with ingredients such as rice grains, turmeric and ginger) are must-buys. Stop to refuel at Precious Old China (M2, tel: 2273-7372), an antique and art gallery doubling as a restaurant and bar serving authentic Nyonya cuisine

Kuala Lumpur designer brands, Dior

Starhill Dior shop

Much loved Annexe Gallery (tel: [60-3] 2070-1137), right behind the Central Market, is the hippest space for the arts with exciting exhibitions, performances and workshops featuring young, local and regional artists. The gallery plays host to Art For Grabs, an event jam-packed with workshops and talks. The real attraction is the arts and craft bazaar, billed as the city's best venue to purchase original art at wholesale prices (pieces go for RM100 or less).

Lorong Hang Kasturi, right next to the Central Market, has been transformed into a covered pedestrian walkway. Called Kasturi Walk, it is flanked by several kiosks and retail outlets, selling arts, handicraft and clothes.

Tip: A heritage walk around the old part of the city is conducted every day, free of charge; the meeting point is at the Central Market Annexe. Call [603] 2032-1031 or 017-989-1031 for more details.

Almost hidden, upstairs at 145 Jalan Tun HS Lee, in over 8,000sq ft of casually strewn home furnishings, art, fabric, batik clothes and curios, is the Peter Hoe (tel: 2026-9788) craft shop. Expect linen outfits, silver jewellery, lampshades, silk cushions, pillows and a café. Peter has been operating for over 18 years, and this store in Lee Rubber Building was reputedly the headquarters of the Japanese secret police during the second world war. It's enough to make a shopper cry out and confess, "Yes! I want more..."

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Chinatown and a splash of India

A short walk from Central Market is Chinatown. Signature lantern-lined streets and pre-war shop houses are now oddly complemented by palm trees and modern roofing, aimed at sheltering shoppers from Kuala Lumpur’s heavy rains. Nevertheless, Chinatown retains its old world charm when it transforms, come rain or shine, into a bustling night market. Thread your way through the maze of street-vendors on Petaling Street and haggle vigorously. Not for the faint hearted. This is a sounds-and-smells Kuala Lumpur shopping guide at its most visceral.

KL shopping for cosmetics

Cosmetics are a major KL draw

Petaling Street is a vibrant mix of Chinese, Nepalese and Burmese traders who all vie for attention, selling jewellery, herbal medicines, dried food, designer t-shirts, handbags and wallets. Knock-offs and fakes abound. Striking a bargain is not always easy. The trick is to throw in a few local terms like “Murah sikit?” (A little cheaper?) or “Mahal sangat!” (Too expensive!) and pretend to leave in a huff. Sure enough, a voice will call out behind you. “Okay lah, Okay lah! Ow-mach-you-wan?” By the way, Chinatown’s Hokkien-style thick noodles are purported to be the best in KL. Kim Lian Kee (49-51, Jalan Petaling, tel: 2032-4984) has been dishing out delicious Hokkien fried noodles since the 1920s – a definite must.

Venus Art and Stationery (90 Jalan Petaling, tel: [60-3] 2072-8807), which has been around since the 1960s, is one of the best places for Chinese art supplies. This family-run arts and crafts store stocks a wide selection of art materials for Chinese ink painting and calligraphy.

Close by is Weaver House (76 Jalan Sultan, tel: 2078-0392) – a cabinet of curiosities, stuffed with all sorts of affordable home ware, furnishings and curios. Pick up a beautiful wooden chest.

Not far is the city’s oldest temple, Sin Sze Ya Temple, founded by none other than the city’s third Kapitan Cina, Yap Ah Loy. Visit for a glimpse of the temple's elaborately carved pillars, beams and altars. Masjid Jamek, KL's oldest mosque, impresses with its quietness, symmetry and beauty.

Then on to the heart of Little India at Jalan Masjid India. A similar makeover has taken shape here as part of the country’s beautification and upgrading project. Don’t fret; all is not lost despite the covered walkways and paved paths. Little India’s vibrant character is very much alive. Vendors lug bales of sarees through the traffic and past shops heaped with gold, traditional medicines and gaudy glass bangles. Brightly hued sarees and Bollywood-inspired Indian dresses (salwar kameez and lengas) are some of the greatest temptations here. Salwars are loose fitting tunics with a long knee-length shirt/blouse while lengas are long skirts.

Shopping for luxury brands in Kuala Lumpur at  Starhill Mall

Starhill pulls in the posh crowd

My favourite is the one-stop complex, The Madras Store (100, Jalan Masjid India, tel: [60-3] 2693-0072) for fabulous sarees, brassware, oil lamps and home accessories. Another highly recommended stop is Saree Centre (98, Jalan Masjid India, tel: 2691-0276). For fancy jewellery, Little India (50, Jalan Masjid India, tel: 2693-3443) is sought after, mainly by young brides-to-be. Be sure to whip out your reliable Casio calculator (don’t leave home without it). Prices correspond to the weight of the jewellery. Remember, the price of gold is fixed. What you’re negotiating down then is the premium on the workmanship.

At the other end of this street, there’s a different sort of street theatre with huge crowds congregated around peddlers vociferously declaring the merits of their cure-alls – for impotency, feminine facial hair – through loudspeakers. If all this is too much, have your feet massaged the traditional Malay way, for just RM30 (US$8.59). On Lebuh Ampang street (a short walk from Masjid India), shuffle between spice and sundry shops, Indian restaurants and saree shops. Pop into Nalli’s (49A, Lebuh Ampang, tel: 2070-5809), a hot favourite among locals for the latest saree trends, be it in chiffon, Mysore silk, Kanchipuram or cotton. Jayanthi Store (16 Lebuh Ampang, tel: 2070-8779) is crammed with lovely sarees, fashion accessories and religious artifacts. Stop to savour every type of Indian sweet imaginable along the way, phatisa, moti choor ladoo, kalakand or barfee.

Parallel to Jalan Masjid India is Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman lined with shops, noted for their wonderful fabric, antiques and jewellery. Old and new mingle on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman; modern complexes rise above retro buildings. Gulatis Silk House (162/164, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, tel: 2698-3901) and Euro Moda (126/128, tel: 2694-0805) deserve mention for their exquisite fabric, studded with sequins and beads. This long stretch is also a good spot to hunt for oriental antiques and art. Udani Carpets (393A, tel: 2698-1962) and Shalini Carpets (40, tel: 2692-7008) offer quite an extensive range. Kamdar (113 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, tel: 2698-8488), highly popular among locals, has the lot under one roof, from Malay traditional wear to pretty fabrics.

Kuala Lumpur brand shopping at Suria KLCC mall, Prada

Suria KLCC retains its class

Also check out the pewter at Selangor Pewter Showroom (223, tel: 2698-6244). If you need to recharge again, check out the 1920s Coliseum Café for a cold beer and heavenly, but spicy, prawn sambal, accompanied by their home-baked Chinese toast with REAL butter. Despite the dismaying crush of tourist coaches, The Craft Cultural Complex (Jalan Conlay, tel: 2162-7533) is still a great venue for batik, rattan baskets and other traditional handicraft sourced from around the country. In fact, the complex’s main attraction is its community of artists and their workshops. Get to know these artists while observing them at work and you may just go home with some unique finds.

If you can’t get enough of pewter, arrange for your hotel to send you right to the doorstep of the Royal Selangor Visitor Center (4, Jalan Usahawan 6, tel: 4145-6122) in Setapak Jaya. Walking through this contemporary structure is an educational experience in itself: learn about the history of Royal Selangor, its origins and the science of pewter. The full and latest range of pewter is available here.

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Glitzy shopping malls, Suria

Moving upscale, Kuala Lumpur’s monster malls are crammed with designer brands and more. Just name it and KL has it, from Versace, Gucci and Prada to Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. The Suria KLCC Shopping Complex (Jalan Ampang), situated at the foot of the world’s tallest twin towers, is a real gem with its swank shops, cafés and beautiful people. Here, flagship stores of international fashion labels rub shoulders with trendy boutiques and mod jewellers. Stealing the thunder is the upscale Aseana (G/F, tel: [60-3] 2382-9988), a treasure trove of handmade clothing from all around the region. Perk up your wardrobe with shawls and sarongs by designers Marilyn Tan and Bobby Ch'ng and your home with silk, teapots and sculptures. This is upscale designer brand shopping by the yard. Looking for Dior or Louis Vuitton in KL? Head here.

Kuala Lumpur bargains at Sungei Wang mall

Bustling Sungei Wang plaza

GPS (207-208/K23, tel: [60-3] 2382-0428) brings all three brands – Salabianca, Philosophy for Men and Grafi tee – under one roof. If you love all things beautiful, check out Salabianca and its stunning fashions. Expect everything – top-to-toe accessories, chiffon, silk tops and skirts adorned with delicate hand-sewn beading. Ed Hardy's flagship store (2/F 210-211, tel: 2161-4358) deserves a visit. Check out their tattoo inspired t-shirts, shoes and accessories, which have long achieved certain notoriety amongst Hollywood celebrities. Shuz (1/F 102-103A, tel: 2166-3309) stocks unusual bags from Be&D – carry home rocky, edgy designs with spikes and studs.

For exclusively designed pieces, ARCH World Miniature (307, Level 3, tel: 3820-489) has small-scale reproductions of just about anything. It’s one way to take a small piece of KL home in your pocket. Head up to KLCC’s sprawling Kinokuniya bookstore (Level 4, tel: 2164-8133), which offers a wide selection of coffee table books, novels and specialty material.

Be sure to visit The Specialist Bookshop (Level 3, tel: 2166-3433) to browse titles on Islamic, Judaism and Christian theology, neatly tucked into green wooden shelves. Pay close attention to the quotations inscribed along the shelves. Also, pop by Pucuk Rebung Gallery and Museum (Level 3, tel: 2382-1109/0769), packed with Malay antique fabrics, metalwork and jewellery, photos, porcelain, pottery, glass, crystal and contemporary art. Pick up a gift or simply enjoy browsing through the collection. Dynasty Antiques Gallery (Level 303A) sells all things Asian from its fantastic range of modern works of art and Chinese antiques to lucky symbols. With oversized wind chimes, terracotta warriors that guard the doorway and decorative vermillion doors, you could very well think you’ve stumbled upon a rich Mandarin’s mansion.

Drop into Tribeca (101C, Level 1, tel: [60-3] 2161-6620) for sexy clothes from Markus Lupfer, Sass & Bide, Judith Leiber, Superfine and 3.1 Phillip Lim. Ogle at chunky cocktail rings and bangles, necklaces in geometric shapes and funky drop earrings at multi-label boutique Liberte (101D, Level 1, tel: 2166-1055). The Tippy Tippy line of bling comes in silver, encrusted with precious or semi-precious stones, or coloured in striking enamel. Swoon over perfectly formed arches and exquisite heels at Jimmy Choo (G43, tel: 2300-7788).

Designer brand labels at Pavilion

Pavilion lights up at night

Discover sexy lace-up high heels in grand colours plus a selection of sunglasses and bags. FLOW (F135 B) is for full-figured women and caters to curvy ladies, size eight (US) to size 16. There’s also Miu Miu (G06, tel: 2382-0979) with its oversized clutches, jewels and shoulder bags; Anya Hindmarch (LC-105B, tel: 2382-0877) with the designer’s signature bags; Moschino (LC-106, tel: 2161-4086); Harley Davidson Lifestyle Store (346A, tel: 2161-2277); Cerruti 1881 (K12, tel: 2163 3376); and Oeding- Erdel Fine Jewellery (119, tel: 2162-3323). Visit the Canon Lifestyle Concept Store (Third Floor) for cameras, printers, ink cartridges and other Canon accessories.

Sore feet? Settle down to tea, cakes and scones with a reviving cuppa at the Harrods Signature Shop & Tea Room (137, Level 1, tel: 2166-6000). A stop here provides some last-minute shopping inspiration especially if your kitchen cupboards are a little bare – Harrods has an excellent selection of wines, cakes, cheese, sausages and teas. Delicious, but deadly to the wallet, Harrods remains a happy hunting ground for the hungry shopper. Visitors enjoy more discounts and free gifts with the Tourist Privilege card. Swing by the concierge (ground floor) to inquire.

At fast-expanding Suria KLCC, you can now look forward to more than 30 specialty stores including flagship Cartier and Chanel stores, French Sole shoe store, Michael Kors, a new Giorgio Armani and the region’s first Armani Café at the luxury annexe.

Go across to Avenue K (opposite Suria KLCC), through an underground connection, only if you want to marvel at the exquisitely designed structure by French designer Christian Liagre. Avenue K is otherwise a tepid experience devoid of any real bustle, its long, wide corridors flanked mostly by vacant retail space. This highly anticipated temple of high fashion has failed to kick off as yet as one of Kuala Lumpur 's fashion hotspots.

DC Comics at Fahrenheit mall, fun for kids

DC Comics at Fahrenheit

Flag a cab and head to discount warehouse Melium Outlet (MO), a 20-minute drive from Suria KLCC. A taxi ride from the city centre should cost between RM15 -18 (US$4.60-$5.60). Be sure to avoid the lunch-hour traffic because the taxi meter is bound to tick furiously while you ponder traffic jams and sweat it out in the midday heat. At MO (63, Jalan Tasik Utama 3, The Trillium, Lake Fields, Sungei Besi, tel: 9051-2926), fashion devotees get their designer fix for a song. You'll be surprised to find that you don't have to rummage through knee-deep piles of clothes unlike in most warehouses.

Everything's elegantly displayed and neatly stacked on racks and shelves. Expect luxurious surroundings and impeccable service minus the exorbitant price tags. Prices of unsold end-of-season stocks go for a fraction of the original. Imagine Furla shoes at just RM400 (US$125) compared with RM1,000 (US$313), Furla handbags from RM700 (US$219), Stuart Weitzman shoes at RM250 (US$78), Ermenegildo Zegna suits at RM2,000 (US$625) and Zegna shirts from RM400.

Kenanga Street has been the place to shop for wholesale items. The newly opened Kenanga Wholesale City (2, Jalan Gelugor, off Jalan Kenanga, tel: [603] 9221-8081) hosts nine floors of fashion at knock-down prices. Start at the lowest floor and work your way up. Women’s fashions dominate (t-shirts and other apparel start as low as RM5 (US$1.55); you’ll also find traditional wear, children’s clothes, accessories and men’s wear. Remember the more you buy, the bigger the discount. Check out Rolls for fashion from Korea, and Notting Hill for bags and accessories. Downside: shopkeepers are sticky about shoppers trying out their picks, so be persistent.

Viva Home (85, Jalan Loke Yew, tel: 9281-1998) is the multi-storey mall for decadent interiors and home furnishings. Each floor is devoted to a different home need — there’s flooring, kitchen, bedding, bathroom, lighting plus a whole section of Chinese and feng shui knick knacks.

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Bintang Walk, Starhill, Pavilion and Lot 10

Fun Kuala Lumpur shopping at  Lot 10, H&M

H&M now fronts popular Lot 10

Continue to splurge if you must, this time at trendy Bintang Walk. There’s Lot 10, StarHill, Fahrenheit 88, Pavilion KL and of course, Sungei Wang Plaza and Bukit Bintang Plaza, staples long before the strip became hip. No shopper will be disappointed with Sungei Wang Plaza’s funky fashion styles, found nowhere else. This is upscale KL shopping at its best. This is fun shopping, low-brow, elbow-jostling. Browse Giordano, Baleno, mobile phones, cameras, computers, costume jewellery, SASA for cosmetics, and Levi's (a 501 original jean for RM265 (US$83). Explore the first floor for cheap and chic fashion by up-and-coming local designers. Watch out for stores by local designers Key Ng, Carven Ong, Michael Ong, William Liew and newbies like Samuel Yow, Samantha Kong and Tebby Tan.

Sungei Wang's lower levels are littered with boutiques that help you dress for less. Strike gold at Fortune (G090) where everything sells for RM25 (US$8) or less. Here, you'll have to work for your treasured find – rummage through racks of little dresses, shorts and everything in between. Fortune is best for plain spaghetti tops (RM4.90 – RM9.90/ US$1.50-US$3), leggings (starting at RM7.90/ US$2) and cardigans (starting from RM11.90/ US$4). Tip: Garments tagged “free size” do not necessarily fit every figure. Another is G2 boutique (LG060) – pass up their bad prints, maxi dresses and overly sequined misfits. Instead, head straight for their range of leggings. Find metallic black faux-snakeskin ones for just RM22.90 (US$7) or ripped leggings (RM17.90/US$5.50). Though garment construction generally appears good, only wear will tell their durability and quality. Alt (6F-106, tel: 2148-5881) offers quirky clothes like floral button-down shirts and vintage inspired accessories for him and her. Stop by Mell (F082-F088-E, tel: 2144-0560) for a fun mix of sexy tanks, tube tops, classic white shirts and other fun pieces by local designer Melinda Looi.

Lot 10 (www.lot10.com.my) reopened after a major refurbishment in 2012. This has always been a popular Kuala Lumpur shopping hangout with a central downtown location. In a 360-degree turnaround, its rooftop, a former car park, has morphed into the 'Forest in the City' with manicured lawns and trees. Teeq Brasserie and Rootz Dance Club (www.rootz.com.my/theclub.asp) are perched here. H&M provides vibrant street frontage and Isetan department store has a decent stretch of space here.

Funky shopping in KL, Fahrenheit mall is fun for the family

Fahrenheit Mall: funky and bold

The basement Lot 10 Food Court is a warren of dizzy delight with every imaginable form of Chinese food (and some Malay). This is a rowdy no-holds-barred streetside format with steaming stalls and narrow "alleyways". It is an excellent pit stop. Long time tenant Isetan, whose first and original home has been at the mall, has undergone renovation and introduced a new concept for its food market. The Isetan Foodmarket is now a cross between a gourmet delicatessen and a convenience store with its deli (halal and non-halal) counters and sweet deli section.

Lot 10 offers a young vibe with a broad selection from H&M, Zara, Birkenstock, Braun Buffel, Timberland, and the National Geographic store to Lily White, Cassini and Eclipse. Love G provides lingerie for the young at heart.

Lot 10 is a perennial favourite and it is easy to see why. It is superbly located - a landmark icon - right next to a monorail station at one of the busiest and most travelled junctions in town. It appeals to both men and women and serves up a few skincare and beauty outlets along with a rock-safe Guardian Pharmacy for tourists in search of quick relief. Drop by Sephora down the street for cosmetics by the yard.

Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd, the same company managing Pavilion KL, has spent RM100 million on major renovations to KL Plaza. It has been renamed Fahrenheit 88. This is funky establishment, lots of fun, with a great many shops on over five floors with every major high-street name in fashion, maternity, home ware, children's goods and sports represented. Look out for the Japanese Parkamaya on the third floor. This is a riot of video gaming, coffee, and offbeat designer stores at amazing prices (ladies' tops from RM33). Kids will enjoy the DC Comics Superheroes outfits and props. Also watch out for Aldo for shoes, Hush Puppies, Teddy Farm (stuffed toys), Ripcurl, Charles & Keith (more shoes), Revolution (various shoe brands like Dr Martens), New Balance, Billion Photo Company (where a Canon EOS 700D will set you back RM2,300), and Uni Qlo. The basement Brands Outlet is bursting with colour and huge options with polo tees from RM50 for two and men's casual shirts at RM69 for a pair. Not bad at all. Decent workmanship too.

Japanese Parkamaya retail at Fahrenheit is a must

Parkanaya at Fahrenheit is a must

The ultra-upmarket and revamped Starhill is a popular shopping stop and watering hole. Most major designer brands and fashion labels are represented and there's a whole floor devoted to exquisite timepieces, making Starhill the largest retail watch hub in Asia. There’s Maurice Lacroix, Hermes, Armand Nicolet, Audemars Piguet and Rado. Debenhams has opened its largest Southeast Asian flagship store here. It carries young fashion labels by highly anticipated British designers Matthew Williamson, Ben de Lisi, Jasper Conran and Julien Macdonald.

Elsewhere in Starhill, pop into Dior, Ferragamo, Timberland, Fendi, Kenzo, Aigner, Valentino, Celine, Porsche Design, Versace, Dunhill, Sergio Rossi, M Missoni, REDValentino, Leo, Alexander McQueen or Louis Vuitton, or drop by the funky basement cafes and the even funkier toilet. The male toilet is a dark Arab street recreation with shale tiles, claustrophobic corridors and water piped through bamboo shafts. The Dior and Louis Vuitton shops are adjoining the JW Marriott lobby for ease of spend. The designer brand floor is appropriately called the "Indulge" level in the elevator. Look for this when you press the button. Try local designer Khoon Hooi's (F19B, tel: 2142-6032) contoured, feminine dresses at his flagship store. Or visit Jendela KL (F21, tel: [603] 2144-9189) for contemporary fashion with a Malaysian twist. The Gallery (tel: [603] 2143-3323) on the Muse Floor features local artists and runs different shows from time to time. Plenty of food rest stops are around at places like the Arabic Tarbush or the mod multi-cuisine Shook.

Beauty junkies have been fussing over Sephora Malaysia (located right in front of Starhill Gallery). The 10,000sq ft of space, spread over two levels, stocks beauty brands like Urban Decay, Bare Minerals, Too Faced and Soap & Glory. In time, the second level will expand to include services such as facial treatments and spas.

Just opposite the road from here on the other side of Jalan Bukit Bintang near the Grand Millennium hotel is longtime music store Bentley Music where you can strum guitars and plonk on assorted keyboards.

Kuala Lumpur designer brands, COACH at Pavilion Mall

Pavilion mall, COACH

Fashion gurus continue to buzz over the city’s seven-storey Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (Jalan Bukit Bintang); the long awaited couture revolution. The results are striking. Think sophisticated interiors, soft carpets and huge mirrors mixing with plenty of hot fashion names. We’ve fallen in love with Gucci, COACH, Canali, Giuseppe Zanotti, TOD'S, Chloe, Versace, Shanghai Tang, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Joan & David and Thomas Pink. Joining them is Paul Frank, noted for his adorable, gummy grinning Julius the Monkey, which adorns t-shirts, wallets and hoodies. Special edition items like Paul Frank t-shirts featuring the Petronas Twin Towers is a must buy. Also find brands like Club Monaco, Aigner, Longchamp, Montblanc, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, IWC Schaffhausen watches, Xixili, Braun, Sony Ericsson, Swatch, AX Armani Exchange, Animal, Banana Republic, G2000, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, Guess, DKNY, Celine, Geox shoes, Prada, Quicksilver, Roxy, and Mandarina Duck. Men in search of casual khakis for summer wear will be delighted to spot a Dockers to duck into.

Add local brand Variante ( Lot 4.25.11) to your retail-therapy experience. Stock up on its colourful kaftans with diamantes and button-up chiffon dresses in bold prints and colours – great for the more mature and classy gal (the boutique also carries sizes that accommodate plus-sized women). Prices are equally seductive. Havaianas (Lot 4.52.00) makes its debut with flip-flops in every imaginable colour, pattern and design. Kids’, men’s, women’s and unisex ranges are all available as well as the iconic Brasil collection. Malaysian Goh Ling Yi’s exquisite, bold handcrafted jewellery displays an interesting mix of unusual gemstones at La Putri (Lot 3.32.00). Presence (Lot P2.14.00, tel: 2144 -9408) carries jewellery and watches from French brands GL, Kenzo and Paul & Joe. Bling yourself to oblivion with bangles and earrings all gold embossed with animal print textures, black and silver cufflinks, jewel embellished watches and whimsical pendants and rings. DC Comics Superheroes (Level 5, tel: 2143-3882) attracts comic fans with its flagship store, packed with a wide array of official DC Comics t-shirts, apparel and memorabilia. New to the block are Bauhaus (Level 4); Bell & Ross (Level 3) for elegant watches; Bottega Veneta (Level 2) for leather handbags and wallets; and Karen Millen (Level 2) for glam fashion.

Check out Thierry Mugler, Morgan, Celio, Diane Von Furstenberg (3.33.00, Level 3), Max Mara (3.30.00 and 3.31.00, Level 3) and Bimba and Lola (2.51.00, Level 2). Where to start? For serious home décor and furnishings, head to the sixth floor – there's Molecule (6.24.01-02) for retro accessories such as miniature kid sofas, funky ashtrays and clocks, XQZT (6.24.03) for ultra cool furniture designs and Typo (Level 4) for affordable notebooks, wall art and desk accessories. At the one-stop Muji, up on the fourth floor, find minimalist and functional household products, skincare, apparel, bags and stationary.

Sephora is a good cosmetics pit stop in KL

Sephora: cosmetics pit-stop

Tangs department store has also made a stylish comeback, securing a spot in this premium complex. Recover after long hours of shopping at the Food Republic (Level 1), a sprawling floor of restaurants and deliciously modernised hawker stalls. Be sure to savour the melt-in-your-mouth donuts from J.Co Donuts & Coffee (Level 1) or try some Japanese inspired bread and pastries at the Loaf (Level 3), a venture by a certain Dr M (clue: Malaysia’s former prime minister).

Pavilion KL gets especially busy come F1 season. If you're in town, be sure to pop by to enjoy a host of activities and promotions that lead up to the final race day. The Tourist Rewards card extends special discounts and gift redemption to tourists. Head over to the concierge (Levels 2 and 3) to apply for yours.

Turn up the heat and drool over sequins and ruffles conjured up by top local designers, Rizalman Ibrahim (Rizalman Ibrahim Couture, 110-G-M, Jalan Imbi, tel: 2141-6149) and Bernard Chandran (S-32-35, 2/F, Fahrenheit 88, tel: 2145-0534). If you are prepared to fork out a pretty penny you’ll make heads turn, just like the American popstar elite when they don Bernard Chandran's creations.

Parallel to Changkat Bukit Bintang, on Jalan Berangan is The Curiousity Shop (11, Jalan Berangan, tel: 2142-6660). It is a masterclass in thrift-store chic. It’s pure fun unearthing heaps of buried vintage. You’ll stumble upon original packaged Star Wars toys, vintage and reproduction furniture, old typewriters, framed vintage advertisements and wallpaper, ancient lamps and chandeliers. Upstairs is given over to ho.Lang (also started up by the same people), stuffed with pretty dresses, accessories and bags. Spot some gems such as Fendi, Pucci and BCBGMax Azria among the convivial clutter.

The Styliste (144-01, 1st floor, Patent House, Jalan Bukit Bintang) is a real cool spot for shopping in Kuala Lumpur. The black carpet is a stark contrast to the austere white walls. Local stylists and designers Allien Gan and Yee Teng offer polar opposites in fashion; almost everything is black or white on Allien’s side – simply cut but with a definite swagger – while Teng is all about vintage motifs and floral prints.

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Computers, camera shopping, Sungei Wang Plaza

Harrods at KL Airport

Harrods arrives at KL airport

Jalan Bukit Bintang is known for its diversity. Further down the road, Low Yat Plaza showcases the latest in computer software and hardware, all at rock-bottom prices.

Digital camera and video shops are abundant in Sungei Wang Plaza and Low Yat Plaza in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur. Check out Foto Edar (LG012, Bukit Bintang Plaza, tel: 2141-6683), Boeing Photo (KLG 2, LG Floor, Sungai Wang Plaza, tel: 2145-3393), Fotokem (LG149, Sungai Wang Plaza, tel: 2145-5011) and Jaya Kamera (LG035A, Bukit Bintang Plaza, tel: 2145-0122). The shops stock an extensive range of renowned brands such as Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Canon, Hasselblad and Pentax. Pop into any camera store and find all the latest models at around the same price, with Foto Edar at Bukit Bintang Plaza offering better deals. Expect to pay around RM3,400 (US$1,120) for a Canon 60D (normal lens), RM4,200 (US$1,385) for a Nikon D7000 (standard lens) and about RM2,500 (US$820) for a Sony Nex 5. Most stores throw in extras like a camera bag and SD card. Boeing Photo adds a tripod to the package. You can count on the staff being courteous and knowledgeable.

There are also electronics and digital camera shops in just about every mall. Or pop into a shop like Billion Photo (tel: [60-3] 2142-8971) ground floor of Fahrenheit 88 next to the JW Marriott hotel. They stock digital cameras, videos and assorted electronic items. Prices will perhaps be most negotiable in Low Yat Plaza. Bear in mind that electronic goods prices in Kuala Lumpur are higher than in Singapore and Hong Kong and the models appear around three or four months after they have arrived in Singapore and Hongkong.

Sungei Wang Plaza also houses one of Kuala Lumpur's best shopping bargains, the large and well-stocked Factory Outlet Store (F.O.S.) where you can pick up jeans for RM79 (US$25) or less, and t-shirts and sleeveless linen shirts for RM29-RM39 (US$9-$12). The store is at the concourse level. The same shirts at Lanvin (where the stitching is done in France) or Givenchy at Starhill will set you back over RM1,300 (US$405) or more. Hunt here for Kuala Lumpur bargain shopping. You’ll find FOS for Kids on the second floor where body suits (for babies) and pyjamas (for toddlers) go for as low as RM10 (US$3.30). (Another Kuala Lumpur factory outlet option is the GME Factory Outlet at KL Sentral Station where an Obermain shoe starts at RM135 (US$42), and a Nautica t-shirt at around RM29).

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Berjaya Times Square to Great Eastern

KL mega-sales, Pavilion shopping mall, Raoul

KL shopping mecca, Pavilion

Since you’re into the serious business of shopping, check out Berjaya Times Square (Jalan Imbi), with over 1,000 shops, some of them still vacant. This is a huge modern sprawl that also hosts the indoor theme park Cosmo's World and an IMAX theatre. Britain’s Debenhams and KL’s favourite one-stop fashion store, Metrojaya have closed but the complex has begun to pull in the crowds with new stores and the convenience of a monorail station next door. Krookz (06-75, Level 6, tel: 2144-3903) started up by local music deejays, is a hit with skate-borders for its hip, urban street wear. Arabian Oud (G-18, tel: 2148-5143) is an Aladdin's cave of dreamy, exotic perfumes and colognes.

Can’t get over how much you’ve spent? Mull over it while Berjaya Times Square takes you for a ride at its largest indoor theme park, the complex’s top attraction. The nearby Imbi Plaza is also dedicated to computers, cameras, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets at bargain prices. Be sure to browse, compare and bargain before you make that quintessential purchase to take home.

If you’re an art lover, seek out Artrageously Ramsay Ong The Art Gallery (25 Jalan Bukit Bintang), to view Sarawak artworks and handicraft. If Ramsay is around, he’ll be happy to chat, and you’ll walk away with a free lesson on Sarawak culture, traditions and art. The entire strip is stuffed with a wild array of specialist shops, clothes shops, restaurants, kopitiams, budget hotels and reflexology centres – catering to varied tastes and desires.

The chicks in the know flock to all the right spots. Remix, which happens once every two months at Palate Pallette Restaurant & Bar (21, Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari), is all about the miracle combination; live music and shopping. Vendors set up booths, selling everything from hoodies and caps to chunky handmade jewellery and even self-produced indie films, to the sounds of house and r&b. Very avant-garde. Pop into Lightworks (19, Jalan Mesui, tel: [603] 2143-2966) for a range of holistic books, CDs, tarot cards, healing crystals, jewellery and gemstones to help realign your chakras.

Squeeze in the time to pop by Maju Junction Mall (Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman), Great Eastern Shopping Mall (Jalan Ampang) and Mid Valley Megamall (Lingkaran Syed Putra, tel: 9368-3333), and check out long time favourites Sogo Pernas Department Store (190, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, tel: 2698-2111), Ampang Park Shopping Complex (Jalan Ampang, tel: 2161-7006), City Square (Jalan Tun Razak, tel: 2162-1566) and The Mall (Jalan Putra).

Berjaya Times Square mall is easy by monorail

Berjaya Times Square monorail/ photo: hotel

Drop into Capsquare (7 Persiaran Capsquare, Off Jalan Ampang). Forget big names – Capsquare has small boutiques and an exquisite art gallery, which is impossible to ignore. Its 300m retail (and cobblestone) strip, combines the joy of retail therapy with eating and drinking. It's perfectly positioned and equipped to complement KLCC and the Asian Heritage Row close by. Don't miss Jendela KL Studio (G07, tel: 2692-8189), which weaves traditional batik and songket designs onto contemporary fashion and furnishings. Linger around for Red Square (G13-15, tel: 2692-2310), KL's first vodka bar stays open long after the shops have closed. Or head to Urbanattic (G46, tel: 2693-3808) for jazz jam sessions. POP! The bazaar takes place every first and third Sundays of the month, offering shoppers collectibles, fashion, accessories and street food.

In the spotlight is The Gardens, Mid Valley City, a five-storey swanky shopping gallery. Fashionistas won’t be deterred by the lack of green here as they have much to go mad about; Gap, Zara, MNG, Coach, Ylang Ylang, Banana Republic and more. The much loved Robinsons, famously stylish in ’70s KL, returns with aplomb as anchor tenant. A recent visit to Kate Spade (G-203B, tel: 2284-1468) re-established my love affair with this New York brand, well-known for its exuberant style and playful wit. The 1700sq m store offers the complete collection of Kate Spade handbags, shoes, jewellery, luggage, stationery, eyewear, as well as a variety of exclusive items such as cosmetics, clothes and the JACK SPADE collection. Fashionistas slip into ballerina flats and pumps embellished with jewels and strips of metallic snakeskin at Tiamo (F-227A, tel: [60-3] 2283-4218). Tiamo takes its shoes seriously; the mandate is form plus function. Its footwear, creations of South Korean designer Jung Eun Ju, is hand sewn – each shoe sole is fitted with a special metallic rod to balance the body, while silicone cushions are inserted on the insides of shoes to prevent blisters. Children’s shoes start at RM119; and for grown-ups the price tag is RM139 and up. Check out Ecco (Second Floor, tel: 2282-4539) for a range of well-constructed leather shoes. Designer shoes in Kuala Lumpur? No problem.

If you have the moxie, don t-shirts carrying quirky, offbeat prints and messages from Graffi-Tee. There’s also Borders, funky furniture store Gudang, one-stop centre Isetan and Atlas Hi-fi where you can experience the crisp, clear sounds of Bose equipment at your leisure. Bread & Butter (G-231, tel: [60-3] 2287-4517) stocks a wide range of high-end American labels – 7 For All Mankind, 575 Denim, True Religion, Tag Jeans and Denim for Immortality. Delectables ( S-213) has the most divine cakes, cupcakes and ready-to-eat cookies in the cutest shapes. Luxury label Louis Vuitton (occupying a space of 540sq m) finds its way to the Gardens, becoming the third store to open in the city. Pop into the fairly newish Wei-Ling Contemporary (G212 & 213, tel; 2260-1106) for a look at modern Asian art.

Model on catwalk at Pavilion Mall, a high end Kuala Lumpur shopping escape

Model on catwalk at Pavilion

Che Che New York (tel: 2282-8619) over at Mid Valley Megamall has the prettiest totes, purses and girly pouches, embellished with sequins and intricate details. Think designs that flaunt an elegant Parisian flair, with a cheerful eastern twist. Pink Evil’s Fashion Supermarket (F038, tel: 2282-1801), is gaining a reputation for fresh, slightly offbeat clothes and accessories that won’t break the bank. Find five very distinct brands and styles. Expect flirty floral dresses at Sugar & Spice. Coffee & Magazines supplies separates and bright belts while Chocolate Martini serves up sophisticated maxis and cocktail dresses. Butter & Toast offers comfy basics with a twist. High-street fashion label Bershka (Ground Floor, tel: 2282-3957) has racks and shelves of waterfall skirts, pumps in jewel tones, blazers and leggings.

Enter specialty store XL-Shop (F105, tel: 2287-72570), and even if you’re not an avid collector, you should pop by just to gawk at the range of figurines from brands such as Tomy, Hasbro, Bandai and Tokyo Marui. It is a trove of limited edition collectibles.

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Bargain shopping in Bangsar, Sri Hartamas

Bangsar deserves mention. This suburb is stealing the thunder with its rising tide of fashion hotspots and is a useful addition in our Kuala Lumpur shopping guide. To get to Bangsar, hop onto the light rail transit (LRT) system, then catch a taxi to the Jalan Telawi enclave. Once better known for its countless nightclubs and pubs, Bangsar has become a chic stop for fashionistas. The boutiques mushrooming in the area display a unique bent on what’s hip. The popularity of boutiques like Cats Whiskers (7-1, 1/F, Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2282-7317) and Gossips (8A, 1/F, Jalan Telawi 2) rely mainly on word of mouth (no pun intended). These boutiques are a cross between someone’s living room and a museum; very Bohemian in appeal. They’re quick to pick up on catwalk trends. So expect to slip into the latest designs like a kimono and wrap style dresses or pile on the trendiest accessories. Swing by Baci Boutique (12A, 1/F, Jalan Telawi 3) for some vintage dresses, Peoples...Egg (32, Jalan Telawi 5, tel: 2283-1084) for oversized bags and Shoes Shoes Shoes (31A, Jalan Telawi 3) to stay in step with the well-heeled fashion pack.

Shopping for bargains in Bangsar weekend flea market

Girl at Bangsar Weekend Market

Bangsar’s fashion boutiques are causing quite a sensation; the quirky yet stylish Mooie Boutique (3-1, Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2287-2230); Gossips+ (10, Jalan Telawi 3, tel: 2282-8286) has racks of sexy dresses for the plus sized gal; Cloth & Sash (4-1, Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2287-9008) for sequined and laced toga dresses; Bello (12-1, Jalan Telawi 3, tel: 2282-3828) for flashy Hong Kong fashion; Plush (17-1, Jalan Telawi 2) for his and her fashion; Nurita Harith (10-2, Telawi 3) for custom-made designs; sevendays (20-1, Jalan Telawi 3) with fashion by local upcoming designers like mimpikita, Yadotsa and Pop.Muse.Sic.; Thimble (20-2, Jalan Telawi 3) for chic dresses; RUMORS (24-1, Jalan Telawi 3) for men’s fashion and accessories; Jorya Weekend (Jalan Telawi 3) for pleated skirts, lacy dresses and purpledotz (18-1, Jalan Telawi 3) for abstract patterns and graphics accessories.

Drop into M'Shroom (9-2, Jalan Telawi 2), which features a variety of graphical art t-shirts caps, hoodies, jackets and bags from Canada's WrongWroks brand. Or head to Musse (16-1, Jalan Telawi 3) to dig up some BCBG Max Azria, Chloe, CK, Lanvin or Philip Lim 3.1. Juice Boutique (46 & 46-1, Jalan Telawi 5, tel: 2283-5811) appeals to those with a flair for street couture with cult brands such as CLOT apparel, limited edition Nike, Adidas, HeadPorter and more. Some might find Tea and Sympathy (7, Second Floor, Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2283-6671)just a tad too sparse but look closer – its scrupulously edited selection includes handmade dresses with scalloped hems, floral prints and bow embellishments.

Stylistas-in-the-know won't want to miss Musa Boutique, the neighbourhood’s latest addition. This boutique hosts several uber-cool labels such as Kokon To Zai (London), Cheap Monday (Sweden), and Rich and Skinny (USA). Munch on macaroons while rifling through a rack of evening gowns at Hummingbirds Coffee Bar (21, Jalan Telawi 3, tel: [603] 2201-5889). The boutique has a vast selection of heavily embroidered bridal and evening gowns, handmade accessories and ready-to-wear apparel courtesy of local designer Beatrice Looi. Try the very cool Never Follow Suit (28-2 Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2284-7316), an impeccably curated women’s and men’s clothing boutique started up by local designers, for vintage and modern styles. Uncover a mix of jersey basics, sleek black dresses, tailored menswear, vintage clutches and furniture.

The monorail is a great option

Getting around is a snap by monorail

Who doesn’t love a great pair of jeans? Slip into your favourite celebrity pair, from heavily worked Karl Kani contemporary jeans and straightforward Post’age denims to the super fit Twiggy range from James Jeans. All this and more stacked invitingly on shelves at On a Cloudy Day (15-1, Jalan Telawi 3, tel: [60-3] 2287- 5796).

Trawl Blurry Boutique (6A, Jalan Telawi 2, tel: 2284-9618) and Quirky Brown Cow (23-1, Jalan Telawi 2) for dainty, flirty chiffon dresses and a wide selection of edgy graphic tees.

Be prepared to juggle your time between shopping and some pampering; get your nails buffed and your talons tended at trendy nail bars and salons popping up in the area. Eric Choong (61-1 & 63-1, Jalan Telawi 3) is perfectly positioned – try on his pret-a-porter pieces or evening gowns, followed by a facial or lunch at the many cafes along this strip.

Bangsar also gets its shot of glamour with Bangsar Village II (Jalan Telawi 1). Look forward to high-end names like Ted Baker, Warehouse, Principles, Massimo Dutti, Trucco and Coast. Trot over to Lush Icon (1F – 1B, tel: 2282 9619) with regular offerings of Jordi Labanda, Nice Day & Nice Things, Hansel, Karen Walker, Tribu accessories, Dogeared Jewelry and Baylene. Make an appointment with designer Shahidan at Jedan (1F-3A, tel: 2282-0644) to custom-make your traditional baju kebaya and kurung, and beaded kaftans.

Find some very quirky and distinctive shirts to wear home at Dude & Duchess (UGF-19, tel: 2284-3066). For trendies, a must is the Thai-based Lyn Shoes (GF 30, tel: 2287-3114), which offers over 300 designs of extremely high heels, wedges and stilettos, accessories, handbags, watches and sunglasses. Bric’s (GF29B, tel: 2283-6421) offers its first flagship store with a comprehensive range of classic suitcases, overnight bags and handbags in leather, nylon and more.

H5 ( GF27, tel: 2288-1932) boutique pays tribute to pop art and culture through its interior design and the watches it carries. Each brand, from Nooka and Noon Copenhagen to LIP, has garnered a cult following around the world. And don’t miss Thirtyfour (Upper Ground Floor) for its range of handmade jewellery and leather bags. Countless sports brands congregate at World of Sports (Level 1, tel: [603] 2284-9914). Look out for Mizuno, Lafuma, Spalding and Montrail. If you're bored of frocks hit Lasting Impressions (2/F, tel: 2287-3201) for their lovely range of Chinese and Tibetan antique furniture. Or you could just slip into the Hammam (3F-7 & 3F-8, tel: [603] 2282-2180) and have a bath, scrub followed by a soothing massage. Take home their range of Hammam Spa products – try the Sacred Massage Oil, with frankincense and myrrh to uplift your mood.

Duty-free shopping at Kuala Lumpur Airport, KLIA

KLIA duty-free selection is reasonable

It's increasingly difficult to locate a good record store but you're bound to discover the grooviest vibes at Rock Corner (15-1, tel: 2284-1423), Bangsar Village 1. Discover an astounding range of music albums plus the guy behind the counter knows almost everything about hip hop, house, jazz and indie folk pop. Later, contemplate on your fashion finds over some sangria at the ever-popular La Bodega Tapas Bar (16, Jalan Telawi 2).

The dramatically modern Bangsar Shopping Center has been unveiled – returning as the area's foodie and fashion nexus. Transformed into something approaching super chic, it has set out to attract small, high-quality boutiques dabbling in handmade chocolates, novelty stationary and children's toys. Some 90,000 square feet of retail space has been added, some of it still vacant. Tucked away on the first floor, is exclusive French designer children's wear Château de sable (tel: 2095-3203). Find engaging t-shirts, dresses and coats, all of which come with that signature French style. Peer into Kate's Closet (F102) and discover the Bruttal range of intimates – sex-kitten kitsch meets luxurious lacy lingerie. The crotchless panties, French maid and naughty red devil costumes could add just the right amount of spice to your bedroom.

Gallo by Thian (S125, 2nd floor,tel: 2096 -1927) is your pick for elegant, feminine frocks; Shoeville (S105, 2nd floor,tel: 2096 -1927) for luxury women’s shoes from Brazil; Bagsociety (F106, 1st floor,tel: 2095 -2248) for new and pre-loved designer bags; and The Jekyll & Hyde Project (S19, 2nd Floor, tel: 2282-2364) for a quirky mix of stationary, home accessories, CDs and bags. For great food shopping, check out the specialist Jason’s Food Hall, a floor filled with heaps of high-end munchies. Expect the best croissants and pastries from Hiestand, yummy cakes from Just Heavenly, artisan cheeses, fine harvest teas, Blanxart chocolates and wines.

Just opposite is Maizen (112, Jalan Maarof) – three floors of delightfully colour-coded racks of Charlotte Ronson, Tracy Reese, T-Bags, Black Halo, Elizabeth & James, Julie Haus and more. Shopping here is like raiding a celebrity's closet (prices go up to RM5,000/ US$1,500). There's even a corner for the bambini – you'll be smitten by the miniature shoes and funky dresses, designed out of original band shirts of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. On the same street is Luxury Vintage (152, Jalan Maarof, tel: 2095-6266) – every fashionista's answer to designer label handbags at a fraction of the price. These pre-loved handbags are genuine.

When in Bangsar, track down spunky local designer, Melinda Looi’s Showroom (279, Jalan Maarof, tel: 2093-2279). Her haute couture designs are distinct; dresses in muted tones, embellished with intricate beading and crystals. Purportedly gracing the wardrobe of celebrities like Elizabeth Hurley and Cameron Diaz, Melinda Looi’s designs are a must if you want to sashay home in style.

Gucci store at Bukit Bintang, KL

Large Gucci store, Bukit Bintang

Lauren Boutique (4A, Jalan Telawi 4, tel: 2282-5882) opens up to reveal a closet full of glamorous clothes designed by Miss Lauren Kaur herself. Unexpected finds include multicoloured jersey t-shirts with sequins, Spanish leather bags and purses.

Not too far from Bangsar is Brickfields, buzzing with a genuinely local Indian feel. If you’re coming in from the city on the monorail or LRT, get off at KL Sentral and a short walk will take you directly into the heart of Brickfields. Brickfields has been designated KL’s “Little India” – a title that has earned the neighbourhood a giant fountain, arches, an expanded sidewalk and a fresh lick of paint.

Walk past old women threading garlands of jasmine flowers, smouldering joss sticks and camphor plus sacks of aromatic local spices, the scent of which hits you harder than a slug of sangria. Sales staff at boutiques such as Mumbai (184, Jalan Tun Sambanthan) and Preet’s (206, Jalan Tun Sambanthan) rave about transforming you into the next party-circuit dazzler. Their intricately beaded and sequined numbers will undoubtedly do the trick. For row upon row of colourful plastic and jewel-encrusted bangles, pop into New Malliga (256, 258 and 258A, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, tel: [60-3] 2273-0204). Citra’s House of Spice (GF, 76 Jalan Padang Belia, tel: [60-3] 2273-5251) is bursting at the seams with imported Indian spices, grains and curry powder. Along with miles of new and used books, P Sivaguru Book Depot (14, Jalan Scott, tel: [60-3] 2274-2385) carries a wide collection of Indian books on religion, art, literature and fiction.

If the heat becomes oppressive, opt for a relaxing interlude at one of the many massage centres that employ blind therapists. Try the Blind Master Massage Center (Jalan Tun Sambanthan 4, opposite YMCA). Combine shopping with some culture and explore the rest of the area. Brickfields is tagged the “Divine Location”. Famous Buddhist, Chinese and Hindu temples and churches, some almost 100 years old, are located in the area on and around Jalan Berhala. Pop into Lavanya Arts (134, Jalan Berhala, tel: 2274-2722) for Indian arts and crafts. Or for some contemporary, local art housed in a stylishly converted pre-war townhouse, visit Wei-Ling Gallery (8, Jalan Scott, tel: 2260-1106).

It’s official; nothing can escape the vintage trend. Every vintage fan needs to be on the lookout for Scoop (P-1-19, Plaza Damas, Block P, 6, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, tel: 6201-1206). It promises once-loved designer fashion and accessories at a fraction of their original prices. Imagine Manolos, Prada, Hermes, Gucci, and Chanel minus the high-end price tags. If your closet is bursting with one too many bags and shoes, think turning your quality cast-offs into cash as part of Scoop’s recycle concept.

KL duty-free shopping at the airport

Revamped Kuala Lumpur airport

If you've strayed over to the Sri Hartamas area, Solaris Mont Kiara is just a stone's throw away. Lovely shops, cafes and spas have sprung up around Solaris. Pop into House of Presentation (12-2, Jalan Solaris 5, tel: 6203-6801) for contemporary glass and ceramics, FrontRow (6-2, Jalan Solaris 5) for floaty silk, chiffon dresses from mouth-watering labels like Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Marni, BCBG, Paul & Joe, See by Chloe, Fashion Avenue (13-1, Jalan Solaris 3) for ruffles, patterns and certainly more affordable fashion, and Des Folies (22-2, Jalan Solaris 4, tel: 6203-0200) for its range of slinky underwear (recommended piece: the lace corset with suspender).

Cookies & Cream (7-1 Jalan Solaris 3, tel: 6204 0208) is not the easiest to find but this little shop presents an unexpectedly dreamy world of luminous skirts, off-shoulder dresses, multi-patterned scarves and colourful handbags. De Love Story Boutique (9-1 Jalan Solaris 4, tel: 6204-0067) carries an extensive range of bridal dresses and evening gowns.

Publika (Jalan Dutamas 1), close by to the Mont Kiara area, is turning out to be a cosy art enclave rather than a glamorous metropolitan shopping centre. For a well-rounded day out, stop by at vintage art and furniture stores The Curiosity Shop (Level G2) and Outdated at the Artrow for everything from 100-year-old typewriters to eccentric retro luggage. Numerous enticing boutiques have sprung up here such as The Odd Loft (Level G3) – imagine eccentric-shaped bags and disposable dresses — and Kaleidoscope (Level G3), an Aladdin’s treasure trove of dreamy accessories and vintage clothes. Browse the aisles at Ben’s Independent Grocer (Level UG1) — everything’s creatively laid out and categorised for convenient shopping. Stock up on oils, vinegars, spices, pastas, cheeses, gourmet chocolates and wines.

KitaKita (G 1.10, 1 Jalan Medan Setia, tel: 2096-1323) may be hard to track but it’s worth the visit. Kitakita has the prettiest tea sets with kebaya-inspired print, quirky vases, handbags, wall adornments, journals and jewellery by local designers you would not typically find anywhere else.

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The Petaling Jaya shopping mall circuit

 KLIA Airport has duty free deals on perfume, electronics and alcohol

KL Airport Ferragamo store

Beyond the capital lies a wealth of shopping: Petaling Jaya has emerged as quite a shopping hotspot with monster malls such as One Utama and Sunway Pyramid. One Utama (1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, tel: 7710-8118), already an institution in this part of town, kicked off the shopping revolution more than a decade ago. Its six floors of fashion for men and women include collections by Armani Exchange, Bebe, DKNY, Guess and Zara. A recent update has brought in more edgy, street-smart labels like Forever 21, GAP and Miss Selfridge, attracting a younger set of shoppers.

Close by is Ikea (2, Jalan PJU 7/2, Mutiara Damansara, tel: 7726-7777) – discover all your affordable interior furnishing solutions here at Asia's largest store with a floor area of approximately 270,000sq ft. Avoid the maddening weekend crowds as people drive from as far as Penang and Malacca to sample this Scandinavian favourite. I'll let you in on a secret – adjacent in the Ikano Power Center (tel: 7720-7333) is Lurve it (G/F, tel: 7710-3598), an unassuming store that brings in tube tops, lycra maxis, batik print batwing and cotton dresses from around the region, selling them at a fraction of the price you'd pay in boutiques elsewhere in the city. Step carefully or you'll risk bypassing it, oblivious to the many treasures that hang on its racks.

You can easily get lost in the massive, revamped Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall (3, Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway, tel: 7492-9998). Its new wing, hidden inside the mall's distinguishable yet kitsch exterior, is packed with high-street favourites that keep smart, working girls' wardrobes stuffed with MNG, Zara, Topshop, Principles and NAFNAF. Payless Shoe (Lower Ground Floor) is stacked high with shoes of every size, colour and design.

The city’s oldest department store, P Lal Store, has moved to a bigger premise in the suburbs (91, Jalan Gasing, tel: 2021-9091). Stock up on winter essentials like boots, cardigans, scarves and thermal undergarments.

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Night shopping and weekend flea markets

Fun carry-on bags at KL Airport

Outrageous bags at KLIA duty-free

A few more diversions for the travelling shopper are the night markets or pasar malam and flea markets. If you’re watching your cash, the pasar malam is a good place to shop without paying tourist prices. For a fix of local foods, fresh produce, craft and a real atmosphere, go to Bangsar’s Jalan Telawi Sunday Market. Juicy vegetables, fresh fish, accessories and mobile phones add character to this already colourful scene. The night market in Bangsar is a big draw, bringing together both expatriates and locals. While you’re there, be sure to swing by Silverfish Bookstore (67-1, Jalan Telawi 3, tel: 2284-4837), and look out for the latest Silverfish New Writings collection of short stories by regional authors.

Bargain hunters should not pass up the flea markets. They’re the latest craze. It’s the hip way to spend your weekend, over a cuppa, browsing through stacks of old magazines, stylish home décor from Burma, Thailand and India, trying on exotic jewellery or some silk blouses. Manned by locals as well as expatriates, Sunday flea markets are mushrooming in and around the city. Sogo’s Sunday bazaar flea market (Sogo Pernas Department Store), and BSC Saturday flea market (Bangsar Shopping Centre, 285, Jalan Maarof, tel: 2094-7700) are a must. The Weld (Jalan Raja Chulan) hosts the Joujou & Shugi Toy Art Mart every Saturday. Dig deep and you'll find '70s vinyl records, collectible desk lamps and wooden art. As for Bukit Bintang’s Carnival flea market, you’ll get more than you bargained for. Operating every Sunday, the Bintang strip is packed with tiny booths. You’ll even spot a clown or two.

Score a bargain at the monthly Threadszoo Bazaar (www.thethreadszoo.blogspot.com) for vintage, pre-loved clothes and bags and at Chic POP (www.tonguechic.com) every three months at Zouk Club. Other more regular markets include Lelong Lelong (www.biatchbible.com), Lah' Lah' Land's Bizarre Bazaar (www.lahlahlandkl.blogspot.com) and the Curve weekend market. There's a whole lot going on at the monthly Fuyoh Art Bazaar at Publika – expect art to handcrafted home accessories, chunky jewellery and gourmet cakes to performances by local indie musicians.

Kuala Lumpur Airport duty free shopping offers some of the lowest prices in Asia

KL Airport duty free heaven

Keeping to the bazaar theme is the Souq Putrajaya (Dataran Putra, Putrajaya). Styled after Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, the fledgling souk has a way to go yet. However, the factory outlets are a must-see. Renowned brands, typically costing hundreds of ringgit, sell at bargain prices. End-of-season clothes and accessories by brands like Guess, Fame, MUFC, U2, G2000, Hush Puppies & Renoma will fill up your shopping bags, without burning a hole in your pocket. Prices are slashed 50 to 70 percent, coming down as low as RM9 (US$3).

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Next, pop into Alamanda Putrajaya Shopping Complex (Jalan Alamanda, Precinct 1, tel: 8888-8882) and head straight for Archipelago (G/F, tel: 8888-5389), offering an exciting array of fashion from the Malay Archipelago. Watch out for the boutique, Chantek Chantek, for its collection of figure-hugging Nyonya kebayas (blouses) that are aggressively making a comeback into the local fashion scene. Make a statement and cause jaws to drop back home when you pair this sexy, lacy top with your favourite pair of jeans.

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Have golf club will swing

Most shopping malls have a shop or two dedicated to golf equipment. For example the Isetan department store at Lot 10 has a section packed with golf clubs, balls and more. Other popular specialist golf equipment shops include GS Gill (Wisma Harwant, 106 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, tel: [60-3] 2698-3950), Pan-West (117, 1/F Wisma Lim Foo Yong, 86 Jalan Raja Chulan, tel: 2148-7901), VK Enterprise (golf specialists at 11, G/F, Semua House, Off Jalan Masjid India, tel: 2694-5992), and Transview Golf (1-08, 1/F, Depodium, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P.Ramlee, tel: 2148-2259).

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KLIA duty-free shopping prices

Dior duty-free perfume at KL Airport

KL Airport duty free perfumes

If you’ve still got some ringgit spare, do some last minute duty-free shopping at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). At KLIA duty-free an Hermes tie will set you back around RM700 (US$225), and a Christian Dior "J'adore" eu de parfum 75ml with vaporiser is about RM305. A COCO Chanel No.5 parfum is RM389. Pick up a BVLGARI 50ml Rose Essentielle EDP for RM318 (US$318). At Kuala Lumpur airport alcohol choices are plentiful with a duty-free Johnnie Walker Black Label one litre bottle retailing at RM108 (US$38). A 12-year-old Chivas one litre bottle is RM118. Other airport duty free outlets include Versace, COACH, Dunhill, Burberry, Guy Larouche, Aigner, The Body Shop, Salvatore Ferragamo, KIEHL's, Montblanc, Ralph Lauren, L'Occitane, Swarovski and Victoria's Secrets.

There's Harrods of Knightsbrige too with stuffed teddies. With Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) becoming a useful and convenient hub for passengers flying from Europe to Asia and Australia, there is increasing interest in digital video camera shopping here. However there are limited electronics shops for video and camera buffs. Try Electrical & Electronics (Canon EOS 700D for RM2,699). Pretty pricey but downtown is cheaper. Kuala Lumpur Airport duty free shopping prices are reasonably competitive. Happy shopping. And keep some spare change for that Malaysia mega-sale.

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