KL - The Shopping Paradise
Kuala Lumpur is a shopping haven for all whose lifelong goals is to find the best bargains at the best possible prices. Right smack at the heart of the Golden Triangle, along a famous stretch known as Bintang Walk, one can already feel the excitement as throngs of people go about their business, laden with shopping bags, moving from one mall to the other.
You do need to go very far as the shopping complexes along Bintang Walk are "highly-concentrated". This simply means that within a short walking distance, you can find yourself spoilt for choices as to which mall you should start out at. Best of all, it is here that you can find some of the world's most well-known brand names such as Christian Dior, Prada, Gucci, Calvin Klein, and more. On the other end of the scale, you will find names that you have never even heard of before.
For starters, why not begin at Star Hill? Star Hill is a glamorous-looking building of bronze marble and gold trimmings. It is here where the rich rub shoulders with one another. Despite being labeled as a classy spot, there is no stopping the regular Joes/Janes from browsing and shopping at this place too. A tall building, Star Hill is made up of many floors of boutiques, entertainment outlets and book stores. It is also home to the Singapore-based departmental store, Tangs. The shopping complex is also linked to the famed J.W. Marriott Hotel. If you are staying at the Marriott, rest assured that you can easily pop over to shop whenever it catches your fancy. The mall is opened daily from 10 am to 10 pm. At the lower ground floor is a fancy restaurant by the name of Shooks! Although the bill from Shooks may be rather steep, yet the restaurant remains a favorite haunt amongst shoppers and other patrons alike. This restaurant holds an interesting concept. For starters, they use an open-kitchen concept; therefore you will be able to see your dishes being prepared by the chef right before your eyes. The restaurant is segmented by cuisine, where chairs are placed surrounding the cooking area for each cuisine. There are Japanese cuisine, Chinese, Italian, and more. If you wish to sit at a proper table, you may as there are cozy chairs and tables scattered throughout the lower ground floor of Star Hill. Soothing piano music is sometimes strummed out on the grand piano placed nearby.
The courtyard at the main entrance of Star Hill is a popular spot for exhibitions, fairs, product launches and promotions. Should you wish to rent the place, you may contact the management. Also found at the main entrance of Star Hill is César, a little cafe by the sidewalk, which in my humble opinion, serves the best cappuccino in town.
By the time you are done shopping at Star Hill, why not move across the street? Simply hop over to the other side and you will be greeted with KL Plaza, another favorite shopping complex amongst Malaysians and foreigners alike. While KL Plaza is not as classy as Star Hill, yet this mall is home to one of Malaysia's biggest Nike outlet. Music lover can also pay a visit to Tower Records. There are also a number of shops selling jewelry and watches in KL Plaza. At the entrance of KL Plaza is Coffee Bean, a café where you can quench your thirst and grab a sweet treat. Get yourself a cup of ice-blended coffee and a slice of cheesecake. There are ample chairs outside the café that caters to smokers. This is the best place to sit around and watch the world go by. Be warned that Coffee Bean could be really crowded on weekends. However, if you cannot find a table at Coffee Bean, you can head over to Starbucks, which also serves excellent drinks and snacks. This outlet is larger and provides a smoking area as well. Valet parking is available at KL Plaza.
As you make your way out of the shopping complex, you will find the sidewalk being occupied by more cafés and ice-cream joints including Haagen-Daaz. There are also smaller boutiques selling (mainly) women's apparel along this street. Brand names include Seed and Urban & Co. After walking past these boutiques, you will find yourself in front of the famous Planet Hollywood Kuala Lumpur. The restaurant's décor, ambience, food and service are in-line with the overall Planet Hollywood theme worldwide. Rest assured that you will be well-served. There are also merchandise for sale including the Planet Hollywood Kuala Lumpur t-shirt that you might want to buy home as a souvenir. A meal for two at this place could be anything from RM80 to RM200, depending whether alcohol is purchased or not.
If you do not fancy meals at Planet Hollywood, there are other choices along Bintang Walk. Perhaps Piccolo Mondo or Grappa might be more suitable. On the other hand, if you are not hungry yet and would like to shop more, then walk on and you will come across to a tall, green building. You are now at Lot 10. Lot 10 used to be the shopping complex before Star Hill came about. It was home to classy, expensive, and branded names. Its anchor tenant is Isetan. Over the years, the place mellowed down a little but still retained its glorious past with several well-known names and a few local designers who owned boutiques at Lot 10. On the ground floor is another café/restaurant named Dome. If you prefer something cheaper, then take the escalator down to the lowest floor where the food court is located. This is a decent food court by all means, as it serves a large variety of food and cuisine. You can have Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and so much more. Prices are low too. A simple Chinese meal of a plate of rice with 3 kinds of meats/vegetables will not cost you more than RM10. Best of all, if you have a sweet tooth, then do remember to check out the variety of desserts available here. Local desserts are a must-try for foreigners.
Once done, simply walk across the street or take the pedestrian bridge adjoining Lot 10 and the other shopping mall, Sungei Wang Plaza. Sungei Wang Plaza was the first 'modern' shopping complex in the city many years ago. Incorporated in Malaysia on 16th May, 1972, Sungei Wang Plaza somehow gave the impression that it is a "jang" place; "jang" meaning uncultured. It is here that you can find pirated goods, cheap clothing, gaudy accessories and knick-knacks. The place is unkempt, dark and dingy. When its neighboring shopping complexes like Star Hill and Lot 10 came about, Sungei Wang Plaza faced a certain stiff competition and over in time, the management refurbished the place several times and gave it a pretty good face-lift. Now, the mall is a much better place and has continued to flourish. Sharing the same building (on the other half) is BB Plaza (Bukit Bintang Plaza). Not to be confused as Sungei Wang Plaza (although housed under one roof), BB Plaza is even more "jang" than Sungei Wang Plaza. Between the two shopping complexes, there are a couple of anchor tenants including Metro Jaya and Parkson. There is also a large Marks & Spencer outlet here. On the highest floor of Sungei Wang Plaza is another popular food court... popular because food here is really cheap and the variety of mixed rice (Chinese meal) is simply incredible. There is also good Indian food if you crave for something spicy.
Beginning November 2002, Sungei Wang Plaza added another new floor. On the highest floor is where you can find a pet shop, bowling alley, a tea house and several toy shops. Fans of trading card games can also hang out at the newly-opened game shop and challenge each other to a round of Magic The Gathering, or any other trading card games for that matter. If you are into model kits or Gundams, then you will be pleased to know that Litt Tak, sole distributor of these toys, has opened an outlet on this floor as well. Do check it out if you are around the area.
Last but not least, there is also Low Yat Plaza to shop at. Across the street from Sungei Wang Plaza, Low Yat Plaza has recently gone through a major facelift and the place is now very clean and bright. Not a shopping complex for branded goods, Low Yat is home to a number of mobile phone/accessories outlets. There are also two more toy shops on the first floor (opposite each other) selling Gundams, McFarlane toys and more.
On the highest floor is where you will find the country's largest IT center. Here, you can find just about any computer gadgets that you can possibly ask for. Prices are also competitive and to some, dirt cheap. Prices range from a few ringgit for a cable or mouse pad to a few thousand ringgit for a fully-customized PC. Some shops are so specialized that they sell mainly computer casings, or just CD-RWs.
Right out front of Low Yat Plaza is a place that all travelers must pay a visit to. Newly refurbished, BB Park is where you will find the famous Australian restaurant, OutBack Steakhouse. Serving the most delicious pasta, steak and other chicken dishes, OutBack is a little on the pricey side. Try also their mashed potatoes; truly out of this world! The courtyard is a good place for a drink, snack and a chat session with friends. There are also local knick-knacks for sale here. If you prefer Japanese, there is a large Sushi King restaurant at Low Yat as well.
Should you wish to embark on this shopping expedition, be well-prepared. Wear comfortable shoes and attire. Make sure you have at least a whole day to indulge in. Getting transport to the place is easy if you are coming from surrounding areas. Simply hop on a cab and call out the name of any of these shopping complexes. Cab fare will not cost you too much.