Shop till you drop


Shopping is a way of life with Malaysians, but for tourists shopping in Malaysia can be a little daunting. There are so many shopping choices to be made - shop at the flea markets or at the mega-huge shopping malls? Buy branded in the city centre or locally crafted in the back alleys? Bargain hard or walk away?

Duty-free shopping for tourists coming to Malaysia begins the minute you board a Malaysian Airlines flight. As a passenger, you can shop for fine quality merchandise and branded items through the Golden Boutique in-flight shopping service.

One of the reasons that make duty free shopping in Malaysia so appealing is the exchange rate. When it's RM 3.80 to each US dollar, it's as if everything in Malaysia is at rock-bottom prices! So, shop away!

There are basically five types of duty-free shops in Malaysia - those at border towns, city centres, government-designated areas, airports, and seaports.

In the north, the border towns of Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah and Padang Besar in Perlis beckon neighbouring Thais with its range of textiles, footwear, handicrafts and souvenirs. Other border towns that offer duty-free shopping are Pengkalan Hulu in Perak, Rantau Panjang in Kelantan and Kuala Baram in Sarawak.

City centre duty-free shops in Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown (Penang), Melaka and Kuching (Sarawak) are only allowed to sell duty-free goods to international tourists leaving Malaysia after entering the country using an international passport or other legal travelling document.

Then there's Langkawi Island - one of three islands that has been granted duty-free status. It's a must-stop not only for great shopping but its beautiful beaches. Shop at the largest duty-free mall with over 100 retailers, the Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall or at Jetty Point Duty-Free Complex conveniently located at the entry point into the island.

Two other islands that have been designated as duty-free islands are Labuan and most recently, Tioman.