Time for shopping in Malaysia! Yes, yes I have been writing about shopping more than usual these days, but in my defence –
Shopping is therapy.
Or, in the words of my favourite fictional girl, Carrie Bradshaw (Sex & The City, of course!):
So. Comes as no surprise that when I was invited to the Shop Malaysia event organized by Malaysia Tourism with Women With Wings in the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi – it was an instant YES PLEASE! from me. As luck would have it, I was already scheduled to be in Delhi for an important meeting about InkHorn, the very promising start-up that I’m on board with. Stars aligned perfectly, and in true Sex & The City fashion, I had a super fun girls night-in with few of my best friends – Akanksha, Naina, Manjulika and Extra Cheese Pizza, and the next morning I attended the exciting event. An event that was all about shopping at a destination that I’ve been meaning to explore for almost a year and a half now – Malaysia, Truly Asia. What’s not to love, right?
And in love, I fell pretty hard, my friends! Blame it on the very stylish and very pretty Ms. Baizuri Baharum, Deputy Director-Shopping Secretariat for Malaysia Tourism, and her adorable Hindi. The session began with a short introduction to the event and soon, Baizuri took the stage and the first thing I thought was – omg I WANT that neck-piece! Shopaholic symptom numero uno, I know.
She spoke a few lines in perfect Hindi and amongst loud applause, even sang a famous SRK song from the movie Dilwale, almost immediately making the SRK fans in the crowd go ohh-and-ahh in unison. Priceless! Though, I am not an SRK fan, I’m a big shopping addict and a sucker for exciting travels – so I enjoyed every bit. I mean, friends, travel talk AND shopping? I know, best combination possible.
Coming back to shopping, it gives me much pleasure to announce that after shopping till literally dropping in Hong Kong (broke my heel at Ladies’ Market, Hong Kong – long story which resulted in me falling down, getting back up to buy three pairs of flats immediately, plus a fancy kitten heel too), my next international shopping destination is going to Malaysia for sure. Why, you ask? Well, here’s why:
Why Go Shopping in Malaysia?
Because Malaysia is a Shopping Paradise, as I learned at this colorful event. And it was love at first sentence for me because you already know that I see shopping as investment, fair and square.
Yes, we all know Malaysia as a must-explore travel heaven, but it is also a Shopper’s Delight! With her fun presentation, the impeccably dressed Baizuri took the women-only gathering to a virtual shopping tour – explaining to us the various initiatives taken by Tourism Malaysia to promote its shopping and retail sector. I did some deep research, aka Google-ing, and found out that Secretariat Shopping Malaysia (SSM) was established by Tourism Malaysia in 2003, and since then, owing to the wonderful response it got, they have built on it with consolidated efforts, tantalizing schemes and mouth-watering shopping festivals.
We were introduced to special Extended Shopping Zones in Malaysia that include Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Heritage Shopping Zone, Bandar Utama/Damansara, Bandar Sunway and Subang Jaya in Selangor as well as George Town in Pulau Pinang, Johor Bahru in Johor, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak. We were also introduced to the concept of Experiential Shopping, which goes beyond the ordinary shopping festivals in terms of providing a complete shopping experience for families – like, world-class fun & activity zones for kids inside the mall, where you can be sure that the kids are having fun while you shop. Really helpful for moms like me!
Another thing that caught my attention and made me want to immediately try it out, was the Beanieplex – a movie theatre where you can lounge in comfortable bean bags and watch a movie. How incredibly cool is that?
Ms. Baizuri virtually showed us the grand Malaysian Shopping Malls, and we were all thrilled to know that there are more than 500 shopping malls in Malaysia! The more, the merrier, right? No wonder Malaysia has been declared as the world’s top shopping destinations by the likes of CNN. Pictures of a giant crystal tower for Christmas in a mall, and big Year End Sales in another, were enough for us travel and shopping enthusiasts to cheer her on!
1Utama Shopping Centre in Selangor is one of the biggest malls in the world, and you know how fascinated I was with Harbour City in Hong Kong, so you can guess how much I’m itching to explore this one soon. Every travel and shopping addict knows that Bukit Bintang is famous as the primary shopping district in Malaysia, and at this event we found out that this district boasts of 8 mighty and glitzy Shopping Malls like the famous Pavilion, Suria KLCC, and more. My sister got me a high couture top from Pavillion some time back, and her stories of wonder are proof that it indeed is grand.
The suburban areas like Damansara, Subang, Bangsar and others also offer some rich shopping experiences, and Jonker Street in Malacca is apparently great for bagging some antiques, textiles, foods, handicrafts and souvenirs. I could go on about Shopping in Malaysia for a day and a half, and it will still do little justice to what I experienced at this event.
And obviously, it is not only about the abundance of malls which makes for great experiential shopping – so Shop Malaysia has some amazing advantages and features like the Duty Free Shopping which is my personal favourite. Malaysia is known as a duty-free shopping haven because it has numerous duty-free outlets at many points of entry, including at airports and designated destinations such as the idyllic islands of Langkawi and Labuan.
Another mention-worthy feature here is the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS). It means that you can claim GST paid on eligible goods purchased in Malaysia. You are then allowed to claim a GST refund from an Approved Refund Agent on the eligible goods purchased from an Approved Outlet when you leave Malaysia by air from one of the 8 international airports in the scope of the TRS. Amazing, isn’t it? All this makes me want to travel to Malaysia with my entire month’s salary, ha-ha.
I have been planning my Malaysia trip for a year and a half now – which, for some reason, hasn’t materialized yet. But now with the exciting shopping possibilities that this event showed us, I am even more tempted to plan a trip very soon.
If you too, like me, are planning a Shopping in Malaysia themed trip in 2016, here are the important dates you need to put on your planner:
Malaysia Super Sale : 1st March 2016 till 31st March 2016
Malaysia mega Sale Carnival : 15th June 2016 till 31st August 2016
Malaysia Year End Sale (YES!) : 1 November 2016 till 31st December 2016
Right at the end of this fun session with the absolutely stunning and equally adorable Ms. Baizuri, team Tourism Malaysia launched the official Shopping Icon For Shop Malaysia, which is aptly named Miss Shophiah. She is an über cool girl who loves to travel, loved to shop, is proud to call herself the queen of shopping and in some ways, each one of us in the room identified with her. Everyone in that room had the Travel Bug, had an unflinching desire to explore the world and every now and then, we all give in to the urge to buy three pairs of shoes in different colors because well, it is on sale and fits just right!
Towards the end of the event, the official Instagram handle Malaysia4Women was launched by the happy and proud Tourism Malaysia team, and 9 lucky women got gift hampers from Sephora, Body Shop, Gitanjali Jewels and – hold your breath – return tickets to Malaysia! I am rarely lucky in such things, having played the Tambola at Army parties for 6 years and wining only twice, so I did not have high hopes and cheered with glee when Akanksha won a verrry heavy (I know, I carried it for a few block in GK-2 for a restaurant review the same evening!) Body Shop Hamper. Honest.
Please note that this Instagram profile will hold contests for women travellers and shopping lovers, where tickets to Malaysia will be given (eeee!) so head over to Instagram right now and follow them, because you could be the lucky one. All the best, shopaholic sisters!
Soon after, lunch was served and I caught up with a few friends and met a few virtual friends for the first time. It was unadulterated fun! Amidst non stop laughter and travel discussions, we even managed to click a few pictures, and here is one of them.
We, the travel writers group, was literally the last ones to leave the venue – and as I walked towards the meeting venue for InkHorn, I looked up the Delhi sky and thanked the universe for travel, friends, shopping, laughter, dreams, and all things good and promising! I hope to experience Shopping in Malaysia personally very soon. Until then, stay tuned for my next book (fiction, romance, yesss!) which will be out in March!
Happy Travelling & Happy Shopping!