When it comes to shopping, this region’s got everything from markets to malls.
Tired of shopping in the same Singapore streets? So are we. Thankfully, all it takes is a short weekend getaway to scratch our shopping itch – we’re surrounded by countries with the best markets, malls and small boutiques which support local artisans. Ready your plastics and wads of cash. These are the best shopping cities in Southeast Asia.
No surprises that this billionaire’s playground is a shopping Mecca. If you’ve got cash to splash, head to its glitziest malls of Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard (naturally located in the famed shopping street of Orchard) for top-tier luxury labels and the best of high street brands. Prefer a more offbeat experience? Check out pop-up markets that’s always happening in town (like the Local People), or take a trip to Haji Lane for the coolest indie brands clustered in a single locale. But if you’re looking for something seriously alternative, head to Mustafa Centre; it’s got some of the best deals for electronics, fabrics and groceries.
The undisputed champ of Southeast Asia’s shopping in Bangkok. The proof is in the droves of Singaporeans that head there month after month, no matter the season. B Its markets, including the massive Chatuchak Weekend Market, boasts a winning combination of cool indie designers, authentic vintage goods and affordable clothing. Its malls are also second to none. Take your pick from the bargain hunter’s paradise of dizzying Platinum Mall to upscale centres of luxury brands like Siam Paragon. If you need a hand with a shopping itinerary, here’s how to do a girls’ weekend in Bangkok.
Take it from our writer Delfina, who grew up in Jakarta. The densely populated capital is a haven for those in the know. According to her, “you need to know how to beat traffic, be a pro at mall hopping and learn where all the best speciality shops are.” But if you’re a newbie, start with its biggest malls like Plaza Indonesia, Mangga Dua and Grand Indonesia which offers the best of Indonesia’s handicrafts, luxury, high street and local brands.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Beyond Angkor Wat, Siem Reap’s got lots going on, including in the shopping scene. Cambodian craftsmanship reigns supreme here. Head to the leafy precinct of Kandall Village: a mini hipster street of indie stores hawking handmade homeware, jewellery and clothing, as well as cafes and galleries. Next on your list of shopping haunts should be the Made in Cambodia market, a bazaar which boasts the fruits of Cambodia’s craftsmen. I spotted bags decorated with bottle caps and recycled brass bullets, jewellery made of saga seeds and long dresses crafted from traditional textiles. Want something a little more upscale? The city is home to small yet unique boutiques, like Eric Raisina, scattered across the central town.
Make no mistake. This beach paradise is also a shopper’s heaven. If big name luxury brands aren’t what you’re after, this is the place to be. Its clothing boutiques, which are mostly concentrated in the areas of Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu, are all about coastal chic. Stores promising breezy linen dresses, silk kaftans, slinky slips and next-level swimwear line its streets. Heading to Ubud? The art market in town is the spot to snap up gorgeous basket bags in every shape and size. Want more than just resortwear? The island is also rife with cool decor stores with goods handmade by the island’s artisans. If you need further proof, check out our guide to a shopping weekend in Canggu.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When it comes to shopping, this city is Kuala Loco. High end shopping is centered in the Bukit Bintang and KLCC areas – namely at the Pavillion, Publika and Suria KLCC. These mammoth malls are catered for your comfort, with underground walkways, and countless cafes and restaurants for you to take a breather. But we’d recommend heading outside the city centre to meet the city’s finest makers. Take Riuh in the City. This monthly markets brings together cultural and contemporary performances, food stores with plenty of eclectic shopping from the city’s best artisans.
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