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Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur is a shopper's paradise. Bargain very, very hard.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Malaysia

Malaysia Money & Shopping

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The Malaysian currency is the ringgit, informally known as the dollar (the "$" symbol can be seen on older notes) and abbreviated RM or MYR, is divided into 100 sen. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 sen as well as bills of RM1, 2 (rare), 5, 10, 50 and 100. 5 sen coins are mainly given as change in large establishments and supermarkets, peddlers and street vendors might be reluctant to accept them. Note that the Singapore and Brunei dollars are also known as ringgit in Malay, so when near border areas you might want to check to be sure which currency they are quoting the price in.

Ringgits are freely convertible. Foreign currencies are not generally accepted, although you might get away with exchanging some Euros or US dollars even in more remote areas, but do expect a lot of stares and some persuasion. The major exception is Singapore dollars, which are accepted by KTMB and toll roads, but at a highly unfavorable 1:1 exchange rate (an anomaly dating back to when the ringgit was interchangeable with the Singapore dollar, prior to the 1970s).

Banks and airports are not the best places to exchange money if it is not urgent. Licensed money changers in major shopping malls often have the best rates - be sure to say the amount you wish to exchange and ask for the 'best quote' as rates displayed on the board are often negotiable, especially for larger amounts.

ATMs are widely available in cities, but do stock up on cash if heading out into the smaller islands or the jungle. Credit cards can be used in most shops, restaurants and hotels, although skimming can be a problem in dodgier outlets.


Banks in Malaysia, especially those in major towns and cities, have staff who are trained to handle international transactions. For any enquiries and transactions, get a number, sit down and wait for your turn to be served. (There is no need to queue while you wait in air-conditioned comfort!)
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9.30AM to 4PM and selected banks are open on Saturday from 9.30AM to 11.30AM except on the first and third Saturdays of each month. In the states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, they are open Saturday to Wednesday from 9.30AM to 4PM and Thursday from 9.30AM to 11.30AM.


Most visitors will find Malaysia quite cheap, although it is noticeably more expensive than neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia. You can live in hostel dorms and feast on hawker food for less than RM50 per day, but you'll wish to double this for comfort, particularly if travelling in more expensive East Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is also generally more expensive than the rest of the country. At the other end of the spectrum, luxury hotels and air fares are comparatively affordable, with even the fanciest 5-star hotels costing less than RM400/night.


Tipping is not customary in Malaysia. However, hotel porters and taxi drivers will appreciate a small tip if you have been provided with exemplary service. Most expensive restaurants, bars and hotels may indicate prices in the form of RM19+ , meaning that sales tax (5%) and service charge (10%) will be added to the bill. Hotel tax of 5% may also be added to this.


Kuala Lumpur is a shopping mecca for clothes, electronics, computer goods and much more, with very competitive prices by any standard. Traditional Malaysian fabrics (batik) are a popular souvenir. The cheapest place to easily buy ethnic souvenirs (especially wood-based) is in Kuching, East Malaysia, and the most expensive place is in the major, posh KL shopping centres.
In general shops open from 10.30AM until 9.30PM (or 10PM) in the large cities. They open and close for business earlier in the smaller towns and rural areas.

If you buy too much shopping in Malaysia - quite easy to do - surface postage rates are very reasonable. Excess luggage at the airport is still high, but its not as high as others. Check first with your airline.

Shops & Stores in Malaysia

Bookstore Basheer Graphic Books
Basheer Graphic Books is a specialized bookseller that started out as a one-man show and over time expanded into a successful franchise with stores in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The Malaysian outlet is l... more
 1 Fans, Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Mall Suria KLCC
Suria KLCC is a six-storey top end shopping complex built at the base of the stupendous Twin Towers. The who's who of the fashion world have outlets scattered over this massive mall, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Guess, ... more
 1 Fans, Top End, in Kuala Lumpur
Bookstore Books Kinokuniya Kuala Lumpur
If you've been to a Kinokuniya bookstore before, you should know they are almost always huge. The one at Level 4 of Suria KLCC is no exeption. It's size is no bad thing, in fact its a boon to bookworms who can expect to fi... more
 1 Fans, Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Maya Gems Arts
On the ground floor of The Annex Gallery is Maya Gems Arts, where artworks of landscapes and religious deities that appear to be paintings from afar reveal themselves, upon closer inspection, to be made from gem stones and... more
Top End, in Kuala Lumpur
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Asli Craft
On the ground floor of Central Market along the main walkway is Asli Craft, a comparatively small shop steeped in mellow browns and yellows, selling drapes, curtains, lamps, baskets, carpets and a whole range of handicraft... more
Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Seri Timur
Seri Timur is a little different from the other handicraft shops in Central Market for one good reason: reasonable prices. Plus, it's a little bigger too. Hand painted ceramic ware, colourful woven baskets and mats, and va... more
Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Mall Kota Raya Shopping Center
More popular with the locals than tourists, Kota Raya was once one of the more popular shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur but has since been overshadowed by the likes of larger complexes such as Mid Valley and Suria KLCC. Stil... more
Low Budget, in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Mall Capital Square
A savvy and hip mall that attracts equally trendy patrons, Capital Square (or Cap Square for short) is, like Suria KLCC, one of those Westernized malls with all the usual suspects - Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, M... more
Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Mall Plaza City One
Plaza City One, across the road from Semua House, is a cross between a mall and textile factory. It's the go-to place for fabrics, laces, and ready-made traditional clothes and costumes. A number of Indian boutiques sell s... more
Mid Range, in Kuala Lumpur
Shopping Mall Semua House
To score some great bargains in the heart of KL city, head down to Semua House, opposite Plaza City One. Semua House's title, literally translated as 'Everything House' or, perhaps, 'House of Everything', is a bit ambitiou... more
Low Budget, in Kuala Lumpur
These are just 10 of 50 Shops & Stores in Malaysia. Show more.

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