The tourist centers of Malaysia aim to cater to tastes of all kinds, with sports culture and relaxation being the top draws. One area that is continually being expanded and improved upon is shopping – especially, duty free shopping.
However, shoppers, you should know the difference between “duty free” and “free of duty” as both can be quite confusing. “Duty free” goods are those exempted from import duty only in designated shopping zones in Malaysia, whilst items which are designated as “free of duty” are goods that are free from import duty nationwide, all year round.
Currently there are over 300 items in the country that are totally exempt from tax, so there are already plenty of opportunities to grab bargains. There are plans to expand this number even further so that all good fall into the free of duty category. Malaysia will then truly become “the duty free shopping destination.”
Let’s start with a list of the places where you can shop and not pay any duties and then we’ll take a look at some of the shoppers’ favourites.
• Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
• Bayan Lepas International Airport (Penang)
• Langkawi International
• Airport (Kedah)
• Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Sabah)
• Kuching International Airport (Sarawak)
Duty Free Ports:
• Port Klang (Selangor)
• Tanjung Belungkur (Johor)
• Pengkalan Kubur (Kelantan)
Free Duty Goods shops are clearly signed throughout:
• Kuala Lumpur
• Georgetown (Penang)
• Kuching (Sarawak)
• Johor Bahru (Johor)
Border Towns with Free Duty shops:
• Padang Besar (Perlis)
• Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah)
• Pengkalan Hulu (Perak)
• Rantau Panjang (Kelantan)
• Kuala Baram (Sarawak)
Domestic Designated Duty Free Islands:
Most shoppers tend to favour Langkawi for duty free shopping and recommend that you head to Kuah town in the central district of the island. Rows upon rows of stores selling electronic gadgets, household goods, branded products, cosmetics and fragrances, chocolates, cigarettes and liquor welcome you with prices that will make you think if you had the exchange rates right.
|Jewelries at tax free prices. Photo by Tourism Malaysia.|
Also highly-recommended is a stroll along to the Langkawi Mall, the Fair Shopping Complex and the Jetty Point Duty Free Complex, as these tend to compete very hard with each other on price. If you’re looking for more “touristy” items, like crafts, delicacies and clothes, in addition to the usual duty free merchandise, head down to the tourist beaches of Cenang and Tengah.
For items like pewter, crystals and glassware, visit the duty free mall next to the Langkawi Underwater World or the smaller outlets at the Oriental Village. If you’re into Burberry raincoats and Mont Blanc pens, you can buy these in the outlet inside the KLIA.
Cities such as Kuala Lumpur pride themselves on their retail experiences and designer outlets such as those in the extraordinary region of Bukit Bintang. The Suria KLCC at the Petronas Towers boasts an extraordinary and unbelievable range of top names from Jimmy Choo and Prada to Gucci and Versace. Yes, these are expensive, but they are still at a lower cost here than anywhere else.
|Fashion Walk Shopping Centre. Photo by Tourism Malaysia.|
Malaysia has always been welcoming of foreign custom and this is clear in the convenience and opportunities that are offered when shopping in any of the countries great retail-friendly shops and malls.
|The worlds’ largest choice of silks? Photo by Tourism Malaysia.|
The local currency is the Ringgit (RM) and is still fondly referred to as the Malaysian Dollar by some – currently enjoys a good exchange rate against the US Dollar and British Pound. That means you really get a lot of RM for your money. In addition to this, the country also accepts a number of Western credit cards and is full of ATMs to give you easy access to your money.
If all of Malaysia becomes tax free it will allow increase retail-based tourism significantly in the region. This is certainly the aim of the Malaysian government and the main reason why this concept of a blanket tax exemption is given such a high regard. The thought behind expanding this duty-free tag to cover all goods is to not only increase tourist spending by offering more chances for appealing deals but to also boost the economy and GNI by an impressive RM9 billion.
|Beautiful designer clothing at duty free prices. Photo by Tourism Malaysia.|
The premier shopping destination of the future?
In short, tax-free shopping across the country will not only make the goods more accessible at more appealing prices, it will also enhance the image of the country for prospective visitors because this combination of bargains, top names and the unique experiences of the Malaysian complexes is something that cannot be experienced anywhere else. If all these proposals go ahead and the rest of Malaysia follows the examples of the designer stores in Kuala Lumpur and the duty free centres of Langkawi then this Asian nation could really become a world-class shopping destination!
And you know how it goes shopaholics like us, right? We’ll scour all the fantastic places… and might even go to other countries just for the shopping experience. Malaysia will be a good country to start our shopping rampage all over the world. Haha! 😉