Wednesday 17 July 2013

Bonjour Malaysia: 5 places to shop in Penang

With its rich history, vibrant cultural and artistic scene, and arguable the best street food in South East Asia, you would hardly need any more reasons to pack your bags and head to Penang for the weekend. But if you are as shopaholic as I am, you’d be glad to know that Georgetown is also home to some cool and unexpected shopping spots.

From local flea markets to antique shops and swanky boutiques, I was thrilled to find some hidden gems on my brief trip to this island city - especially that I had no expectations whatsoever. Not even a map in my hand!

What I mostly loved about it is that the experience itself was extremely random and eclectic – definitely one of the most unique shopping trips I’ve had.

So whether you have 5, 50 or 500 dollars to spend – here’s where you should be heading to burn off the extra calories from all the yummy Penang street food! Remember to leave some room in your suitcase :-)

-      Lorong Kurit Market

My first stop was this local flea market which is also known as the ‘thieves market’. Head here in the morning just when it opens so you have better chances at grabbing the best items of the day.  You never know what to expect here but look out for some cool vintage sunglasses, delicate watches, silver jewellery and random accessories. Also if you are a fan of kitsch ceramics, chances are you will find some unique pieces for a nominal price. I ended up buying a couple of beautiful vintage rings which cost me S$20 in total! A great bargain!

-       Chulia Lebuh (Chulia street)

I stumbled over this humble street - while looking for the legendary beef noodles stall around the corner - and was overwhelmed by the little antique shops randomly lining the street left and right. Small, dusty and crammed but full of hidden gems, these are treasure troves for antique jewellery and home ware lovers. Check out the stores number 443/449 (Lean Giap Trading Co.) and 455 (Gallery 1961) and take your time while at it!

-       M Store

Perhaps my most surprising find was this trendy and swanky-looking boutique at the 1st Avenue mall which stocks cool up-and-coming independent labels as well as some popular international brands.

From casual wear by Juicy Couture, Comme Des Garcons, Fred Perry and Yohji Yamamoto to stunning heels by Sam Edelman, Alexandre Birman and Schutz -which are very reasonably priced.

I really liked their accessories collection (might be a little too blingy for the Singaporean eye ;-)) – especially the Borneo-based label Sereni & Shentel’s headbands.

A must-visit if you’re looking to indulge a little in a unique statement piece which will be the envy f your friends back home.

-       Opera Shoes

Ok I’m not really a big fan of cheap shoes. It’s probably the only fashion item which I can get snobby about ;-)

But I was really impressed by the quality of pocket-friendly shoes from the Penang-based shoe label Opera. The collection was vast and my curiosity which led me to enter the store (in 1st Avenue mall as well, but the chain also has other branches around the island) ended with me buying a pair of cool cutout wedges!

In case you didn’t know, Jimmy Choo is born and raised in Penang and the island is known for its shoe-making industry so after all, it only makes sense to find a good local shoe label – even better that it will cost you just a small fraction of what you might pay for it back home.
Go on ladies, don’t miss this one!!!

-      Little India market street

Whatever city it might be, Little India is where I love to shop for accessories! And the market street in Georgetown is no different. If anything, it was great value for money, more so than any other place I’ve been to.

Sets of stunning bangles (Indian accessories are all the hype right now!) go for less than S$10 and some amazing earrings – not to mention saris and shawls… all whilst bollywood music is blasting from the music shop on the corner.