There are plenty of good places in Kuching to go shopping besides markets, bazaars etc. Some of the shopping centers we went to are Sarawak Plaza, Spring Hill Shopping Mall and Hills Shopping Mall. My favorite is Sarawak Plaza especially the shop called the Lea Centre.
They have so many handbags and shoes to choose from and a nice surprise is they have a small selection of bigger size ladies shoes. So of course I found a pair that I had to have plus a couple of Guess handbags that were 40% off.
The best part about Sarawak Plaza is it was right next door to our hotel!
Spring Shopping Mall has a lot of good shops as well plus a department store, found a nice Elle handbag for a friend here that was 70% off the original price. Actually I seem to have bought quite a few handbags in Kuching as they were such good prices and made nice gifts.
Hills Shopping Mall is another new large shopping centre, so the choices for shopping are excellent in Kuching.
The Sunday markets actually start on Saturday afternoon as all the sellers come in and set up their stalls then sleep at the markets in preparation for the big day starting at 5am on Sunday. These markets were a lot bigger than I expected.
The fruit and vegetable section is fantastic, so many different fruits that can be hard to buy anywhere else. The markets are also a good place to sample some of Malaysia’s delicious local foods, if your game enough try some snake meat or how about a few sago worms.
All sort of souvenirs, clothing, shoes and fake handbags can be bought here at very cheap prices; actually anything you could think of will be here. T Shirts are 3 for $5 and crazy big furry cat key rings are 2 for $3.
The markets are extremely busy with locals and are definitely a must see in Kuching.
There are a number of terrific shops in the Main Bazaar strip that sell art and culture artifacts from around Sarawak. These objects include traditional batik and ikat, paintings and huge bronze earrings. Prices are very reasonable. There are also several shops selling cheap souvenirs for tourists.
You may also be amused by the names of some of the shops and the signage.
What to buy: Ikat and earrings worn by Iban people
Located just down from the Borneo Hotel, this is one of those small supermarkets that I like a lot. Not only does it have local food but also a large range of western food especially British food such as shortbread biscuits, tartar sauce etc which hark back to the time when Kuching was under British rule, so I guess certain things, like food, stick around. Great place just to wander around.
Opposite the Waterfront, is the oldest street in the city and the heart of old Kuching. It has some superb examples of Chinese shophouse architecture, many of which have been occupied by the same family for generations. These families still pursue traditional occupations such as tin-smithing, carpentry and petty trading. Kuching’s highest concentration of antique and handicraft shops are to be found here, and shoppers can rest between bargaining sessions in a number of old-fashioned coffee shops with panelled walls and marble-topped tables.
The building is located at 52 Main Bazaar, essentially across the street from the Waterfront Lodge and next to the Square Tower. It was built in 1930, and was previously the offices and warehouse of the Sarawak Steamship Company. The building has been restored and is home to the Kuching Waterfront Bazaar, which includes a restaurant, souvenir stalls, exhibition area and a handicrafts gallery.
I needed to get some AA batteries, and Henry Lim recommended Ting and Ting when we passed it on the way to the Waterfront Lodge from Lodge 121. It is a little south of the Bla Bla Bla Restaurant and on the same side of the street. It is a regular supermarket with some hardware too.
2 hours drive from Santubong, and you will arrive at Sarikin, a mixture of Indonesian and Malaysian selling their ware from handicraft to curtains to electric guitars.
What to buy: A replica Levis cost RM 35 to RM 50
What to pay: Bargain and bargain, even though the price is already cheap
There are many versions of the famous Lapis Serawak, but this one seems to be honest and good.
For information, these layer cakes are very difficult to make. It takes lots of patience to produce the required patterns on the cakes.
They even do a delivery all the way to Johor Baru, but not Singapore yet, as the shipping cost is very expensive.
What to buy: Try the Nescafe Lapis, a mocha flavoured cake
What to pay: RM20 for a small box
They were giving away 50% discounts on some vases. Also, rejected vases, with tiny cracks and chips are going at a low price of only RM5. So, if you are looking for a bargain and don't mind the little imperfections, this is the place to go
What to buy: Porcelain vase, pots, ashtray, etc
They even packed the vases nicely in boxes with lots of packing materials (used newspaper) and even guarantee that the vases will not break with rough handling of the cargo crew of the flight you are taking out of Kuching
What to pay: RM15 to RM500
Voted No.11 Fairprice shops around the whole of Malaysia 2008, the owner of this shop is very friendly and proud of his achievements. We had to give full of praises to get special discounts for the hundreds of ringgit spent on Sarawak Batik and clothings.
What to buy: His price is fair indeed.
What to pay: RM15 to RM1500 for 4 meters of cloth ranging from cotton to
It is own by its own owner and famous in selling birds'nests and Sarawak Pepper, besides these they also have local handicraft , local made curry paste, laksa paste, pepper sweets, handicraft, local made T-shirts, etc..
Items and goods here are more reasonable because it is their own shop house with no rental and have quite a number of workers working for them esepcially those with bird's nest section. Tourists also can see how the workers and skill of cleaning the swiftlet's nests. They need younger girls with good eyesight as they have to clean the birds hair from the saliva, they will let you know how the process works by watching the video 5 to 10 mins and later to see what and how the bird's nests are like
What to buy: There are many items besides these , there is another shop specialised in pottery and they are famous for their art work skill, same as the bird's nests they emply younger people to do the art work for the pottery. Situated at 4th Mile from Kuching town, you can stop by if you do visit the Orang Utan rehablititation centre.
What to pay: For Sarawak Pepper there are two kinds, Black and white, and definitely the white are more expensive. Foreigners often buy those black pepper for seasoning. They have different kinds, selected ones are slightly expensive and they have its quality. You can buy them from RM5 onwards per packet. Birds nests also have varieties from cheap to expensive and sell in grams, it all start with the price near to RM200 per packet .
For potteries various kinds to choose from jars, mug, pottery for flowers, peh holder, umbrella holder, lamp shade, stool, etc.. as cheap as RM5 for a small one, and a lamp shade cost around RM120 very reasonable as that is their own factory too and from generation from father to son. Can stop by anytime after a tour to Orang Utan or Fairy Cave, it is 5 miles from town
Shopping here is easy and the general rules apply.
Prices are according to location... On the high end Hotel gift shop down to local craftsman for best prices.
Most of us will end up somewhere in the middle at a larger tourist gift shop that buys in volume.
What to buy: Unique to the area is 'Bird Nest' anything. You can by dry nest's nicely boxed, light in the luggage. Or you can buy jars, which I wouldn't recommend because of the chance of breakage.
Pepper is another great buy. Light weight, won't break, and unique to the area. You can also find 'pepper candy' which is more mint flavor than pepper, but a nice little item to take home for co-workers and friends.
Handcrafts are wonderful, just watch the weight of your bags. It's easy to go overboard. Larger shops will ship large items to your home, but check the cost first.
For that special kid or kid at heart, you can find some nifty stuffed animals. Where else are you going to find a Hornbill bird, Proboscis monkey or cool looking orang? Best part, check the tag, part of the proceed of many of these go to preserve the real ones.
What to pay: Shopping can be as cheap or as expencive as you want. Items like crafts and pepper are very cheap, where bird nest anything will be on the high end.
There are some art galleries along Main Bazaar road that sell wooden crafts or artwork. They can be made to order and shipped to your desired destination.
What to buy: If you think that these wooden pieces are too bulky to carry home then consider the little trinkets like Nibong fork and spoon, wooden beads necklace, etc. They are cheap and are great souvenirs.
What to buy:
The Orang Ulu ladies are the artisans of this fine craft. In their possession are antique necklaces, headgear and baby carriers.
The modern revivals are pen cover, key chain, necklace, bracelet, purse, sandals, etc. and they are inexpensive as souvenirs.