A slightly different look at the Petronas towers … and shopping in Kuala Lumpur

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ April 14th, 2011. Updated on October 5th, 2013. Published in: Travel blog » Malaysia.
Inside Suria KLCC at Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Inside Suria KLCC at Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (click to enlarge)

Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand and China are all countries that have mall cultures in Asia. While Bangkok may be king, Kuala Lumpur is surely the queen of the shopping mall cities in Asia.

The crown jewel of shopping in Kuala Lumpur is … Petronas Towers

I am a typical guy, I don’t window shop.

I go into a mall and go straight to the store that has what I want, and I get out as soon as possible.

But, even I have to say I was impressed with the shopping mall aura at Petronas towers. Actually it’s really called Suria KLCC, the mall that is. And, it’s actually at the base of the towers. The towers themselves are offices etc.

I like this mall not because of its content, but because of how the place works. And, it’s holding company is a giant oil corporation, so it’s really something for me to say something positive about them! And, I am.

I’ve visited other shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur and indeed Asia. And, I am sorry to say, but to me, they pale in comparison. And, no it has nothing to do with the iconic rocket-ship design above the mall. Or that the building is one of the tallest in the world. It’s simply because of how the place is administrated.

Shopping as it should be in Kuala Lumpur

You can enter this building from public transport and it’s like you’ve never left the station. It’s an all in one experience. Unlike The Philippines, there is no annoying security man poking your bag. Or telling you to surrender your bag to him. There are no body scanners. Everything is as it should be, enjoyable.

Shopping floors at Suria KLCC at Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Layers upon layers of shopping floors at Suria KLCC

Shopping at the Petronas towers is organised to a tee

One pet peeve I have in shopping malls is where to find anything. Sure there’s sometimes a giant directory on each floor. But honestly speaking, sometimes I feel like I need a guide-book just to understand it.

“Mallanese” is written in a secret code that tells me Starbucks is located on” EE-30, Zone 5, North building”

Sorry, but I don’t have my mall code translator with me today.

Petronas towers makes this simple. Tower 1. Tower 2. “You are in tower 1” The shop you want is on floor 2, shop number 84. And, the shops are really numbered”

Music to my ears.

I can bring my camera in!

Yes, I am highlighting this. As so many Mall’s seem to impose their own policing system which makes it a crime to photograph their buildings, inside or out. Petronas towers has no such issue. I even got a behind the scenes after work look at the building (more on that later).

There is a small sign saying no photos above 1st floor. But, no one seemed to care.

Is Petronas towers more expensive to shop in?

Yes, compared to local hawker stalls, hugely so. And, yes also to some other malls. But, only a fraction for normal everyday goods. It does seem to be a lot more expensive as there are many, many, designer outlets located here. Armani, Chopard, Hermes, Gucci, Tiffany, Hugo Boss, Alfred Dunhill, Bally, and Mont Blanc to name but a few. Also located here are local style and international style restaurants for everyone’s taste. Add on a multiplex cinema, a concert hall and you do seem to have a new age micro world.

“I wouldn’t come here everyday, maybe not even every month … hmm, maybe twice was actually enough.

Actually … I think I only bought a tube of toothpaste here, and that’s all! “

Even after all this, no, I am still not a fan of malls. But, I do think if you are going to create a large soulless micro city mall in Asia at least model it after this one in terms of efficiency and administration.

Looking for a bargain, go somewhere else for sure. But, nowhere else on earth have I experienced such organised shopping as in Petronas. Sure Bangkok’s got the better reputation, but, it’s a disaster when it comes to order and structure within the malls to a quick shopper like me.

Suria KLCC is one of the few malls that actually feels like it’s alive with a little character.

What goes on behind the scenes in this Mall is nothing short of running a small country. Only, it’s done well. For this alone, I wish other shopping centers would make it just as easy to find things.

Then again, maybe since I don’t take any pleasure in roaming around malls for hours, I am missing the whole point of a mall.

So, I will just say, for shopping, inside Petronas is worth a visit … once at least. If for anything, just to see and believe that somethings can be run extremely efficiently in South East Asia!

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24 Great responses to A slightly different look at the Petronas towers … and shopping in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Very interesting. Growing up in Indonesia and its mall culture I feel that new shopping malls try to outdo each other in terms of size, layout, and other gimmicks. The stores inside are almost identical though from one mall to another. Never been to Petronas but it looks pretty darn amazing from the outside.

    • I agree about the inside of Malls all looking the same. Even the inside of Petronas looks the same as many other places. But, the difference is I can very easily find things there compared to other malls – as in located the shop.

      And yes, from the outside the whole building is pretty iconic

    • travelroach says:

      I prefer the old school unorganized way of shopping…”mister mister how much you buy! cheap price for you!”

  2. ciki says:

    huh? “There is a small sign saying no photos above 1st floor. But, no one seemed to care…” There is? I didn’t even see that ! what an observant traveler you are! Again great shots – and thanks for saying such nice things about one of my fav malls in KL! hehe :P (i won’t kill u just yet :P )

    • Yep, it’s just in front of the escalator that goes down to the lower floor! It’s true, this place is run like a small country, and done so very well. Regarding any negative things … well, I’m too busy right now, but as you may notice, I’ve not written about something tasty yet :)

  3. Anna's World says:

    Love the top pick! Is this the shopping mall inside? The roof? It looks so colorful.

    As always it’s so refreshing to read you take on things many people see everyday. You have a gift, and I enjoy reading it every week!

  4. Jean Martier says:

    Bravo on this photo, I love the color! So much better than the usual silver cones. I will have to copy this one day! – I joke!!

  5. iamthewitch says:

    Amazing first picture! To be honest, I have only been to KLCC myself for about less than 5 times! It’s simply too stressful to go through the KL traffic and the parking fees are outrageous here (about RM3.50 per hour). But otherwise, KLCC does seem to be a really nice and organized mall (though it can be a little too crowded on weekends).

    • I hear you on the crowds, I can’t stand them. I’ve not experienced KL traffic as I’ve only been on public transport. But everyone who has a car seems to hate the traffic so I can understand wanting to avoid the stress!!

  6. Looks like a well-organized mall. Would love to shop there! Haha, like your comment about being a typical male shopper :)

  7. Sabina says:

    I like to get in and get out too, when I go to the mall! Wandering around with all those people is very annoying, me thinks. I like your comparison to running this mall to running a small country. Of course, I’ve never been to this mall because I didn’t bother to spend any time in KL when I was in Malaysia, but I trust your opinion on this.

    • Hey Sabina. I’m with you on the get in and get out aspect of shopping malls. I will freely admit to getting a little freaked out when jammed into a crowded place, I just see no enjoyment in it.

      I wouldn’t specifically go to the towers just to go shopping either, I just wanted the challenge of being able to try and photograph a part of the iconic towers which no one else had. I think I managed :) That said, they also look nice in the evening, sans tourists! Malacca post next week, I’m a little apprehensive on what you’ll think about my impressions of it considering how long you stayed there.

      • Sabina says:

        Please don’t fear about the Malacca post. I’m looking forward to reading it! It wasn’t my favorite place in SEA. I’ve only written one post about it myself. Have you already been to Malacca, or are you going there next week? If you haven’t been I have a guesthouse I can extremely highly recommend – Old Town Guesthouse. It is cheap and so comfortable and laid back it feels like home.

        • Feeling better now :) Already left, am playing catch up a bit. Thanks for the tip about the Old Town Guesthouse, just read up on it; looks quite nice alright. I like Malaysia so keeping a look out for bases, this might come in handy!

  8. I was only in the towers once and for maybe 10 minutes. I was put off a bit by the no photos sign, but evidently I should have just shot!

    Cool shot!

  9. Jason says:

    The last of the big spenders is in town. One tube of toothpaste Dave, comon mate. In all seriosuness though, I do remeber this mall as I went for a walk through it before heading up the towers (with the other 500 sheep on that day).

    I’m hearing you in relation to surendering your bag. It absolutlety drives me nuts when I’m trying to go into a store somewhere to by something and I need to leave my bag somewhere. I just go somewhere else, as there’s no way I’m leaving my camera gear.

    I think I’ve mentioned before, that I am not one for shopping in malls and if the missus whats to go shopping, I just head straight for the Apple store and hang out there for an hour or two.

    • I really only did by some toothpaste there! Though I will admit the first reason was to visit the Sony service center there. Naturally enough they directed me to another Mid Vally Mall where the Sony Repair / service center is. The other reason was of course, to photograph the Petronas Towers in hopefully, a different way than the usual silver cones. Which I did too of course, but I like this internal shot.

      Don’t go to the Philippines if you hate have your bad searched. It’s the worst country in the world I’ve come across for this, the process completely useless!

  10. Malcom says:

    Can ask in your experience, which is better for shopping Kuala Lumpur or Singapore?

    • It depends what you are looking for. For clothes, I would generally say Kuala Lumpur. For electronics, again Singapore is slightly cheaper on average, but they don’t seem to have a large a range as Kuala Lumpur. That said, they do have the latest gear.

  11. el buen samaratin says:

    Well, “slightly different” view is Ok, I guess, as long you are not face-up, watching the tops of PT fade from view.