Where and what to shop in Malaysia


Shopping in Kuala Lumpur Petaling Street

Whether you are into street shopping or luxury brands, electronics or knick knacks, Malaysia suits every shopper's whim. With a mix of flea markets and luxurious malls, there endless shopping opportunities for every traveller to fit into their itinerary in Malaysia's top tourist destinations, namely Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, and Langkawi. Each destination and market has something different to offer, so don't miss out on everything Malaysia has to offer to your inner shopaholic.

Shopping in Kuala Lumpur
Petaling Street
Located in Chinatown, Petaling is a shopping street that sells all sorts of items, ranging from colourful artificial flowers, bag tags, apparels, bags, electronics, and endless souvenirs. Remember that it is customary to haggle in Southeast Asian countries, so make sure to bargain here, which is part of the fun. This street is scattered with restaurants and food vendors so you can have a break from shopping. This is also a great place to taste Chinese delicacies. In fact, foodies from all over Kuala Lumpur flock to Petaling Street to sample this cuisine.
Central Market
Conveniently located close to Pasar Seni MRT Station, Central Market is a shopping complex that houses shops selling artsy stuff of different ethnicities like Indian and Chinese. One of the best places to shop in Kuala Lumpur, Central Market is also perfect for those extremely sunny days as it is all air-conditioned. Although Central Market is renown for its artsy items, you can also find fancy fashion brands in this complex.
You can complete your day with some street shopping right outside the complex, if you head to Katsuri Walk. There you can buy souvenirs, handicrafts and fashion accessories.
Suria KLCC
Located in the Petronas Towers, Suria KLCC is one of the most iconic shopping malls in Malaysia. This is the place where you can do all the luxury shopping you've been looking forward to, from Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Marc Jacobs. This is a great place to buy footwear, bag and apparels.
Although this shopping mall houses very luxurious brands, it doesn't mean you need to spend all of your budget if you shop here; you can also find showrooms like Bata, which are relatively much cheaper. And even if you don't want to come remotely close to spending money, just a stroll around the mall is quite enjoyable.
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur boasts many opportunities to find luxurious brands and Pavilion KL is no exception. Situated in Bukit Bintang District - Kuala Lumpur's entertainment and glamorous beating heart - PL Pavilion is one of the top shopping malls in the country. The shopping area spans seven floors where you'll find both huge international brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Esprit, along with famous local brands. Apart from shopping, you can also indulge yourself in delicious flavours and pamper yourself in spa and salons.
Berjaya Times Square
One of the world's largest shopping malls, Berjaya Times Square is the place where you can literally shop till you drop. With over 100 stores to choose from, including Hush Puppies, Giordano, and Esprit, here you'll be spoilt for choice and it's a great place to buy cosmetics, candies, apparels and footwear.
Shopping in Langkawi
With over 40 shopping, entertainment, and food retail outlets to suit every shopper's whim, Langkawi Parade is one of the biggest malls in Langkawi. Offering souvenirs, cosmetics, apparels, fashion products, electronics and liquor, here you'll be spoilt for choice, it's all duty free.
If you are a thrifty traveller, Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall is the place for you. With over 100 retail outlets selling souvenirs, handicrafts and apparels, this is the place to do your duty free shopping. This is also a great place to buy footwear, as you'll find showrooms of brands like Adidas and Nike.
Shopping in Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is a tea-plantation with rolling green hills. One of the best places to shop there is Cameron Square, where you can buy mobile gadgets, souvenirs, vegetable/fruits produce, apparels and souvenirs.


Langkawi sightseeing guide



Natural landscapes, impressive parks and iconic structures make Langkawi one of the most popular beach destinations in Malaysia. From trekking into the rainforest to wildlife-watching, diving into a wonderful underwater world, dirt-cheap shopping and partying up all night, there are entertainment opportunities in Langkawi to suit every traveller.

The archipelago of Langkawi is blessed with pristine beaches rated among the best in the world, namely Datai Bay, Pantai Cenang and Tanjung Rhu. The best way to explore the area is to rent a vehicle to make the most of what Langkawi has to offer. Here are some of the attractions you can't miss out on when you visit Langkawi:
Langkawi Sky Bridge
This 125-metre long suspended curved pedestrian bridge at an altitude of 700 metres offers breathtaking views of the verdant Gunung Mat Cincang, Telaja Tujuh waterfalls, and several islets surrounding Langkawi. To access it, you have to take the Langkawi Cable Car up to an observatory area and walk on the sky bridge.
Dataran Lang (Langkawi)
Located in Kuah town, Daratan Lang is a large sculpture 9 12 metre tall) of an eagle poised to take flight which has become a landmark of the island. Accordingly, Langkawi's name came from two Malay words - ‘helang‘ (eagle) and ‘kawi‘ (reddish brown). This manmade sculpture was designed to reflect the island's heritage, where the eagle is a symbol of Langkawi.
Also known as Eagle Square, Dataran Lang is conveniently surrounded by shops, eateries and covered pavilions that famous for housing events. The square comprises a landscaped area of about 19-acres bustling with fountains, small ponds and footbridges.
What really makes the Eagle Square special, however, is its view of the bay which opens out to the sea framed by mountains. When the night falls, the square comes to life with bright lights displayed everywhere, including the eagle sculpture.
Underwater World Langkawi
With over 500 species of sea creatures, raging from harbour seals to rockhopper penguins, seahorses, flamingos and mandarin ducks, Langkawi's Underworld World is an unmissable stop in the island. Take a walk through its 15-metre walkthrough underwater world and get up close and personal with sharks, giant stingrays and great turtles.
Gunung Raya
At 881 metres, Gunung Raya is highest mountain in Langkawi. Its enormity has sparked local legends that claim the mountain is the petrified form of a giant called Mat Raya.
Gunung Raya's dense forest is home to numerous wildlife, including leaf monkeys, flying foxes, macaque monkeys, squirrels, mountain hawk eagles, white bellied sea eagles and great hombills. Its natural beauty have made the mountain a popular destination for jungle trekking. If you are not an experience hiker, it is advisable to join a guided tour. Treks are timed to allow you to see wildlife during daytime - such as macaque monkeys, eagles, and great hombills - or after dark; namely, you can see some unique nocturnal in the rainforest like the flying fox and flying squirrels.
Alternatively, you can drive to the peak. The scenic drive takes 30 minutes and the road takes you through the dense rainforest, which won't allow you to see much. You can still see wildlife, however, as you drive up to the summit.
If you want to get the best views, you need to take an elevator that takes you to the top of the watch tower. Alternatively, you can take a cable car ride from Oriental Village to the peak of Mount Mat Cingcang. From the peak of Gunung Raya you can enjoy stunning views of the island and rainforest.
Palau Payar Marine Park
With beautifully colourful corals, Palau Payar Marine Park is a snorkeler's paradise. There you can explore the world under the sea level and step into the underwater observation chamber to view the marine life surrounding a reef. Indeed, the Coral Garden is one of the best features of Pulau Payar Marine Park. This is a secluded section of the park with colourful coral preserved thanks to its sheltered waters.
The islands that make up Pulau Payar lie just 30 kilometres south-east of Langkawi. From there, you can take a catamaran or a speedboat to explore the marine park, which extends over a number of islands, with Pulau Payar being the largest. The islands are strictly regulated by the Fisheries Department of Kedah to maintain their pristine condition, and thus, none of them are inhabited. If you want to explore the park, you need to obtain permission from the authorities, or join a tour group.


What to see and do in Kuala Lumpur

Batu Caves gomalaysia
Modernity meets old colonial roots and tradition in the buzzing Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur. While KL is a melting pot of Chinese, Indian, Malay and British cultures, it's also pioneering the cutting-edge of engineering in Southeast Asia. Home to the tallest building in Asia, the Petronas Twin Towers, KL also enjoys a fast growing economy. On the other hand, Chinese markets are still in their full splendour as well as other cultural buildings. The ancient temples that sit comfortably next to immense metal structures that bring the skyline to life prove that KL is a city of contrasts.
Petronas Twin Towers
No visit to the Malaysian capital is complete without seeing the city's famous landmarks known as the Petronas Twin Towers. This 88 storey building offers the best views of the city. You can take a speedy lift to the skybridge, which connects the two towers. At 452 metres, the towers are the world's tallest twin building.
Batu Caves (in photo)
Located in the district of Gombak, north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is a limestone hill home to a series of caves and cave temples. This centennial temple features idols and sculptures of the Hindu faith erected inside the main caves.
While the temple is only a hundred years old, the hollow limestone tower dates back 400 million years, and its caverns, crags and crevices were formed in the prehistoric era.
Get your explorer's mode on and head to the Dark Cave for some amateur spelunking tours or try out some rock crag climbing at the back of the mountain. After climbing 272 steps up to the entrance of caves, you will be rewarded with the impressive sight of stalactites hanging down and the 140 foot golden statue of Hindu deity, Lord Murugan.
Bukit Nana's Rainforest Walk
In the heart of the city, you can explore the jungle that used to make up the whole of what is now known as Kuala Lumpur. Follow the trails through the jungle, wooden board walks and suspended wooden bridges throughout the reserve. This patch still preserves many species and features of the original rainforest.
Located at the base of the towering KL Tower stand, the reserve houses trees that still stand tall, cicadas that buzz all day long and allow you to escape from the noise, hustle and bustle of the city.
Menara KL Tower
Dating back to 1995, the Menara KL Tower is a communications tower that is 421 metres tall, and thus the world's 7th tallest communication tower in the world. You can have dinner that the restaurant in the 360 degree view observation deck, which is at 276 metres. Alternatively, you can visit the small zoo, tourist shops and cascading water pools with fountains located at the bottom of the tower.
Central Market
From clothing to batik, you can find traditional locally made crafts in Central Market. Since its early days in 1888, Central Market is the beating heart of Kuala Lumpur, a prominent landmark in colonial and modern day heritage and plays a crucial role in keeping Malaysian heritage and culture alive. Apart from shopping till you drop, if you visit this market on weekends, you might be able to see a traditional theatre or dance performances.
Masjid Jamek
Conveniently located next to Masjid Jamek LRT station on the Gombak River, Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in the Malaysian capital, and has been popular since its opening in 1909. If you visit the mosque and are a woman, you need a sarong or large scarf to cover your head, but you can also hire a robe on location. This is a great place to admire real Moorish architecture with its white domes and red-stone intricate archways and minarets.
Petaling Street
Soak in the Chinese culture of Kuala Lumpur in this magnificently decorated street that serves as the threshold into KL's Chinatown. The entrance to Petaling Street is marked by large red and green arches of the Chinese sign which is decorated with splendid lanterns. This buzzing area boasts stalls spread out in an undercover shopping area, displaying all sorts of goods, from designer items to shoes and street food. Whether you intend to shop or not, this area is a must-see, as it also boasts colonial architecture painted in different colours.


Explore KL like a local with Airbnb


Explore KL like a local with Airbnb

Airbnb, the world's leading community-driven hospitality company, has launched “experiences” - a wide variety of tours and events - in Kuala Lumpur. With over 40 handcrafted insider's Experiences courtesy of Airbnb, you can discover this Malaysian city through the eyes of local hosts.

This initiative stems from Malaysia's growing popularity as a global destination, with 137% growth year over year. With this new launch, Kuala Lumpur becomes the first city in Malaysia where Airbnb is not only a platform for home sharing but also offers tours and activities orchestrated by locals to ensure that travellers have the option to see areas and places they wouldn't otherwise know about. Although this programme might be a novelty in Malaysia, there are 60 other destinations around the world where Airbnb's Experiences are already in motion.
Experiences in the Malaysian city is not only designed to make it easier for entrepreneurial locals to share their interests with people from around the world, but it also allows Malaysians to give back to the community by hosting Social Impact Experiences. As Airbnb waives all fees, the entirety of the funds collected from guests goes to whichever charitable organisation the local host picks. Some of this charities include Dapur Jalanan - a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless.
“Travellers are seeking alternative adventures, whether they are travelling alone or with groups of friends or family,” explained Sriram Vaidhya, Head of Trips of Southeast Asia and India at Airbnb. “As well as seeking unique accommodation options, there is the desire among travellers to enjoy their destination through the eyes of a local. Our greatest assets are time and potential and Experiences is a way to unlock that.”
Here are some of the Experiences Airbnb has crafted to maximise your trip as a local:
Waterfall Hiking Day Trip:
This is one of the top-rated experiences Airbnb experiences in Kuala Lumpur. For budget-friendly price, you can join local host Thomas on a day trip to discover one of the city's top attractions. Escape the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur and trek through clear mixed terrain to get to the sheltered summit at 600 meters where you will get to see three beautiful vertical waterfalls. The trek takes place just outside the city in Maya Falls, locally known as Lata Medang. There you'll ascend through trails surrounded with scenic greenery pathway and descend back through the same trail.
From Garden to Skin - Soap Making
Another top activity is this wellness workshop. Local host Yoke King will teach you all there is know about soap making in their yellow cabin, a scrapped shipping container converted into a cosy workspace that leads to a herb garden in the backyard. The workshop will start with a detailed step by step coaching paired with demonstration and hands-on practice for cold process soap making using herbs from their garden.
Live a day as a local Batik painter
With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Local host Colin has amassed a wealth of knowledge concerning the heritage of Malaysia and the history and process of making batik. If you are looking for guidance to create your own masterpiece, he is the right person to assist you. Indeed, during the workshop, his team will guide you to sketch your own design, draw hot wax with a traditional tool and paint dye on the fabric to create your original batik masterpiece.
Magical Kampung Bahru
Born and bred in Kampung Baru - the last Malay enclave in central Kuala Lumpur - Fuad has always been eager to showcase his village to travellers from around the world. Join Feud on a trip to explore Kampung Bahru, learn more about living within the community and the history of the village. Soak in the local culture while sampling delicious local good specialities like nasi lemak, pisang, goreng and karipap.
Documenting Kuala - Untold Narratives
Discover Kuala Lumpur through the eyes of a local photographer, Farhan Iqbal, who has spent numerous hours photographing and documenting the streets. Founder and lead photographer of an initiative called ‘Project Documenting Kuala,' Farhan Iqbal will show you the many unseen aspects of the city while telling you many unheard narratives and secrets of Kuala Lumpur.
Apart from giving you a guided tour of the city, this expert photographer will share some photography tips with you and even take pictures of you.


Where and what to eat in Kuala Lumpur


Where and what to eat in Kuala Lumpur  

As Kuala Lumpur is home to Malays, Chinese, Indians and even British expats, Malaysian cuisine is awash with a diversity of flavours and cultural influences. As you visit a different part of the city, the cuisine offer changes, from delectable seafood dishes to barbecued skewers to friend rice and pipping hot bowls of noodles. Other Asian cuisines, particularly Japanese, are also popular in this city.
With some of the best fine dining establishments in Southeast Asia, a varied cuisine, and extremely cheap yet delicious dishes, Kuala Lumpur is a foodie's paradise.
Klang seafood
Get a taste of the local flavour and try delicious seafood in Klang - a nearby port that encompasses some of the best and budget-friendly seafood.
Chilli pan mee at Restoran Super Kitchen
With an explosion of textures and flavours, this Chinese-Malaysian noodle dish is an unmissable local delicacy. It consists of soft noodles topped with fried anchovy, deep fried onions, fresh scallions, crushed peanuts, shredded pork and a poached egg.
Restoran Super Kitchen is the place to try this dish. There you can add as much dry chilli as you like. Then you break the egg yolk and make a sauce that coats the noodles with spices, peanuts and onions.
Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is known as Kuala Lumpur's commercial, shopping and entertainment hub. There you can find Laksa Shack, a shopping mall, famous for its Malaysian laksa noodles. Go up to the second floor and get your noodles from the famous Assam Laksa.
Curry Laksa at Kam Fatt
Another unmissable place to taste the traditional Malaysian coconut noodle soup is Kam Fatt, which is only open for breakfast and lunch.
Upon choosing either egg noodles, flat rice noodles, vermicelli or a combination of those, the noodles get smothered in a think gravy and served with boiled Hainan-style chicken, fried tofu puffs, bean sprouts, cockles and green beans. As final touch, the noodles get seasoned with a squeeze of fresh lime and extra chilli sauce.
Alternatively, if you are eager to get your hands dirty and ditch plates and utensils altogether, head to Bricksfields - also known as Little India. The area is famous for its banana leaf food - a set meal which consists of rice, a crispy papadum and a choice of curries and chutney that are served on a banana leaf. You can also add chicken, beef, fish or vegetable curry to the meal. The best way to end the meal is with a traditional banana or mango lassi - a yogurt-based drink that originates in the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. This sweet and cooling drink, somewhat similar to a smoothie, tempers down the heat of the spicy curry.
Head to Keveri, an open fronted restaurant, to try all things South Indian, which include meat and vegetarian dishes. Most dishes are served on the famous banana leaf, which makes it feel more authentic.
If you are curious to see Little India but not eager to try curries, the area also has a western fast food chain and it is famous for its Chinese coffee shops.
Afternoon tea
If you have a sweet tooth, head to Merdaka Square - famous for the predominance of colonial buildings - where you can indulge in a traditional English afternoon tea. One place to try it would be the Carcosa Seri Negara Hotel in the Lake Gardens. Surrounded by lush greenery, the colonial hotel is perfect for relaxing. If you go there between 3pm and 6pm, you will be able to try their special afternoon tea, which includes finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries, serve in white china and cakes on a large cake stand.
Japanese food
You might be in Malaysia, but might not stop you from craving some succulent Japanese good. If that happens, you should head to Wasabi Bistro in KLCC. Although their inventive sushi rolls are to die-for, don't miss out on their Udon - hot thick wheat flour noodles with soy sauce and Ugani sets - dishes with fresh water eel. Their lunches are very popular during the week, so be sure to book ahead of time.
Chinese food in Bunkit Bintang
If you are lusting after some Chinese food, instead, opt for Bunkit Bintang, one of the best Chinese restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. Despite being a reputable restaurant, Bukit Bintang is relatively cheap, although its speciality dishes are a bit more expensive. Make sure you book in advance if you want to try their speciality dishes, which include the ‘Har Lok' - prawns cooked in soy sauce - or the beef brisket in clay pot.


Malaysia Travel Tips


Malaysia Travel Tips

Malaysia is a multicultural and traveller-friendly Southeast Asian destination, with a good mix of touristic activities, ranging from scuba diving to remote island getaways, orang-utan spotting, fascinating tribal longhouse villages and even a heli lounge bar in Kuala Lumpur.

Home to a myriad of cultural identities that speak different languages, the society of Malaysia has been described as “Asia in miniature.” With a mix of Malays with the Chinese and Indian cultures, and an addition of Persian, Arabic, and British, the cultures of Malaysia are as varied as its wildlife.
Highlightsl; If you visit Malaysia, there are certain activities you shouldn't miss out on.
- Head to Sarawak, Borneo, and explore Malaysia's tribal world. There you can soak in Malays' tribal culture and tradition and even meet the locals in a tribal longhouse.
- Dive into the underwater world of Sipadan - Malaysia's only oceanic island situated in the Celebes Seas off the east coast of Borneo. Renown as one of the world's best dive spots, Sipadan Island was morphed and brought to life by coral growing on top of an extinct underwater volcano cone. As you explore its underwater world, you'll get to see some of the 3000 fish species along with the different corals that make Sipadan one of the richest marine habitats in the world. There you'll be able to swim with green and hawksbill turtles, spot sharks, barracuda, bumphead parrotfish, and even whale sharks if you are lucky.
- Some of Malaysia's wonder are out there in the open for everyone to see, so hire a car and explore the Peninsular Malaysia at your leisure.
- If you are up for a challenge, climb Mt Kinabalu, Borneo's highest peak. 20th most prominent mountain in the world by topographic prominence, Mount Kinabaly has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. If you enjoy outdoor activities but prefer a less challenging quest, go hiking around the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands.
- You can't leave Malaysia before trying Perenakan cuisine and roaming the colonial streets of Penang. You should also head to the Hawker markets to try a variety of succulent dishes. Order scrumptious treats from the numerous stalls that circle the central eating area and then take them to your table and dig in.
Customs and Etiquette
Given the country's diversity, it's important to know its etiquette and customs. As Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city, there is a high level of tolerance for foreign rules and etiquette. Even so, it is important to avoid displays of public affection, as it is frowned upon between all couples, whether they are married or not.
Like other Buddhist countries, it is important to take your shoes off before entering a temple. It's also customary to do so when you enter a private residence.
While alcohol is not welcome in Muslim society, it is still widely available as the country welcomes people from all walks of life.
Try to eat with your right hand only, particularly outside urban areas. This rule applies specially in the conservative Muslim north where you have to dress respectfully, which means you need to cover shoulders and legs.
The local currency is the Malaysian ringgit (MYR). If you didn't get a chance to exchange currency prior travelling, there are many opportunities to do so in Kuala Lumpur. You'll get a more favourable exchange rate with moneychangers in local shopping areas rather those in banks, hotels or the airport.
You'll need to carry cash to buy goods from local markets, although there are plenty of ATMs around if you are in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, international restaurants, department stores, and upscale boutiques generally accept credit card payments.
Although tipping isn't necessary, it is appreciated by waiters and taxi drivers.
Probably one of the reason you are visiting Malaysia in the first place, it is a warm country all year round. Nonetheless, it is also humid, therefore it is crucial to stay well hydrated and take a break from the heat in shopping malls or museums.
The rainy seasons go from March to April and from September to November. Travelling during these months is still advisable as it is slightly cooler. Whether you travel during the months rainfall peaks or not, it is practical to always carry an umbrella as occasional downpours are likely to happen all year round.


Yuna: Malaysia impossible to categorise pop star


Yuna is one of Malaysia's most popular and famous singers and songwriters. A true icon of the country's pop scene, her triumphant career is a testament to her tenacity and talent.yuna malaysia pop superstar
Born Yunalis Mat Zara'ai in 1986, Yuna has been involved in music since the age of 14 when she wrote her first song. By 19 she was performing in front of crowds, playing her soulful acoustic numbers to rapt audiences. Her initial following in her home country was built upon her success on MySpace, where she uploaded her own, self produced recordings and promoted herself tirelessly. This would foreshadow the skills she has since shown as a canny businesswomen later in her career.
Her breakthrough Malaysian hit was Deeper Conversation, the lead track from her self-titled debut EP from 2009.
The big international discovery for Yuna came in 2011 when she was signed by the American labels Indie-Pop and FADER. Her debut US EP, Decorate, was released that March.
Her big breakthrough single, Live for Your Life, hit iTunes in January 2012. Produced by Pharrell Williams, it was brilliantly polished piece of pop that took Yuna's sweet vocals up to the next level. Her debut album came three months later, to mass critical acclaim. Quickly, Yuna began to garner a committed and fanatical fan base across the globe but particularly in her native South East Asia.
Since then, she has released three more international long players, Yuna (2012), Sixth Street (2013) and Nocturnal (2013).
Yuna's style is somewhat difficult to catagorise. On her original MySpace profile she called wryly described herself as a ‘cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay', and it is a claim that has haunted her every since. Now, almost seven years later, people still quote it back to her when asking her about her influences. In reality, it shows how hard it is to put Yuna in a single box, as her musical palette tastes of everything from 70s rock to Garbage to Bob Dylan.
As well her musical accomplishments, Yuna is also a successful businesswoman, with her own line of clothing boutiques called IAMJETFUELshop.

Traditional Malay instruments


Malaysia is a country with a rich musical history. While all genres of music are popular in the country, the traditional Malay sound continues to be popular. If you are interested in learning more about it, here are the most common instruments used in traditional Malaysian music.
The Harmonium was first played in Britain, though it migrated to India in the days of the Commonwealth. The Malays began to use it as part of their ghazal poetic performances.
Rebabtraditional malay instruments
If you are listening to a piece of rhythmic Malaysian trad and you hear a sweet, pulled melody running through it, chances are it comes from a rebab, which is one of the most popular bowed lute in the Malaysian trad family.
This comprises two bamboo tubes that have been attached to a larger bamboo frame. Each one is tuned to octaves and the player strikes them in turn to create a haunting, resonant sound.
You'll see this percussion instrument being played in large ensembles, often to accompany choral singers at traditional ceremonies such as weddings.
Another percussion instrument, the Gamelan is made of brass, giving a deep, metallic drum pop sound.
The Seruling is argued by some to be the earliest known instrument in Malaysian culture. It's a bamboo flute popular amongst Malay tribes from the jungle regions.
You've probably seen these before – a huge hanging brass tray that is hit by the player to create a resounding, echoing percussion sound from its centre.
The Zapin dance is a very popular dance you will see in both Malaysia and Indonesia. Accompanying the dancers movements is likely to be a Marwas player, who will strike the instrument with one hand while the performers move.
This wind instrument is made out of wood with seven holes in the upper part and a single hole one the other end. It is often played to accompany dances and martial arts performances.
The Gendang is another Malaysian drum. Made out of buffalo and cow hides, it is slapped on both ends.
This another member of the lute family, played in both zapin and ghazal performances.

The Malaysian hip hop scene


Hip hop is amongst the many genres of music that is followed with great fervour in Malaysia. It is not just Western exports like 50 Cent or Kanye West, however, that Malaysian rap fans enjoy. Since the early 1990s successive generations of home-grown rap acts have been bringing their own distinctly South East Asian flavour to the music.hip hop

The scene began with acts such as 4U2C, NICO and, particularly, KRU, who went on to found one of Malaysia's most famous labels and studios. Today, everything from albums to movies to books comes out under the KRU Studios label. Though influential, none of these bands quite made the mainstream breakthrough that hip hop needed in the country.
The real breakout rap group in Malaysia was Krash Krozz, who added a more RnB-ish flavour to the mix, something akin the New Jack Swing sound spearheaded by Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle in late-80s America. Krash Krozz had some success with their debut LP but fell away and disbanded soon after.
Though they were successful and very influential, Krash Krozz's fate speaks volumes about Malaysian hip hop in the 90s. In a country in love with rock, pop and traditional music, trying to convince people to dig rap was not an easy task.
The game-changing moment came in 1995 when an album called It's a Nice Day to be Alive hit the shelves. The debut LP from a young underground hip hop collective called Poetic Ammo, it packed a raw, hard edged sound that was the polar opposite of the more poppy attempts at rap that had proceeded it. It was a runaway success, making superstars of the groups four members: Yogi B, Point Blanc, Landslyde and C Loco.
Poetic Ammo's success paved the way for more Malaysian hip hop artists to get mainstream attention. Perhaps the most notable of all was Too Phat, the Kuala Lumpur duo whose first single Lil Fingaz was put on steady rotation on Malaysian radio throughout 1999.
Thanks to Too Phat, Poetic Ammo, KRU and Krash Krozz, rap music is now a part of Malaysia's pop music scene. Things have certainly come a long way since the early 90s.


The dazzling career of Malay jazzman Aubrey Suwito


Aubrey Suwito

A Malaysian pianist, songwriter and producer, Aubrey Suwito has been involved in the music industry since the tender age of six. That was when he first put his hands on a piano's keyboards and thoughts himself a few chords. It was the beginning of an extraordinary journey that would see Suwito rise right to the top of the South East Asian music scene, becoming musical director of Malaysian Idol and being awarded multiple times for his incredible contribution.

Suwito's gifts were apparent from early on in his life and so it was no surprise that he crossed the Atlantic and enrolled in the Berkeley School of Music in Boston in 1991. The most formative part of his education was his first exposure to the rich history of American jazz music, which would inform his song writing from that time on. He took a job at a recording studio after graduation and, quite quickly, his talents were noticed.

He began writing and producing songs for a diverse string of popular musicians, most notably Jaclyn Victor for whom he wrote the award winning smash Gemilang. As well as the work he has done for others, Suwito also boasts an impressive discography of his own LPs. His first album, One Busy Street was originally released in 2000 and fused his own Malay musical heritage with his love of Jazz and other American styles. It is a real treat for anybody interested in world music, as it brings together diverse elements of sound from different cultures to create a new and enticing audio palette. His second album, Christmas with Friends from 2010 was the sister recording for a fundraising concert he and his wife put on to help musicians in need of medical assistance. A jaunty though captivating collection of traditional Christmas hits given a jazzy spin, it packs some truly spectacular moments, including a superb rendition of O Holy Night.

A recent album is Home, released in 2011 and this is perhaps Suwito's most clear attempt to make a fuse Malaysian and American music to form a new sound yet. Typically, Malaysian rhythms play below jazz riffs before, occasionally, breaking into Asian pop melody. For anybody interested in Malay music, Aubrey Suwito is a must-listen. More on crankymusic.

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