Whether you shop at Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur or Jonker Street in Melaka, there are plenty of locally-made Malaysian souvenirs you can choose from to buy for your friends, family or your loved ones back home. But if you are a tourist who is in Malaysia for the first time or are only making a quick layover without much time to research and shop, here are the Top 10 best Malaysian souvenirs that your people back home would treasure:
Although batik originates from Indonesia, Malaysian batik is one of the most sought-after fabrics in the textile industry. A traditional Malaysian batik often consists of flora motifs such as flowers and leaves. Batik can be found in either hand-drawn or printed version. Apart from traditional batik style, one can also find the more contemporary form as well. There are many types of batik items you can choose from, and that includes dresses, sarongs as well as shirts. While batik can be easily found in shopping malls, textile shops, or markets around Malaysia, the best place to go to is the East Coast area. After all, the East Coast area (Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu) is the home of the batik craft.
Another exquisite type of fabric other than batik you can look out for is songket. Songket is usually a hand-woven fabric made of silk or cotton, and later laced with gold or silver threads. Back in the old days, songket is a luxurious textile material mainly used for the royalty. But today, songket is widely available for everyone and can be used as apparel (such as evening gowns, vests and jackets) and decorative items. Similar to batik, the finest quality of songket is best found in the East Coast areas, particularly Terengganu.
Pewter is a metal alloy mainly made from 85 to 99% tin, with a small amount of antimony and copper is incorporated as hardening agents. Lead is also used, but mostly for the lower grades of pewter that comes with a bluish tint. Pewter is enormously popular in Malaysia during the booming tin-mining industry in the late 19th century to early 20th century. Pewter can be found in the form of different souvenir items such as photo frame, mug, key chain and name card holder. If you plan to shop for pewter, look for these popular pewter brands such as Royal Selangor and Tumasek.
Every country around the world has their own famous landmarks (e.g. Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and Taipei 101) made out of miniature replicas. Malaysia is no different, as you can find miniatures such as the famous Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and Penang Bridge. Other miniature that you can look out for is miniatures of ancient weapons such as keris and lembing.
5. Wau Bulan
Unlike the typical kites that you usually see the kid in the field playing, wau bulan (or Moon Kite) is a giant version of kite found in the East Coast state of Kelantan. Wau bulan is named as such since the lower section of the giant kite resembles of a crescent moon-like shape. Wau bulan is typically measured at about 3.5 meters from head to tail. If you head to Kelantan, it is a common sight to see Wau bulan-flying activity as a form of male-dominated sport among the locals. Wau bulan can be found in many unique patterns such as birds and flowers. Wau bulan is also used as national symbols for the 50 sen Malaysian coin as well as MAS airline.
6. Wood Carvings
Wood carvings, such as furniture (chairs, stools and tables) and household items (jars, mugs and spoons), is an intricately-designed art form usually made of chengal or jati wood. Wood carvings can be found everywhere in Malaysia, even though the best ones came from Kelantan and Terengganu. But if you are in Kuala Lumpur, you can look for high-quality local woodcarving products at WARISENI, which is situated somewhere near Renaissance Hotel and Bukit Nanas Monorail in Jalan Ampang.
7. Key Chains
It is one of most commonly-bought souvenirs by many tourists. The key to giving an appreciated and valued keychain is one that is unique and represents the country well; definitely not the brightly coloured plastic tacky ones that you can buy pre-packed in bulk. Among some of the key chains you can consider bringing home are those bearing famous Malaysian landmarks, national emblems and state flags such as the iconic Petronas Twin Towers or a wooden carved one.
Round neck or polo T-shirts can be easily found in markets, souvenir shops or shopping malls. Here, you can buy Malaysian T-shirts that come in different designs or the ones that represent different states such as “Penang Island” or “I Love KL”. There are even some bearing catchy phrases that Malaysians commonly use in their daily conversations.
9. Fridge Magnets
Fridge magnets are nice for decorating plain fridge doors. Many have even turned their fridge doors into a ‘travel map’ where commemoratives from every city they’ve visited are pinned for guests to see. If you are one of these few, you can look for fridge magnets of local delicacies that look so real and irresistible! Popular magnets include those of bowls of noodles, satay (skewered meat), ais kacang (shaved ice) and steamed chicken rice.
If you love to decorate your wall, then you can consider buying Malaysian paintings that depict the local landscape such as Melaka’s A Famosa or Kuala Lumpur’s Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Central Market in Kuala Lumpur is the best place to get these; you can even have your caricature drawn on the spot. While you are at Central Market, you can pick up many of the souvenir items above during your trip there.