What are the items that I should bring with me because they’re not available (or are too expensive) where I am going?

With the increased diversity of goods now available in Penang, it will be fairly easy to find many of your familiar products. However, just to be safe you might want to bring favourite brands or over-the-counter medications and vitamins.

Will anyone have particular trouble finding clothes that fit?

Most of the clothing is sized for the Asian market, so bathing suits, lingerie and other manufactured clothing is not designed for the Caucasian woman over 5’ 5” in height. Shoes are also limited to the lower end of sizes (i.e., women’s U.S. size 8 and below, men’s U.S. size 10 and below) in many styles. However, there are many shops now, such as MNG, Topshop, Parkson and Factory Outlet Store that carry some larger-sized foreign brands of clothing.

What grocery stores do expats in your city shop at?

The most popular grocery stores expats shop in are AEON Big, Giant, Cold Storage, and Tesco. And, for those who do not feel like going out to shop, there is a local van company that will come to your house and bring all kinds of products (including beer and wine). If they don’t have a particular item at the time, they will deliver it for you later in the day. Another popular and fun way to shop is by going to the local wet market. Most wet markets are open from early morning till lunchtime.

Where can other household items (such as cleaning materials and home furnishings) be found?

Cleaning materials and supplies can be found in the local grocery stores mentioned above. Some of the main department stores where other household items and home furnishings can be found are Parkson and AEON. IKEA also has a very large outlet in Petaling Jaya.

Where can I find the local shops in Penang?

Penang is definitely a shopper's paradise, with hundreds of retail establishments located conveniently in and around the city. The main shopping areas in Penang are concentrated in Jalan Penang, Lebuh Campbell, Lebuh Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Chulia, and Lebuh Pantai. Few places can compare with Penang for its variety of goods and reasonably cheap prices. 

During the annual Penang Shopping Carnival, one can take delight in bargains galore. Bargaining is still very much a part of life in Penang; one should not be afraid to haggle over prices or to ask for discounts, especially in smaller shops.

What are factors that might affect my shopping habits in this country/city?

Many Malaysians shop for meat and vegetables from local food markets where the food is fresh daily and the prices are lower than at the grocery stores. Expats may find shopping at these markets fun and exciting. 

Night markets are also popular haunts in Penang. They usually operate in the suburbs. From early evening, stalls begin to line roadsides that are specifically closed to traffic for the markets. These markets locate themselves in a fairly large designated district and the venue for their operations moves nightly. Some return to the same spot weekly; others circulate on a large basis, returning to one spot once or twice a month. 

The night markets are frequently well-patronized and sell foods of all types: knick-knacks, cheap clothes and t-shirts as well as household items. Sometimes, it is at these markets that some exotic and unusual items, like fruits that are difficult to find as they are only growing in small out-of-town villages or some rare potted plants, make their appearance. 

Many Penangites often visit night markets in their districts for a leisurely "eat and stroll" evening with their friends and families. As for the supermarkets and major shopping centers, they generally operate from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, including Sundays.
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