Multicultural George Town
Despite being a city known for its forward thinking, the multicultural George Town is still home to many traditional artisans and craftsmen. George Town is rich in its variety of trades and high-quality products available for visitors to buy. From traditional Chinese kitchenware traders to shoe-makers and spice merchants, the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are chock full of sellers.
The Destination Asia Malaysia team know exactly where to find each seller, whether it’s to introduce Nyonya beaded shoes and slippers, or meeting with a perfumer established in 1917. This particular shop is the country’s oldest manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of perfume compounds, essential oils, bakhoor and oudh.
Spice merchants still operate from shops along Lebuh Pasar in George Town’s Little India enclave. To this day the spices are sourced from various countries across the world.
The Chinese Medical Hall and Traditional Medicine (Healer) is one of Southeast Asia’s oldest Chinese medical halls, established in George Town in 1796. Diagnosis by the taking of patient’s pulse and prescription of herbal medicines.
See products made out of rattan weaved by hand as we meet with a rattan maker. The artisan’s nimble hands can make everything from pencil cases to rattan shelves, lazy chairs to rattan trays and decorative items for your home. Awareness and protection of these heritage industries is vital to maintaining many local’s livelihoods and the vibrant culture of Penang that we all love.
Made in Bali!
The creativity of Indonesian people and inspiring landscape of Bali has resulted in a number of outlets selling local products with the beauty of Bali at their heart.
Utama Spice is a 100% natural skincare company based in Ubud. Focusing on traditional herbal knowledge, they create products to enhance the skin’s natural beauty without the use of chemicals. Striving to lower its impact within the local environment, Utama Spice serves an array of head-to-toe skincare products that benefit both our body and the earth.
Kou Bali sells natural soaps and bath salts while Kou Cuisine produces natural and delicious handmade jam. Choose between a delicately hand-wrapped soap or the popular milk caramel or an exotic combination of pineapple and guava jam. And you are welcome to taste the jam before deciding to purchase!
Since 2000 Sensatia Botanicals has become one of the most recognizable Bali-based brands known for its great line of fine natural soap bars, skincare and wellness products. Being a village based and profit sharing company they also give back to the local community and have a greater purpose than making profit. The flagship store is located next to the production facility in Jasri (East Bali), but another 11 Shops make sure you will find one nearby to pamper yourself.
Niluh Djelantik is a luxury accessories brand, with shoes as its main passion. The brand took its name from its principal designer and creative director, Niluh Putu Ary Pertami Djelantik. Born and raised in Bali, Niluh always had a love for shoes. She started “Nilou” in 2003 with two local shoe artisans and managed to capture the attention of supermodel Gisele Bundchen in her tiny shop in Bali. Soon, Nilou was sold in Europe, Australia, Asia and New Zealand. In 2008, Nilou was rebranded into Niluh Djelantik, making it closer to the founder’s vision and passion. Niluh represents modern-day women always on the go who appreciate quality and beauty.
Jenggala Keramik is one of Bali’s legendary ceramic producers with a gallery showcasing ceramic arts and exhibits by international artists, sculptors and painters. Past artists featured at the gallery include Japanese creatives Mastaka and Kikko, with their hand-painted ceramic works inspired by symbols and patterns found in Indonesian culture. Jenggala Keramik is known for its unique organic design styles, colour combinations and glazes, which you can see through its ceramic tableware collection.
Shopping in the Heart of Ho Chi Minh
Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, L’usine is one of the best destinations for some retail therapy. By working with local artisanal suppliers, L’usine has been able to stock more made-in-Vietnam, all-natural food products than anywhere else. From the start their mantra was, “to build a brand and a lifestyle that cherishes authenticity, champions quality and celebrates heritage in everything we do.”
The much loved Vietnamese lifestyle brand collects premium quality products forging a connection between suppliers and the customer. Visitors will find a number of well-known local brands such as Sense Asia, Sweet de Luxe, Saigon Charlie’s and La Petite Epicerie. Furthermore, to celebrate their long-standing partnership with Marou, L’usine recently collaborated to develop a L’Usine x Marou Arabica coffee chocolate bar sold exclusively at L’Usine Le Thanh Ton.
Spending an afternoon here is highly recommended to experience its international flair, boutique ambiance and sensational products from clothes to food to coffee. L’Usine Le Thanh Ton and L’Usine Dong Khoi are open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Kakinuma Tea Shop in Tokyo
Destination Asia Japan has crafted a privately guided tour taking guests to the family-run Kakinuma Tea Shop, located close to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Here they will have the opportunity to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony as well as tasting various kinds of Matcha green tea.
First, you take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony conducted exclusively for your group. Here, a member of the Kakinuma family will instruct you on the traditional art of Japanese tea ceremony and prepare a thick tea made of powdered green tea leaves along with a small sweet confectionary. Under the skilled guidance of the tea master, you will be able to observe the preparation up close and learn the formal ceremonial way of drinking tea.
Afterwards guests have the chance to taste various grades of tea, ranging from ordinary green tea right up to the finest tea used by reputable tea masters. During your tasting, the shop owners will be happy to share with you the stories of some of their favourite items in the tea shop.
Jim Thompson Silk Shop in Bangkok
Jim Thompson is widely known as the ‘King of Silk’ and was a man of many dimensions; an entrepreneur, great marketer, an artist, traveler and a man of action. Above all, he was driven by a great love for Thai people and their rich culture. Despite his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia, his legacy lives on through his world-famous brand.
The company was founded by Jim Thompson in 1951 while undertaking the task to revive the Thai silk industry. The Thai Silk Company continues to be inspired by its founder’s values. The Jim Thompson brand presents fabrics, personal goods and fine Thai cuisine to the world’s most demanding customers, particularly those in search of authenticity, originality, and refinement, who share our aesthetics sensibility, and who are fascinated by the mysteries of the brand and of the region.
Jim Thompson’s Thai Silk Shop in Silom is legendary in Bangkok as a place to pick up a range of silk products. This specialty store carries everything silk, most notably scarves but also handbags, dress shirts and a cute cushions. The flagship Jim Thompson Silk Shop is located on Surawong Road, just a few minutes away from the Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station and a 10-minute walk from the Silom MRT subway station. Combine a visit to the silk shop for exceptional Thai silk souvenirs with a stop at the Jim Thompson House, the Bangkok home and Asian art collection of the late James H.W. Thompson.