Picturesque and peaceful, with plenty to explore: that’s how one would describe the Selangor state capital of Shah Alam today.
No longer just a collection of sleepy residential boroughs, the country’s first planned city has much to offer its 650,000 residents and visitors alike. If you are the type who fancies weekend excursions, then boy, do we have a treat for you. From family-friendly attractions and shopping to arts and cultural activities, Shah Alam is indeed lively and full of surprises.
Here are our top 5 picks of things to explore when you are in the neighbourhood:
#1 Drop by SACC Mall for a spot of shopping or a dose of art
SACC Mall, located at the heart of downtown Shah Alam in Section 14, provides a unique and interesting shopping experience. Once a rather mundane destination with an uninspiring lineup of shops, it is now an important destination for local brands specializing in traditional and modern Muslimah fashion. This includes a wide range of baju kurung, kebaya, abaya, shawls and hijabs. If you are in the need of traditional Malay attire with a modern twist, then this is the place for you – the numerous local boutiques there are in line with the state government’s desire to position Shah Alam as the World’s Muslim Fashion City.
However, SACC mall is not only for shoppers. The opening of the Black Box a couple of years ago, provides a space for cultural and music events, as well as product launches. An eclectic lineup of happenings is held on the regular here including gigs, comedy shows, artists’ meet and greets, book fairs, fashion shows and even poetry slams.
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Moreover, Black box will soon house the Headstart Academy, a space dedicated to learning and playing for special needs children. The 10, 527 sq. ft academy is slated to be opened in October 2018 and will implement a curriculum designed by Saint Clare School of Special Education, Singapore.
And for art lovers, drop by Lorong Seni on the second floor to browse or buy art by local artists. Exhibitions and workshops are also held here, including opportunities for the public to display their artwork – a commendable effort by the mall to simultaneously bring the arts to the masses and to encourage a culture of creativity.
What’s more, Lorong Seni serves as the home base for Gibran Visual Art Therapy school, a refuge for children with specific learning disability (SpLD). The creative endeavours involved provides these kids with the opportunity to express their ideas and emotions. Very cool!
#2 Fooooodddddddd…..Yep, you can cafe hop in Shah Alam!
Shah Alam has also not been left out of the contemporary café scene. There are a number of Instagram-worthy outlets serving good food like Kopimeo Café and Cake Jalan Tiung, both located at Section 9.
Kopimeo is known for its western favourites as well as interesting fusion creations like spaghetti gulai lemak udang and apam Balik toasties. Their burgers are glorious too!
Meanwhile, Cake Jalan Tiung (pictured below) offers heavenly slices of cake along with good coffee. Spacious, with a friendly and relaxing vibe, it’s the perfect place for catching up with friends and having good conversations.
Good food can also be found in other areas of Shah Alam. Kota Kemuning on the south side is not only another peaceful residential area but offers an excellent range of restaurants and cafes. For Malay traditional fare that reminds you of hearty home-cooking, Rumah Makan Tanjung Rhu serves up a wide range of tasty dishes like daging salai masak lemak cili api, ikan keli goreng, Malay-style curries and plenty more.
For dessert, drop by Gula Cakery in the vicinity – voted one of the best child-friendly restaurants by TimeOut KL – and indulge in their signature cakes and well-brewed coffee. And if you’re interested to learn how to make delicious desserts as well, Gula Cakery organizes baking workshops for adults as well as for your little chefs!
#3 Seksyen 7 is a treasure trove for Instagram pics and fashionistas
One of the more interesting areas in Shah Alam is Seksyen 7. A neighbourhood secret is the Laman Seni, a street art enclave, popular with those who appreciate creative and stylish murals and 3D installations, perfect for that viral Instagram picture you’re looking to post!
Laman Seni is a spin-off from the first street art project (in Seksyen 2) endorsed by Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam (MBSA). More details and imagery here.
The best-known attraction in the vicinity is of course i-City, boasting a host of activities to do and see for the whole family, including a waterpark, a trick art museum and the stunning LED light display at night.
It is also home to Snowalk, South East Asia’s first indoor winter wonderland. Its attractions include 100 tonnes of ice sculptures shaped by a team of 30 artists from Harbin, China and a play zone for fun activities such as snowman-making, ice-sliding and tobogganing.
Take note, however, that there have been mixed reviews online, half of the visitors find the SnowWalk sub-par and not worth the price while others are satisfied with it serving as a family day excursion.
Seksyen 7 is also known for its own lineup of modern Muslim-friendly fashion stores and boutiques including Ariani, Fareeda, Zeita, Jovian Mandagie and Jakel Mall.
But beware! Traffic can get horribly congested here during festive seasons, as more and more shoppers from all around the Klang Valley will converge here for their shopping needs, especially during the Raya festive season. There are plenty of good restaurants and cafes to explore here too, bolstered by the high student population from the neighbouring UiTM and Unisel.
DID YOU KNOW: Shah Alam is divided into three different areas; south, central and north, which are further divided into 36 different “sections”. These sections are each uniquely named after a certain theme, which includes types of flowers, careers, planets, rivers in Selangor and more.
#4 Attend a cultural event or an artsy show
Shah Alam has indeed grown into an arts and culture hub with a variety of events that attract local as well as foreign enthusiasts. The Bon Odori Festival, a Japanese-Malaysian cultural exchange event is an annual attraction like no other, with its own unique sights and sounds. Attendees get to experience how the Obon festival is celebrated in Japan, where activities run the gamut from a bon odori dance performance to a wadaiko drum show and a fireworks display.
This festival has become synonymous with Shah Alam, and the most recent edition held at the Kompleks Sukan Negara, Section 21 attracted some 30,000 participants, most of whom came completely decked out in Japanese traditional wear.
You might have to wait till next year for the next Bon Odori, but fret not, you could keep a lookout for other artsy affairs or pop culture activities usually held at the SACC Convention Centre in the meantime. SACC recently played host to the Visual Arts Expo (VAX), where hundreds came decked out in their favourite anime costumes.
This time, youths from all over the country thronged to the event to celebrate the world of animation, pop culture, games, music and more, with workshops, booths and cosplay competitions.
#5 Get on with Mother Nature
Mention Shah Alam and beautiful recreational parks and nature spots come to mind too. The centrepiece is, of course, the Shah Alam Lake Gardens at Section 14, a sprawling 43-hectare park recognized as one of the best in the country. Residents and outsiders going jogging, kayaking, picnicking and enjoying the fresh air and scenic landscape is a common sight daily.
Fun Fact: The Shah Alam Lake Gardens, designed by landscape architect Fumiaki Takano, was the first public park to open in Selangor in 1985. It features 7 artificial lakes.
And on weekends, the area would usually see a further influx of people visiting the surrounding attractions like the Wet World Water Park, the Sultan Alam Shah Muzium and the Shah Alam Cultural Park. Another great recreation hotspot is the Shah Alam Botanical gardens which offers a wide range of family-friendly activities from cycling through scenic routes, archery, horse-riding and a canopy walk.
Check out a detailed walk-through of the park below:
If you have nothing specific planned, just driving around Shah Alam is a pleasurable experience. After you’ve snapped enough selfies at some of the more recognisable landmarks, like the world-famous Masjid Sultan Abdul Aziz (Blue Mosque) and the Shah Alam Stadium, drive through the different sections to further appreciate the laidback lifestyle here.
It’s no surprise then that Shah Alam has gained considerable popularity among not just weekend revellers but house buyers too. If you are thinking of jumping onto the home ownership bandwagon or if you are on the lookout for a family home, then check out new property launches here.