If you are anything like me, you will look for the MOST interesting, out-of-the-ordinary souvenir from places you’ve been.

It used to be very conventional, like postcards, keychains, decorative plates and the like but these stuff take up space and require some kind of maintenance as years go by.

The novelty of a souvenir has changed, and it is no longer something that you show off as a statement of “I’ve been there!” It has evolved into something else, where we want to share with our loved ones back home a little piece of the adventure, so to speak.

So, here’s my take on some of the things that you just HAVE to take back with you:

#1 – If you travel to the state of Melaka, then look out for the dainty Nyonya beaded slippers. They may not be the most practical footwear, but then again, they ARE unique, and quite fancy!

Nyonya Beaded Slippers and Embroidered Kebaya Top

#2 – If you got yourself that beaded slipper, then you just HAVE to bring back a traditional kebaya top! The intricately-embroidered tops are a must-have in any wardrobe.

#3 & #4 – If you have a passion for cooking, and are always on the hunt for that ‘umami’ flavor, bring back some shrimp paste, or belacan, and if you’re brave enough, cencalok. Cencalok is a condiment made of fermented small shrimps or krill, and is usually served together with sliced chillies, finely sliced shallots and lime juice.

Bottom – A stall selling belacan and cencalok

#5 –  Look out also for the sticky coconut ‘cakes’, or dodol, available in a variety of flavours including pandan and durian.

#6 – Moving further South to Johor, you can visit the herb farm along the way and get yourself some stingless bee honey or madu kelulut. Stingless bee honey is  twice as nutritious as ordinary honey, according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI).

#7 – A trip to Johor would be meaningless without bringing back the mandatory 434 Coffee. Malaysian Coffee a.k.a Kopi-O is special in color, flavor and taste, thanks to its special roasting technique and recipe that commonly includes margarine and sugar as ingredients. It has been long enjoyed by the locals and also is popular among coffee lovers in South East Asia. While the sweet, hot beverage may take some getting used to for those who are used to taking it black, you will definitely fall in love with it by the time you sip the last drop.

#8 – If you travel to the north of the Peninsula, then Penang will be one of the places for the best souvenirs. The Chowrasta Market will be a good place to start, where you can get nutmeg-based products. More than just a spice, you can get massage oils, ointments and even candy made from nutmeg.

Nutmeg-based products

#9 – Another product of Penang that is worth bringing home is Tambun biscuits, or Tau Sar Pneah. This delicacy is a mixture of sweet and savoury, and is flaky and soft at the same time. Traditionally, it is made from wheat flour, sugar, green bean paste, fried onions, lard and salt. However, there are many available in the market which are lard-free to cater for the Muslim market.

#10Pickled fruits are also a must-buy when one visits Penang. It is a popular souvenir especially among Malaysians. Among the most well-known is from Pak Ali’s, best known for its distinct aroma and taste. They claim to use apple cider vinegar and honey in the pickling process, which sets them apart from the rest.

#11 – Also known as the Food Paradise of Malaysia, especially Indian food, you can always bring back a mix of your favourite spices so that you can replicate the dish back home. Head to Little India in George Town, and you’ll be spilt for choice!

Packed dry spices or ready-cooked pastes to bring home

#12 – If you are into White Coffee, then by all means, buy a pack or two to bring home. For those who don’t know, the coffee beans used to produce white coffee are not white. Instead, coffee beans are roasted with palm oil margarine, ground, brewed and served with sweetened condensed milk. The drink gets its color from the milk that is used. 

There’s even Durian Coffee!

If you are in Kuala Lumpur, or any other major city in Malaysia, the following suggestions are for you.

#13 – Malaysia batik or songket are also great souvenirs to take home. These hand-crafted textiles are versatile and can be made into clothing, soft furnishings and even wall decorations. Malaysian batik differs from others in the region in terms of design and motif, as well as technique.

Batik and songket

#14 – A fan of durian? You may not be able to bring back the fruit, but there are a whole multitude of products made from the King of Fruits available in most supermarkets, and packed safe for your journey home. There’s durian chocolates, cakes and even coffee!

#15 – Believe it or not, instant noodles! Seriously. The flavours available out there is UNBELIEVABLE! Even if you might not buy them, it’ll still be nice to walk into a supermarket and browse the aisle. You will be amazed at the array of choices you have! Locals enjoy curry flavor, but there’s also a whole array of flavor combinations that might peak your curiosity.

#16BOH tea is one of Cameron Highland’s product that is worth bringing home, too. BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is the largest black tea manufacturer in Malaysia, with both domestic and international distribution owned by BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd.

#17Asian drinks and Isotonic drinks. I kid you not! There are fizzy and non-fizzy versions, in all imaginable flavours and combinations. From winter melon to passionfruit, pear and ginseng to watermelon and lychee, feel free to indulge!

#18 – Malaysia is also a melting pot of handicrafts, from jewellery-making to beading; from weaving to kite-making. There are numerous places one can search for such items, and in Kuala Lumpur you may head to Central Market or the Kuala Lumpur Craft Complex.

#19 – Pewter goods are also a favourite among tourists. The best place to get your pewter items are of course from Royal Selangor Pewter, located in Kuala Lumpur. Royal Selangor International Sdn Bhd is a Malaysian pewter manufacturer and retailer, the largest of its type in the world.

#20Adopt and animal! While you cannot bring the animal home with you, you have at least left a piece of yourself here, and helped conserve a little bit of Malaysia for our future generations. A lot of programs are available, and offered, online where you can adopt a tiger, elephant, turtle, even an orangutan, and receive a certificate and regular updates on your ‘child’.