Who hasn’t spent a Saturday strolling around a shopping mall — and coming home with the bags to prove it? An afternoon at your local mall is great, but sometimes when shoppers are (literally) spent, they want a little more than a food court to get them ready for round two. Luckily, some malls around the globe go the extra mile to keep shoppers energized and entertained. From scuba diving in aquariums to massive amusement parks, and rooftop jogging tracks to replicas of the Golden Gate Bridge, here are nine of the wildest shopping malls on the planet.
Mall of America (Bloomington, Minnesota)
With 500-plus stores, 50 restaurants, and 5.6 million square feet of retail space, the Mall of America, located near the Twin Cities, is the largest shopping complex in the U.S. Here, you’ll find almost every brand imaginable, plus local artisans that show off the state’s finest wares. And did we mention there’s no sales tax on clothes or shoes in Minnesota?
The mall features plenty more than just shopping. FlyOver America is a flight simulation ride that whisks you over the nation’s most recognizable sights. And to catch even more air, ride the longest indoor zip line in the U.S. at Barnacle Blast, an 800-foot bird’s-eye journey through the mall’s Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. When you land, keep your adrenaline levels up, as you’ll find 27 more exhilarating rides under the same roof.
Dubai Mall (Dubai, UAE)
Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, this mall suggests Dubai’s motto is “go big or go home.” Covering 12 million square feet, with a total internal floor area of 5.9 million square feet, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, according to Guinness World Records. There are top brands from an array of countries here, from the American department store Bloomingdale’s to France’s elegant Galeries Lafayette. Stroll down Fashion Avenue to put together an outfit that represents the best of the world’s couture.
Shoppers can stay cool in the Olympic-sized ice rink or catch a traditionally styled abra boat to get up close and personal with the extravagant Dubai Fountain — it measures 900 feet long and has jets of water that shoot as high as 500 feet in the air. At night, the Dubai Mall lights up the night with opera concerts and art exhibitions, while thrill-seekers can brave the Hysteria haunted attraction. Book a night in one of the five-star hotels adjoining the mall to recover — the stylish Versace Hotel is likely to soothe any shopping-related stress.
Terminal 21 (Bangkok, Thailand)
Terminal 21 is a Thai mall franchise with a twist. Step inside one of the three branches across the country, and you’re leaving Southeast Asia for destinations such as the Caribbean, Istanbul, London, Paris, Tokyo, and San Francisco. Each floor represents a different location — think large replicas of a London bus or the Eiffel Tower and a giant hanging Golden Gate Bridge.
When you land on your floor of choice, you’ll want to appreciate every detail. It’s easy to get lost wandering the labyrinthine lanes of the Tokyo-themed floor, where paper lanterns light the way, or browsing jewelry in the Istanbul-style souk (market). One place you’ll always want to seek out is the San Francisco-themed food court on the top floor, for a cooling coconut juice and hearty pad Thai to keep you going.
Berjaya Times Square (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s bustling shopping district, Bukit Bintang, Berjaya Times Square is designed to look like New York City’s famous midtown attraction, but with a distinctly Malaysian twist. For a sense of just how vast the mall is, stand on the top floor of the 13-story atrium and peer down at the 1,000-plus shops below. Colorful fashion is on full display here, but there’s plenty of cool, reasonably priced tech and cute toys and accessories to grab, too.
Kids (and the young-at-heart) can explore an indoor theme park that’s home to one of Asia’s largest indoor roller coasters, the Supersonic Odyssey. See if it lives up to its name as you zoom through loops at speeds of up to 50 mph. For a calmer pace, walk slowly across the hypnotic interactive floor display on the ground floor, the first of its kind in Malaysia. Zany patterns, from ripples to lightning, follow your every footstep. If you need to rest after all that shopping and entertainment, there’s a 650-room five-star hotel adjacent to the mall.
Iran Mall (Tehran, Iran)
The Iranian capital is home to one of the world’s largest malls — and it’s only getting bigger. Opened in 2018, Iran Mall currently boasts 18 million square feet of leasable retail space, and several parts of the project are yet to be built.
Traditional Persian stylings make the mall a gorgeous place to shop. Browse Persian crafts, from rugs to miniature paintings, in the traditional bazaar, complete with Islamic geometric ceilings and inlaid glass. You’ll also find designer brands in the polished halls of Fashion Avenue and fine leather goods in the Parisian-styled Shebro Bazaar. If culture and the arts are more your vibe, the Iran Mall features a library, a 2,000-seat theater, a museum, and several art galleries. There are also plenty of opportunities to catch a little fresh air in the Persian gardens and open-air coffeehouses.
Galleria (Houston, Texas)
Everything is bigger in Texas, including its largest mall, the Galleria — Houston’s supersized version of Milan’s 1867 glass-roofed Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele. Housing both a mall and three towering office buildings, the Galleria is one of the area’s top attractions, drawing approximately 30 million visitors every year. There are more than 375 stores here, suiting every price point, from Zara to Bvlgari.
The Galleria also boasts 30 restaurants (from taquerias to trattorias), two huge Westin hotels, and even an ice rink bathed underneath the natural light of the glass ceiling. And, if bagging a bargain or speed-skating around the rink doesn’t get your heart rate up, the rooftop jogging track or the two swimming pools certainly will. Or you can just get a workout carrying all those goodie-laden bags back to your car — if you can find it among the 13,000 available spaces.
Cevahir (Istanbul, Turkey)
Cevahir is one of Europe’s largest malls, but just barely— it lies only a few miles from the Asian side of Istanbul. The elegant, palm-filled complex is filled with premier European, Turkish, and Asian brands. At the very top, a giant clock in the ceiling (the world’s second-largest) means you’ll always know what time it is.
After picking out a suit at the custom tailor’s shop, gents can feel fresh with a visit to the proper Turkish barber — wet shaves and a warm towel have been part of the routine here for centuries. Families can make sure their little ones are entertained at the indoor theme park, Atlantis, which spans two floors. Performances also take place overlooking the atrium fountain, and are best enjoyed from the seats 80 feet up.
West Edmonton Mall (Edmonton, Canada)
You’ll find pretty much anything you’re looking for at Alberta’s West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America by number of retailers (more than 800). But you may also find a few things that surprise you, like a giant pirate ship, the world’s largest indoor wave pool, or the Sea Life Caverns — an underground aquarium home to more than 100 species of fish, sharks, reptiles, sea turtles, and other aquatic creatures.
The West Edmonton Mall brings the world to you, with themed areas such as a Bourbon Street food court, a European fashion wing, and a Chinese-inspired East Asian market filled with noodle and bubble tea places where you can fuel up for a day of shopping.
Morocco Mall (Casablanca, Morocco)
One of Africa’s largest malls, the Morocco Mall opened in 2011 and features 2 million square feet of retail space. Shoppers will find more than 150 stores, plus the usual cinemas, restaurants, and fountains to be expected of a mega mall. There’s also an ice rink, a high-tech 6D cinema, a musical fountain, and even a fantasy castle-themed amusement park — where kids can stimulate their senses with a terrifying dinosaur movie or ride carousels and toy cars to their hearts’ content.
What truly makes the Morocco Mall stand out from the crowd is the first thing you’ll see when you walk in: a cylindrical aquarium with over 3,000 types of fish, from tiny yellow goldfish to small shark species. A glass lift gets you close to the fish without getting you wet, but scuba diving in the tank (for other shoppers to watch) is also an option.