Love it or loathe it, shopping is high on many a traveller’s to-do list. Some people will even base an entire holiday around the shopping experience. Whether you’re into discounted high-end brands or haggling at the local market there’s a shopping holiday for you. Here are seven of our favourites.
Hawaii – paradise with a twist. Known as the most isolated population centre on Earth, yet contains some of the most astonishing natural beauty, alongside an economy that is fueled by tourists, who love to shop. Hawaii’s capital Honolulu, has the unique ability to be both the stereotypical sun-kissed paradise, as well as shopping mecca for locals and travellers alike.
If you want a holiday destination that provides the relaxation of an island retreat, but where you can also get out and about into the busy city streets for a shopping spree, then look no further than the shores of Hawaii. The Ala Moana Centre, in Waikiki, Honolulu, is an outdoor shopping paradise, boasting everything from fashion to homewares and handmade Hawaiian souvenirs. It is a shopping haven for budgets big and small, with space for all the international luxury designer brands, as well as the smaller unique retailers and the major chain stores we don’t get here in Australia, like ‘Banana Republic.
New York is one of the most populated and talked about cities in the world. Being one of the frontrunners for the title ‘fashion capital of the world’, New York City boasts some of the most amazing shopping you will ever find. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps, there are many different streets and districts that both locals and tourists flock to for one reason and one reason only. Shopping. The West Village is great for browsing, for gift ideas and specialty bookstores and antiques. In Midtown, you will find the biggest department store in the world, none other than Macy’s. Union Square has been transformed into a mega-shopping zone which is arguably the hottest shopping and eating hangout in the city. Strut down Fifth Avenue and you will find many mainstream retailers with some luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s hidden amongst the pack. This is where you will find Bergdorf’s, Henri Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue – all of which must be browsed during your visit to NYC, even if your wallet does not allow more than a quick glance.
Madison Avenue is the spot to go if you’re looking to spend big, boasting the most expensive retail in the world with Barneys New York as the anchor. On the Upper West Side, the best shopping will be found on Columbus Ave, a line of small boutiques catering to the neighbourhood’s mix of youths and families. The East Village has a hip, funky culture, and is said to be pretty cheap, and is where you will find your market stands, with clothes, jewellery, vintage stores and everything else you could possibly think of. Chinatown is quite expensive for what is there, but is worth a browse to soak in the culture of the city, with lots of side streets and hideaway spots that are hard to find. Overall, New York is a dream shopping destination, and it’s hard to see everything whilst visiting, but keep your eyes peeled, as you never know when you’re about to find a bargain!
China is a fantastic shopping destination. From bamboo chopsticks to Cultural Revolution memorabilia – whatever your interest, you’re bound to be able to buy it in China. As the world’s factory, you can find just about anything here. The three major cities to experience China’s amazing shopping culture are Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. In Shanghai, many visitors need some guidance as there are so many places to shop! Shaoxing and Taikeng Road is Shanghai’s former French concession which now has some serious shopping hidden in its many alleyways and side streets. If you want suits or business attire made, you can go to one of many of Shanghai’s tailors, who only use the highest quality fabric, so you’re guaranteed an exceptional tailored outfit. Shanghai has many markets spread all throughout the city and not all of them are tourist traps. Locals go to the markets too and pick up bargains on anything from pearls to bedsheets!
In China’s capital, Beijing, whatever you are on the hunt for, you will find it at Panjiayuan Market. Panjiayuan Market is a extensive mini city that comes to life in the early hours of Saturday morning as the vendors set up their stalls and display their merchandise. The market is in the southeast corner of the third ring road, just east of Longtan Park. One day, even one weekend, isn’t enough to see everything there is on offer, but thankfully, there is some method to the shopping madness. Everything is somewhat divided according to type, so you’ll find jewellery in one section, furniture in another, etc. For bargain hunters it’s a dream come true. Lowu Commercial City in Shenzhen is like a little city of 1500 shops all in one cavernous place, with salesmen at every corner, trying to tempt you to visit their store. Where to go and what to buy first is the only stress you will have. Their items vary from a wide range of fashion and accessories, to rugged outdoor wear and an interesting range of quirky services, from tailoring your clothes, to removing the wax from your ears! A mind-boggling place that tourists and shoppers never tire of. It’s not only great value, but a downright fun and cultural experience, and shoppers rarely leave without wishing they could stay longer…
When venturing out of Lowu Commercial city and shopping on the streets in Shenzhen, it is safe to say, follow the locals. The locals list the pedestrian walkways of the Dongmen as an all-time favourite shopping area, computer hacks are addicted to the computer markets of Hua Qiang Bei Lu and the middle class love their new elegant, and expensive designer malls sprouting up along the city’s urban railway stations. Being the world’s furniture manufacturing hub, it’s also the place to furnish your home, inside and out!
If you’re a veteran shopper and heading to Thailand, Bangkok is your go-to-city. The famous Khao San Road, featured in scenes from ‘The Beach’, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is one of the most famous tourist streets in Thailand, and contains many tourist markets selling clothes, jewellery, and artwork and has many cafes and nightclubs. Also in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is the largest market in Thailand, and in the world. It covers 35 acres and contains upwards of 15,000 stalls. It is estimated that the market receives between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors each day. The market offers a large variety of every product you could possibly think of, including household items, clothing, Thai handicrafts, religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, and even live animals.
Also in Bangkok, is the MBK Centre, an eight-story mall, one of the biggest in Asia with over 2000 stalls, attracting a large number of locals and tourists all in search of a good deal. The islands of Thailand also offer a large shopping scene. Tourist hotspots such as Phuket’s Patong beach, Koh Samui, Phi Phi islands and Krabi, all boast amazing markets at the footsteps of all the tourist hotels. Many of the market stalls in these places sell the same products, and it’s just a matter of finding the stall with the cheapest price! The salespeople expect you to barter with them, but don’t go below half of what they originally offer as it is considered offensive.
No matter where you go in Indonesia, you will find something to spend your money on. For most tourists, the dollar goes far and prices are reasonably low. There are many large malls in the major cities, where you will see common designer names everywhere. For all you hardcore shoppers out there, a trip to Jakarta is not to be missed. Get ready to negotiate! In Indonesia’s Lombok, the village of Mataram is famous for beautiful pottery. Tourists are able to visit the factories and witness artisans making the intricate pots, each of which is unique and available for purchase.
In Bali, there are more temples than there are homes, but that doesn’t take away from the number of shops and markets there are. Visiting the villages of Bali is an exciting trip for most people, but especially so if you are into art and crafts. As you travel from village to village you will see that each place specialises in a different item, one village in sandstone carvings, and another in quilts. The wood carvings in Bali are legendary and you will find them being sold almost everywhere, and will find it near to impossible to go home without one. Even if you were to spend months on end in Bali (as some do) shopping every day, you would find it difficult to even make a dent in what is on offer. So with the time you have, spend it wisely and pick up a bargain.
South Africans love to shop! And love to sell! Large shopping complexes are found right around the country, holding all the major chain stores as well as their own smaller specialty boutiques, selling all that you could possibly want. South African cities are notorious for having high street shops and bustling flea markets situated around all of the cities. When shopkeepers don’t have shops, they take to the streets, selling goods through intersections, major thoroughfares, along crowded streets and throughout all tourist hotspots.
The countryside is laden with farm stalls and crafts markets, with eager sellers trying to attract tourists. Johannesburg, Durban and Capetown, the three major cities, have the largest amount of shopping. Alongside the malls and markets and street stalls, are magnificent buildings, mountains and beaches. South Africa is one of the only countries in the world to have deserts, mountains, escarpments, plateaus, grasslands, bush, wetlands and subtropical forests, so whilst taking in the streets and shops and culture in these unique South African cities, take a moment to stop and look at the amazing country that is South Africa.
India itself is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find everything you want from clothing to ceramics, and metal work to musical instruments. The only problem you might have is getting all your bargains back home! India has many different cities that boast many different shopping experiences. Some of the best bargain shopping in India can be found in Paharganj, Delhi. Many of the shops in Paharganj also deal in wholesale and export to foreign countries, making it a good place to come and hunt out cheap but unique items to import back home. Whether you’re on the lookout for clothes, crafts or fabrics, there is a walking tour of Paharganj’s Main Bazaar that will show you what’s on offer.
Mumbai is India’s most populous city. These days, Mumbai is known more for its designer shops and malls than its markets. However, if you’re after a bargain or some interesting souvenirs to take back home, you won’t be disappointed. There are markets everywhere in Mumbai, and everywhere you look there is a bargain to be had! The Indian Sari, the national dress for women, has withstood the test of time and is now over 5,000 years old. For those who’ve never put one on, a sari can be a bit of a mystery with its many pleats and folds. However, a visit to India wouldn’t be complete without at least trying one on! Saris can be found in shops all over India, but if you’re serious about buying one, steer clear of the street markets and buy one in a proper shopping mall, where they will tailor it to fit you properly.
You cannot come to India and go home without buying a traditional Indian handicraft. There’s something undoubtedly magical about them. Unique, colourful, intricate, and eye-catching, each item has a story behind it. It’s impossible to come to India and return home empty-handed. Whilst shopping in India, bargaining is very important and even expected in many of the shops and markets. In the markets, expect to pay about two-thirds of the price they originally quote you.
Plan the shopping trip of a lifetime with your local, personal travel manager.