Shopping, shopping, shopping! It’s one of the world’s favourite pastimes, and you can’t deny that walking out of a shop with something you like does have the uncanny ability of cheering you up when you’re in a funk. Some even call it therapy!
If you love to travel and you take your shopping seriously, you are familiar with the pleasure of combining the two activities. The random little stalls you happen upon; the bazaars, tantalising you with their colourful, mysterious wares; the boutiques, brimming over with vintage gems; the fashion emporiums, imposing in their grandeur; or the discount shops, offering you your pick of the latest fashion at agreeable rates—oh the possibilities! It’s a glorious feeling.
It’s all about the hunt for that special something, which for many people could mean different things—the retro discovery, the hottest piece of fashion, the bargain, the no-one-in-the-world-but-me-will-have-this find, and so on.
Take the hunt across the world, to the fashion capitals and to the treasure trove bazaars. Check out these five cities where you can unleash the full intensity of your shopping needs. Don’t forget to sightsee!
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If you like your shopping upscale and glamorous, Dubai (fondly dubbed “Do Buy” by the most seasoned shoppers) is the destination for you. Dubai has placed itself on the map as one of the best in the world when it comes to luxury shopping.
The Dubai Mall, second largest in the world and with more than 1,000 retailers, is considered a bucket-list destination for dedicated shoppers ready to spend some serious cash, and the service is so fancy that anything you purchase from the Dubai Mall will be delivered to your hotel.
Besides the swanky malls and luxury boutiques, Dubai’s traditional souks or bazaars are worth a visit, for carpets, scarves, jewellery, spices and more. The Gold Souk, said to be one of the best places in the world to buy gold, is the largest gold market in Dubai and is a golden delight for the senses.
There’s also The Mall of the Emirates, worth a visit with the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, and The Dubai Design District (d3), a growing community of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, such as emerging local fashion brands Bouguessa, Mochi and Amato.
You can’t talk of travel and shopping without mentioning New York, where there is something for the shopping fiend in everyone. From classic department stores, designer boutiques, vintage shops, bargain basements and pop-up shops from online sellers, The Big Apple’s got it all.
New York is famous for its edgy street style and cool vibe, and the fashion choices available in the city are endless. For thrifting at its best, check out the Brooklyn Flea markets for a look into the fashionable past and to score some sick retro duds, and Century 21 and Empire Outlets for luxury and upscale brand bargains.
Madison Avenue is the fashion district to visit if you’re after some luxurious, high-end looks and accessories. The area is full of flagship shops of designers from around the globe. If you want to peruse more affordable designer shops, hit The Shops at Columbus Circle.
SoHo, more formally known as the “South of Houston”, is a creative hub of a neighbourhood and a shopping destination featuring independent boutiques, chain retailers, and custom shops. Mystique Boutique offers fashion on a budget, and What Goes Around Comes Around specialises in vintage designer clothing.
Milan, glorious fashion capital that it is, calls the most ardent fashion lovers to itself. It is known for world-class shopping, gorgeous architecture and an atmosphere of designer elegance and edgy glamour.
The renowned Quadrilatero d’Oro, or “golden neighborhood”, is one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world, with the highest-end jewellers and fashion boutiques waiting to serve and thrill. Italy’s oldest active mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, is also a must-visit for gorgeous fashion finds.
You don’t have to go bankrupt in Milan—bargains abound if you know where to look! The city offers the finest quality leather and cashmere goods, as luxurious as they come, but when purchased directly from local suppliers, one can score some amazing deals.
There are a myriad of second-hand shops that sell once- or twice-worn fashion pieces at a fraction of the original ticket price. Visit the outlet store Il Salvagente, which has three floors of discounted fashion items displayed by size and colour.
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Check out the scene in Singapore, a shopping paradise with an exciting mix of high-end shops, local and international quick-fashion brands, open-air markets and vintage store shopping.
From rising local fashion designers to heritage brands with impeccable, time-honoured Asian tailoring, Singapore’s got it all. Take a stroll (and go for a shop) on Orchard Road, where international flagship stores of some of the world’s largest luxury brands including Hermès, Cartier and Omega have flagship stores.
A visit to the 24-hour open-air markets of Little India, where you can hunt for beautiful jewellery and exotic spices, is a must of a shopping experience. Singapore is also great for vintage store shopping, especially in the cool Tiong Bahru neighbourhood. Don’t forget to eat your way through the city-nation, which has some amazing hawker centres offering delicious local fare that epitomise Singapore’s foodculture.
Even Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport, the best in the world, has some of the best duty-free shopping; plus, it’s an impressively cool place to spend some time (and money!).
If you want to hunt for the latest Korean trends, edgy fashion or beauty cosmetics, Seoul’s your shopping city.
The Myeongdong District is the place to go if you like cute things and if you’re a beauty and skin care products fan, and all shops in the area are tax-free. Korea is famous for its homegrown skin care brands, such as Innisfree (natural skin care products and cosmetics from Jeju), Etude House, or Nature Republic. Beauty shops in Myeongdong hand out oodles of free samples on the streets, so you can have fun amassing a little collection of travel-sized beauty products.
A shopping trip in Garosugil, a rising centre for the latest Korean fashion, is a must if you’re on the lookout for gorgeous, high-quality pieces (and if you’re ready to shell out some hefty monies). Garosugil is also a hub for rising local Korean designers, so the majority of the items are unique and different. Check out Spicy Color and Nine Owls vintage stores.
For traditional souvenirs and handicrafts, Insadong is the perfect destination in Seoul. This charming place is has retained its old-world beauty, with its cobbled streets and ancient structures housing souvenir shops and cafes.
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Visit Ssamziegil, a tiered shopping mall with stores offering beautiful, locally made products, Tal Bang for wooden masks, and the Vin Collection shop for embroideries and other daintily-crafted items.