Some of the best cities to shop ‘til you drop in Asia
Here are some of the most popular destinations for experiencing a different culture whilst making enough purchases to take you through the next 10 Christmases.
Once a place through which to pass on the way to an island, the Thai capital has plenty to offer the keen shopper, with many Chinese tourists flocking there for the large, glossy malls, street markets and Chatuchak. Chatuchak weekend market, also known as JJ, used to be popular among wholesalers; now, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Big Mango. With 27 sections, most first-time visitors need a map to negotiate the stalls, the stores and the pets. If you want to buy an outfit, order a dining table and buy a fluffy dog, this is the place to do it! If you get tired and hungry, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and vendors selling coconut ice cream. In the animal section are all kinds of exotic reptiles and there might even be some cock fighting. Get there by taking the SkyTrain to the northernmost station of Mo Chit on a Saturday or Sunday and follow the crowds. Siam Paragon, centrally located and currently third largest mall in the country, has a huge range of luxury goods and a great food hall with a range of cuisines and great cafes. CentralWorld, the largest mall, is not far away and offers a colossal variety of shopping, eating and entertainment experiences. Just north of CentralWorld is Pratunam market, a never-ending warren of stalls and shops that constitutes the largest market for fashion, accessories and shoes in Thailand.
This densely-populated island is home to just about every important designer clothing label in the world, along with electronic items, jewellery and luggage. Bargaining is a way of life here and while you may not get a lot of opportunities for this in department stores, it is open season in markets and at street stalls and the canny tourist will do some price comparisons before committing to a purchase. In the shopping area of Tsim Sha Tsui, goods often do not have prices displayed; therefore, vendors can hike them up for tourists. Some of the best malls for designer goods include Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, with its 700 shops; Central's Landmark mall; and Pacific Place in Wan Chai (north-east Hong Kong), which offers around 200 outlets. Some of the best markets include Cat Street for antiques, Ap Liu for used electronics, and Ladies market for designer fashion bargains. For the most vibrant night market in the territory, go to Temple Street.
The Chinese capital offers an exciting mix of clothing, food and accessories at a range of malls and markets; additionally, there is the 798 Art Zone, also known as the Dashanzi Art District, where a complex of decommissioned military buildings is home to a lively arts community that is worth visiting in its own right but is also a great place to acquire some art. Beijing now has a network of tax-free stores for foreign visitors - try Wangfujing Street or Xidan Commercial Street - and these might be worthwhile as a first stop for tourists. Central shopping malls include Parkson, Shin Kong Palace and the Beijing Friendship Store. For wholesale markets with plenty of noise and opportunities to bargain, try the Musiyuan or Beijing Zoo districts, which offer markets such as Dongding, Tianhai City and Tianle for deals on clothing and shoes. There are also plenty of electronics - head to the Zhongguancun market in Haidian District.