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City slickers

Ten incredible shopping destinations

Clive Wedderburn November 5, 2014

Call yourself a shopaholic? Not until you’ve ticked these fine cities off your shopping list.

 

1) Dubai

 

 
Where: Mall of the Emirates & the Souk Madinat
 
Why: Really, it’s not about the shopping. It’s more about the jaw-drop factor as you stroll through the shopping malls. In the Mall of the Emirates you will find yourself staring goggled-eyed at a ski resort, while at the Souk Madinat a good way of getting round is by boat. (Yes, I said boat). You’ll find all the major brands here given a Middle Eastern twist. Just don’t go looking for looking for subtle – they don’t sell it.
 
What’s it good for: Blowing your mind – not necessarily your wallet.
 
Top shops: Bloomingdales, surprisingly the only one outside of New York.
 
Value for money: Prices are similar to the UK – but the experiences are more out of this galaxy.
 
When you are not shopping:  You’ll be jumping dunes in a jeep on safari in the desert, or having a barbeque in the red sand while a belly dancer entertains and an artist adorns your wrists with henna swirls.
 

2) New York 

 
 
Where: 5th Avenue
 
Why: Hotels and handbags, restaurants and restrooms and towering department stores. Fashion meets the flagship city of Planet Earth. Bada bing!
 
What’s it good for: Making you feel like you’ve arrived. 
 
Top shops: Make a beeline for Tiffany and Co to pick up your souvenir key rings and money clips. Or if you’ve found the one – Tiffany jewellery will state your intentions more exuberantly than any other gift.
 
A Taste of the quirky: Head straight for American Girl Place to buy a dolly that looks like you (or your daughter to be precise) and is dressed in an outfit of your design. Gimmick? No. This doll’s house department store is set over 42,000 square feet. Only in America, huh? 
 
Value for money: Buy right and an Xbox One or iPad will provide more bang for your buck. Buy wrong and cut up your credit card.
 
When you are not shopping: Shuck some oysters and champagne at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. You’ll feel like a film star in your own movie. Cameras roll!
 

3) Tokyo

 
 
Where: Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighbourhood
 
Why: Skyscrapers, mega-city shopping malls – this is high-energy shopping at its very best.
 
What’s it good for: For treating you like a visiting dignitary, plus bleeding-edge trendy fashion labels. 
 
Top shops: Comme des Garçons, Takashimaya, Lumine and Mylord and Isetan.
 
A Taste of the quirky: The country that bought you the tamagotchi invented quirky then mass produced it.
 
Value for money: Though the city itself is not cheap you can easily snag a few robots at a knock down rate.
 
When you are not shopping: You’ll be singing your heart out at Karaoke Kan just like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. In Tokyo no one cares how badly you sing.
 

4) Hoi An, Vietnam

 
 
Why: A wildcard but shopping in Hoi An has added benefits: it‘s one of the most beautiful cities in Asia and it has some of the finest tailors able to stitch up a designer outfit in less time than it takes to say Good Morning Vietnam!
 
Where: At the Tailors’ Market you’ll find plenty of cost-effective artisans but ensure you choose the tailors who allow you to have plenty of fittings.
 
What’s it good for: A far eastern, far-out way of getting that bespoke suit you always wanted for practically peanuts.
 
Top shops: Yaly Fashion will take a photo of your favourite catwalk outfit and whip up a storm like a hive of Vietnamese elves. 
 
Value for money: Excellent, considering you can have your outfit made to measure within a few days for less than $100.
 
When you are not shopping: You are eating some of the best street food known to man. It’s called Pho but it’s pronounced ‘fuh’.
 

5) Bangkok

 
 
Why: There’s never a dull moment in a Bangkok – Tuk-tuk – shopping spree. 
 
Where: Bangkok Train Market; an open air bazaar that sells everything including vintage and memorabilia plus a few thousand knick-knacks you don’t want, like a waving cat figurine. Try Central World Shopping Mall for brand names and tech – particularly if you like your shopping malls equipped with their own ice rink.
 
What’s it good for: Bangkok? Are you kidding? It’s a snooper’s paradise.
 
Value for money: The best!
 
When you are not shopping: You‘re getting a massage to ease the tension from all those giddy hours spent shopping. We call this the ‘shop and flop’ Tao of shopping nirvana.
 

6) San Francisco

 
 
Where: Fillmore Street, close to Japantown and Pacific Heights.
 
Why: I know what you’re thinking; you don’t go to San Fran to shop. Well if you’re from the West Coast you do – it was recently voted one of America’s best shopping experiences.
 
What’s it good for: Variety. Fillmore Street is a collection of trendy clothiers, juice bars, restaurants, bookshops and other independent outfitters. 
 
A Taste of the quirky:  That’s a fair assumption when you’re not far from Haight-Ashbury, home of the hippy movement.
 
When you are not shopping: You are checking out house prices and asking your loved-one why they didn’t get into the tech industry.
 

7) Hong Kong

 
 
Where: Causeway Bay, but you’ll need the bullish attitude of a determined bargain hunter.   
 
Why:  That wonderful mix of markets and malls that means if you don’t find what you want in one place you’ll definitely find it in the other. Opens late on Monday and Sunday until 11pm. Make sure you get home before your purse turns into a pumpkin.
 
Top shops: Try SOGO – the largest Japanese department store in the city spread over 12 incredible storeys and possessing everything from toys and cosmetic to gadgets.
 
A Taste of the quirky: Jardine’s on Crescent Street is a slinky little market packed with stalls stuffed with clothes, souvenirs and accessories. 
 
When you are not shopping: You are heading for a glimpse of the sky at Victoria Peak on the vertiginous funicular railway; ascending until you appear above the metropolis with spectacular views across Hong Kong harbour.
 

8) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 
 
Why: Good people make for good travel experiences and Malaysians are just plain lovely.
 
What’s it good for: Architectural encounters of the shopping kind.
 
Top shops: The luxury shopping mall Suria KLCC found on the lower floors of the Petronas Twin Towers has everything from Marks and Spencer and Isetan to a science centre, aquarium and a Cineplex and of course access to that all imposing sky-bridge. Yikes!
 
A Taste of the quirky: Petaling Street Market in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown district for souvenirs, electronics, and arguably the best Mee Goreng in Asia.
 
When you are not shopping: You are having a cocktail and a swim in the Sky Pool Bar roof terrace opposite the achingly beautiful Petronas Towers. 
 

9) Cape Town

 
 
 
Where: The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and Kloof Street.
 
Why: This southern hemisphere destination is the buzzword of shopanistas – and you, lucky reader, heard it here first (touches nose with index finger).
 
What’s it good for: Unique Afro-Euro identity and jewellery design. 
 
Top shops: The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront mixes harbour side elegance with urbane ethno-eccentricity. Artisans take centre stage along with high end boutiques. Kloof Street is a cool uphill stroll through designer decor shops toward Table Mountain. Pop into Kloof St House for refreshments. 
 
A Taste of the Quirky: Definitely – TIA (this is Africa) after all and Cape Town has plenty to satisfy those with a penchant for African art and crafts. 
 
Value for money: If you’re looking for the perfect engagement ring, globally speaking, you’ve hit the jackpot.
 
When you are not shopping: Surely you are playing golf and drinking wine — even if you don’t drink wine or play golf.
 

10) Los Angeles

 
 
 
Why: If you’re a serious shopaholic it represents a lifetime’s achievement award. After Rodeo Drive your work on this planet is done.
 
What’s it good for: It’s a graceful, beautiful experience for beautiful people – no hustle or bustle with shoppers elbowing each other in the chest for the latest bargains. In LA, leisure is a pleasurable business. 
 
Top shops: Coco Chanel, Cartier and Yves Saint Laurent. Go figure.
 
A Taste of the quirky: Get outta here! This strip is manicured to within an inch of its life and garlanded with luxury brand stores. San Fran’s that way!
 
Value for money: Hahaha!!! NO! Here everything is expensive by default – in what is some of the most dangerously glamorous real estate in the western world. 
 
When you are not shopping: You are taking pictures of someone you swore blind was Lionel Ritchie (and you know what, it was Lionel Ritchie!)