SINGAPORE - Whether you're into exotic handicrafts or simply need a wardrobe makeover, one can't deny that going on shopping sprees overseas is more satisfying than browsing the streets here.
With the sale season coming up, travel site Kayak.sg has compiled a list of go-to places in the region for shopaholics.
Thailand, Bangkok: Chatuchak Weekend Market
The Thai capital is a shopper's paradise. Chatuchak Weekend Market hosts over 8,000 stalls, selling everything from home decor and bathing suits to pet toys. More than 200,000 shoppers descend on the 35-acre market every weekend, but it is worth braving the throngs of visitors to find unique gifts and discount items.
Shoppers who find an item they like should inspect it thoroughly as some vendors sell factory rejects. Take any claims of "authentic" antiques with a grain of salt. It is possible to negotiate with most vendors, but shoppers should be prepared to walk away if they are not happy with the price offered. Chances are, there's another stall selling a similar item around the corner.
China, Hong Kong: Causeway Bay to Stanley Market
Shopping in Hong Kong is more of a lifestyle than a hobby. Shoppers can go bargain hunting for trendy items at Jardine's Crescent in Causeway Bay, which is known for its fashion-forward finds such as embellished blouses, home accessories and bags. Designer label hounds can head to Pacific Place for high-quality leather and name-brand clothing. Travellers in search of souvenirs like Chinese artwork and silk collectibles should visit the stalls at Stanley Market.
In Hong Kong, most items - other than wine and cigarettes - are tax free. Look out for shops that are certified as Quality Tourism Services (QTS) accredited merchants. These shops have passed stringent quality assessments for their customer service and clearly-displayed product information. Prices are clearly marked in shopping centres but there are opportunities to bargain at street stalls.
China, Beijing: The Silk Market and Pearl Market
The Silk Market is one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping spots. Despite its name, the market is filled with everything imaginable including clothing, souvenirs, jewellery and electronics. The sellers are accustomed to dealing with foreigners and can speak some English. Hongqiao Market, or the Pearl Market, is a network of stalls selling t-shirts, silk pyjamas, souvenirs, beads and footwear.
The six-storey Silk Market is a great place to practice one's bargaining skills. A good start is to ask for ten per cent off the seller's original price and then slowly bargain to meet the seller half-way. Be sure to not overpay for your purchase! You can also head to the roof of Hongqiao Market for seldom-seen views of the Temple of Heaven.
Indonesia, Bali: Ubud and Guwang Art Markets
Ubud is a treasure trove of Balinese handicrafts, artwork and traditional garments. Shoppers with blank walls and rooms to fill will find wonderful paintings, carvings and unique decorative items in Pasar Seni Ubud, or the Ubud Art Market, across from Ubud Palace. Some bargaining is required to arrive at the best price. Fashionistas will also love exploring the clothing boutiques along Jalan Raya Ubud.
A 40-minute drive south, the village of Guwang's art market, or Pasar Seni Guwang, offers similar handicrafts and textiles but is much less crowded. Visitors who journey here for the market should also explore the small streets around Guwang to discover artist-owned shops and painting galleries.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Mega Sale Carnival
During the annual Mega Sale Carnival that takes place from June until August, Kuala Lumpur becomes a shopper's paradise. Travellers can benefit substantially due to plummeting prices in the stores across the city.
The Suria KLCC shopping centre, one of the city's most glamorous malls, is located at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers and hosts stores offering a vast array of up-market and international brands. For local treasures and quirky souvenirs, shoppers should check out Pasar Seni (Central Market), a cultural heritage site that boasts a restored Art Deco facade and dates back to 1888.
While at Suria KLCC, shop to your heart's content from 320 high-end local and international retailers. Divided into three sections, KLCC offers everyone a well-deserved dose of retail therapy. At Pasar Seni, head to the Collectables Centre located at G43. Here you will find vintage cigarette tins, oil lamps and antique Nyonya tea sets.