‘Invest in experiences, not things’, they say. But hey, shopping overseas is an experience, and who says you can’t invest in both? We’ve scoured the globe for seven destinations for your next shopping holiday – all you have to do is grab your passport, pack your bags, and not forget about your travel insurance.
For fashion-forward shoppers hungry for a deal, Bangkok combines the allure of low prices, on-trend fashion, and the love-hate appeal of hot, crowded markets with seemingly endless options.
But beyond the hustle and bustle of Chatuchak Market and Pratunam, Bangkok offers travellers a flourishing indie and artisanal shopping scene. Sukhumvit Road is a great starting point for exploring products by local designers, craftspeople, and fashion ahead of the curve. To start, check out local brands like bag-makers Tathata, multi-brand boutique Camp BKK, and upcycled craft shop Paya.
Single trip travel insurance to Bangkok starts from $14/pax.
2. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Once scarred by a history of war and genocide, Phnom Penh is a city on the rise with plenty to offer shoppers looking for a bargain and shoppers looking to make a difference with their dollar. Because of the garment factories situated in the city’s outskirts, rejects with minor defects from international retailers, including Gap, Zara, H&M, can be found at heavily discounted prices in the city’s Russian Market – a steal if you’re looking to stock up on wardrobe staples and office wear.
Social enterprises have also set up base in the city and provide job opportunities for locals while creating sustainable products. Indulge guiltlessly at zero-waste fair fashion brand tonlé, upcycled and recycled bag brand Smateria, and community-based social enterprise Goel Community, which draws on traditional artisanal techniques.
Single trip travel insurance to Phnom Penh starts at $14/pax.
3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
From hipsters to financially-savvy shoppers looking for their fix of international fashion brands at a cheaper rate, KL’s got something for everyone. While the malls concentrated in Bangsar and Bukit Bintang offer the brands Singaporeans know and love at wallet-friendly rates, the city also offers a shopping experience now hard to come by on our own island: flea markets.
Antique hunters can enjoy daily flea markets at Kasturi Walk and Chinatown, while vintage lovers can time their trip to coincide with a monthly fair of trendy second-hand clothing and goods from local sellers at the very hip APW Bangsar.
Single trip travel insurance to Kuala Lumpur starts from $14/pax.
4. New York City, USA
If you love American brands, you’ll know they cost so much more in Singapore than in the USA. To get your fix of American staples – whether it’s GAP clothes for the kids, Coach bags for your mother-in-law, or Victoria’s Secret for yourself – go to NYC. Shoppers can spend entire days at Woodbury Common, an outlet shopping village an hour from the city, with over 250 stores including Marc Jacobs, Nike, and Ralph Lauren, and the like, offering generous discounts.
Within NYC, immerse yourself in experiential boutiques like Lululemon’s Meditation Studio , Amazon Books, the original Tiffany & Co flagship on 5th Avenue, and more. Why pay a premium price in Singapore when you can use getting a good deal as an excuse to take a holiday to the consumer capital of the world?
Single trip travel insurance to New York City starts from $42/pax (for a week).
5. Seoul, South Korea
When visiting the mecca of make-up junkies and K-pop enthusiasts, you may or may not want to take pre-orders from your beauty-obsessed friends. Plan your Seoul trip around Myeongdong, a busy shopping district where you can find all things skincare, K-pop fashion, and trendy.
Looking for something different? Check out Hongdae district, located near Hongdae University, for a taste of Seoul’s subculture and products made by local creatives. If handicrafts are up your alley, time your trip to coincide with Hongdae Free Market, where artists sell their creations and musicians and performers add an extra layer of colour to the streets!
Single trip travel insurance to Seoul starts from $21/pax for a week.
6. Dubai, UAE
Get the best of both worlds in a city that weaves old and new seamlessly. Where else are you equally likely to lose yourself in a mega mall with stunning Arab architecture and a traditional open air souk (market)? Make sure your checklist includes the Wafi Mall – an architectural marvel with a pyramid-shaped facade, stained glass, and elaborate mosaics; The Dubai Mall – the world’s largest mall – with over 1,200 stores, a zoo, and theme park; and the traditional souks situated in the scenic area of Deira, which specialise in gold, perfume, spices, and textiles.
With all there is to take in, even the non-shoppers you’re travelling with will have too much fun to complain about spending their days at the mall or market.
Single trip travel insurance to Dubai starts from $26/pax for a week.
7. Paris, France
For a picture-book shopping experience, treat yourself to a trip to Paris. Any fashionista’s itinerary would be packed with must-sees and must-dos, including luxury shopping along the iconic Champs Élysées, hunting for vintage gems in Paris’ fripperies (second-hand clothes shops), and exploring the classic department stores that originated in the city.
Single trip travel insurance to Paris starts from $40/pax for a week.
With all there is to see and buy, distracted shopaholics can make easy targets for petty crime. Shop ‘til you drop, but stay safe with comprehensive travel insurance to ensure that you and your loot get back home safely in one piece!