If your favourite holiday activity is souvenir shopping then check out these trips
Time Out Dubai staff
Currency conversions in Damascus
All the great Arabian cities have souks, but few can compare with those at Damascus and Aleppo. The former is a maze of alleys and courtyards that all lead to a grand arcaded thoroughfare full of artisan perfumers, veil and headdress boutiques, wedding shops, coffee bean traders, jewellers – you name it. Be sure to pause for rest at famed ice-cream parlour Bakdash. Aleppo’s souk is, if anything, even more impressive, and the network of alleys and arcades goes on for an amazing 14 kilometres. Haggle hard and you’ll come away with quality Persian carpets, olive oil soaps and antiques – all at bargain prices – and a great fridge-magnet of president Bashar Al Assad. Unlike in Moroccan cities and Cairo, Syrian shopkeepers do not hassle passers-by.
Keep it real in Rome
For mountains of second-hand designerwear, bargain high-street styles, crockery and even chickens, head to the Sunday market at Porta Portese. Don’t be intimidated by Neapolitans shouting in dialect (not even the Romans understand them) and it’s never too late to bargain. Leave fancy watches and cameras at home as bag-snatching occurs frequently.
Get technical in Tokyo
World-famous for discount consumer electronics, the central district of Akihabara has also become a haven for animation geeks. Find everything from spanking new high-tech gadgets to black and white animated cartoons. Chain stores throughout the city now offer electronics at similar prices, but probably aren’t half the fun.
Be slick in Sydney
Australian brands have now invaded the world’s great shopping cities, so it’s only fair to include one Aussie destination here. The shopping streets winding through Sydney’s heart have become a home to slick, sophisticated outlets; if you’re after those sexy surfers, make sure you hit the Bondi Beach boutiques for swimwear first.
Get chic in Copenhagen
Always reinventing the wheel, or at least the chair, the Danish capital is the ultimate destination for design. Shoppers in search of the perfect lampshade, as well as budding craftsmen, will find inspiration at every corner. If holidaying en famille, leave your raucous teens on Strøget, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe – a mile of trends, styles and street artists.
Go marketing in Thailand and Cambodia
Along the border, between skirmishes and disputes, thriving markets have sprung up on either side and are a melting pot of nationalities. Permanent establishments and impromptu pick-ups sell everything from local foodstuffs to designer clothes. Best known is the Ban Khlong Luek Border Market, born after the war when enterprising Cambodians began trading UN donated clothing.
Sample some vinyl in Manchester
Manchester’s Northern Quarter rivals London for retro boudoirs, as innovative traders redefine the experience of vintage shopping with classy displays, refreshments and hosted events. Music-lovers should head to ‘Vinyl Valley’ to explore the 30-odd independent record stores specialising in a variety of genres.
Join the avant-garde in Antwerp
For must-have unique accessories, head to Belgium’s coolest city. Home to the Antwerp Six – six avant-garde designers who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the 1980s – the fashion district, clustered in and around Nationalestraat, is top-end, glamorous and tasteful. For a more eclectic mix of boutiques and streetwear stores, head to Kammenstraat.
Get star-studded in New York
Forget Fifth Avenue – welcome to the Upper East Side consignment stores. Rich traders and bored housewives leave their impulse buys, often with four or five figure tags still on, at these boutiques, and get half of whatever they sell for in return. You’ll get change from £100 and make everyone hate you at work.
Be delirious in Dubai
Not the most imaginative destination for a vacation when traveling from the Middle East. Shopaholics need not apply – they may never return. The largest mall in Dubai, simply called the Dubai Mall, has four times as many shops as the Westfield centre in London, Europe’s largest urban mall. Bargain-hunters can escape the glitz at the vast gold souk, which sells the stuff in every hue, style and colour, often by weight.