Ah, Christmas: the time of good cheer, snowmen, Santa Claus and of course, presents. Every year, we struggle to find the perfect present to give to our loved ones; and we endure long lines at the check-out counter, elbow our way through throngs of shoppers and listen to the same Christmas songs blaring on public speakers. Indeed, it’s fun to shop for friends and loved ones, as you think of their faces while you’re browsing through boutiques. But if you’re like us and you like to indulge in a little bit of personal shopping, here are some places you might want to check out.

NEW YORK CITY

There’s a lot of shopping to be had in the city that never sleeps, and fortunately for shopaholics, you won’t run out of choices for both men and women. If you’re particularly interested in shopping for vintage clothing or unique pieces that you won’t find anywhere else, check out NoLita, which is short for North of Little Italy. Almost everything can be found here from bespoke men’s shoes at Barker Black, to linens and French fabric at Erica Tanov; you can also pop by Tory Burch or shop for handmade earrings at Me & Ro. The streets of SoHo (south of Houston), on the other hand, is lined with shops and boutiques that sell everything from vintage Chanel handbags to one of a kind maternity clothes at Rosie Pope.

At Canal Street, you can find rows and rows of shops selling designer knock offs just like the ones you see at high end places like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales, only this time they’re being offered for prices you can actually afford. New York’s art capital, Chelsea, features over 200 galleries that also sell original works by local artists. If you’re looking for something to decorate your home, it’s a good idea to check this place out.


PARIS

Visiting a beautiful city such as Paris and not spending at least a couple of hours going shopping is something that we think is totally messed up. Look around you. Almost everyone you lay your eyes on will look beautiful, clean and elegant (unless you’re looking at a fellow tourist clad in shorts and rubber shoes). Selecting from an assortment of haute couture brands found at rue du Faubourg St-Honore should give shopaholics an adrenaline rush and memories that they can cherish for years to come. Walking down this street, you will come across familiar brands that will be very hard to ignore such as Givenchy, Dior, Hermes, and Yves Saint Laurent. If that’s not enough for you, you can always hail a taxi and get off at Galeries Lafayette.

You can find a number of boutiques at Le Marais that sell the latest in men and women’s fashion, jewelry, and books. For a quick break, step inside a flower shop and inhale the fragrance of freshly cut flowers before stepping back out to shop for books, art pieces, and even home furnishings like unique stained glass lamps or hammered copper bowls for the kitchen. Check out Le Boudoir et sa Philosophie or the Boudoir Philosophy, and explore the intricate details behind the closed doors of Parisian life.

LONDON

If you’ve been to London to visit the Queen, perhaps it’s high time you go back for some serious shopping. Charming stalls at the Portobello Market sell lots of antiques, second hand clothes and lots of brick a bracs. A flea market is held every weekend, where you can find exotic ingredients for cooking and previously owned books.

These days, Covent Garden is filled with boutiques that have replaced the numerous flower shops portrayed in the movie My Fair Lady. Global brands such as Aldo, Camper, Esprit, H&M, and of course, Marks & Spencer can be found among its side streets. You can even find specialty shops like Whittard of Chelsea, which sells teas of various flavors. But if you’re the type who like to do all their shopping in one place, then get your plastic ready and head off to the famous Harrods department store.

HONG KONG

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first timer or a veteran shopper wandering the streets of Hong Kong; when you’re here, you never want to leave. Anywhere you go in Hong Kong, the streets are lined with shops selling clothes, food, accessories, electronics, beauty products, sports gear, books, and things for your home. You might even say that Hong Kong can be considered as a giant shopping mall, where you can name anything you need and get it within a reasonable amount of time.

Shopping districts here such as Causeway Bay are home to malls that offer floor upon floor of local and international products such as works by Walter Ma, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Tam, and Tommy Hilfiger.  If you venture to Li Yuen Street, you will come across vendors offering porcelain vases and garments made of silk. At Stanley Market, you can look around for some embroidered Chinese linen, cheap watches, and even bird cages. For a nice souvenir, you can even have your name written in Chinese calligraphy.

You might notice that the Chinese are fans of jewelry that is meant to bring good luck and well being. If you’re interested in donning some traditional Chinese jewelry in order to blend in with the rest of the crowd, you can always go to Yau Ma Tai and check out the Jade Market.

DUBAI

It’s astonishing how much Dubai’s economy has progressed through the years. Far from being a barren desert, Dubai has a variety of choices for its visitors, from shopping malls selling global brands to smaller stores selling local crafts that can only be bought here. At the Ibn Battuta Mall, you might very well spend your entire budget at over 250 retailers if you’re not very careful. After your shopping, you can even watch a movie from any of their 20 cinemas, or perhaps catch a 3D movie at the only IMAX Cinema in the entire United Arab Emirates.

For the budget travelers out there, you can also get cheap knock offs at local stores like Karama Shopping Center. Here, you can shop for clothes, watches and bags, too. Buying a water pipe also known as a sheesha or hookah shouldn’t be too hard if you venture into one of the local stores. You can get Pashmina shawls, shoes and accessories like sunglasses at affordable prices.

MILAN

Keeping up with the latest trend in fashion can burn quite a big hole in your pocket. For those of you who are fans of world famous designers but don’t like the idea of getting counterfeit items, you can buy them for discounted prices at Via Montenapoleone. Here, you can get items by Prada and also Marni for as low as 50 per cent off the original retail price.

Via dela Spiga offers visitors a genuine upscale shopping experience. Buy the best cashmere at Malo, gold jewelry at Bulgari and Sicilian inspired clothing at Dolce & Gabbana. Fornasetti offers an assortment of items ranging from umbrellas, wastebaskets, plates and even lampshades. Mind you, these items are in no way similar to the ones you get at your local store or at Ikea. Any item you purchase from Fornasetti is a work of art.

If you’re interested in Italian antiques, try visiting the local street markets. You can search for rare books, hand-made products, small gadgets, and for the audiophile—old records!

TOKYO

Shopping in Tokyo will expose you to a number of labels launched by up and coming designers in the local fashion industry. Their items can be found almost anywhere starting from unassuming flea markets all the way to expensive boutiques. Those who like to push the envelope when it comes to fashion can have a happy time browsing through stores in Shibuya and Harajuku. Popular department stores such as Parco, Isetan and Odakyu are ideal destinations for tourists who are determined to shop.

It’s quite obvious that there’s a surplus of stores in Japan that sell electronic products from cameras to computers, watches and other gizmos. A lot of stores offer local products such as hand-made bamboo table ware, lacquer ware and silk. A string of Japanese pearls would be the perfect present for your wife or mother, and high quality ceramics would provide a perfect decoration for your home.

SALZBURG

For a Christmasy shopping experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, visit Christkindelmarkt in Salzburg. This place starts its operations around five weeks ahead of Christmas, just around the time when people usually head out to look for presents for their friends and loved ones. While you’re debating on which item you’re getting for your mom or godson, you can snack on some warm, sweet chestnuts or drink some warm, mulled wine.

Visiting Christkindelmarkt is also a good way of bonding with your kids while getting your shopping done. Everywhere you go there is the smell of punch in the air, the sound of bells echo through the streets, and heart shaped gingerbreads are a real treat to your palate. If you really want to get in the Christmas Spirit, visit Residenz Square and sing a couple of Christmas jingles.

This is a good place to shop for toys for the little ones, Christmas decorations to put up in your house, thermal clothing, and tasty Christmas treats.

ZURICH

Switzerland’s capital of Zurich also makes our list for being home to the biggest Christmas market in Europe that is held indoors. If you’re a fan of twinkle lights and Christmas trees, visit the city’s main train station and take a leisurely walk along Bahnhofstrasse. Strictly speaking, November 25 marks the start of the shopping season in Bahnhofstrasse, but for folks who are also looking for an ideal Christmas destination, we suggest you adjust your itineraries and come here early to enjoy the scenery. All in all, there are 20,640 twinkle lights that decorate the area that stretches for about a mile. The Christmas tree is bedecked with over 5,000 ornaments all of which are made from crystal.

LOS ANGELES

There’s nothing like some good retail therapy in Los Angeles during the Christmas season. If you find yourself in the city during the holidays, don’t hesitate to visit Rodeo Drive and be ready to hop till you drop. Admittedly, places like this and also Melrose Avenue may prove a bit too pricey for budget travelers like us, but try going to Santee Alley and buy as many affordable imitation items as you want. If you don’t particularly like buying knock offs, you can try The Grove for some brands at affordable prices.

You can also check out Santa Monica and walk along the promenade and chill out at one of the local cafes. If you’re hunting for some musical instruments, Pico Boulevard is definitely the way to go.

Shiazo hookah steam stones are usable in hookahs instead of tobacco. Buy Shiazo steam stones online and taste the delicious flavors.

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