This blog post was updated on July 6, 2021.

For your next vacation, why not merge your shopping list with your bucket list? Plan your next trip abroad to one of the many global cities for shopping. Have a look at this shopaholic’s guide to international travel for an enlightened view on finding retail therapy and big bargains abroad!

Looking for Luxury on a Budget? Head to Bangkok!

The capital of Thailand is a fast-paced and balmy place with a cosmopolitan air and an exotic edge. Smart globetrotters know Bangkok to be among East Asia’s best destinations for retail fun. The city is home to several high-end shopping malls curating a luxury brand experience at a tempting price for travelers changing their U.S. dollars for Thai baht. Bangkok is also a haven for hagglers with its myriad street markets where you can browse for you-name-it for as long as you like, including the 30-plus acre, 15,000-stall Chatuchak weekend market.

Cash-Strapped Foodie? Buenos Aires Is For You!

gary yim / Shutterstock

The dollar remains strong against the Argentine peso, and beautiful Buenos Aires is as romantic and engaging a destination as ever. Between your tango lessons, steak dinners and wine tastings be sure to make time for shopping. Indeed if you are a fan of Argentina’s bold flavored wine, grab some bottles of the New World’s best quaffs before heading home. What else should you shop for? The San Telmo neighborhood’s sprawling flea market is an epicenter for antiques and vintage wares. Fashionistas love the many locally-owned designer boutiques around Palermo Soho.

If You’re a High-End Shopper, Dubai’s Waiting!

For an over-the-top shopping experience, consider Dubai. Despite its reputation as a super exclusive hub of ultra luxury boutiques, retailers here offer deep discounts (and no sales tax) on a vast range of consumer goods. The city boasts the world’s largest shopping mall as well: the 12,100,000 square-foot Dubai Mall. To experience the best savings, widest variety of sales items and a sunny respite from winter, visit Dubai from the end of December to the end of January for the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Looking to Snag a Piece of History? Try at Istanbul!

Alexander Tolstykh / Shutterstock

Expect to be dazzled by Istanbul’s incredible array of shopping possibilities. Whether touring the 15th century Grand Bazaar for a historic purchase, buying the perfect blend at the equally age-old Spice Bazaar, or raiding the racks at one of the city’s much more contemporary upscale malls or local boutiques, Istanbul will wow you – and at much lower cost than you’d expect to pay in other world class cities!

Visit Kuala Lumpur to Find Everything in One Place!

Stretch your dollars further in this friendly Far East city. Three of the world’s largest shopping malls are in Kuala Lumpur. The opportunity to spend spills out onto the streets with open-air markets aplenty. Need a break from all that shopping? Gigantic shopping mall, 1 Utama, has Asia’s largest indoor climbing wall, a rooftop garden with hundreds of exotic plants, an indoor rainforest and even an aquarium.

Make the Most Out of Your Money at London!

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

Although London isn’t cheap, the British pound is at a 30-year low against the dollar. So now is the most affordable time in decades for Americans to visit. Iconic department stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty vie for your attention, time and money with boutique-laden lanes like Carnaby Street and Seven Dials and Europe’s most vibrant network of street markets.

Glamorous Globetrotter? Milan is Your Jam!

Top reason for a retail retreat to Milan is to take in the glitz and glamor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade and streets such as Via Monte Napoleone in the Fashion Designer District. Milan shrugs off a trend before much of the rest of the world has a chance to catch one. As the flagship shops update their looks, big brand outlets and discount retailers restock. This means fashion forward bargains can be found across town. One of the most popular outlets for reasonably price clothing is Il Salvagente (aka “the lifesaver”).

You may also like: 12 Ways to Be Less of a Tourist When You Travel

Chic Jetsetter? Get Inspired by the Streets of Paris!

Gabriela Tulian / Shutterstock

For shopping with style, there is perhaps no finer destination than Paris. Popular department stores such as Galleries de Lafayette and Printemps set the standard for what the world wears while street-level shops and outdoor markets ensure a tradition of top quality commerce that is picture-perfect, utterly delicious and authentically Parisian. Even buying a baguette here can be a revelation!

Trendsetter Looking for the Next Big Thing? Seoul’s Your Place!

A shopping spree in Seoul is a megacity must for savvy shoppers seeking quirky kitsch, handcrafted souvenirs, and cutting edge technology at rock bottom prices. Korean brands are leaders in the beauty and makeup world as well, with flagships and concessions at department stores offering limited releases, discounted prices and freebies.

Eager to Strike a Deal? Do it in Shanghai!

chuyuss / Shutterstock

Stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap seems to be the motto for much of Shanghai. Visitors here are often surprised by the offbeat purchases made here and how inexpensive whatever they bought was. Flipflops? Stationary? Anything imaginable made of plastic? You can sometimes find the most random but potential useful items for pennies on the dollar here. For advanced shoppers (or those with a Mandarin-speaking friend on the ground) a visit to the famous Silk Market can result in a bespoke wardrobe acquired at a fraction of you’d pay off the rack almost anywhere else. It’s not just the weirdly wonderful sold sensationally cheap though. Luxury brands flock to the city’s spiffier streets to keep up with China’s nouveau riche. While the yuan stays low against the dollar you might feel newly rich yourself

If You’re Not Afraid to Haggle, You Have a Date in Shenzhen!

Do you still have more money to spend on cheap international flights? Be ready to talk down an item’s price and be aware of knock-offs but for the best bargain hunting bar none, be up for Shenzhen. This mainland Chinese city is about an hour train ride from Hong Kong is a dream destination for cheap clothes and electronics.

Where have you done your best shopping when traveling abroad? Leave your suggestions and questions at our comments section below!

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About The Author

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.