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The world's best shopping cities

Laura Tait

By Laura Tait

If you are someone who hates shopping then stop reading now. If you are someone who gets carried away at the first sight of a sale, gets swipe-happy with your credit card and doesn’t stop until you need to remortgage your house, then you should probably stop reading too. For everyone in between, here are eight of the world’s top retail therapy destinations.

The world's best shopping cities

Bangkok
Savvy shoppers will be able to pick up plenty of bargains, from fashion to antiques, that would be sold with a massive mark-up elsewhere. And by savvy we mean prepared to barter. More often than not you can get everything for a significantly lower price – and not just in the famously buzzing street markets. The bright, modern, air-conditioned malls might not feel like haggling territory but you’ll often find prices can be talked down. If you don’t mind a bit of chaos, head to Chatuchak Weekend Market - one of the most exhilarating and lively shopping experiences in the world.

Paris
Whatever your style there’s a district for you. The famous Champs-Élysées boasts big brands and high standards, the Boulevard Haussmann has two of Paris's largest and oldest department stores and Le Marais has hip boutiques, antique shops and cafes. The fashion-filled Rue des Francs-Bourgeois conveniently ignores France's Sunday closing law while Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli has the city’s biggest indoor mall, flanked by bakeries, cheese shops, wine shops and produce stands. Then there’s Faubourg Saint-Honoré - known as the most fashionable street in Europe thanks to pretty much every major fashion house having shops here.

London
There’s more to London shopping than fighting the crowds on Oxford Street, despite the fact it has every high street shop you can think of – and often more than once. London’s markets make a brilliant shopping experience - some of the best are Portobello, Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Camden (or Borough if it’s food you’re after). You’ll also find the country’s biggest and best malls, both east and west of the capital – the new Westfield in Stratford and the original Westfield in White City.

 New York

New York
NYC’s inclusion in a roundup of the best places to shop is a tad predictable but its exclusion would be a huge omission, so here it is. Not only is it home to some of the best department stores in the world – including Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s – it’s also not short of brilliant boutique shops. These can be found in abundance on Fifth Avenue, where you’ll also find the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue. There are trendy open air markets, like the Green Flea Market, if you prefer something a bit more unique.

St Barths
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when someone says Caribbean? Sunny, palm tree lined beaches perhaps, or cocktails with tiny umbrellas sticking out? What about massive shopping sprees? No? Well then you’ve never been to the French-owned St. Barthélemy, aka St. Barths, with its duty-free status and over 200 boutiques. Not only is it a hub of high-end retail – think along the lines of Dior, Louis Vuitton and Cartier – but local women flog traditional island handiwork, like hand-woven hats, bags and baskets.

[See also: Ten alternative city breaks]

Milan
Milan is synonymous with fashion – so much so that the streets of the famous Fashion Quadrilatero can seem like open-air runways with the high fashion and slightly out-there clothes sported by some of the people walking down them. The beauty of shopping in Milan is they’re so ahead of us in the fashion stakes that the cut-price cast-offs sold in its many outlets and seconds stores allow you to come home and be bang on trend, or even ahead of the game.

 Marrakech

Marrakech
You can’t go to Marrakech and not include a shopping excursion to the souk (Morocco’s biggest traditional market). Even if you don’t want to buy anything it’s an experience in itself, with its atmospheric narrow cobblestone streets immersed in exotic smells and sights, like spices and stained-glass lanterns. If you do want to buy then you can pick up clothes, jewellery, homewares, food, souvenirs and a great deal more at bargain prices – just make sure you’ve honed your bartering skills.

Buenos Aires
In Buenos Aires the downtown streets of Microcentro – in particular Calle Florida and Calle Lavalle – are overflowing with chain stores and boutique shops, while the upscale neighbourhood of Recoleta is the destination du jour for anyone with deep pockets as that is where you’ll find the likes of Armani and Cartier. The real steal is leather items – shoes, bags, wallets, belts and coats cost a fraction of what they do at home. And when you’re bored of clothes, head to San Telmo for the city's best antiques shops.

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