Experiences: Best Shopping Destination
Winner: Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR, China)
It was a toss-up between Tokyo and Hong Kong, but in the end the tax-free shopping haven of the SAR proved victorious. While Hong Kong made its name as a neon-lit shopping paradise for everything from luxury fashion to electronics and antiques, the recent rise in the indie shopping scene has added another dimension to the retail haven. Revitalised centres like Central’s PMQ and Tai Kwun have created a new medium for shoppers to find works from local artists and designers, while new street markets and pop-ups are also fuelling the independent scene from Tong Chong Street in Quarry Bay to boutiques in neighbourhoods like Sheung Wan.
Experiences: Best Shopping Destination Shortlist
Fashionistas could spend a whole day luxury mall-hopping in Bangkok. Starting with Siam Paragon and the futuristic Central Embassy Mall in Pathum Wan, before wandering down Sukhumvit Road to the cool EmQuartier, or hopping across the river to new opening, Icon Siam.
Perhaps the least expected entry on our list. But travellers to Iran are rarely anything less than charmed by the experience and the inhabitants. Nor will you come back empty-handed: the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, in the sublime old centre of Isfahan, has some of the finest artisan handicrafts you’ll encounter anywhere.
Seoul (South Korea)
Shopping in Seoul is a serious sport – so much so that there are even 24-hour duty-free department stores. While you might be tempted to take a separate suitcase just to load up on cosmetics, save some space for handicrafts from traditional markets and up-and-coming hanok village-turned-boutique shopping areas like Inseon-dong, too.
From luxury brands in upmarket Ginza to the electronics emporiums of Akihabara and the alternative fashion options in Harajuku, shopping in Tokyo has something for everyone.
Take a Soviet-style building and stuff it full of handicrafts from this extraordinary country and you have the State Department Store – unlike any other shop you’ll ever visit. Otherwise, it’s all about cashmere: and the quality of the cashmere will make you weep.