World's Best Cities for Bargain Shopping

Street vendors in the Palermo Soho area of Buenos Aires. Slaff
By Charis Atlas Heelan

The best souvenir is one that you find for so little that you just have to brag about it when you get home. Travel the world and shop in style without paying hefty prices at these fashion-frenzy destinations in Asia, Europe, and South America.

While it's easy to score great deals in Shanghai, New York City, Bangkok, and these seven other cities, your biggest problem may be saving enough space in your suitcase.

Photo Caption: Street vendors in the Palermo Soho area of Buenos Aires. Photo by Slaff/Flickr.com
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Shopping for bracelets in Seminyak, Bali. Remon Rijper
Shopping in Bali used to be all about local Batik clothing, wood carvings, and cheap souvenirs, but the retail scene has come a long way. Bali has become a major shopping destination in Southeast Asia for inexpensive yet stylish clothing, shoes, furniture, jewelry, housewares, and works of art.

Where to Shop: For quality shopping in small boutiques, Seminyak is the best location -- both Jalan Seminyak and Jalan Oberoi boast dozens of fashion and home-décor stores. The areas of Legian and Kuta are also popular shopping spots but the quality may not be as high. There are several newer malls, like the Mall at Bali Galeria or Carrefours, which feature department stores like Matahari and select boutiques.

How Much: Leather women's sandals for $10, wooden placemat/napkin sets for six are $10, bikinis from $7.

Photo Caption: Shopping for bracelets in Seminyak, Bali. Photo by Remon Rijper/Flickr.com
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Strolling La Rambla in Barcelona. Troy Holden
It's not as cheap as it used to be pre-euros, but Barcelona is still a sensational city for clothes shopping. Street fashion, young designers, and chain stores battle it out for supremacy along the boulevards and streets off the central causeway, La Rambla.

Where to Shop: Inexpensive chain stores like Zara and MNG Mango started here, and their flagship stores are huge. Local chain stores also include the cheap and funky Bershka. Everything can be found around the central Pla ça Catalunya area, mainly along Avenida Portal d'Angel and Carrer de Pelai. If mall shopping is more your thing, head to L'Illa on El Diagonal or the outlet mall at Laroca Village, a 40-minute bus ride from central Barcelona.

How Much: Summer sales often give shoppers up to 70 percent off. Pick up fun dresses, skirts, and tops for prices ranging from €10 to €30.

Photo Caption: Strolling La Rambla in Barcelona. Photo by Troy Holden/Flickr.com
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Shopping at San Lorenzo market in Florence, Italy. Madame Travels
Believe it or not, shopping in Florence is not only affordable, it can be downright cheap (by European standards). You also don't have to skimp on quality and whether you shop in department stores, small stand-alone stores, or in the markets, you're sure to snare a bargain in the shoe and handbag capital of Europe. You'll also find deals when it comes to clothes, perfume, jewelry, and accessories.

Where to Shop: Via del Corso, Via Borgo San Lorenzo, Piazza del Duomo, and various streets in the center of the old city. Even though it is touristy, the San Lorenzo market on Via Dell'Ariento (near the train station) has an excellent selection of predominantly leather goods.

How Much: A pair of quality Italian leather shoes starts from as little as $30. You can buy fur-lined women's gloves from $35, and you'll pay about 40 percent less for designer perfumes.

Photo Caption: Shopping at San Lorenzo market in Florence, Italy. Photo by Madame Travels/Flickr.com
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Inside a shop in San Telmo, a popular area in Buenos Aires for antiques. audrey_sel
There was a time when Buenos Aires was an expensive shopping destination, but thanks to the currency devaluation and an economic crisis, the city has emerged as a hot-spot for Latin American design in housewares and clothing (especially leather and cashmere).

Where to Shop: Spend time in pedestrian-friendly Calle Florida, with its chain stores and boutiques. The Palermo Soho area (Honduras Street, Costa Rica Street and El Salvador Streets ) is great for housewares and local fashion designers. San Telmo is where you'll find antique stores, and Avenida Cordoba and Avenida Santa Fe have plenty of fashion outlets.

How Much: You can claim your Value Added Tax (VAT) back from purchases over 70 Argentine Pesos made at stores displaying Duty Free logos.

Photo Caption: Inside a shop in San Telmo, a popular area in Buenos Aires for antiques. Photo by audrey_sel/Flickr.com
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Lanterns line Le Loi Street in Hoi An, Vietnam. avlxyz
Considered the shopping capital of Vietnam, Hoi An is known for its 1,000-plus tailor shops and markets that offer high-quality fabrics like pure silks and cashmere for a fraction of Western prices. You'll walk away with a whole new wardrobe within days if you come armed with your favorite clothes and shoes to copy. You can also bring photos from magazines.

Where to Shop: Find art galleries and craft/ceramic stores along Tran Phu Street, and get suits and shoes made by tailors near the Central (Riverside) Market and the Japanese Bridge. Seek out the tailors on Nha Trung Street, Tran Quy Cap Street, Le Loi Street, and Cha Dai Street.

How Much: A man's three-piece tailored wool suit costs around $50 to $100, a woman's silk dress is from $20, made-to-measure leather shoes are from $20, and quality original artworks on canvas or wood are from $30.

Photo Caption: Lanterns line Le Loi Street in Hoi An, Vietnam. Photo by avlxyz/Flickr.com
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Shopping in the Jardins neighborhood of Sao Paulo. eduardomineo
The shopping malls of Sao Paulo are full of bargains, especially for Brazilian-made shoes and clothing. You'll be able to get the latest season's fashion trends for a fraction of U.S. prices.

Where to Shop: SP Market is an outlet mall featuring 50 percent or more off regular retail prices. Iguatemi is the city's oldest mall but it continues to deliver great merchandise at reasonable prices, Rua José Paulino (Metro Tiradentes) is the wholesale clothing street, and Rua 25 de Mar ço in Centro (downtown) is another great spot. Despite being the upmarket fashion district, the streets of the Jardins neighborhood are littered with boutiques offering well-priced items.

How Much: Leather stilettos from $20, leather handbags from $25 and seasonal sun dresses from $15.

Photo Caption: Shopping in the Jardins neighborhood of Sao Paulo. Photo by eduardomineo/Flickr.com
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Inside the massive Century 21 discount clothing store. jaimelondonboy
Chain stores aside, New York City is the place that people come to shop. For cameras and electronics, it's probably the cheapest city in the world. For everything else, it is a gold mine of priceless finds.

Where to Shop: For electronics, try B&H (www.bhphotovideo.com) on Ninth Avenue at 34th Street or J&R (www.jr.com) across from City Hall Park. For clothing bargains without designer labels, go to the wholesale garment district (36th to 39th Streets between Fifth and Eighth Avenues) or head up to Fordham Road in the Bronx. Century 21 on Cortlandt Street (www.c21stores.com) is a must for discounted designer clothing and accessories. Don't miss the massive sales at Macy's and Lord & Taylor with discounts of up to 70 percent.

How Much: You'll generally find competitive prices on one of the largest selections in the country.

Photo Caption: Inside the massive Century 21 discount clothing store. Photo by jaimelondonboy/Flickr.com
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Bustling Petchburi Road in Bangkok, Thailand. hochit
With low prices and a vast selection of clothing, textiles, housewares, and knock-off computer and electronic products, you could easily spend several days in Bangkok immersed in retail therapy. Stay away from the major international luxury brands and concentrate on the local stuff. The only caveat on the clothing is that sizes tend to run smaller than U.S. brands.

Where to Shop: The shops in and around Siam Centre and Siam Paragon on Sukhumvit are a good starting point, and the malls on Petchburi Road like Platinum Fashion Mall are fantastic for clothing and electronics. Try the huge Central World, the six floors of Mah Boon Krong (MBK), the labyrinthine Pratunam Market, and the ultimate weekend market at Chatuchak.

How Much: Get a pair of lizard-skin cowboy boots made to measure for around $100, or pick up T-shirts from $1 and "not so legal" computer software from $5.

Photo Caption: Bustling Petchburi Road in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by hochit/Flickr.com
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Old Town Bazaar in Shanghai, China. wendylefkowich
Yes, Shanghai is full of designer knock-offs, but it is also a fantastic place to shop for non-branded fashion, accessories, shoes, art, and trinkets at super lower prices. Plus, you have the added bonus of being able to bargain with vendors almost everywhere. Malls are huge, markets are plentiful, and haggling is part of the experience.

Where to Shop: The Hong Kong Famous Shops Street and Dimei Shopping Center are both underground, beneath People's Square on Xiangyang Road. Huaihai Lu and Shanxi Lu are great places to shop for clothing, and North Shaanxi Road is the center for shoes. You can also get ridiculously cheap fashionable glasses at Sanye Wholesale Market (located within Shanghai's main train station), purchase original contemporary art and funky fashion pieces at the 50 Moganshan Art District, and pick up some interesting antiques at the Old Town Bazaar.

How Much: A set of carved chopsticks from $2 for six people, a pair of prescription glasses in designer frames from $25, and silk scarves from $4.

Photo Caption: Old Town Bazaar in Shanghai, China. Photo by wendylefkowich/Flickr.com
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The Dong Men area of Shenzhen, China, is known for selling electronics. Niels van Eck
Less than an hour from Hong Kong by train, Shenzhen is a sensational shopping day trip. Be prepared to bargain. Once you see a price, start your offers at about 25 percent less. Although many goods are fakes and knock-offs, there are plenty of inexpensive clothes and electronics to buy without fear of breaking international trademark laws.

Where to Shop: There are massive malls everywhere, but also several pedestrian streets lined with smaller shops. The Luo Hu Commercial City is a good place to start, with its hundreds of stores and stalls. Huaqiang Bei is another and the Dong Men area is known for its electronics, as is the SEG Electronics Market with eight floors of stores. For arts and crafts, try Da Fen Village.

How Much: You can pick up MP3 players with a remarkable resemblance to the iPod for around $20, leather handbags for $10, and women's "designer" suits for less than $50.

Photo Caption: The Dong Men area of Shenzhen, China, is known for selling electronics. Photo by Niels van Eck/Flickr.com
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