News 5 holiday hotspots for bargain shopping bliss

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5 holiday hotspots for bargain shopping bliss

Savvy shoppers head to the destinations where you can find luxury items that won’t bust your holiday budget, and get an instagrammable escape while you’re at it. From great value gold in Dubai to cut-price Chanel in Japan, we’ve found five high-end hotspots where you can combine a pre-Christmas break with the best shopping opportunities on the planet.

1. Dubai

Home to the world’s largest mall, Dubai does shopping with a capital $. With theme parks, a waterfall, dancing fountains, Olympic-sized ice rink, aquarium, indoor souk and malls within the mall, you could spend your entire holiday in the monumental Dubai Mall. And with temperatures outside best described as sweltering most of the year, you’d be forgiven for taking refuge in this air-conditioned temple of commerce. Located beneath the 828m-tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper, you can tick off two whopping great birds with one stone with a visit here, while bagging great deals on top-end watch brands, electronics and jewellery. Gold especially is of a higher grade and much cheaper than back home but, depending on your haggling skills, you’ll get a better price in the gold souk in Deira or the Gold & Diamond Park near Mall of the Emirates, plus you’ll get a flavour of the real Dubai. Take a traditional wooden abra (boat) across the creek between the souks at Deira and Bur Dubai for a really fun way to shop.

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2. Italy

The epicentre of all things fashion, Italy is a shopaholic’s dream – not to mention a not-too-shabby place to spend a pre-Christmas break. But, while there are plenty of bank balance-busting boutiques, you don’t need Nancy Dell’Olio’s budget to fill your suitcase with fashion finds. Italy is overflowing with factory outlets, where you can pick up Prada, D&G or Versace at incredible prices.

Bargain hunters with a taste for the finer things in life should make a beeline to Milan. Outlets are just an hour outside the couture capital and stock threads by brands such as Missoni and La Perla no more than one season old – and since Milan is months ahead of the trends, that’s practically new at home. Make a road trip of it and you can enjoy the stunning scenery of northern Italy in between retail therapy fixes. An hour’s drive towards the coast in the Piedmont region is Serravalle Designer Outlet, the biggest of its kind in Europe with 225 stores offering up to 70% off Fendi, Gucci and the like. Barberino Designer Outlet is another gem handily located between the Renaissance cities of Florence and Bologna.

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3. Morocco

Hipster culture has diluted the meaning of the term ‘artisan’, but in Morocco you’ll discover the true meaning of the word. This brilliantly accessible north African country is full of highly skilled local craftspeople – actual artisans – using centuries-old techniques to create handmade wares ready to be haggled over.

Centre your search in Marrakech and hunt for treasure in the souks that snake north from the main artery Souk Semmarine. You’ll find everything from pottery and jewellery to spices and textiles – just remember never to accept the first price you’re offered. If you’ve room in your suitcase for a traditional Moroccan carpet, you can find intricately designed Berber rugs hand-woven in the Atlas Mountains for a fraction of the price back home. Just make sure they’re 100% wool and do some research before you commit. Two safe bets are Vintage Moroccan Carpets and Les Nomades de Marrakech behind the Ben Youssef Mosque. If you only brought carry-on, bargain over bold chunky Berber bracelets and necklaces in silver. And head to the upscale shops in Gueliz for great value leather bags, wallets and coats. While there, don’t miss famous footwear emporium Atika for butter-soft leather loafers in an eye-popping array of candy colours. They’re a pretty good lookalike of designer versions by Tod’s and Hermès, but at around £65 a pair, you won’t need to take out a loan to afford them.

Once you’ve explored the markets of Marrakech, make sure you read up on where to hike in the Atlas Mountains and 5 other trips of a lifetime.

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4. Austria

The Austrian capital of Vienna is famous for its fairytale Christmas markets, which are undoubtedly worth a gander. But venture beyond the twinkly squares and you’ll find there’s more to shopping here than glass baubles and glühwein. A good rummage in the city’s charming antique boutiques is not only a dreamy way for any self-respecting shopaholic to spend the day, but also an opportunity to find a unique piece at a great price.

The 300-year-old auction house Dorotheum, one of the largest in the world, is a treasure trove of jewellery, silverware, porcelain, glass, ceramics, drawings and paintings, with antiques up for grabs for under €100. Another Vienna institution, Carla Wien is a charity that clears out old apartments and re-sells the furniture and other items at reasonable prices. With constantly changing stock, you can find some real gems. There are also countless flea markets ripe for a forage. The most famous, Naschmarkt (open on Saturdays), has around 400 stalls of covetable rarities as well as umpteen enticing food stands. On a Sunday, head to Riesenflohmarkt Wienerberg on the outskirts of town, where a little digging can be rewarded with antique gems at rock-bottom prices.

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5. Japan

Japan might not scream bargain basement, but the dazzling capital Tokyo caters just as well for the thrifty as it does for the spendthrift. As you might expect from the land of bullet trains and Pepper the robotic assistant, standards are high when it comes to customer service and quality. So whether you’re browsing high-end boutiques or bargain hunting in the abundant ¥100 shops – Japan’s answer to the pound store – shopping here is a joy. Those willing to part with some serious wonga will be in seventh heaven at Isetan’s Shinjuku flagship department store, which is sprawled across two blocks in eight separate buildings.

But aside from the big brands with even bigger price tags, the shop stocks an amazing array of affordable Japanese gifts, too. Cash-strapped label lovers are in luck as Tokyo boasts more than its fair share of vintage shops crammed with top-quality, pre-loved designer goodies, many centred around Shibuya and Shimokitazawa – think Chanel and Fendi at 50-80% the original price. Venture a little out of the city to the charming streets of Isezakichō and you’ll find block after block of bargains, such as kimonos for less than £15, while Akihabara is the place to bag cut-price electronics and gadgets.

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