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Authentic Shopping in Asia

16 October 2019

Some recommended purchases

Souvenirs can often be quite cliché - think fridge magnets that will only be lost or forgotten about. However, you'll find that in Japan, there are plenty of gorgeous ceramics on offer; from glazed pottery to stoneware and porcelain made using techniques dating back as early as 10,000 BC. You can find an array of bowls, mugs, and teapots, which are popular homeware pieces for travellers and locals alike.

Vietnam offers a delightful range of unique gifts, such as hand-embroidered silk landscapes decorated with picturesque scenes of flowers, animals, birds, and trees, or even portraits of rural Vietnamese life. Additionally, in some shops, you can create personalised designs.

Tea plays a huge role in daily life in China, so it's only right to take some back home! The best place to purchase tea and other tea-related products is the tea markets of Shanghai, selling everything you need to recreate the perfect cuppa back home.

Rajasthan in India boasts a very colourful culture, something also reflected in the souvenirs sold here. Wooden puppets and soft toys decked in vibrant clothes, and 'Bandhani', garments of various vivid hues, and traditional block printed bedsheets are also very popular and available in shops throughout Jaipur.

Learning to haggle

When shopping at markets, especially in India, haggling is very much welcome, and widely accepted. Though it can be intimidating, there is a certain technique you can learn that begins with letting the vendor be the first to talk prices. From there, ask how much your chosen purchase is and explain it's maybe a bit more expensive than you were thinking. The vendor should come back with an alternative price, and you begin from there. If you come to a slight impasse, politely decline their offer and begin to walk away, they will more than likely call you back. The best option is to smile and politely continue with your response until you come to a price you are both happy with!

Specialist sellers

China is the world's largest producer of silk, which originates from 'Bombyx mori' or mulberry silkworms, renowned for giving the silk its shimmering appearance. Today, silk is produced in the Jiangsu, Hunan, Sichuan, and Guangdong provinces and available commercially in most major cities.

Hoi An in Vietnam is commonly known as the tailoring capital of the world, and getting a tailor-made suit or dress is a fascinating experience. Many shops line the streets of the Old Quarter, particularly Hang Gai Street, known as Silk Street. Specific shops worth visiting include, Kitonali Bespoke Tailoring, Tan My Embroidery, and Anh Village Silk where full outfits can be created in approximately 24 hours!

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