There are many reasons why Southeast Asia is a well-worn path for travellers, from amazing monuments to pristine beaches. But let’s be honest, most people come because the region is affordable (read: supercheap). Even if you’re not a shopaholic, you will find yourself making an exception at this shopping mecca of a region. No matter where you’re from, it’s always wise to bring an empty suitcase while travelling here!
If you’re looking for some guidance, read on for Southeast Asia bargain shopping 101:
1. Bargain Shopping in Hanoi, Vietnam
For a good, old-school market, head to Dong Xuan Market. Located on the northern edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the city’s oldest market (open in 1889) offers everything from fresh produce, clothing to handicrafts. Looking to pick up high quality silk? Look no further than Hang Gai Street (Silk Street) where you can find everything from dresses to home apparels. If you’re in town on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, visit Hanoi Weekend Night Market at the Old Quarter district, where lively stalls offer everything from fashion accessories to delectable street food.
2. Bargain Shopping in Bangkok, Thailand
Believed to be the world’s largest weekend market, Chatuchak Weekend Market (also spelled as Jatujak) has everything you could imagine from cheesy T-shirts to IKEA-inspired furniture. But there’s plenty of alternatives on weekdays, like Platinum, a wholesale mall where buying in bulk will get you a discount. Rows of stalls and shops around Pratunam are also worth checking out. Whether you are a gamer looking for the latest consoles or just want to look for a power bank for your phone, Pantip Plaza is everyone’s go-to IT mall for discounted electronics.
3. Bargain Shopping in Singapore
Yes, Singapore is a shopping paradise, but not the kind of shopping for us budget shoppers. That being said, there are places where you can get some decent shopping done without breaking the bank. Bugis Street is a bustling commercial hub worth visiting for affordable clothing and accessories, if not for the colourful atmosphere. If you’re looking to squeeze in last minute shopping, 24-hour budget shopping hub Mustafa Centre offers everything under the sun, from fridge magnets to electronic goods.
4. Bargain Shopping in Manila, Philippines
If you’re shopping from some of the smaller shopping centres in Manila, there’s a high chance the vendors source their goods from Divisoria. Navigating through the market, you’ll find everything from footwear to bags. If you are confident with your bargaining skills, go right behind Quiapo Church to find Quiapo Market, to find a variety of items such as clothes and electronic goods. You can even get your fortunes told!
5. Bargain Shopping in Yangon, Myanmar
Built in 1926, Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly known as Scott Market) houses 1,641 shops that sell everything from clothing to lacquer ware. Can’t find your souvenir here? Head to Theingyi Zei, the largest market in the city, and get yourself some Myanmarese specialty products sold by the many wholesale shops here. There’s also some nightlife activities next door, from karaoke bars to gambling halls.
6. Bargain Shopping in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Shopping in Kuala Lumpur is fun and convenient thanks to the highly accessible shopping centres. Take Sungei Wang, with easy access from both Monorail and MRT. This shopping mall is known for its wide range of affordable clothes and accessories. If you prefer taking the LRT, pop by Petaling Street for some souvenir shopping. Cheap “I Love KL” fridge magnets and T-shirts are abound, but there are also knock-off clothing and bags if you’re into that sort of stuff.
7. Bargain Shopping in Vientiane, Laos
Early bird gets the worm, and so you need to wake up early if you want the best bargains at Talat Sao Morning Market. The stalls here offer everything from cheap clothes to Lao specialty products. For a different experience, go to Vientiane Night Market along one side of the Mekong River. If you ever wondered where those tourists got their beer branded T-shirts and fishermen’s pants, this is it.
8. Bargain Shopping in Jakarta, Indonesia
Tanah Abang is supposedly one of the biggest textile markets in all of Southeast Asia, so it’s no wonder that this is one of the best places in Jakarta for textiles and clothing in Jakarta. Pasar Baru (literally means “new market” but was actually built in 1820) is also known as the “Little India” for the many Indian Indonesians-owned shops found here, and is known for textiles, sportswear, jewellery and even photographic supplies.
9. Bargain Shopping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It’s almost impossible to miss the iconic Central Market (known as Psar Thmei or “new market” in Khmer) as it is one of the must-visits in the city. Browse for the best souvenirs, jewellery and even electronics in this market. Another popular shopping spot is Russian Market (or Psar Toul Tom Pong in Khmer), which got its name because of the large number of Russians who frequented the market in the 1980s. This is where you’ll find a large selection of Western-sized preloved clothing and factory rejects.
10. Bargain Shopping in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
While Brunei is not exactly known for bargain shopping, there’s still some value-for-money spots. Serusop, once a quiet neighbourhood, has now turned into a bustling commercial hub great for textile shopping. Another new development is Kiulap, an area with a number of shopping centres, ideal for that one-stop shopping trip.
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