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It is hard to separate women from shopping when they’re traveling. However, as we all know, it is different when shopping at a foreign country versus our own – the currency is different, there is Value Added Tax (VAT), sometimes haggling is required . . .

Recently, I was invited by Bella @ NTV7 as one of the panel travel bloggers to share my traveling tips on the show. Mine was focused on shopping. Here are some interesting topics we talked about that may just come in handy.

1. Shopping is the first and foremost for women – what are the tips whilst shopping when traveling?

I can’t stress this even more: Always do your research!

Every city has its own speciality (just like how Malacca is famous for their dodol). The last thing you want is to return from your trip, having people ask you “Did you manage to get that? It’s AWESOME!”, yet you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about despite already spending one whole week in Seoul; knowing you won’t be going back anytime soon.

Researching on what to shop beforehand also saves you from bringing back a whole bag of Japanese snacks, for example, just to learn that we can get most of them in our country.

2. What are the benefits of haggling when you shop while traveling?

I’d say it is important to haggle when you are shopping at street markets. It happened to me once when I was trapped in the ‘impulse buy’ zone and purchased a piece of artwork from the very first stall I visited, just to learn that I could get the same thing for half the price a few stalls down the road!

Always scout around first by asking straightforwardly the lowest price they can afford to sell the product. After getting a rough idea, pick a stall and bargain your way through till you get the best price.

Usually, I know for sure when two different shops tell me to ‘go try my better luck somewhere’. Do NOT do that if you don’t plan to purchase, because then they get really angry when foreigners waste their time haggling and not buying anything at all.

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{with fellow travel bloggers Evelyn and Caroline}

3. What would you normally purchase when you travel abroad? 

I am more of a souvenirs and trinkets kinda person. My favorite buys usually don’t literally spell out the name of the place I visit, yet are unique enough to spark a story to tell. One of them is an adorable bookmark made out of elephant dung I picked from Sri Lanka.

4. What are the VAT (Value added tax) basics that we should be mindful of when we shop abroad?

Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re unsure – even if they don’t speak English very well. Try to get the website link where you can track the process of your tax refund even after you return.

If possible, avoid last minute shopping at the airport before boarding. Claiming tax refund requires quite an amount of time – filling up the forms, queueing at the tax refund counter for your turn (sometimes located on a totally different floor), etcetera.

5. What about the best places to get the best deals?

I think it’s more about knowing which brand to get. For example, I got 3 Longchamp bags in France for the price of 1 if I were to get it in Malaysia.

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{red because it is still Chinese New Year!}

6. Are knowledge of currencies important while traveling as well?

It’s necessary to at least know the rough conversion. Always keep your smartphone close and power bank closer. :lol: I mean, always have your cell charged cause you never know when you need to do a serious conversion under a hectic situation.

P.S. Rupiah is very tricky with its multiple zeros.

7. Should we also Google for the best place for shopping?

One of my go-to sites to Google is Wikitravel when it comes to what-to-buy when traveling.

8. Any tips for traveling shopaholics?

Always bring along a light, foldable bag so that you can store all your shopping harvest without messing up your nicely packed luggage.

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Catch me on Bella Weekend tomorrow (Friday) at NTV7 (#107 on Astro) from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.! To those who can’t join us for this intimate ‘travel date’ but would still like to hear our travel tips, you can also watch the show via www.tonton.com.my ;)

 

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