Apart from offering Australian travellers totally different cultures and cuisines, Asia is a favourite destination for Aussies who love to shop.
If you're in Hong Kong and have a bit of time up your sleeve, you may want to think about a day-trip to Shenzhen in Guangdong province. It takes around 45 minutes by train from Hong Kong Island to reach the first stop over the mainland China border.
You will need to purchase a day-access visa, and you must have your passport with you at all times. Visas can be obtained at the border or your Hong Kong hotel may be able to assist before you leave. Rules are changed regularly, so check it out well before you plan your shopping excursion to avoid disappointment.
Once a tiny fishing village, foreign nations have invested more than $30 billion in factories and joint-ventures. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, evident by its novel and modern cityscape.
Not exactly one for needing retail therapy, Dermott Brereton took the train ride as "research for Getaway viewers who are in need". Once he arrived at Lo Wu, the first shopping centre, he joined other shoppers with vigour.
Lu Wu is huge and is considered the best and most convenient place to shop. It has five floors with shops selling everything imaginable. Clothing, footwear, jewellery, watches, bags and wallets, accessories, electronic goods are available and there's an enormous textile market on the top floor.
You could consider taking a shopping list with you, but chances are you will be overwhelmed by the choice confronting you and the "necessaries" will be forgotten.
Don't forget to haggle for a much better price than the first one offered by a vendor. It's a lot of fun and the vendors expect it. They are friendly and bargain in a non-aggressive way.
If you're new to bargaining, here are some basic rules Dermott discovered. First, ask the price then offer one-third of that price. If the vendor smiles and shakes their head, examine the article again and if you really want it, offer a little more. They will enter an amount into the calculator for you to see and then it's up to you. If you really want it, pick an amount and then take it or leave it. Remember you are paying foreigners' prices and there's always a profit margin for the vendor.
If you leave a shop that has something you may decide you want, take a business card from the vendor. They will be in Chinese so you should write the item you fancy on the card. Shops have numbers, not names, and finding your way back in the maze can be almost impossible.
It's a relatively safe place but there are few things to remember. Dress down, leave jewellery in your hotel safe, keep money and passport close to your body there are pickpockets around and take a bag with wheels for your purchases. Bringing a couple of bottles of water is a good idea.
If there are people at home you are shopping for, make sure you have their clothing and shoe sizes with you to avoid disappointment.
Shenzhen in China, a 45-minute train ride from Hong Kong.
Helen Wong's Tours have one-day Shenzhen City and Lo Wu Shopping trips for $147 per person, based on a minimum of two passengers. They include hotel pick-up, return first-class rail between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, city tour, lunch and transfer to Lo Wu Shopping Mall. They run year-round. The Hong Kong dollar is the preferred currency when shopping, but the RMB is happily accepted.
Virgin Atlantic has flights to Hong Kong from:
- Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Gold Coast $1088
Travel dates and conditions apply.
Prices correct at February 24, 2011.
For further information
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Level 4, 7 Macquarie Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 727 340
Helen Wong's Tours
Level 11, 99 Bathurst Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 788 328
Fax: (02) 92677717
Visas: Australians require a visa for entry into China.
Electriticy: 220V at 50Hz. Plugs vary so take an international adaptor.
Time zone: GMT +8.
Currency: Hong Kong dollar or RMB.
Telephone code: +86.
It is recommended travellers to China see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.