Top 5 Destinations: Food & Shopping

We spend so much each year to get ourselves the best of fashion or electronics or whatever it is that we run to shop for. We spend a similar, if not larger, figure on exploring in search of the best of food. This vacation, why not plan a trip somewhere you can find the very best of all of it – and have your money’s worth? We short-listed the top five destinations that we think would give you the most gratifying and worthwhile experience in food and shopping, and why –

Tokyo, Japan

With more than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo’s food culture boasts world-class dishes  belonging to a style created with the fusion of old traditional techniques and modern approaches. The city is studded with delicacies all along the way for any amount you intend to spend on eating – from the Omotesando Koffee, Onigiri found in any 7-11 to the perfect bowls of Ramen at more than just a few places and the Soba dishes. Afuri, And The Friet and Cori are some of the places that are perfect for those seeking great cheap eats. Meanwhile, places like Kyubey, Hamarikyu Gardens, Gen Yamamoto, and Girandole at the Park Hyatt Hotel serve amazing wonders for slightly high prices. And there’s a reason why they all taste so great – everything that goes into your food directly comes fresh from the fields in and around the city. But the city’s perks do not end there. Tokyo is a vibrant shopping mecca – comprising of countless shopping streets with everything from magnificent shopping malls to high-end, posh flagship stores to back-alley shops that specialize in selling arrays of vintage wares. Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando are the five neighborhoods you should definitely check out for the best shopping experience in Tokyo. Keep in mind though, there are some cultural taboos you need to know about before visiting.

Hong Kong

Aptly nicknamed the “World’s Food Fair”, eating out in Hong Kong is one of the best experiences you could have as a tourist. There’s a wide range of options for you to choose from for just about anything – whether to eat at the roadside stalls or the world-class restaurants, whether to indulge in authentic cuisines from India, Korea, Thailand or those from Europe, America and Singapore (and that’s just a handful of them). The Hong Kong dining experience comes with some peculiar norms – so don’t be surprised if you find your tea unsweetened, or find yourself having to calculate your own bill or even sharing a table with other customers! When in Hong Kong, make sure to try the Sweet and Sour Pork, Wontons, Pineapple Bread, Roast Goose, Phoenix Talons and definitely the Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea! It gets better. The variety does not only exist in Hong Kong’s food culture, but applies to the shopping scene too. Its wide and exclusive range of products at reasonably low prices, that too excluding the major two sales seasons – makes Hong Kong nothing short of a shoppers’ paradise. Electronics, watches, jewelry, cosmetics and designer wears rank as the best buys. Areas like Central have the top boutiques and the big malls, while Causeway Bay has a bit of all of it from high-end malls to street markets and medium-priced boutiques.  Other than that, Sham Shui Po is recommended for those interested in browsing through vast ranges of electronic products while traditional market-seekers should definitely head to Mong Kok.

Paris, France

As common misconceptions might suggest, the “city of love” isn’t really just about expensive cuisine – and some of the most loved delicacies can be bought with just a few euros. To top off that list are the baguettes, the croissants, macaroons, the street-side stands selling crepes, and of course, the raw milk cheeses. Needless to say, however, Paris is indeed the epitome of fine dining – and if you’ve got  a taste for the haute cuisine, we recommend Guy Savoy’s  La Monnaie de Paris, Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower, Georges, and L’Abeille for their excellence in the art of dining. Shopping in Paris has always been an extravagant matter. Paris today is a marvelous consolidation of big markets and boutiques that everything starting from parasols and incensed candles to haute couture wears.  The city is a vibrant mix of all sorts of culture. While up-and-coming designers and fashionistas gather in the La Marais district, St-Germain des Pres harbors a natural aura with some wonderful vintage antique shops, art galleries, contemporary furniture and design shops, and flagship stores of luxurious brands. Louvre & Les Halles, Canal St-Martin & the 10th arrondissement are some of the areas that may also be of great interest to you.

Bologna, Italy

Bologna is known as “La Grassa”, that is, “The Fat One” after its food, which is hailed as the best in all of Italy. Authentic fast food is up for grabs in the numerous piadinerie. Also for the taste buds seeking similar great eats is Trattoria Pizzeria Belle Arti – serving great pizzas at less than seven pounds. The main square, Piazza Maggiore, bustles with cafes and bars.  In Quadrilatero, meaning the ancient food market, a bit off the square are a plethora of tiny alleys filled with all the fresh ingredients you could need for a delicious meal – all of which come from the lush fields outside the city. The I Portici Hotel’s Restaurant and the Al Pappagallo restaurant excel at the traditional Bolognese delicacies while All’Osteria Bottega is a tiny place serving superbly delicious dishes – so tiny that most people tend to miss it. The desserts, or the “gelaterias”, are to die for – and the shops are in almost every corner of the city. As if that weren’t enough, Bologna has Italian designer fashion, stylish boutiques and marvelous shoe-shops around the city. Galleria Cavour and Centro Commerciale Borgo are two of the shopping malls you could try looking into. The city is filled with small shops specializing in ceramics, antiques shops and bookstores.

Convinced? We were too. Happy vacationing!

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