Fabulous Bali shopping – Kuta area

Fabulous Bali shopping – Kuta area

Travellers love Bali for its luxury accomodation deals, great beaches, magical sights and exotic culture. The incredible Bali shopping is a delectable bonus that keeps them going back. Shoppers head to the markets and workshops selling colourful handicrafts, art and textiles. Others love to browse for fashion, furniture and homewares at higher end shops.

 

In the shops

 

Bamboo Blonde in Seminyak sells relaxed and colourful fashion for enjoying Bali’s resort and party life. Otherwise, find the perfect swimsuit in the amazing range at Blue Glue. The Kerobokan store also sells gorgeous resort wear and accessories. Biasa is an elegant resort wear label by an Italian designer and has boutiques in Seminyak and Sanur. Mums and kids can find fab fashions in the same store at Indigo and Rose in Kuta and Seminyak.

The Buddha Gallery, Seminyak, has an incredible collection of antique Buddhas and other Buddhist statuary in wood or bronze. For locally made designer homewares, it’s difficult to go past Hobo. The Orchard Shop in Kerobokan sells beautiful furniture and decor items that furnish five star resorts and hotels around the world.

The Kuta Beach area also has plush, air conditioned shopping malls, stocking all the big brands.

 

The Bali shopping holiday experience

 

Some of the island’s retailers provide an experience that goes beyond shopping. Australian brand Deus Ex Machina’s store in Canggu (north of Seminyak) is part workshop, skateboard mecca, art gallery, shop, bar and café. Custom surfboards, skateboards and bicycles are made onsite. Ogle the custom built motorcycles or order one for yourself.

Drifter Surf Shop and café in Seminyak stocks the big surf labels for men and women, plus some smaller edgier brands. Stay for lunch or a snack and check out the books, surfboards and memorabilia.

 

Hitting the markets and workshops

 

It’s worth travelling out of the Kuta, Seminyak area to Bali’s renowned art markets in Ubud, Guwang or Sukawati. Shoppers can also visit the many artisan workshops located around those centres. Specialties include wood and stone carvings, crafted batik, and hand woven ikat fabrics. Carved Buddhas, toys, clothes, souvenirs and trinkets are popular buys. The shops in and around Kuta have many of the same goods, but prices tend to be higher. Serious shoppers hire a car or van with driver to make the trip. Some operators offer market or arts and crafts tours to make it all easier.

Handmade silver jewellery is another Bali speciality. Some silver workshops, like Studio Perak in Ubud, welcome visitors and offer classes.

 

What you need to know about Bali shopping

 

Can I bring it back to Australia? Check the Australian Customs website for restricted items. For example, wooden and woven items have to be presented to Customs to make sure they don’t contain bark or insects.

Bartering is the customary way of doing business at markets and local shops, however prices tend to be fixed at retailers in shopping malls, boutiques etc. It’s best to ask if you’re not sure. The vendors first price is often up to twice what you end up paying (three times is rare but not unheard of), but there is no rule. Keep the exchange rate in mind. The price you settle for is bound to be a bargain compared to what you might get at home.

You may need to ship some larger or heavier items home or to their intended destination, so factor in the price of shipping and transit time.

See also Things to do in Kuta, Seminyak Nusa Dua

Guide to Phuket shopping

Guide to Phuket shopping

Visitors gravitate to the local markets and specialty stores to make the most of Phuket shopping. Look for fashion, jewellery, ceramics and textiles, including exquisite silks.

 

Doing the markets

 

The popular Phuket Town weekend market runs every Saturday and Sunday from afternoon until 10 pm. Certainly, it’s a more relaxed and a more authentic Thai experience than the tourist oriented markets around Patong. Apart from clothes, handicrafts, trinkets and the like, it also has plenty of great street food. Prices are also cheaper than the markets around Patong.

Phuket Walking Street on Sundays from 4 pm is also popular. It’s great for browsing for trinkets and lingering for snacks or dinner. In poor weather try the indoor Expo Market or Phuket Square in Phuket town. While the atmosphere isn’t as vibrant as their outdoor counterparts, there are plenty of great bargains.

 

Phuket shopping – specialty retailers

 

For shoes and other leather goods, try the fixed price stores Udomagg, Findig and Kata Leather Goods at Kata Beach. Also at Kata Beach, Parin Waris sells organic skincare and aromatherapy products. Harry’s Fashion House is a trusted custom tailor running up women’s fashion and menswear to measure.

Freedom Board Sports is a surf and watersports shop stocking everything the board enthusiast could want. It’s at Mu Ban Ban Sabai in Chalong.

 

Going upmarket

 

The well known silk retailer, Jim Thompson, has several stores in Phuket. The fashion and decor items are renowned for their high quality, but expect prices to match.

Soul of Asia is a fine art gallery near Patong Beach, owned by a Dutch collector. The gallery specialises in Asian antiques and paintings, but also carries works by famous Western artists.

For something different, try Fe² for decor items and jewellery crafted from crystal, wood or silk. The store is at 49/33 Boat Avenue, Baan Don-Cherngthalay Rd, Choeng Thale.

For those still unsatisfied with the selection from local vendors, the island also has its share of air conditioned shopping malls and chain stores selling well known international brands.

 

Phuket shopping facts to consider

 

It’s worth checking the quality of goods you’re buying. Some tailors use substandard fabrics and cheap labour, so choose carefully. Some vendors also try to pass off synthetic fabrics as silk. Authentic silk is never cheap. Furthermore, it’s illegal to bring fake designer goods or pirated CDs etc. into Australia.

Avoid touts luring you into jewellery stores, or business propositions claiming you can make double or triple returns reselling jewellery or gems.

Otherwise, keep your sense of humour when bartering. If you don’t think the price is reasonable, politely decline and walk away. With some practice you’ll become familiar with the prices, and you’re bound to make some excellent buys you won’t get at home.

Bangkok Traveller Information Guide

Bangkok Traveller Information Guide

Bangkok is a vibrant, 24 hour city with plenty of sites and attractions to explore well beyond a transit stay. Make the most of the sights by beginning with the opulent palaces and grand Buddhist temples. Or just enjoy the hectic street life, barter for bargains in the markets, and wander from snack to snack at the street stalls.

 

Getting to know Bangkok

 

The banks of the Chao Phraya river are home to Bangkok’s historic centre, Phra Nakhon, revolving around the Grand Palace and stunning temple complexes. With lavish gold statuary, jewel-like mosaics and distinctive Thai architecture, they’re a feast for the eyes. Wat Pho, the spectacular Temple of the Reclining Buddha houses a 45 metre long reclining Buddha. Wat Phra Keow with its shimmering golden spires and sacred Emerald Buddha is in the same district, as well as the imposing towers of Wat Arun.

Further up river is the Dusit district, which includes Dusit Palace, the current home to the Thai royal family. Vimanmek Mansion, a former palace, is now a museum of Thai heritage. The Dusit Zoo is also nearby.

In the Siam district of central Bangkok, look for Jim Thompson Housethe former home of the American silk entrepreneur. Built in traditional Thai Style, it’s now a museum and art gallery.

 

Plenty of things to do

 

Bangkok may also be the world capital of shopping. If you don’t get your shopping fix from the shops, markets and shopping malls, you’ll find street vendors proffering wares on every street. Plus, Thailand’s incredible cuisine is one of the delights of any visit to the country. Like many locations in Asia, Bangkok’s street food is often as good or better than restaurant fare – and cheap!

Visitors get around metropolitan Bangkok by tuk-tuk. Water buses are a great way to escape traffic. They’re also an economical way to travel between some of the city’s best attractions. Stay aboard in the evening for a leisurely sightseeing tour along the Chao Phraya River.

Thailand celebrates festivals throughout the year. Celebrate Chinese New Year on the first new moon of the calendar year. Mid April, Thailand shuts up shop for the Songkran water festival. The whole nation shuts up shop, holds a street party, and douses everyone with water, including tourists. Prepare to meet bucket loads and the odd hosing. Lastly, Thais celebrate the traditional Buddhist festival, Loy Krathong in November. Beautiful balloon lanterns fill the sky, and the locals float offerings on nearby rivers and lakes.

 

Bangkok travel facts

 

Read our Thailand traveller information guide for info on visas.

There are numerous flights to Bangkok daily from Australia’s international airports. The city has two international airports, Suvarnabhumi (BKK), and Don Mueang. Check your ticket to make sure you go to the correct one when departing on international or domestic flights.

Bangkok’s daytime temperatures are hot year round. Night time temperatures November to March are occasionally cool enough to need a jacket or sweater. Nights are hot the rest of the year. The rainy season lasts from May until October, with tropical heavy falls in May, September and October. The best months to visit are November to April when it’s driest and relatively cool.

 

Bangkok activities for a vibrant city break

Bangkok activities for a vibrant city break

Thailand’s capital is a bustling city crammed with sights and memorable Bangkok activities. Visit its opulent temples and palaces, dine on the best of spicy Thai cuisine and enjoy superlative shopping. Wherever you look you’ll find a multitude of new and exciting experiences.

 

Cultural Bangkok activities – glistening temples & palaces

 

Many of Bangkok’s top attractions are along the course of the Chao Phraya River in the centre of the city. Wat Pho is a spectacular temple that houses an impressive 45 metre long reclining Buddha. The lavish Wat Phra Keow temple complex has magnificent towers and golden chedi spires. It’s regarded as the most sacred temple in Thailand and houses the Emerald Buddha, a jade and gold statue believed to be protector of the Thai kingdom. Wat Phra Keow adjoins Bangkok’s Grand Palace, which was the former residence of the king. Not to mention Wat Arun with its seventy metre shell and porcelain encrusted tower.

Note that Thailand’s sacred temples and royal buildings have a dress code. Men must wear long trousers and sleeved shirts and women must don long skirts or a sarong. The major temples rent appropriate clothing to visitors who arrive unprepared.

The Dusit district is a little further up river and includes the Dusit Zoo and the current royal palace. Within the precinct, the luxurious Vimanmek Mansion is a former palace which is now a museum for Thai culture and heritage. In contrast to its traditional teak architecture, the nearby Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a classically grand European style building.

 

 

More sightseeing

 

The water bus on the Chao Phraya River is an inexpensive way to travel between many of the city’s major attractions. It’s also a welcome and cool reprieve from the hectic traffic. An evening cruise is particularly enjoyable at the end of a full day of Bangkok activities.

Jim Thompson House in central Bangkok was the former home of the American businessman, architect and silk entrepreneur. The traditional Thai building is now a major tourist attraction as a museum and art gallery. Thompson had six 19th century houses dismantled, shipped to Bangkok and reassembled to create it.

 

Shopping, dining

 

You’ll find street vendors on literally every street in Bangkok. Plus, the huge Chatuchak market in the city’s north has about 15,000 stalls selling everything from clothes to handcrafts. It’s one of the best known, however there are many markets dotted all over the city. Certainly, the range of items for sale is huge, with masses of bargains. Many markets open at night, like the Ratchada market pictured above. Find it behind the Cultural Centre MRT Underground Station. Alternatively, head for the giant shopping centres like MBK and Central World if you prefer authentic branded goods and air conditioning.

Finally, there’s food, food everywhere in Thailand. You can eat just as well at street stalls as you can at restaurants for a fraction of the price. Bangkok is no exception. Seek out the places Thais themselves gravitate to for the best. Certainly, the areas of Saphan Thaksin and Bang Rak heading along Charoen Krung Road from the BTS Station are a street food institution. Or try the area around Victory Monument. Otherwise, splash out on air conditioned ambience at Issaya Siamese Club.

Also see Bangkok Traveller Information Guide
Melbourne Traveller Information Guide

Melbourne Traveller Information Guide

Cosmopolitan Melbourne is an exciting hub for shopping, dining, sport and the best of Australia’s arts scene. It’s also just a day trip away from nature walks, wineries, and the beach hamlets along the Great Ocean Road.

 

Inner Melbourne

 

The network of laneways, with their cafés, restaurants and boutiques give the CBD its distinctive character. Hosier Lane is particularly famous for its riotous street art. The Ian Potter Centre in nearby Federation Square is a branch of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). The stunning contemporary building houses the NGV’s Australian collection, including a significant collection of aboriginal art. The NGV International is about ten minutes walk away.

Also nearby is the Rod Laver Arena, home to the Australian Open tennis, as well as the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The beautiful parklands of Fitzroy Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens are wonderful spots to make the most of the city’s bicycle hire.

Food is a serious highlight in Melbourne with an incredible menu of authentic international cuisines throughout the city. Whether its fine dining at Movida or street food at Hanoi Hannah’s, the choices are diverse and delicious. In addition, Melburnians are justifiably proud of their nightlife and bars. Enjoy a cocktail at one of the city’s chic rooftop bars, or make the most of the vibrant live music scene.

Shopping is another highlight and visitors can indulge their passion, and their love of food at Queen Victoria Market. Otherwise, wander the stylish suburbs of Fitzroy and Carlton for chic boutiques and stylish homewares.

 

Beyond the CBD

 

Top rated Melbourne Zoo is about 25 minutes by tram north of the CBD. Or catch a tram south to beachfront St Kilda. Stroll the breezy Esplanade, take a dip, or visit Luna Park and enjoy the rides.

Around Melbourne, take a drive into the magnificent Dandenong ranges for gorgeous nature walks. Perhaps take a trip to the charming towns and dramatic coastal views along the Great Ocean Road. The wineries of the Yarra Valley are also only an hour’s drive from the CBD.

 

Melbourne travel facts

 

The key to enjoying Melbourne is to be prepared for any weather. Wearing layers is advised seeing temperatures are known to fluctuate year round. Summer in Melbourne can be blisteringly hot, reaching the high thirties, but also drop to the low teens. Winter, from April to September, is reliably chilly with minimum temperatures in the single digits and daytime temperatures rarely climbing higher than the low teens.

Tullamarine Airport is about 30 minutes drive from the CBD with a choice of taxi or Sky Bus. Self-drivers need to be aware of toll roads and buy a pass. Tram travel within the CBD ‘city grid’ is free. Visitors need to pre-purchase a Myki smart-card to travel beyond. Trams on the same line share the same number regardless of the direction, so check its destination before you get on. That will be written on the front.

Melbourne activities for a cool city break

Melbourne activities for a cool city break

Melbourne is an affable cosmopolitan city with expansive parks and gardens and top class dining and shopping. It’s also the mecca of Australian Football, host to the Australian Open Tennis, and a thriving centre for the arts. Whatever your interests, there are fabulous Melbourne activities to suit.

 

Making the most of inner Melbourne activities

 

Melbourne’s top galleries, sporting venues and public gardens are within easy distance of the CBD. Not to mention the Melbourne Zoo. Nearby Carlton and Fitzroy are also popular for their excellent cafés, restaurants and bars, as well as unique shopping.

It’s easy to get around thanks to free tram travel within the city circle. Visitors also make the most of the city’s Bike Share Scheme, with bikes for hire for only $3 per day.

The Capital City Trail is a 29 kilometre circuit of well maintained and mostly flat bicycle paths that takes in some of the city’s top attractions. From Southbank, it passes the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open Tennis. Winding around the Yarra River, it takes in the charming Collingwood Children’s Farm. From there the trail leads through Yarra Bend Park, and past the renowned dining hub of Lygon Street, Carlton. Originally known for its Italian cafés and restaurants, the area also has an array of international menu options. From there, stop at the top rated Melbourne Zoo to visit the gorillas, meerkats and other amazing animals. Perhaps take in the views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, or visit the Melbourne Aquarium on the route back to the CBD.  

Melbourne activities CBD and Southbank

Federation Square is a popular meeting place for Melburnians and the home of the ultra modern Ian Potter Centre. The centre houses the Australian art collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), with an extensive collection of indigenous art. The remainder of the NGV collection is at the impressive NGV International on St Kilda Road, a short distance across the river.

From Federation Square it’s an easy walk to begin exploring Melbourne’s famous laneways, beginning with the chaotically vivid street art of Hosier Lane. Degraves Street, Centre Place and the historic Block Arcade and Royal Arcade are also worth seeking out for incredible dining and shops. It’s handy to carry a laneway map.

Southbank is the hub of entertainment in Melbourne, and the location of Crown Casino. Otherwise check the program of Hamer Hall for performances by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Not far away is the Southbank Theatre and the Malthouse Theatre for lovers of the dramatic arts.

Shoppers gravitate to the Queen Victoria Markets near Docklands for an eclectic range of stores and traders, and a foodie fix. The Rose Street Artists Market in stylish Fitzroy is open every weekend, selling artworks and wares from local artists and designers.

 

Branching out

 

It’s worth heading out of the CBD to visit beachside St Kilda. It’s a six kilometre journey by tram to visit its Esplanade, pier and the rides and amusements at Luna Park. Certainly look out for the delectable treats at its European cake shops. Brighton Beach, with its colourful bathing sheds, is further south.

Further afield, the Great Ocean Road is a stunning coastal drive to the south west of the city.The road begins at the town of Torquay, about 80 minutes drive from the CBD and travels through charming coastal communities. It’s about five hours drive one way to reach the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell.

Otherwise, tipplers will love a day trip to the wineries of the beautiful Yarra Valley. Yarra Glen is only an hour’s drive from the city. Or take a drive to Mt Dandenong for a bush walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Also see our Travellers guide to Melbourne