Shop till you take off

Anushree Basu        Print Edition: Nov 13, 2011

While travel liberates you, shopping in a foreign land can, at times, be disconcerting, depending on the strength of the currency in question. That's why thrifty travellers wait till they hit duty free for dedicated last minute shopping and serious savings on luxury brands. We reveal the best airports to find liquor, art, rare perfumes, designer threads and more; these duty free hotspots around the world make long layovers a delight.

GOURMET
Don't fret if you didn't get a chance to buy edible souvenirs in France. Food shopping at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is as good as it gets, with epicurean shops like Fauchon, Ladurée, La Maison du Chocolat, and Hediard clustered around the modern T2E. Splurge on glass jars of orange blossom preserve, boxes of coffee macaroons, and twee tins of foie gras. Bon appetit!

CIGARS AND LIQUOR

It's ironic that a country where carrying alcohol is a criminal offence should has the widest range of liquor at its airport. For serious collectors of spirits, Dubai duty free is simply a goldmine. It stocks everything from limited editions to the latest releases. Its Casa de Habano also has an outstanding range of Cuban cigars.

ACCESSORIES

Terminal 5 of New York's JFK airport boasts an impressive line up of 25 shops that focus solely on accessories. Our pick of the bunch is Muji To Go, a Japanese accessory store selling everything from bags to business card holders. Then there's surfer-style clothing from Ron Jon Surf Shop; silver jewellery from Mexican brand Taxco Sterling, and great New York sports clothing and collectibles from WFAN (a shop run by one of the city's most popular sports radio stations). Terminal 4 is the seat for luxury fashion brands including Hugo Boss, Ferragamo and Zegna. After you check in, check out Victoria's Secret's first travel concept outlet, featuring a range of travel accessories, luggage tags, sunglasses and key rings, as well as the chain's sexy selection of lingerie.

GOLD

Though many countries are obsessed with the precious yellow metal, Doha International Airport in Qatar is definitely going for gold. It has a special terminal dedicated to First and Business Class passengers and houses brands like Cartier and Chopard. Pick 18, 22, and 24 carat filigree necklaces, trinklets, and chunky bracelets, or forego the craftsmanship and simply pick a gold bar that you can melt and use.

ART

Art connoisseurs can collect some well-known works at Amsterdam's Schiphol. The only airport in the world to feature some extraordinary Dutch art, it is also an excellent stop to pick reproductions, prints, art books, Delft ceramics and other souvenirs. Also, at Johannesburg International Airport, make a beeline to what the airport refers to as a 'Shopping Safari.' Shops here range from truly dutyfree gems (especially Tanzanite) to local art to..

APPAREL

When it comes to serious shopping, not many airports touch the soaring retail highs of Changi in Singapore. The international airport houses more than 300 outlets that cater to every budget- from brands like Gap and Aldo to luxury labels like Gucci, Burberry, Lanvin, Cartier, Bobby Brown, Montblanc, Bottega Veneta, Tod's, Vertu and Tiffany & Co. Excess baggage could be a problem though.

GADGETS

At Hong Kong International Airport, the Airport Skymart is almost as bustling as Causeway Bay (albeit, much cleaner and brighter). There's a "downtown pricing guarantee," which means that you won't be paying extra at the myriad electronics and gadget stores. But what's the advantage of buying on the move? Firstly, the prices are low. Also, here you are likely to find models not yet available back home.

PERFUME

Chanel lovers rejoice. Heathrow's Terminals 3 and 5 in London, house exquisitely designed and dedicated Chanel perfume boutiques, stocking the highly desirable range at discounted prices. Get your hand on a dozen hard-totrack perfumes that include No. 18, No. 22, and 31 Rue Cambon. Also on offer are more than 1,000 fragrances by the best brands from across the world. Clear the air before take.

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