What to Buy Around the Globe

March 10, 2016

From exotic spices and liqueurs to bespoke suits and fabrics, there are plenty of ways to shop smart when you're abroad.

Airline weight regulations suck. We've all been there; frantic repacking at the airport, staring in disbelief at the check-in desk scales and wearing four pairs of jeans at once to make space. But there's one thing that makes packing light worthwhile - being able to bring back things we've bought locally.

Souvenirs, gifts or just treats for yourself (our favourite) are all great ways of taking a bit of your trip home with you. Moreover, you often get some serious bargains if you shop carefully and know where to look. From the spice souks of Marrakech to the vineyards of France, there are plenty of regions and cities that have incredible local produce on offer. So next time you pack, ask yourself: do you really need those extra (four) pairs of trainers and two onesies? Ditch the weight and reward yourself with gifts from around the globe.

Bordeaux: Wine

Wine bottle corks from bottles of wine produced in Bordeaux.

Predominantly famed for its distinctive bottles of red, the protected vineyards of the Bordeaux region produce world class wine. Base yourself in the city and take tours of local vineyards for samples and suppliers - many are located in historic châteaux. If you're planning on being city based, then a good option is Max Bordeaux (14 Cours de l'Intendance) which lets you sample and buy rare vintages. Before you stock up, make sure you check airline and customs regulations on what you can and can't bring back; luckily, many wine shops and vineyards can ship orders for you.

Brussels: Chocolate and Lace

Two dusted Belgian chocolate truffles.

Considering over 2000 master chocolatiers work in Belgium, it's unsurprising that Belgium chocolates are considered the best in the world. Cocoa dusted truffles and melt-in-your-mouth pralines are just the start - these decadent and sweet creations use only the finest raw ingredients. The best place to buy is Place du Grand Sablon, home to the city's most prestigious chocolate makers. Another famous (yet lesser known) Belgium export is lace, which has been produced here since the 12th century. From intricate clothing to delicate tableware, Belgium lace is a great gift idea (so you can keep the chocolates for yourself).

Marrakech: Spices and Fabrics

Selection of spices and goods at a market in Marrakech.

Marrakech's souks are like a magical, Arabian night's treasure trove. Hundreds of market stalls are full of an exotic wares - from precious gems and pottery, to scented soaps and leather goods. Two of the best things to leave room for are spices - try Herboriste Avicenne, a family run herbalist that has a potent array of aromatic herbs - and also fabrics. There are plenty of textile stalls to choose from, selling everything from the softest of cotton, to the lightest of silks. If you're looking for something extra special then pick out a Berber carpet - just don't forget to haggle, it's expected.

Ho Chi Minh: Tailored Suits

A man tailoring a suit by cutiing the fabric with scissors.

Asia is famed for its inexpensive, good quality tailoring and Ho Chi Minh City is no exception. Drop in at one of the city's hundreds of tailors for a fitting and you can pick up a bespoke, custom-made suit a few days later, often for a fraction of the price. If you're looking for an especially unique experience then pick out your chosen fabric from An Dong fabric market. Our tip: ask a local to recommend a tailor if you're not sure where to start.

Cape Town: Amarula Liqueur

Three shots of Amarula liqueur in a South African bar.

For those who want to take a taste of South Africa home with them, Amarula Liqueur is the obvious choice. Produced using the fruit from a marula tree (which is indigenous to South Africa's woodlands), this zesty, creamy alcohol is popular in cocktails, cookery or on its own. Pick up a bottle (or two) from duty free or opt for a box of decadent Amarula filled truffles. If you visit during harvest time organise a trip to the Amarula Lapa region to see the bottling process first hand.

Seville: Olive Oil

Olive oil being poured into a small dish with olives on the side.

If we're being completely honest, there are dozens of places in Spain to buy olive oil and even supermarkets stock high quality, great tasting varieties - hardly surprising, considering the Spanish produce the largest amount on earth. Still, Andalusia is the country's main olive oil producing region and the area's capital, Seville is a good place to start. If you're feeling peckish while you peruse, Extraverde is both a tapas bar and an oil shop, so you can nibble while you browse the extensive selection of high-grade regional oils. Another excellent bet is the award-winning Olive Oil Workshop, which sells a range of olive products.

Venice: Venetian Masks and Murano Glass

A selection of colourful and artistic Venetian carnival masks.

Considering the beauty of Venice, it comes as no surprise that the city produces exquisite objects and fine crafts. One of the city's most iconic souvenirs are the magical and dramatic Venetian carnival masks, which have been a city-wide accessory since the 14th century. Another famous Venetian export is colourful and elaborate glassware - specifically Murano Glass - which comes from one of the city's many islands. You can shop for both masks and glass at one of Venice's many boutiques, but be warned, neither are particularly purse-friendly.

Siobhan Brewood-Wyatt
After a Masters in Comparative Literature, Siobhan worked for several big-name travel companies before joining travioor. She has been hooked on travel since her teens and her biggest adventure is booking flights from Rome to Rio after a few too many beers. Follow her on Twitter @SiobhanBW