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Top 10 best international cities for shopping

It's a familiar feeling... The sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath. You've dreamt about this moment and it's finally here - staring you in the face with a come hither look that says, "You know you want me" and the reality is, you do. You fumble for your wallet in the bottomless pit of a bag you carry around and rush toward the "sale" sign you spotted through the endless faces and stores on the street. Nothing will come between you and the latest must-have accessory of the season.

While there's no better place for fashion stateside than New York or Los Angeles, the rest of the world is just waiting for you to try it on and take it home. If you enjoy a little retail therapy on your vacation, or just need a reason to get out of the country, we've compiled the best cities in the world for your next shopping excursion. Now is the time to balance the bank account, then hop a flight and head out to some of these best cities in the world for shopping. Just don't forget to buy an extra suitcase so you can bring it all home.

1. Rome: From the Via Conditti to the Jewish Quarter, there is nothing a shopper can't find in this Italian city. Rome is the birthplace of some of the world's best fashion ideas-turned-labels, and there's enough variation in budgets to appeal to any traveler. Stay near the Spanish Steps and you'll only have to walk a few blocks to find the very best in designer brands or haggle over the price of a silk scarf with one of the street vendors. My suggestion: Head into the Ferragamo store on the Via Conditti and buy yourself a new pair of Italian leather gloves. They're unlike any pair of gloves you've tried on in a department store back home, and every time you slip your hands in them you'll be reminded of Rome.

2. Paris: Mention "Paris" and "shopping" in the same sentence and a girl will go weak in the knees. There are three streets you need to know: The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne, and The Boulevard Saint-Germain. Take a stroll down any or all of these streets and you're guaranteed to leave with something wrapped beautifully in a designer bag. Paris is the mecca for fashion-forward designers but holds a special place in its heart for the classics like Chanel, Chloe and Dior. If apparel and accessories aren't your thing, head to Montmartre and visit the Artist's Square. Shop for original artwork and jewelry, straight from the artists' hands.

3. Marrakesh: You can rock the kasbah but can you shop the souk? First-timers to Marrakesh will be in shock when they first enter the souk; repeat visitors will be in heaven. It's one of the most challenging shopping excursions you'll ever come across, but also the most rewarding. The name of the game here is bargaining. From the silk stalls to the spice racks, negotiations rule the way. Remember: bargaining is a way of life for Moroccans, so don't be afraid to test out your skills. You'll likely walk away with a piece of pottery or one-of-a-kind hand-woven Moroccan rug for significantly less than you'd pay for in the states. Word of advice: Before you start shopping, take a moment to take it all in. The souk is one of the most exciting places in the world filled with some of the most exotic scents and spices. Close your eyes, take a deep breathe, inhale the atmosphere, then get shopping!
4. Milan: If Rome is the home to some of the world's best shopping, Milan is where you'll find designers' pending debuts. Milan is Rome's secret weapon - a pleasure seekers paradise dressed in the best fabrics, prints and cuts possible. Catwalks come alive in Milan. Break out your best pair gladiator platforms and strut down the secret alleyways where you'll find some of fashion's best kept secrets. You'll go home with something completely extraordinary and one-of-a-kind... and likely the envy of all your friends at next season's fashion week.

5. Berlin: The German hot-spot is steadily climbing up the fashion ladder. Typically known for its industrial atmosphere, Berlin is fast becoming the see-and-be-seen art center and welcoming a few more fashion houses to the mix. The best part about shopping in Berlin? Because the designers are so new to the area, the discounts are beyond compare. Take time to walk through lofts and boutiques and you'll find some of fashion's hidden gems in the racks at a fraction of the cost.

6. Sydney: This Australian city is quite comparable to New York when it comes to shopping. You can get anything you want in Sydney, you just have to know where to go. Start at the Queen Victoria Building and peruse the 400 shops that range from hand-drawn world maps to designer boutiques and antique stores. If you're feeling a bit more spendy, head to Castlereagh Street and shop the designer boutiques, or take a spin along Circular Quay for some kitschy items to take back home with you.

7. Hong Kong: Throw away the preconceived notions of Hong Kong as an electronics-only shopping mecca. The gadget-friendly Hong Kong has come a long way in shopping and today offers visitors everything from street markets to mega malls. Pick up anything and everything in Hong Kong, from jade to silk, to the latest electronics and far-out gadgets. The Jade Market in Yau Ma Tai is a must – walk through 400 stalls all laden with the green gem said to symbolize long life and good health.

8. London: No one does fashion quite like London. The UK's most popular city also features some of the most unique designs. Just look around when you're out for a stroll - Londeners dress in all sorts of varieties, from regal to conventional to funky and retro. Shop the trendy boutiques of Covent Garden and Marylebone High Street, or shop the stalls of Camden Market and Portobello Market, a haven for antiques and once-owned treasures. Of course, once can't miss a stop inside the famous Harrods, if nothing else to buy a shopping tote of the same name to carry all your purchases.

9. Buenos Aires: Buenos Aires is home to some of the world's most beautiful people so it's only appropriate they wear the most beautiful clothes. So where to the beautiful go when they want to shop? They head downtown, where streets ooze chain stores and retailers waiting to take your pesos. Those with more money to spend head to the upscale neighborhood of Recoleta. Don't leave Buenos Aires without some leather -- the handbags, jackets, shoes and belts are the best leather goods in the world and offered at an excellent value. Remember, the beauty of Buenos Aires isn't just in what you wear... it's how you wear it.

10. St. Barths: When most people think of the Caribbean they lose their thoughts to white sand beaches, blue waters and boats. But the French-owned St. Barthélemy (a.k.a. St. Barths) has all these things and more: it's known as the capital of the Caribbean shopping scene. Thanks to endless duty-free stores, shopping at Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, and Hermes can be less expensive than if you shopped in the states and, many of items in stock in the Caribbean aren't available stateside, which makes them unique to your collection.

Filed under: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America, Morocco, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Caribbean, Hong Kong

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