What to buy:
At the National Palace Museum souvenir shop and similar shops at tourist attraction, there are so many Chinese art souvenir to select from.
One that I picked was a mouse pad for my home computer showing a famous Chinese painting. Functional and attractive. Also on sale are bookmarks and refrigerator magnets of Chinese important work of bronzeware, fine china vases of intriguing shapes.
Besides the traditional Chinese arts of different dynasties, there are also local aboriginal Taiwnese craft that is unique to Taiwan.
In Seoul, there are plenty of Korean handicraft and cool green fine porcelain to choose from. We took a family picture at one of small stall in the underground shopping that was converted into a memorable mug made in Korea.
What I particular like are the miniature lacquerware in the form of small cupboards and pencil size boxes that can be functional to put small items and really nice to look at.
OK, the large medicine chest boxes of Korean design are also very tempting and make a fine living piece. Of course, have to pay for shipment.
Most Asian will also buy the famous prized Korean ginseng to give folks back home.
Malaysia is well known for pewter ware (being a major tin producer) and colorful batik cloth and ready-to-wear batik clothes and beachwear.
In Sabah and Sarawak, there traditional musical instrument made from bamboo that are worthy of consideration like the wind instrument "sompoton" .
I doubt the Sarawak Iban "shrunken head" you will find is original. Anyway it is gruesome. Better buy the famous Sarawak pepper instead.
An authentic blowpipe is cool but may have trouble as a carry-on when flying back.
What to buy:
If you buy the "first class" seats at Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre, you will get a complimentary fan and a music CD. But how about a scaled down version of the water puppets themselves.
Actually, you can buy them of different sizes. There are also different quality grades too. What is fun is that they have thin strings that if you pull, will create some arm motion of a fisherman lifting his net, a musician pulling the "violin" or a beautiful angel flapping her wings.
You do not have to buy at the Theatre unless it is important you buy it there. There are many souvenir outlets along Hang Bac and Old Quarters near Lake Hoan Kien selling these amazing water puppets.
Manila is a shopping galore for souvenir. There are so many traditional Filippino arts and craft to choose from.
From lamp shade, stringed curtains to picture frames made from beautiful seashell. Not sure to encourage buying these beautiful items as they deplete the sea and corals of Philippines.
Excellent choice of wooden craft. If you like ducks, you will have fun buying beautiful painted ducks made from wood. There is also a lot weaved and basketware to buy.
Some like to buy the wooden dining table and chair set. Can visit the factory outlet and made and ship home to order.
With milleniums of history, culture and traditions and size and regional diversity of the vast country of China, you will have a feast of what to buy as souvenir.
First, the Chinese scroll paintings of floating clouds and high mountains, giant painted fans, statues of Chairman Mao and silk ties and scarves. Next the lanterns, vases, chopsticks, ink brushes, Chinese traditional dolls and toys, stone and wood carvings, color red knotted strings, hand cut paper pictures.
Imitation branded watches and Italian bags are considered not souvenir. There are so many authentic and original Chinese souvenir including the Great Wall of China as a thermometer fridge magnet.
Thailand is a paradise for shopping including "antiques", art and craft and souvenir.
Whether you take the sky train to Chatuchak weekend market or stroll along the road side night stalls along Silom near Patpong area, you will find an endless variety of souvenir to choose from delicate roses carved from soap, Thai silk ties for a bargain or hand painted flower pots.
The only roadblock to buying souvenir is how many space in your luggage in your can carry home. So be selective on what you want to buy this trip and come again for more.
In Japan, each region has well developed traditional craft with souvenir for local Japanese and overseas tourists. There is great variety of choices and prices as Japanese love and expected to buy souvenir "omiyage" for family, friends and colleagues when they go on holiday and visit another place even if it is within Japan.
Japanese dolls is unique. Prices vary according to size, quality. Then there are the key chains, lucky charms of different temples and shrines, colorful cloth prints, local food delicacies and confectionaries.
Very often the giant super department stores have a sale. It is worth fighting with the crowd of housewives "obasan" when the shop open to get bargain prices of Japanese beautiful bowls, chopsticks or tea sets.
Each admission places also give a different colorful ticket and Japanese often collect them. So do not throw them but keep them as souvenir.
Colorful and bright traditional masks made of paper mache or wood are cool items to buy.
Also bought a beautiful Tibetan carpet at the refugee camp though it was a handful to carry back. There are also brassware of Hindu God and Goddesses that are dramatic to look at.
Many other Tibetan mantra paintings and puppets on the string being sold as souvenir.
What to buy:
When items are priced in US dollars, then they are no longer cheap.
There are many antique shops in Siem Reap but not sure if a Buddha head is real or worth carrrying all the way on plane back home.
There is always the T-shirt with Angkor Wat "plasted" in front so that everyone knows that you have been to this magnificent temple park or someone has bought you this "cheap" souvenir.
Another cheaper souvenir is the fridge magnet. Easier to carry and does not take up space back home.
This is a "spec shop" that I went to to get a new pair of glasses. It is usually advised that we bring an extra pair of glasses in case one is lost or broken. I didn't and of course I needed a new pair. The service was friendly, effecient and very helpful. I recommend that if you find an need for new glasses try this place.
In each of the countries there were streets or centers in the city that offered the tourist a sample of the local craft works. In Singapore, Arab Street had such shops. In Malaysia it was the Central Market that people flocked to. In Indonesia, such items could be found along the country roads and most interestingly in Jakarta, the top floors of a modern shopping mall building had merchandise from all over the country. I'd mention the name of the store, but it was burned out, during a riotous demonstration some years ago, by Indonesians asking for the recall of the President.
Indonesia has many islands, each with their unique ethnic cultures. Probably most of the souvenir are from the major tourist destinations of Bali and Java.
Puppets, dolls and wooden craft, batik textiles and traditional musical instruments are some popular buys.
Avoid buying any items made from wildlife items. If unsure, ask the seller if they know what it is made up from.
Brunei has a share of traditional Malay art and craft.
You can buy local paintings of the riverine village or rainforests or orchids. Well known are the silver and gold threaded textiles called "Jong Sarat" and "Kain Terunan". There are brassware, earthen ware as well as "Keris", a small traditional dagger.
If you cannot find something of your liking, consider postcards of the famous mosques of Brunei.
What to buy:
Singapore is famous for orchids. A gold plated orchid was once the vogue thing to buy as souvenir. Also one buy little orchid plants into sealed plastic containers.
Another Singapore icon is the Merlion. So it will be uniquely Singapore. Other worthy items are T-shirt or items of Sentosa Island, Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park.
Or a table top book of Singapore showing the sights and various food and different races living in Singapore.
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