Treasure-hunting in the Himalayas
A religious center for generations, the Kathmandu Valley now draws modern shoppers. Set aside three days to explore, and bring plenty of cash—ATM's are still a rarity in Nepal. The best place to stay is Yak & Yeti Hotel (Durbar Marg; 977-1/248-999, fax 977-1/227-781; doubles from $170), in the city of Kathmandu. Day 1: Before lunch, navigate the Thamel bazaar's chaotic passages, and then head to Durbar Marg for antiquing. Day 2: Baber Mahal Revisited, a collection of high-end boutiques in a former palace, provides a stark contrast to the gritty markets. In the afternoon, visit the nearby city of Bhaktapur, famous for wood carvings that adorn palaces and temples. Hit the shops around Potters' Square and along the alleys near Durbar Square. Day 3: Just south of Kathmandu over the Bagmati River is Patan, the center of bronze and copper decorative arts. Shagun Mohan (91-11/684-1598, fax 91-11/619-5553; email@example.com), a stylish New Delhi-based tour guide, puts together customized Kathmandu shopping trips. —Kristine Ziwica
Shoppers Around the Globe
(32) Tribal-art expert Alberto Nicheli will help you buy beads, Dogon statues, and Mali mud cloth on Mountain Travel-Sobek's tour of Timbuktu (800/227-2384). (33) Slate Burris of Butterfield & Robinson (800/678-1147) guides trips in Morocco; he knows the best places for carpets. (34) The Four Seasons Hotel's shopping consultant, Marina Crispo (212/758-5700), is an expert at navigating New York City's ever-changing retail scene. (35) Jackie Soria Uram (55-21/547-0010; firstname.lastname@example.org) will hook you up with the finest artwork, handicrafts, and designer clothes (for cheap) in Rio de Janeiro.—Shane Mitchell
Europe's new lord of the fleas
Popular wisdom has it that Paris's and London's grand markets are picked over. But in Brussels it's still possible to score finds—16th-century maps, antique silver, a dentist's chair, cast-off clerical garb—among the ephemera at the two main markets. A priceless 13th-century illuminated manuscript was recently discovered in a pile of dusty books at the upscale Marché des Antiquaires, held Saturdays (9 a.m.-6p.m.) and Sundays (8 a.m.-2 p.m.) on the Place du Grand Sablon. You can't miss its distinctive green-and-red-striped awnings over the stalls. (Check out the antiques shops on the side streets.) A few blocks away on the Place du Jeu de Balle, the Vieux Marché, held daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., is the place to find collectible bric-a-brac. A three-foot-tall promotional Coke bottle, anyone?—Shax Riegler
(37) Arezzo, Italy (Piazza Grande, first Sunday of the month): Hunt for vintage linens, World War II memorabilia, and Venetian goblets. (38) Moscow (Ismaylovo, weekends): Head to the Ismaylovo Art Market for Soviet military artifacts, fur hats, and whimsical matryoshki(nesting dolls). (39) Munich (Mariahilfplatz, last full weeks of April, July, and October): Embroidered handbags and Bavarian blue china are favorite buys at the 240-year-old Auer Dult, or "meadow mart." (40) Toulouse (Place St.-Sernin, Sunday mornings): Château relics dominate this sprawling marché.—Shane Mitchell
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