Category Archives: Shopping Abroad

How Not to Get Scammed While Shopping Abroad

If you are visiting abroad and are an obvious tourist, you will invariably become the target of a scammer. Foreign tourists tend to let their guard down thus, are ripe for the picking.

But street hustlers aren’t the only ones scamming tourists, as Allen B. learned after purchasing a moderately expensive painting from a reputable dealer in Myanmar.

Eric Jordan wrote the following article for Conde Nast Traveler recounting Allen’s expensive art lesson and provides some tips on how not to get scammed while shopping abroad.

Looking to buy something on your next trip out of the country? Make sure you love it for its own sake, and carry or ship it yourself.

Q: I visited Mr. Kyi & K Antique & Decorative Art, a shop in Yangon, Myanmar, and bought a painting for $2,600. The shop has been written up with good reviews. The large painting was described to me by Mr. Kyi himself as “from a monastery in the Shan state of Myanmar, at least 200 years old.” His written quote states this as well. Because Mr. Kyi was very clear in pointing out pieces in his shop that were and were not old/antique, I believed his description of the piece, which is why I decided to purchase it when I returned home.

When the painting arrived after shipment (approximately $500 after customs and import fees), I was troubled when I examined it more closely, as it appeared to have a dark substance applied to it. I emailed Mr. Kyi, but his answer did not satisfy me, so I took it to a painting authority, a gentleman who used to be a restoration expert at a museum. He was able to say, “with 100 percent certainty,”… continue reading

As the proverb says, a word to the wise should be sufficient. If you are not sure of an item’s value, pass on it. Better yet, limiting your purchases to souvenirs will serve to remind you of all the fun you had on your trip and won’t lighten your wallet.


Shopping In France

Shopping in France

Plan on shopping in France? A recent study indicated that goods prices in French shops are among the most reasonable in Europe, and maybe, on the off chance that you are purchasing an array of ordinary merchandise, they are. Be that as it may, visitors don’t shop like natives, so the lower costs may not be so clear to guests. In addition, the ripping off of visitors is known worldwide, and France is no special case. Read on for insights into shopping In France.

With the Euro and dollar almost equal, the fascination of shopping in France is not as incredible as it used to be. However, a great many people visit France every year, and lots of them will be heading for the shops and stores sooner or later. This page offers some general and hopefully helpful information for travelers vacationing and shopping in France.

What You See Is What You Pay

One pleasant surprise for first time visitors from the US and Canada is that the posted prices include the VAT, or Value Added Tax (sales tax). The price you see is the the price you pay. No surprises at the cash register.

Shopping Hours Can Differ Depending On Where You Are

In the smaller towns and villages, shops are normally open from 9 am until late morning when they close for lunch. The lunch ‘hour’ can actually be as long a three hours, at which time they re-open until 7 or 8 pm. They are also closed on Sunday by law, so you’ll have to get your shopping done between Monday and Saturday.

In the larger, touristy urban areas, the larger stores, like retail chains, no longer close at midday. Supermarkets and big box stores also tend to stay open throughout the day so you won’t starve to death if you happen to run out of something at noon, but they do tend to close earlier than most Americans are used to.

As mentioned earlier, depending on where in France you are, stores may be closed on Sunday. If you are in Paris, Marseilles or some other large tourist area, you probably have no worries there. The smaller towns are subject to what we in the US know as ‘blue laws’ where trading on Sunday is unlawful.

On the bright side, the French Parliament is listening to merchants who are screaming, and rightfully so, about how the Sunday restrictions are hurting them financially. As time goes on, you can expect to see the laws change and shops in smaller areas open on Sunday.

Twenty Four Hour Convenience Stores – Not!

You won’t find many, if any at all, with the exception of a few drug stores (more on pharmcies coming up). I guess that’s enough said on that subject.

Pharmacies(Chemists) – Just In Case

Drug store, pharmacies, chemists, whatever you call them where you live open and close like other small shops. In the smaller towns there is usually a “pharmacie de garde” open on Sunday, and sometimes even until late at night. In towns with two or more pharmacies, a rotation system is usually used where they take turns being open on Sundays. You’ll know if a pharmcy is open because its green cross will be lit. In the smaller towns, where there might be just one pharmacy, you may have to call in advance or ring the bell for service, especially at night. In larger towns and cities, there is usually at least one 24 hour pharmacy.

Paying For Things in France

All but the very smallest shops, such as neighbourhood convenience stores, accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards and debit cards. Foreign cards, including UK cards, are accepted in France as long as they are of the chip and pin type. For the past year or so, US card issuers have been moving their cardholders over to chip and pin cards in order to keep up with Europe. I guess we can’t be first in everything.

Cash Is Still King Out In The Countryside

Large department stores in cities may take travelers’ cheques, otherwise most shops accept French cheques as long as the customer has ID. All shops accept cash. You can get cash from any French ATM as long as you have a valid card from one of the main international operators (Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus).

My suggestion would be to buy Euros before leaving for France. This will save you from paying currency conversion fees when using a French ATM with a card denominated in another currency. You can buy Euros at any Bank of America branch.

I hope this article has been helpful in preparing to spend your hard earned greenbacks in Gay Paree, or wherever you plan on shopping abroad.