A Guide To Duty Free Shopping: Places To Shop From And Places To Avoid – Part 1


Hi all,

Ana’s duty free post brought back a lot of memories. I have scoured many duty free shopping areas when I was with an airline and even now, my favorite-est thing to do when traveling is to hit duty free. Most people bring back alcohol and chocolates, I bring back shoes, makeup and jewelry! I can safely say,I have almost done a PHD in duty free shopping, Here is my list of best airports and in one case a city to shop from! As a rule, try and pay cash as you will be charged interest if you pay by credit card and that can amount to a lot of money at the end of your shopping spree.

duty free shopping guide

Lets start with India first:

Delhi Airport Duty Free Shopping - 

Delhi airport is nothing less than a shopping mall.Because its duty free, even dresses at Mango are cheaper than the city and like A mentioned, MAC is cheaper. As a general rule, MAC and  Maybelline are cheapest in India. I will give a comparative pricing later on.

Mumbai CSIA Duty Free Shopping:-

Mumbai CSIA is not all that great but you will get fab discounts on alcohol and chocolates.The choice at CSIA is so limited , I generally take my book and go sit at coffee bean and tea leaf and wait for my flight to be announced.

Hyderabad & Bangalore Duty Free Shopping:-

Hyderabad and Bangalore are also average shopping areas. For people boarding flights from Cochin and Thiruvanathapuram can buy themselves fab cashews and handicrafts! So this is the gist of Indian Duty free.

Now we come to real thing. I will take it from country to country, Please keep in mind that things change very regularly at most airports and also different airlines land at different terminals so what you see may differ from what I write.

1)Newark Liberty International airport NJ,Usa(EWR)or JFK airport NEW YORK:Duty Free Shopping

This my ladies , is a shopping mecca. USA is generally quite reasonable for cosmetics and food .SInce most brands are manufactured in USA itself, They r very cheap compared to India. Clinique,VIctorias secret  and our beloved MAC is cheap here. A mac lipstick costs about 14.50 USD at duty free in USA or maybe less.This is a good 300 or 400 bucks cheaper than what we get here. Perfumes are reasonable.One thing to avoid at all airports is buying drugstore brands, unless its a product you do not get in India.India is cheaper for Maybelline and Loreal. Revlon can be bought from USA as here in India the price is higher. To keep it short, if you are traveling back from USA keep plenty of time in hand or risk missing your flight. Don’t worry about carrying your stuff till the gate as you will receive your stuff only after you clear security checks. In short., buy what you fancy as you wont get it cheaper elsewhere.

2)Singapore Changi Airport Duty Free Shopping:-

This airport is well known for its pricing of electronics.AN example:I picked up my MAC BOOK AIR for rs 20000 cheaper than India.There are lots of perfume shops and chocolate shops,but the one not to be missed is the CHARLES and KIETH signature store.The shoes there are half price of what you would get In India as Charles and Kieth is a Singaporean Brand.In Singapore, there is DFS store in the city at Orchard road.This is the only kind of duty free store in the world!You can also buy Duty Free items from there,although I have not bought anything from there as I would end up buying at airport itself. Skip MAC at this airport!its more expensive than India.For eg: A MAC Lippie costs 28sgd or roughly 1300 rs. Do not  forget to eat Chole Bhature at Kaveri’s at the airport.Also one imp thing to keep in mind, Singapore airport is a silent airport; they do not announce for flights. A passenger is expected to be at the gate at the time stated in the boarding card and this is taken very seriously at Changi. Now, moms..you must be wondering what will your kids do while you shop? They have tables where your kid an draw and trace and take their handiwork home!

3)Hongkong  International Airport Duty Free Shopping:-

Perfumes ,perfumes and more perfumes. This also is the airport if you wanna stock up on chocolates. Again,avoid Maybelline and Loreal, but you would get good offers for Clarins and Guerlain and l’occitane and other high end brands. Sea food lovers. rejoice there are some great Japanese restaurants at this airport.I have heard it from friends and colleagues…I am a veggie myself so cant be sure.Also ,great chinese green tea is available is gorgeous packaging which makes it a great gift for your health conscious friend ! HKIA is a great place to shop for cute souvenirs.

4)Uk and Europe Duty Free Shopping:-

Avoid !unless you have found something to die for. The conversion rate is crazy and Europe is very expensive!! Although, the handmade chocolates that you get at Brussels airport and Frankfurt are to die for ! Very expensive but you must have them if you are there.

 In the next part, I will cover Bangkok and airports in the gulf and UAE and one unexpected place to shop from. Also one good thing to keep in mind is, most companies have Travelers exclusive sets sold only at airports which are basically sets of either perfumes , makeup or skincare. Its a good idea if you wanna try some range or brand!

Which is your favorite airport to shop from?

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  1. Wooohhhooooo!!! Wow what a post. So damn helpful Very informative.Very well written babes!! This is what I call experience and sharing. Loved it!!
    I completely agree with Europe. Paris and Rome have the sadest dutyfrees. Waiting for BKK, its fun shopping there. SIN I had hauled from Charles and Keith 🙂 And yes Mumbai Airport, daaaru is definately the cheapest 😛

  2. Wow! reading this from an x airhostess is truly awesome 🙂 Shweta..i think u joined the profession to shop only, 😀

  3. Hahaha!! I joined to travel for free!! To be honest! ! Ana will send u oart 2 tomm ! Am almost done! I wanted to go into as much detail as possible!

  4. Infact cochinn trvandrum ate underrated! U kno the delinut casews avlb now at malls for a premium.. They originated at cichin airport!’

    • That’s so true…Cochin airport is lovely that way…but TVM I find majorly boring…the only sexy thing bout the intl airport is the booze..;) 😉

  5. Im soooo overwhelmed! I knew this post would e appreciated .. But soo much!! No idea! Guys its outta exp! Next up is bangkok n the gulf!

  6. Chal zee lets go!! I will go newhere but kuwait ! The conversion ate kills me! My pati had biryani tjat too sada hua at kuwait for four KWD .. Doesnt sound much ? Well its almost 800 bucks!!

  7. 800bucks ki biryani?? Did it have diamonds or emeralds in it!?!?!?!?

    Chal my bags r packed from weekend when u ditched…abhi to AA jao!

  8. Zee booze is a misconeption!! Ppl get so drawn to booze theu dont see the other deals! When flying we werent allowed to bring booze bk na thats when i did the research!

  9. Coz flt attendants dont pay for ther tavels! Actual answer given my a customs officer who used to be a hockey player and on whos life a SRK film is made!

    • Wot an explanation!! So NOT justified…flight attendants r workin na…they ain’t just sitting pretty n drinking away t glory..harrumph!!

    • We can’t cm der na…n who can convince better than d patni 😉 😉 cook him some nice rajma…n coax him into takin us fr a trip 🙂

  10. Thanks Swetha, This post is remarkable. Gonna Bookmark it now… So happy to read this. Thanks babe for all those info.. so useful and helpful.. Love it and love ya :lipstick: :lipstick: :lipstick: :lipstick: :hug-makeup: :hug-makeup: :tap-dance: :rock-n-roll:

  11. Wow this is a fantastic post and so detailed! def book marking it! thank you shweta for sharing your experiences..i am so planning to visit Singapore in next few months n this will be huge help! wanted to know what is this DFS store? its mainly for beauty or we get electronics as well?

  12. Pari are u talking abt the or hrd road store?if yes .. U have the more popular stuff like electronics and beauty stuff from the high end brands! I think the only catch there is u cannot be a resident of singapiore or need to have a foreign passport! To give you the exct address: its opp far east plaza on orchard road. Thats a landmark most cabbies would know .

    • is MAC cheaper in Singapore? in this store? is yes then I’ll def drag my husband there and lootofy him 😀 MAC is highly expensive here in Malaysia..even more than india..want so many things but due to prices m highly disappointed! plus here they dont even have half of the items..only 4 paint pots available..can u imagine that? and basic eyeshadows like soft brown, texture etc are not even stocked! ridiculous!

      • pari i dont know if this store hs MAC .MAC at the airport is retty sad and very tiny.. so going by that i really dont think there would be a MAC at the dfs store.Acc to my sis more than MAC benefit is more popular in singapore.She lives there

  13. Ohh Shweta :-)) . such a superb post providing us lots of knowledge.Thanks Yaa :-))
    Abroad toh I dont know :-/ but yes :yes: next time when Iam going to Delhi , I surely will try for the Airport stuff. :dance-left-right:
    Thanx again darling :kissblow: :hug-makeup:

  14. After this post, ppl are going to queue at airports! Very nice one Shwe :yes: Can’t wait for part 2 :yippee: Any idea bout chennai shwe?


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