During a Macau trip, ARCHANA SUBRAMANIAN wanders into neighbouring Zhuhai and shops her heart out

Have you ever just walked across into another country? I did recently, on a trip to Macau, simply waltzing into neighbouring China. It wasn’t part of the original itinerary but happened impromptu, thanks to a last-minute cancellation of other programmes.

From the Macau immigration office, it’s only minutes before you enter a 12-metre-long No Man’s Land. Walk across, and voila! You are in Zhuhai, a bustling Chinese city. Located in Southern China’s Guangdong province, Zhuhai needs only a day visa, which you can get in 48 hours from Macau.

Shop all day

On clearing immigration, we make our way into Zhuhai city. Skyscrapers, narrow roads, more shops, farm-fresh vegetables and fruits dot most parts of this city. Since our day permit has a time restriction we do a quick walk around Zhuhai and head straight back to every tourist’s dream halt — the Port Plaza — one of Asia’s largest underground shopping plazas.

What greets us inside is nothing short of a visual spectacle. I doubt I have seen so many shops all huddled together under the same roof. Located just outside Gongbei Port, which connects Macau and Zhuhai, this market tops the must-see list for tourists and residents alike. Established as a gift that marked Macau’s return to China, it today sees close to 10,000 visitors every day.

Now, before you begin shopping, here’s the thing you don’t do. Don’t look for any coherence in terms of what you should see first or which shop to begin from. Just follow your instinct, brace yourself with money, and hone your bargaining skills. If you are looking for specifics such as clothes or shoes, make sure to check out the deals that the smaller shops offer. There are schemes on offer almost every day. With more than 100 similar shops, the choices just get wider.

Shoe lovers, be prepared to never leave. Peep toes, flats, wedges, sneakers, sandals, stilettos… there’s no end in sight. The latest styles, colours, and designs flood the stores. Let your heart decide and you won’t regret it. And if you are a tech fan, you will be pampered too. Especially if are an Apple fan — from glitter cases for iPads and iPods to covers for iPhones, it’s bonanza time.

Finally, my favourite part, bags. If you are like me and love brands but can’t splurge on them, let me assure you that you are at the right place. Every single brand that you have dreamt of owning can be yours in a few minutes and for a fraction of the cost. They are all knock-offs of the original but from the colours, designs and cuts, you will never know the difference. They are brilliantly recreated and sure to raise your style quotient.

Your bargaining skills will come in handy here. Insist on seeing more and soon you will be spoilt for choice. After that jackpot, you can head straight to the food court. Then, on a ‘full’ note, head straight back to the immigration counter, back to Macau, and spend the rest of your time sitting back and revelling in all that has just become yours.

(The writer was at Macau at the invitation of Macau Tourism.)