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SHOPPING

Shopping

Shopping in San Francisco is a delightful experience with varied shopping centres, charming districts and wonderful malls to keep you interested.

The prime shopping area is probably Union Square, home to boutiques and top labels. Haight Street may have shed much of its hippy heritage in favour of steady gentrification but has still retained an eclectic selection of stores that makes this area one of the most interesting to shop in. In a similar vein, Hayes Valley is also a good bet for a galleries, boutiques and studios. Don't miss Chinatown for a fascinating stir-fry of Asian products, while Alemany Market and San Jose flea market - on the edge of town - offer a hugely varied range of goods.

The best of the many shopping malls are probably Embarcadero Centre and Westfield San Francisco Centre, both packed with retail brands and decent value stores.

Top purchases while in the city include music CDs and books, wine from the Napa Valley, and invariably, miniature reproductions of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The price of all goods includes a non-refundable state sales tax of 8.25%. This tax can be refunded if goods are shipped outside California; keep your receipts and enquire when departing at the airport.