TOURISTS may not know it, but Hongkong is still the world's shopping paradise. All those must-have items - Chanel perfume, Sony Discmans, Polo shirts, mobile phones and Rolex watches - tot up 24 per cent less on the cash registers here than average prices across the world, according to a recent survey. The survey on tourist prices, put together by the Economist Intelligence Unit, puts Hongkong head and shoulders above London, Paris, New York and even Singapore when it comes to shopping. Best buys in the territory include Ralph Lauren shirts, gold necklaces and Rolex watches, where prices are up to 45 per cent lower than the average. Even compared with Taipei, its nearest rival in the cheap shopping stakes, Hongkong provides a six per cent discount on tourist buys - although the difference has been narrowing since last year. The surveyors created an average price index, based on a basket of key tourist purchases. Prices in Tokyo were 57 per cent up on the average, while in Hongkong they were 24 per cent below it. For the typical basket of clothing and accessories - which averaged $94,889 - the shopper paid $71,474 in Hongkong, which was almost $1,469 cheaper than Taipei and $3,150 lower than Singapore. In Tokyo, the same bag of goodies would have cost $148,687 or 243 per cent more than in Hongkong. Tokyo came out as the worst place to buy 10 of the 15 items in the basket. Gold jewellery for which Hongkong and Bangkok are famous, Ralph Lauren shirts, Bally shoes and any brand of spectacle frames are definitely off the Tokyo shopping list and are in most cases almost 200 per cent more expensive there than in Hongkong.