Last Updated on August 14, 2022 by Jeremy
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Purchasing souvenirs is often an important aspect of all trips to many travelers. When a city or region gets too popular, however, a lot of the souvenirs sold are just.. well, crap. So finding the best souvenir for yourself might be a difficult task.
When I travel, I tend to have a rather large budget just for souvenirs, much greater than most people I meet. For my collection, I try and get three things from each country I go to: a display piece, a shot glass, and a t-shirt.
This article focuses on all of the shot glasses I have acquired from the 34 countries I have visited so far. Out of these countries, only one is currently missing as I could not find a single shot glass in the tiny city state of Macao.
Building an Empire – Of Shot Glasses
At $2-$5 per shot glass, they are a relatively cheap souvenir to pick up from a country and do not take up the valuable bag space that might be a turn off for other larger display pieces. I try and purchase shot glasses that have interesting scenes that are reflective of the country to have a more inspiring souvenir to sit out. Unfortunately that does not always work out when some locations, such as Paris, only offer cheesy designs on every item that is sold. At 33 pieces and counting, my shot glass collection is getting off to a good start.
Caribbean – 10 and Counting
The Caribbean nations have the most disappointing shot glass designs of my collection. In many places, such as St Martin and St Kitts, the only shot glasses that looked remotely interesting had standard palm tree and beach scenes, with no direct images of the country. But considering that is what people go for, it is not a completely upsetting phenomena to see. Our personal favorites are Dominica and St Lucia which has seemingly hand painted scenes of the beautiful geography of the islands.
Back L-R: Cayman Islands, St Maarten, St Kitts, Jamaica, Bahamas
Front L-R: Dominica, St Lucia, Barbados, St Thomas, Puerto Rico
Asia – 8 and 1 MIA
Asia is surprising for the shot glass hunt in that the market is not nearly as saturated with choices like other parts of the world. The only place in Macao that seemed to even sell shot glasses was the Hard Rock Hotel, and they were sold out (eBay time!). Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand required a moderate effort to find any designs, let alone ones I'd like to purchase. In fact, I can safely say that I only ever remember seeing shot glasses in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Phuket in Thailand. No where else did I find shot glasses during any shopping excursion. Our personal favorite is Cambodia which has scenes of Angkor Wat on a raised bronze colored attachment going entirely around the shot glass.
Back L-R: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore
Front L-R: Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand
Middle East – 2 Difficult Finds
If Asia is described as difficult to buy good shot glasses, then the Middle East is even worse. This time it is not just from lack of choices, but because Islamic countries are inherently dry. Why sell shot glasses if no one needs them? I ended up finding the Egypt shot glass in a high end crystal and glass shop in Luxor for a price of around $6. Ouch. Jordan actually produces alcohol, mostly wines, due to being the highly fertile promised land, and most are named accordingly. Still, Jordan did not sell shot glasses, and only had this beautiful granite style cup that I am told is used to drinking spirits in the fashion Westerners use shot glasses. For the best shot glass hunt, these are favorites of the entire collection.
L: Jordan, R: Egypt
Europe – Up to 11
Europe is the easiest place to find the largest collection of shot glasses while traveling, and most have a similar design that could make for easily making a standard style of collection. Most are gold rimmed and feature city or geographical scenes over the entire shot glass. Angie's personal favorite is the Switzerland glass that features cute cartoon cows along a mountain, and Jeremy's personal favorite is Vatican City. The reason for this one is that only one shop in Vatican City seemed to sell shot glasses, and was located at the top of St Peters Basilica. Jeremy purchased this shot glass from an 80+ year old nun. Awkward. Goes well with the Cayman Islands shot glass from Hell in the Caribbean set.
Back L-R: Greece, Vatican City, Germany, France, Switzerland
Middle L-R: Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic, England
Front: Belgium (only transited)
North America – 3 Tall Ones
I purchased two of the three North American glasses on eBay as I traveled to the countries before I started collecting, so the designs for Canada and Mexico aren't all that inspiring. I have several that I have purchased within the USA, but only Cirque du Soleil's LOVE from Las Vegas is considered to be a reflective country piece in my mind, even if the only thing American about it is that it is from Vegas! (Cirque is French-Canadian and the Beatles, obviously, British). But hey, we're a melting pot, right?
L: Canada, M: Mexico, R: USA
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.
25 thoughts on “Travel Souvenirs Collection – Shot Glasses from Around the World”
Hi Icy, I bought my shot glass in Nagano if I remember correctly. I would suspect that most of the tourist shops in the area should sell them though. I would think maybe the shopping area in Asakusa would be your best bet if it was hard to find.
I have a shot glass from Kennedy Space Center (Nada ) 22k gold it’s by Culver. ( Space S huttle )
Hi! I’m also a collector of shot glasses. Your collection’s really pretty! mine’s just really small since I only started it last year.
I actually stumbled upon your blog while googling how to find shot glasses in Singapore. xD
Just wondering if you could tell me where in Japan/ Tokyo I could find them? 😀
My name is Yan. I am a shot glass collector and have been collecting glasses from all over the world for over 20 years now. They not only include glasses that I’ve purhcased or brought back from my travels but glasses brought back to me by my friends, relatives, customers, etc. Everyone does it a little different, you know…Anyway, about a year ago I started a project called World By Shotglass. I have a full service website where shot glasses are displayed country by country with a shot glass store, a Facebook page which now has close to 12,000 fans and a Twitter following of around 3000 people. We are having a lot of fun posting shot glasses from many collectors worldwide as part of “shot glass of the day” feature https://facebook.com/pages/World-By-Shotglass/137725819616631 and also release full country chapters complete with a short story about that particular country, videos, photos and of course many shot glasses. When I was your posts, I thought it would be cool for our fans to see glasses from your collection. Here’s my website http://worldbyshotglass.com/. Check it out and let me know what you think. It’s work in progress and lots more needs to be done and updated but it would be cool if we got in touch and chatted a little as we obviously share the passion for shot glass collecting and travel. My email is [email protected] and I’ll be more than happy to give you more details on the project when we get in touch. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!
World By Shotglass
Just walk in to any tourist shop on Nathan Road close to the harbor and you’ll find them easily!
Hi, I was wondering where you got the shot glass in Hong Kong? I’ve been in Asia for a bit now and haven’t seen too many options here. Thanks!
I’ll check out that eBay seller for sure! I think it is fun to find shot glasses in their respective country, especially in places where it is so difficult (Vatican City, Egypt, Vietnam.. definitely hard finds).
I bought my Mexico, Canada, Bahamas, and a few other country’s shot glasses online because I started collecting them after I visited. Macao is the only one I’m missing right now out of the 34 countries I’ve visited.
Sylvie – I just returned from vacation in the NYC Manhattan area. Are you kidding? The New York City souvenir shops is the Mecca for a shot glass collector. I saw about a hundred different designs and there many, many, businesses selling them.
P.S. that was my tip for the ebay seller of shot glasses
There’s a seller on ebay this summer with an extensive collection of shotglasses. Search for seller “world by shotglass”. Quality stuff. I recently acquired for my country travel collection – Vatican City, Egypt, Kuwait (WOW, Finally!), and Vietnam. No Macao yet, maybe e-mail the seller directly for advice.
I got the shot glass at Ben Thanh Market (sp?) right out of the main square. I believe it is one of the largest markets in the city. Still, only a few of the stalls had them! Good luck!
I’d really like to know where you got the shot glass from Vietnam. I’m currently in Ho Chi Minh city and seeking for one to give my cousin as a gift. Please help me!
How cool, I’m also a collector of the shot glasses!
I only have them from Europe. They are easy to collect. I think other places outside Europe are more difficult.
Next year i’m going to New York. Hope to find one there.
Hi Anonymous! Glad to see another fellow shot glass collector. If you are still in Singapore try going to Chinatown to check out the shot glasses, I think I found mine there.
i’m a flight attendant, and i buy shot glasses everywhere i go. i have quite the collection as well! shot glasses are easy to carry in all my luggage… and go in my apartment that i rarely see right now! i’m actually trying to find a shot glass in singapore right now!!
It is funny that you mention that because it is so true for me too. I have 33 shot glasses from countries, and at the most we have ever used 3 at one time. I also don’t think I could fit 33 people into our apartment or choreograph a shot going down for 33 people in one go, nor do I even own enough alcohol to occupy that many shot glasses. They sure do look nice though!
Collection shot glasses is my thing too! Funny thing is that I never actually use them because I don’t take shots anymore!
I think there is a gray area on this and it really depends on the context of how you are collecting. It really boils down to if the person is going to ever travel to the place you’re going to, and how open they are to it. I don’t want people to get shot glasses for me because I want to go everywhere. But I could see if I was not wanting to go to a certain place that I would love to have a gift glass from there if someone else was going.
I feel like it is not quite the same when someone else goes somewhere and buys a souvenir for you of something that you collect. I prefer to buy my own pieces for my collection since they are from places that I have personally been to.
Hi Elise! Snow domes are a good one to collect too! I’ve seen a surprising number of snow globes around in places that I have traveled, although not as common as shot glasses if I recall correctly. It is really cool that other people buy them for her too, I buy my dad Hard Rock Cafe guitar pins that he collects.
Hi Shirley! I sent most of my shot glasses home in boxes while abroad. Bought tons of newspapers and packed very, very tightly. Only one of my items sent home broke, which were poorly made terra cotta warriors! Which, of course, now look more authentic being broken. You’d be surprised on how resilient shot glasses are.
Just wonder how did you manage to pack all those glasses in your luggage without breaking them and your journey is such a long one…
BTW Shirley here=)
Some really cool shot glasses! My mum actually collects snow domes! I’ve been searching for some for her on my travels too-she is known for it at the school where she works too-her kids in her class bring them back for her when they go on holidays!
I am surprised I didn’t see any in the bazaar, but I was halfway induced in severe heat stroke, so I guess that would explain a lot. I am very partial to my Vatican City glass, I think it is the only one they sell.
There were some shot glasses for sale at the Khan al Khalili bazaar in Cairo that were pretty nice, although not widely found. I think they were made of copper, which I liked since it was a different spin on the shot glass. Also, I think I have the same shot glass as you from the Vatican, also purchased at gift shop at the top of St. Peter’s!
Yea, that is so true. We did love our buckets. My kind of shot size anyway, but no design! Cambodia is really the only place where they’re on every corner, and slightly less in Singapore.
Funny, now that I think of it I don’t remember seeing shot glasses in Asia as well! Guess they are more about the buckets filled with the entire bottle rather then one shot at a time. lol