Veni, Vidi, Visa – I came, I saw, I shopped
I don’t think Hong Kong is quite the bargain basement it once was some years ago; then again, what’s available, where it’s housed, and the service on offer is so much better than when – as a naive and innocent 20-something – I bought my first SLR camera on Kowloon's Mody Road. It came with a “lifetime guarantee”, but the shop closed for good about three weeks later…
Shopping in Hong Kong falls into three main categories, though I’d be the first to admit they are not all-encompassing. Markets – usually qualified by the adjective “bustling”; malls (usually anchored by a department store of some provenance, with food and entertainment included); and independent stores that are worth visiting just for the fun of browsing.
If you’re an Emptor, then here’s a couple of Caveats!
Bargaining is expected in markets and – if you’re buying a pile of things – independent stores too. Speaking even some Cantonese/Putonghua helps. Once you’ve started, you have to conclude the deal, though walking off in a supposed huff is an aid to price-lowering.
Staff substituting inferior merchandise for what you’ve just bought is rare but not unknown.
Keep your credit card in sight at all times.
The copy (replica) watch touts in Tsim Sha Tsui are usually totally nonplussed if you offer to sell them something.
What to buy: Tech stuff
I would hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend electronics, cameras, computers etc as you don’t always get an international guarantee. Then again, the price may well make it worth while. I always use Photo Scientific (6 Stanley Street, Central; 2522 0871) for cameras, not least because it’s where all the professionals go.
Duck into one or other of the numerous branches of Fortress (www.fortress.com.hk) or Broadway (www.ibroadway.com.hk) to get an idea of prices for other techie stuff.
And there’s more geekery at 298 (298 Hennessy Road) and the Wanchai Computer Centre (130 Hennessy Road) which is right above the MTR.
What to buy: Suits
Some years ago, an enterprising journalist got himself measured up for two suits, one from Savile Row and the other from Hong Kong, and had them independently assessed. Hong Kong (Ascot Chang; 2523 3663; www.ascotchang.com) won hands down on all counts.
Don’t get something made in 24 hours – it won’t last.
Sam’s (2367 9423; www.samstailor.biz) has long been known as the tailor to the great and good and those aspiring to both categories.
What to buy: Antiques
There are loads of antique shops on Hollywood Road – at Honeychurch Antiques (2543 2433; www.honeychurch.com) you are guaranteed both a grand selection and its authenticity.
For more information see my guides: Hong Kong’s Best Independent stores, Hong Kong's Wildest Shopping Markets, Haiphong Road - Hong Kong's quintessential shopping strip and Go with the Float-ation Shoppers in Hong Kong.