Looking for somewhere chic to go shopping? Forget New York, Paris and Milan - Hong Kong’s got it sorted, and has a stellar shopping festival to boot. Here’s how to bag the best bargains
As the city that grew up as a trading post between Asia and Europe, it’s only natural that Hong Kong has a well-developed nose for shopping. And the annual Summer Temptations shopping festival, running from July for around three weeks, is as good an excuse as any to head to this glittering city.
Hong Kong has an eclectic mix of shops to dive into, from vast air-conditioned malls to humid jostling street markets and outlet stores for large Western designer brands manufactured in the city. And this being Hong Kong, certain things are a real snip, despite the poor pound to dollar exchange rate, particularly electricals and gadgets.
Chinese New Year (end of January-beginning of February) is another date to get in the diary – on this day and during the shopping festival, shops discount items to 40% or less. These discounts take effect in the big air-conditioned malls – Hong Kong has over 50 of them – and you’ll typically find offers like free limited-edition cosmetics with any bag you buy, and two-for-one deals on top of the discounts.
The most prestigious malls in the city are Pacific Place (88 Queensway, Admiralty), Times Square (1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay), The Landmark (Des Voeux Rd, Central) and Harbour City (Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui). You’ll find sheikhs browsing in Harvey Nichols in The Landmark, and everyone from Armani to Versace in Pacific Place, along with some of the city’s most dazzling restaurants. Harbour City has the largest Louis Vuitton store outside Paris and Stella McCartney recently opened her new store there too.
While in the city, you must visit Shanghai Tang, the boutique department store with classic Susie Wong dresses and luxurious silk accessories. There are branches all over the city, but the original is still the best on Pedder Street, Central. And if you like big international names, Marc Jacobs recently opened his flagship store in Causeway Bay, carrying the full range of Marc by Marc merchandise, including the Little Marc collection for kids.
Make sure you find the time to stop into the Mandarin Oriental too (5 Connaught Road, Central). The legendary luxury hotel has inspired Hermès to create a range of tableware: the exclusive 18-piece china collection, called Les Poèmes du Mandarin, is used in the Krug Room restaurant, one of the world’s most elite private dining rooms, and will be available across the world in selected Hermès stores. You’ll be able to say you saw it there first.
Your best bargains are going to be found in the local and traditional street markets in Mong Kok, so start there if you like a rummage. The Ladies’ Market runs down the centre of the shopping hub here, flanked by Sneaker Street, Sports Street, Electricals Street and even Goldfish Street. It’s pretty self-explanatory: Sneaker Street, for example, has every brand under the sun on display, from Nike to Adidas. Prices are good – basic Converse All Stars start at around £10, a third of the UK price.
If you’re good at bargaining, the Temple Street Night Market can give you some great deals. It’s alive right into the night, thronging with caterwauling hawkers trying to sell their (sometimes very good) knock-off bags, framed butterflies, chopsticks and jade bracelets. It’s good for souvenirs. Stanley Market, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, is another big tourist attraction, but it’s a great fun place to spend the afternoon browsing Chinese bric-a-brac, fake designer watches and factory seconds from some of the biggest brands in the world.
And for true outlet fans, head to Lantau Island where the underground train station comes up next to outlets for Ralph Lauren, Nike and Bally. Prices are good if that’s your thing, though it’s a little soulless compared to the vibrant markets.
WHERE TO STAY
Langham Place (555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon) is perfect for shoppers: not only is it linked to the Langham Place Mall, but its special spa suites give you plenty of room for all your new purchases as well as a colour therapy bath to help come down from the shopping high and a very swanky pool on the roof.