Shopping is popularly regarded as the national pastime in Hong Kong, and millions of visitors each year are drawn to its dense network of modern malls, packed markets and carefully curated boutiques. Most items sold do not have any tax attached, and this combined with the huge number of competing stores makes prices in Hong Kong for almost everything some of the cheapest in the world. The best deals are to be had around Chinese New Year, when the sales are on. Already tax free items are reduced further, and shoppers who can handle the crowds can come away with high-street and high-end clothes, shoes and appliances for between 60-90% off prices elsewhere.
The sheer number of shopping districts and malls in Hong Kong can be overwhelming for a first time visitor, so we’ve put together an overview of the main shopping areas (plus a few extras) to get you started!
The public transport system is efficient and most people can speak English, so it’s easy to travel between districts and get back to your apartment in the evening.
Recently voted the second most expensive shopping strip in world (beaten only by New York’s Fifth Avenue), Causeway Bay is not for the faint hearted. The ‘expensive’ title comes from the vast range of luxury goods sold here, but there’s plenty of stores and streets on which to grab a bargain too.
Times Square is the biggest mall in Causeway Bay. It’s popularity can be attributed to its broadly mid-range offerings, making it much more accessible for the average shopper than many other, more high-end Hong Kong malls.
Jardine’s Bazaar – Located on Jardines Crescent, this market is one of the oldest shopping districts in Hong Kong. Hundreds of market stalls are packed onto the road, selling all kinds of accessories, clothes, souvenirs and other bits and pieces. The common thread throughout? Very cheap prices!
The SOGO Japanese Department Store – Just around the corner from the World Trade Centre, SOGO is particularly popular with tourists from the Chinese mainland stocking up on high end cosmetics, clothes and homewares. Brands from Nike to Louis Vuitton are represented, and the 13 storey centre also has a fabulous bakery and supermarket section perfect for picking up snacks.
Admiralty, Central and SOHO
Further east along the coast of Hong Kong Island are the adjoining neighbourhoods of Admiralty, Central and SOHO. With shiny, well-designed malls, as well as chic boutiques, it’s a glamorous place to get your shopping done. Running through the area is the Central Elevated Walkway, a futuristic network of footbridges and escalators to make trooping around the shops all the more comfortable!
Between Sheung Wan and Central runs Hollywood Road, one of the oldest thoroughfares in Hong Kong, and certainly its most famous. The site has long been the premier destination in Asia for antique jewellery, furniture and porcelain. Today, many trendy gallery spaces have also opened up along the strip, injecting a dose of modernism into the mix.
Pacific Place shopping mall is a four-level arcade situated on The Queensway road in Admiralty. Sleek and cool, this centre houses luxury brands as well as fine dining. At the dedicated ‘beauty gallery’ check out the flagship stores of international beauty leaders like Nars and Chanel.
Stanley Street in Central is renowned for cameras and other photographic equipment. This strip of small stores cram a lot of gear in, and as its so competitive, enthusiasts are sure to find everything they need, and at a really good price.
Trendsetters will love the IFC Mall, home of hip brands like J Crew and Kate Spade alongside Prada, Jimmy Choo and Tom Ford. If you need to put your feet up for awhile after hitting the shops, head to the elegant cinema on the first level for a snack and a movie.
A afternoon spent in Mong Kok is an eye-opening experience! This west Kowloon district is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Almost every street specialises in a different kind of retail, including cosmetics, electronics and even one dedicated entirely to the sale of Goldfish.
Langham Place Shopping Mall – An unusual spiral layout and host of abstract sculptures reaching sky high make Langham Place more exciting than the usual boxy mall. Any teens along for the ride will enjoy their youth-tilted offerings, including Hello Kitty, Converse and Levi’s.
As the name suggests, the Ladies Markets are the place to go for all things female! This popular market is piled high with cheap designer inspired clothing and cosmetics, as well as more gender neutral electronic and homewares. Just a bit further down the road is the ever-popular flower market.
Fa Yuen Street, popularly known as Sneakers Street is the place shoe-lovers in search of rare sneakers head. This group of small stores stock classic and special edition sneakers from around the world, as well current styles. Even Lebron James has been spotted checking out their wares!
Tsim Sha Tsui
Across the the harbour on Kowloon Island, Tsim Sha Tsui is the place to go for market shopping.
Many malls and markets in Hong Kong stay open well into the night, but the liveliest is the Temple Street Night Market. Go between 6-10pm and after you’ve bought all the DVDs you can carry, take a seat at tiny food stand and refuel on homemade noodles and dumplings.
The Jade Market sells a variety of crystals and jewels, but the main prize here is Jade. It is believed by the Chinese to bring good luck, and is of course also a pretty souvenir. The quality and prices of the jade pieces at the market vary, but as long as you check what you’re buying and are prepared to haggle, you could come away with something special for a great price.
Nathan Road – Sometimes called The Golden Mile, Nathan Road is the main thoroughfare of Tsim Sha Tsui and one of the best places in Hong Kong to buy electronic goods. Dozens of stores selling camera, mobile phones and computers line the walkway, and the competition for the best prices is fierce. At night, admire the vista of retina-burning neon lights and signs all the down Nathan Road to the harbour.
Our Top 3 finds in Hong Kong
- Vintage Watches – Situated in a quiet corner on the 4th floor of the World Trade Centre, with a low-key facade, it would be easy to mistake Good Old Days Antique Watches for just another cheap replica store. However this store trades in museum-quality vintage watches from turn of the century, diamond studded dress watches to 1980s Rolexes.
- Handmade Shoes – Ever found the perfect pair of shoes only to discover that your foot is the wrong shape to fit in it? Have the shoe of your dreams created and perfectly fitted at Gigi Shoes a cheerful, custom shoemaker Happy Valley, just south of Causeway Bay. The expert team can make almost anything you ask for and have a huge selection of leathers, fabrics and soles for you to choose from.
- Top teas – The Ming Cha Tea House in north-east Hong Kong Island is a modern shrine to tea-drinking. Tea ‘masters’ will help you find the perfect leaves, while explaining the history of tea in Hong Kong, and the best way to brew it. They also hold workshops and tastings, so if you aren’t sure of the difference between Oolong and Jasmine – find out from the masters.