For most people in Hong Kong, shopping is a leisure activity, whether that means picking out a four-figure party dress, rifling through bins at an outlet, upgrading a cell phone, or choosing the freshest fish for dinner. Whether you shop in modern air-conditioned arcades or more traditional street markets, the range of goods available in Hong Kong is vast. Many famous brands have opened in Hong Kong, bringing the latest styles in great variety.
Places that display the QTS sign (given to accredited shops and restaurants under the Hong Kong Tourism Board's Quality Tourism Services scheme) are the best guarantee of satisfaction. Bargaining is practised in the smaller shops and side stalls only.
There is an excellent market in Stanley on Hong Kong Island, which is in a beautiful setting in a small village on the coast, open every day from 9 am to 6 pm. Yuen Po Street bird garden in Kowloon is a market popular with the songbird owners in Hong Kong, selling many interesting creature comforts, including intricately crafted cages, open 7 am-8 pm.
Except for a few items, such as alcohol and perfume, Hong Kong is a duty-free port. In the old days, Hong Kong was a good place to buy cheap knock-off, fake products and pirated videos and software. Today, Hong Kong residents often buy these items in Shenzhen just across the border in mainland China.
Shopping hours are generally: Hong Kong Island (Central and Western) – 10 am-7 pm (10 am-8 pm along Queen's Road); Hong Kong Island (Causeway Bay and Wan Chai) – 10 am-9:30 pm; Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok) – 10 am-9 pm. Many shops open on Sundays. Shopping hours may vary greatly.
Places to Shop
Hong Kong is so filled with shops, boutiques, street markets, department stores, and malls, it's hard to think of places where you can't shop. Still, there are specific hunting grounds for various products, as well as areas that have more shops than elsewhere.
Tsim Sha Tsui has the greatest concentration of shops in Hong Kong. Nathan Road, which runs through Kowloon for 4 km from the harbour to the border of the New Territories, is lined with stores selling clothing, jewellery, eyeglasses, cameras, electronic goods, crafts from China, shoes, handbags, luggage, watches and more. You will also find tailors, tattoo artists, and even shops that will carve your name into a wooden chop (a stamp used in place of a signature for official documents). Be sure to explore the side streets radiating off Nathan Road for shops specialising in washable silk and casual clothing and for export overruns of fun, youth-oriented fashions at modest prices, especially Granville Road. Department stores, Chinese emporiums, and shopping arcades, as well as several huge shopping malls are also located in this neighbourhood. Harbour City, on Canton Road, for example, is the largest shopping centre in Hong Kong. Farther north, in Yau Ma Tei, is Hong Kong's most famous outdoor market, the Temple Street Night Market, with vendors selling clothing, CDs, watches, toys, mobile phones, Chinese souvenirs and accessories. The nearby Ladies' Market is also great for inexpensive clothing and accessories. Specialised markets in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok sell everything from clothing and flowers to goldfish, songbirds and jade.
The Mong Kok Computer Centre and Galaxy Mall (Sing Jai) are always packed with local people. Several camera shops like Man Sing and Yau Sing are known for their impolite staff but have a reputation for selling at fair prices.
Hong Kong Island
For upscale shopping, Central is where you will find international designer labels. The Landmark, Prince's Building, Alexandra House, and Chater House boast designer boutiques selling jewellery, clothing, leather goods and more, with names ranging from Armani, Cartier, and Chanel to Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co. Pacific Place is an upscale shopping mall selling everything from clothing to electronics; IFC Mall sells high-end clothing and accessories. Hip Shanghai Tang is a good place to shop for upscale Chinese clothing and souvenirs, while the adjacent six floors in the Pedder Building boasts dozens of clothing boutiques and factory outlet stores. Li Yuen Street East and West street markets are a slice of old Hong Kong, offering inexpensive jackets, watches, children's clothing, and accessories.
Another happy hunting ground is Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. In contrast to Tsim Sha Tsui, it caters more to locals than to tourists, and prices are often lower. It is always packed with shoppers, giving it a lively, festival-like atmosphere every day of the week. In addition to small shops selling everything from shoes and clothing to Chinese herbs, there's a Japanese department store and a large shopping complex called Times Square specialising in clothing, electronics and housewares. Also check the area around Jardine's Crescent, an open-air market with cheap clothing, food and produce. For shoes, get on the tram and head for Happy Valley; on Leighton and Wong Nai Chung roads (near the racecourse), with rows of shoe and handbag shops.
A popular place to shop for inexpensive fashions is Stanley Market on the southern end of Hong Kong Island, where vendors sell silk clothing and business and casual wear. In recent years, shops specialising in Chinese crafts and products have also opened in Stanley Market. Another great shopping destination on southern Hong Kong Island is Ap Lei Chau (an island connected to Aberdeen by bridge), where at Horizon Plaza you will find discount outlets for pricey downtown clothing stores, as well as many antiques and furniture stores.
Antiques and curio lovers also head for Hollywood Road and Cat Street in the Western District on Hong Kong Island, where everything from snuff bottles to jade carvings and Ming vases is for sale. Chinese handicrafts, including porcelain, furniture, silk clothing, and embroidery, are sold in Chinese-product department stores and Chinese arts-and-crafts shops located on both sides of the harbour. Several deluxe hotels boast arcades housing designer boutiques, most notably The Peninsula and InterContinental.