Causeway Bay is one of the city’s great shopping hubs (and has the crowds to match, particularly at weekends), with huge shopping malls and building-high fashion billboards rubbing shoulders with bargain stalls and street markets. It’s a magnet for visitors from the mainland, and at times it feels like you’re hearing more Mandarin than Cantonese here. The 16-floor Times Square, with a Lane Crawford and enough bling to blind a hip-hop star is the focal point. Other hugely popular places include Lee Gardens at Hysan Avenue, SOGO and IKEA, as well as the Hong Kong World Trade Center.
Jardine Crescent Street Market is the place for bargains, and you can investigate the smaller streets in the area for a combination of designer stores, independent retailers, jewelry and watches and shoe shops. You’ll find boutiques aiming to be a little cooler than the mall places, and perhaps even a bargain or two.
Even people who don’t shop much will find themselves heading through or by the International Finance Centre (IFC), part of a network of pedestrian walkways that takes some time to master – some of its shoppers are surely just there to rest and regain their bearings. It’s one of the tallest buildings in the world and has a wide range of retailers, as well as being a rather attractive space in many ways.
Central has plenty of other high-end shopping too, with the Landmark on Des Voeux Road housing glamorous brands as well as a Harvey Nichols, and the triumvirate of the Prince’s Building, Alexandra House and Charter House simply ringing with chic boutique shopping opportunities – think Prada, Alfred Dunhill and the like. These are no places for the faint-hearted or price-conscious.
For mere mortals, the Lanes (Li Yuen Street East and West) are another world, with market stalls offering bargains of various varieties.
Between Central and Wan Chai, the main destination in Admiralty is Pacific Place, a high-end destination known for its three luxury hotels towering above. You’ll find Tiffany’s, Gucci, Cartier and the like, as well as a branch of Lane Crawford and a Seibu. Less salubrious but still worth checking out are the smaller malls Queensway and the Admiralty Centre.
Wan Chai is where you want to for electronics and interior design. The Wan Chai Computer Centre is the place you bargain for computers, MP3 players and anything else remotely tech-oriented – check prices in a standard electronics shop first then start hunting. Other electronic stores both large and small have gravitated to the area to pick up the scraps, and bargains can be found, particularly in phones – but be careful about the details.
Further down Queen’s Road East you’ll find furniture and interior design shops like White Window and Simple Life, as well as surplus stores – a far cry from designer boutiques, these are essentially mainland factory outlet stores with merchandise piled high and sold cheap.
Tsim Sha Tsui
One of the world’s most densely populated areas is also one of the world’s great shopping conglomerations. The first place that comes to mind for most is Nathan Rd, jam-packed with an overwhelming variety of electronic dealers, bargain clothes shop, luggage vendors, tailors and anything else you can imagine.
More refined is Harbour City, Hong Kong’s largest mall, with over 700 retailers, 50-plus restaurants, the city’s biggest City Super and even the world’s biggest Toys ‘R’ Us. Other impressive malls are The One, K-11 and iSquare (which boasts an Imax cinema). Just up from the Star Ferry is the 1881 Heritage Complex, as good an example of the Hong Kong way as any – the remarkable building was once the colonial Marine Police Headquarters and now offers some of the world’s most celebrated luxury designers and brands.
And then there’s Chungking Mansions, famously seedy without actually being dangerous and full of budget options from dodgy vendors – perhaps better to wander around and get a feel for than actually seriously shopping.
Langham Place (focusing on mid-range brands) and Grand Century Place will satisfy your every need for clothing, eating, watching movies and entertaining kids – the latter has a huge playground. There’s also a computer centre on Nelson Street, with the usual riotous range of vendors, and Sai Yeung Choi Street South is worth a wander around.
Mongkok is probably better known for bargain hunting though, and Ladies Market is a feast of clothing, accessories and cheap (and fake) designer gear. Fa Yuen Street is known as Hong Kong’s sportswear street. Keeping with the theme of specialty areas, the Flower Market is impressive and Goldfish Street is a destination for people from all over the city either looking for additions to their aquarium or just enjoying the incredible range of fishy life on display.