Hong Kong

They say the only way to get to know a place is to do what the locals do. When in Rome, scoot around on a Vespa and drink espresso. When in Hong Kong, shop. For most people in this city, 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.

Shopping is so sacred that sales periods are calendar events, and most stores close on just three days a year—Christmas Day and the first two days of Chinese New Year. Imagine that: 362 days of unbridled purchasing. Opening hours are equally conducive to whiling your life away browsing the racks: all shops are open until 7 or 8 pm; many don't close their doors until midnight.

It's true that the days when everything in Hong Kong was mind-bogglingly cheap are over. It is still a tax-free port, so you can get some good deals. But it isn't just about the savings. Sharp contrasts and the sheer variety of experiences available make shopping here very different from back home.

You might find a bargain or two elbowing your way through a chaotic open-air market filled with haggling vendors selling designer knockoffs, the air reeking of the chou tofu ("stinky" tofu) bubbling at a nearby food stand. But then you could find a designer number going for half the usual price in a hushed marble-floor mall, the air scented by the designer fragrances of your fellow shoppers. What's more, in Hong Kong the two extremes are often within spitting distance of each other.

Needless to say, thanks to travelers like you running out of space in their suitcases, Hong Kong does a roaring trade in luggage. No need to feel guilty, though—shopping here is practically cultural research. All you're doing is seeing what local life is really like.

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  • 1. Stanley Market

    Southside | Market

    This was once Hong Kong's most famed bargain trove for visitors, but its ever-growing popularity means that the market in Stanley Village no...Read More

  • 2. Alisan Fine Arts

    Southside | Art Galleries

    Founded in 1981 by Alice King, Alisan Fine Arts was one of the first galleries in Hong Kong to promote contemporary Chinese art and is now an...Read More

  • 3. Art Statements Gallery

    Southside | Art Galleries

    On the southern side of Hong Kong island, this gallery often features boundary-pushing conceptual artists from Asia, as well as leading ones...Read More

  • 4. CarpetBuyer Limited

    Southside | Household Items/Furniture

    With a modern approach to an age-old business, a son of the Oriental Carpet Trading House family sells high-quality carpets from China, India...Read More

  • 5. Good Laque

    Southside | Crafts

    Elegant lacquerware makes a wonderful gift. The pieces sold here—tabletop items and picture frames among them—are reasonably priced and come...Read More

  • 6. Hoi Yuen Emporium Co.

    Southside | Clothing

    Of all the cheaper alternatives to Shanghai Tang, this is the best. It has a fantastic selection of Mao collared jackets for boys and girls...Read More

  • 7. Horizon Plaza

    Southside | Household Items/Furniture

    With 28 floors of high-end fashion and housewares, the huge Horizon Plaza is a good choice for shoppers who have more taste than money. Joyce...Read More

  • 8. Joyce Warehouse

    Southside | Clothing

    Fashionistas who've fallen on hard times can breathe a sigh of relief. Joyce's outlet on Ap Lei Chau, the island offshore from Aberdeen in Southside...Read More

  • 9. Manks Ltd.

    Southside | Antiques & Collectibles

    Open to walk-ins seven days a week, this warehouse in the Wong Chuk Hang industrial district features 20th-century decorative arts, European...Read More

  • 10. Mrs. Chan

    Southside | Clothing

    One of the top children's clothing stalls in Stanley Market sells everything from play-date clothes to Christmas Day bests. Push your way through...Read More

  • 11. Plum Blossoms Gallery

    Southside | Art Galleries

    In the heart of an up-and-coming cultural district down in Aberdeen, this spacious industrial-chic loft-style gallery displays groundbreaking...Read More

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