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. 45R

    Wan Chai | Clothing

    Around since 1978, Japanese brand 45R has garnered a reputation for ultracomfortable, exquisitely crafted jeans. Following the successes of...Read More

  • 2. Crocodile

    Wan Chai | Clothing

    If this quality weekend wear seems similar to a European label with a similar logo, that's because it is. Nevertheless, the Crocodile collections...Read More

  • 3. kapok

    Wan Chai | Clothing

    Hip utilitarian bags, soft fabrics, minimalist watches, comfy kicks, music, stationery—kapok is a one-stop shop for lifestyle products and...Read More

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    Wan Chai | Other Specialty Store

    You've seen Enter the Dragon a hundred times, and you practice your karate chops daily. Time to get the leather boots, sword, whip, double...Read More

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    Wan Chai | Household Items/Furniture

    Laura Cheung’s grandfather spent a lifetime hand-carving rosewood tables, and her father helmed a wildly successful ceramic manufacturing company...Read More

  • 6. Monocle

    Wan Chai | Other Specialty Store

    As if running a magazine, website, and radio station weren’t enough, Monocle also has a handful of retail outlets, and Hong Kong devotees of...Read More

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    Wan Chai | Antiques & Collectibles

    Some of the items at Nlostnfound could use a bath, but the clutter has a lot of character. Take the time to browse through the jumble of old...Read More

  • 8. Odd One Out

    Wan Chai | Art Galleries

    Part art gallery, part Aussie coffee shop, Odd One Out is an unpretentious addition to the gentrified Star Street precinct. Aiming to bring...Read More

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    Wan Chai | Household Items/Furniture

    Push past a giant weathered steel door to enter this atmospheric, high-ceiling showroom, which feels like a cross between a museum and a temple...Read More

  • 10. Sonjia

    Southside | Clothing

    Walk past busy garages and funky murals in this industrial Hong Kong area to find the chic atelier of Korean-English ex-lawyer Sonjia Norman...Read More

  • 11. Tang Tang Tang Tang

    Wan Chai | Household Items/Furniture

    A regular in Hong Kong high society, Sir David Tang recently opened lifestyle boutique Tang Tang Tang Tang (meant to be sung like Beethoven...Read More

  • 12. VEIN on the Yard

    Wan Chai | Clothing

    Modern and minimalist, VEIN on the Yard's decor is in perfect harmony with its Nordic apparel. The combination boutique and gallery on St. Francis...Read More

  • 13. Wanchai Computer Centre

    Wan Chai | Cameras/Electronics

    You can find decent deals on computer goods and accessories in the labyrinth of shops spanning several floors. It's not as easy to negotiate...Read More

  • 14. Wing On Jewelry Ltd.

    Wan Chai | Jewelry & Watches

    There's a nostalgic charm to the butterflies, birds, and natural forms fashioned from jade, pearls, precious stones, and gold here. Everything...Read More

  • 15. Russell Street

    Wan Chai | Clothing

    Gatekeeper of the up-and-coming, Russell Street aims to introduce fresh labels to Hong Kong's style savants. Taking cues from New York and London...Read More

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