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. 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

    Central | Art Galleries

    A visit here takes you behind the historic Central Police Station, where walls facing the gallery's distinctive space are still topped by broken...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. Asia Art Archive

    Western | Other Specialty Store

    The AAA saw it before the rest of us: contemporary Asian art is big. In 2000, the Asian Art Archive set out to address the lack of information...Read More

  • 5. Connoisseur Art Gallery

    Central | Art Galleries

    This well-known gallery represents a small batch of modern, mostly figurative Chinese artists, though it also showcases the dreamlike work of...Read More

  • 6. Gaffer Ltd

    Western | Art Galleries

    The city's first gallery specializing in studio glass has a bilevel backdrop of modern glass sculptures by artists from Southeast Asia, Australia...Read More

  • 7. Grotto Fine Art

    Central | Art Galleries

    Director and chief curator Henry Au-yeung writes about, curates, and gives lectures on 20th-century Chinese art. His tucked-away gallery focuses...Read More

  • 8. Hanart TZ Gallery

    Central | Art Galleries

    This is a rare opportunity to compare and contrast cutting-edge and experimental Chinese art selected by one of the field's most respected...Read More

  • 9. Hong Kong Art Walk

    Art Galleries

    The art world's version of a pub crawl, Hong Kong Art Walk is an excellent chance to experience the gallery scene. Held over the course of one...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 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

  • 12. Sandra Walters Consultancy Ltd.

    Central | Art Galleries

    A longtime figure on the art scene, Sandra Walters represents a stable of Asian and international artists encompassing a variety of periods...Read More

  • 13. Sin Sin Fine Art

    Western | Art Galleries

    Works by diverse emerging and established artists from Indonesia, Thailand, mainland China, Hong Kong, and other Asian and European countries...Read More

  • 14. Yan Gallery

    Central | Art Galleries

    This is the place for Hong Kong–based artist Hu Yongkai's charming, slightly cartoonish depictions of Chinese women in traditional settings...Read More

  • 15. Zee Stone Gallery

    Central | Art Galleries

    The gallery's massive street-level windows still hold court on this sleek bar and restaurant strip. Inside you'll find contemporary, often abstract...Read More

  • 16. John Batten Gallery

    Art Galleries

    John Batten is the kind of gallery owner who takes the time to talk to you, pulling out catalogs, books, and other materials to illustrate his...Read More

  • 17. Schoeni on Old Bailey Street

    Central | Art Galleries

    Known for vigorously promoting Chinese art on a global scale, this gallery, founded by Manfred Schoeni in 1992, has represented and supported...Read More

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