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. 10/10 Space

    Causeway Bay | Perfume/Cosmetics

    A hidden gem in Causeway Bay, 10/10 Space is a day spa and beauty boutique that offers excellent manis, pedis, head massages, hair styling,...Read More

  • 2. Aroma Natural Skin Care

    Causeway Bay | Perfume/Cosmetics

    This store has been the secret weapon of skin regime enthusiasts for years, with stock from some of the industry's most venerated brands, many...Read More

  • 3. Eu Yan Sang

    Western | Perfume/Cosmetics

    The Sheung Wan area is a quaint and pungent place to shop for traditional Chinese herbs and medicines, but this reliable Asia-wide chain—in...Read More

  • 4. FACES

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Perfume/Cosmetics

    This sprawling one-stop shop, just a stone's throw from the Kowloon Star Ferry terminal, carries a long list of high-profile and niche beauty brands. ...Read More

  • 5. Joyce Beauty

    Central | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Love finding unique beauty products from around the world? Then this is the place for you, with cult perfumes, luxurious skin solutions, and...Read More

  • 6. Kwong Sang Hong

    Causeway Bay | Perfume/Cosmetics

    This shop carries Hong Kong's first local cosmetics line, also known as Two Girls Brand. The colorful, old-fashioned packaging, which is reminiscent...Read More

  • 7. Mandarin Beauty Salon and Barber Shop

    Central | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Savor views of Victoria Harbour from the 24th floor while you tame your tresses at the Mandarin Beauty Salon. No-nonsense Betty employs hair...Read More

  • 8. Mannings

    Central | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Found throughout the city, this chain sells everything from shampoo and lotions to emery boards and cough medicine (western and Chinese brands...Read More

  • 9. Mu-lan Spa

    Central | Perfume/Cosmetics

    A cosmopolitan oasis in the heart of the Central Business District, Mu-lan Spa takes design inspiration from across Asia. It provides facial...Read More

  • 10. Sa Sa Cosmetics

    Causeway Bay | Perfume/Cosmetics

    The fuchsia-pink signs that announce Hong Kong's best and largest cosmetic discounter will become familiar sights on any shopping expedition...Read More

  • 11. The Peninsula Spa

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Here's another excuse to visit Hong Kong's grande-dame hotel—as if you needed one. Even the aromatic hand soaps in the bathrooms soothe the...Read More

  • 12. Watsons

    Perfume/Cosmetics

    Spread over the city, this chain—the CVS of Hong Kong—sells western medicines, health and beauty items, plus a selection of traditional Chinese...Read More

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