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. Festival Walk

    Shopping Centers/Malls

    Located in residential Kowloon Tong, about 20 minutes from Central on the MTR, Festival Walk stretches across six floors, with Marks & Spencer...Read More

  • 2. Harbour City

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Shopping Centers/Malls

    The four interconnected complexes that make up Harbour City contain almost 500 shops between them—if you can't find it here, it probably doesn...Read More

  • 3. IFC Mall

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    A quick glance at the directory—Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, Bvlgari, Chaumet—lets you know that the International Finance Centre isn't for...Read More

  • 4. Times Square

    Causeway Bay | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This gleaming mall packs most of Hong Kong's best-known stores into 16 frenzied floors, organized thematically. Lane Crawford and Marks &amp...Read More

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  • 5. Cityplaza

    Eastern | Shopping Centers/Malls

    An ice-skating rink and a multiplex theater are two of the reasons why Cityplaza is the city's most popular family mall. So popular, in fact...Read More

  • 6. Elements

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This upscale shopping mall is in the Kowloon West residential and commercial district, just above Kowloon's Airport Express train and check...Read More

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  • 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. Hysan Place

    Causeway Bay | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Across the street from Causeway Bay's popular Sogo looms neighborhood newcomer Hysan Place. This gleaming 17-story mall devotes the fourth and...Read More

  • 9. Island Beverley Centre

    Causeway Bay | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This hip micromall played a big part in putting Causeway Bay on the fashion map. Shoe-box-size boutiques fill its four cramped floors—some showcase...Read More

  • 10. Lab Concept

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Pacific Place may have put Admiralty on the map, but Lab Concept has breathed new life into the otherwise uneventful neighborhood. This 64,000...Read More

  • 11. Landmark

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    If you haven't got a boutique in Landmark, you clearly haven't made it in the fashion world, darling. Central's most prestigious shopping site...Read More

  • 12. Langham Place

    Mong Kok | Shopping Centers/Malls

    The light beige sandstone of Langham Place stands in stark contrast to the pulsating neon signs and crumbling residential blocks around it....Read More

  • 13. Lee Gardens One and Two

    Causeway Bay | Shopping Centers/Malls

    These two adjacent malls are a firm favorite with local celebrities. They come as much for the mall's low-key atmosphere—a world away from the...Read More

  • 14. Mega Box

    Shopping Centers/Malls

    This 18-story mall is a great option for family shopping expeditions: those with minimal retail stamina can amuse themselves at the video arcade...Read More

  • 15. Mira Mall

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Not to be confused with the neighboring Miramar Shopping Centre, this mall opened in 2012 as the latest addition to The Mira (a design-driven...Read More

  • 16. New Town Plaza

    Shopping Centers/Malls

    If you're looking to come down to fashion earth after the designer heaven that is Central, Sha Tin's New Town Plaza is a great bet. Decidedly...Read More

  • 17. Pacific Place

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Once Hong Kong Island's classiest mall, Pacific Place remains popular with well-to-do residents—perhaps because it's quieter and more exclusive...Read More

  • 18. Pedder Building

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Dwarfed by flashy skyscrapers, the Pedder Building is one of Hong Kong's few remaining true neoclassical-style buildings. Once known for its...Read More

  • 19. Rise Shopping Arcade

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Many a quirky Hong Kong street-wear trend is born in this fabulous micromall. Don't let its grubby exterior put you off: the arcade is a haven...Read More

  • 20. Shopping 4 U

    Central | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Malls, markets, and outlets are a part of tailor-made tours led by Shopping 4 U. Book through Concorde Travel ( 2524–5121 www.concorde-travel...Read More

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