Travel means different things to different people and basically there is no right or wrong way to travel. What may be extremely fulfilling and exciting travel for you maybe boring, meaningless and downright unpleasant for someone else. For me personally travel is about experiencing the world around us, meeting new people, exploration, learning, seeing amazing sights and having a great time. For other people travel could be about status symbols, an escape from work/life and a means to wind down and self indulgence. Fair enough.
To some people, travel is about shopping and fine dining. If you enjoy going to foreign countries to pick up bargains and goodies you can’t get back at home or sampling expensive cuisine, then this article below that I came across in an Australian news paper on shopping in Hong Kong is for you!
Hong Kong – The travel and shopping mecca of China
ONCE renowned for bargain-basement electronics and cheap threads, Hong Kong is all grown up.
These days, more visitors – mostly women, mostly well coiffed – are hitting the streets seeking buys of higher quality and bigger price tags but bargains nonetheless. And between the shopping visits, there are numerous sophisticated restaurants and beautiful bars.
Here are 10 reasons to spend a long weekend in Hong Kong.
1. Massive annual mid-year sales begin in the last week of June. Discounts available at the mega-labels (generally at the malls) are sublime and ridiculous: for example, you can expect 60 per cent off shoes at dribble-inducing department store Lane Crawford. There are also seasonal sales after Christmas in late December and in the lead-up to Chinese New Year but, really, mid-year is where it’s at, darling.
2. The Island Shangri-La hotel has an escalator that runs pretty much straight from the foyer to the best big-name stores with the biggest sales. The hotel also has lots of fabulous dining options, a Horizon Club for pre-dinner cocktails, L’Occitane toiletries in the bathroom, groovy art (including The Great Motherland of China, which, at 16 storeys, holds the Guinness World Record for largest Chinese landscape painting), antique chandeliers and an outdoor pool in which you can cool off between sweltering shopping spells. And the friendly staff will help you with your shopping bags. (Island Shangri-La: Rooms from $HK3900 ($465). +852 2877 3838, shangri-la.com /en/property/hongkong/islandshangrila.)
3. Be a mall rat. Hong Kong excels at big, shiny malls that stay open until 10pm. Most are found at Hong Kong Island and linked via vast walkways and long escalators. Pacific Place and IFC are best for the designer labels (Armani, Prada, Tom Ford et al) and popular High Street stores (Zara, Gap and more). Both also feature Lane Crawford. Getting lost in some of the others – the Armani building, Princes building, The Landmark and Elements on the Kowloon side – is another chance at finding your new favourite shop. And if you truly are a shopper girl on the run, IFC and Pacific Place have amazing supermarkets where you can stop for a cheap and healthy snack of miso salmon or sushi; Landmark’s version is all organic.
4. Find unique fashion. Yes, Honkers is known for its designer-label bargains but the most special purchases are more likely to come from the SoHo area. Think beautiful boutiques full of fashion, haberdashery and stationery. You could spend an entire day wandering along the Mid-Levels scene – Queens Road East, Pottinger Street, Lyndurst Terrace and Hollywood Road (for art galleries and antiques and some homewares). I found glamorous, original (erm, I hope) dresses from DKNY, Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenburg – each with a price tag of about$HK800 – that’s less than $100. Every boutique has its own quirky personality – from the wardrobe-size Button Hole, to the super-chic-but-still-friendly jeans shop Indigo. Also look out for funky local outfit Fang Fong Accessories (especially if your feet are on the smaller side), groovy Gallery de Vie, Tiare Boutique for edgy new designers, Brands Boutique (lots of hidden gems – search hard) and Spy Henry Lau, from the high-profile local designer. Pop into Varga Lounge for a cheeky cocktail and ponder your next purchase.
5. Lamma, which can be reached by ferry, is a yummy, scenic getaway. The Rainbow Seafood Restaurant offers a free ferry service from Tsim Sha Tsui and Aberdeen but if it is packed there are plenty of others.
6. Hong Kong harbour is beautiful. We timed our cocktail (OK, cocktails) on the balcony of Sevva for the nightly multimedia light show – A Symphony of Lights – at sunset. Hutong restaurant, as well as the Aqua bar above it, also have brilliant views, as does hip joint Felix. For late-night drinking options without a view, seek out Feather Boa for a fun vibe (and potent cocktails), or up the tempo at nightclubs Drop Bar, Dragon-i and Volar.
7. Food at gastronomic hot spot Cafe Gray, at the Upper House hotel, is to die for. Lap up a spectacular gourmet mod-Asian degustation feast and sensational cocktails, with sparkling views over the city and charming and indulgently overattentive staff. (See cafegrayhk.com for menus and prices – and book early.) Other must-dine options: Chinese dinner at Shui hu ju, dim sum at City Hall Maxims and Japanese at Nadaman.
8. Bag a bargain. Island shopping is more chic than cheap these days but step out of the fluorescent lights and into the lanes around Queens Road and you will still find lots of home-grown bargains. The character-laden Pedder Building has factory outlets, fashion and gorgeous fabrics and artefacts, as well as the Hong Kong icon Shanghai Tang, which occupies the ground floor and basement. Other local names to look for while trawling the streets include Sasa for cut-price cosmetics, Milan Station and Paris Station for pre-loved designer bags and Larrys for jewels. There’s also a massive H&M on Queens Road Central. For a great shopping adventure, catch the bus to Stanley Markets to nab cheap children’s clothes, groovy handbags and excellent haberdashery. There is also the Ladies Market – although the quality here can be hit and miss and the stallholders a tad more “energetic”.
9. Take a junk around the harbour. So much fun. There are plenty of quality junks and lots of options: choose from a gentle one-hour lap of the harbour or a catered, boozy, day-long affair further afield. Jaspas Junk is one cool choice (casteloconcepts.com/locations /hong-kong/jaspas-junks-hong-kong) and Star Ferry is another (starferry.com.hk).
10. After a hard day’s pounding the pavement, nothing beats a massage at Happy Foot. There are two Happy Foot salons (Jade Centre and Century Square): think trashy magazines, huge leather chairs and expert masseurs and reflexologists. For next to nix (50 minutes costs $HK280), this is a must-have for hard-working tootsies.