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. Chinese Arts & Crafts

    Central | Department Store

    Visit this long-established mainland company to blitz through that tiresome list of presents in one fell swoop. It stocks a huge variety of...Read More

  • 2. City'super

    Causeway Bay | Department Store

    Wherever you're from and whatever you're looking for—whether it's fresh oysters from France or quirky products like bottled water for pets—this...Read More

  • 3. Lane Crawford

    Central | Department Store

    This prestigious western-style department store has been the favorite of local label lovers for years—not bad for a brand that started out as...Read More

  • 4. Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium

    Yau Ma Tei | Department Store

    This popular purveyor of Chinese goods has 14 stores across Hong Kong, and the flagship one features seven floors laden with everything from...Read More

  • 5. Harvey Nichols

    Central | Department Store

    When this legendary British retailer announced its Hong Kong opening, locals were skeptical, saying nothing would ever live up to the original...Read More

  • 6. LCX

    Tsim Sha Tsui | Department Store

    This spacious store combines local and international fashion, beauty products, and dining under one roof. Clothing brands like American Eagle...Read More

  • 7. Marks & Spencer

    Eastern | Department Store

    Classic, good-quality clothing is what this British retailer has built an empire on—its underwear, in particular, is viewed as a national treasure...Read More

  • 8. Sincere

    Western | Department Store

    Run by the same family for more than a century, this eclectic department store has several local claims to fame: it was the first store in Hong...Read More

  • 9. Sogo

    Causeway Bay | Department Store

    A lynchpin of the Causeway Bay shopping scene, Japanese brand Sogo's main branch has 16 floors of clothing, housewares, and personal-care items...Read More

  • 10. Wing On

    Western | Department Store

    Great values on household appliances, kitchenware, and crockery have made Wing On a favorite with locals on a budget since it opened in 1907...Read More

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