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The neon lights of Hong Kong have long drawn shopaholics to this corner of the Earth. Visitors to the city-state have never been shy about opening their wallets in this mecca of commerce – Hong Kong’s Tourism Commission reveals that travellers roaming the area spent close to HK$332.3 billion (AUD$5.61 billion) in 2015 alone. That’s a lot of designer clothes, fine fragrances and high-end electronics, and Hong Kong continues to lead the way when it comes to retail therapy, rivalling London, New York and Paris as one of the world’s top shopping destinations.
From the best places to browse, to what you should and shouldn’t buy, we’re on-hand to make sure you come home with your bags full – even if your wallet isn’t!
If you’re not short of a dollar or two and fancy a bit of celebrity-spotting, set your sights in the direction of Admiralty, Central and Soho. These areas form the beating heart of Hong Kong’s financial district, with cloud-piercing skyscrapers filled with boutique goods, designer fashion and luxury items. Be sure to have your credit card handy!
Though deceptively small in size, Causeway Bay can rival anywhere else on the planet when it comes to pure shopping choice. It would take even the most determined shopper the best part of a day to see it all – the infinite department stores, open-air markets and independent shops see to that. Try not to feel overwhelmed when perusing Causeway Bay – take your time, and perhaps return later for another bite of the cherry if it all gets too much. This is a place that demands a return visit.
For those of you that still want the Hong Kong shopping experience without giving your bank manager a migraine, head on over to Mong Kok. The flashing neon will lure you towards the famous Ladies’ Market (though it’s not only women that will find this area fascinating) and the vibrant, thronging streets pulsing with eager shoppers. There are even areas in Mong Kok dedicated to certain items, from flowers to shoes, right through to goldfish – though we wouldn’t advise bringing one back to Australia, as the paperwork required could have you in tears!
You can buy practically anything you can think of when shopping in Hong Kong. Additionally, a big proportion of what you buy is tax-free (aside from tobacco products), and prices are comparatively low, especially when compared to Sydney or Melbourne. Hong Kong hosts two sale seasons each year, when you’ve an even greater chance of finding a bargain.
Clothes, cosmetics and electronics are the most popular items to seek out in Hong Kong. Fine jewellery and intricate watches are also high on the list, and you can find some of the most advanced computer technology in the world for very reasonable prices. If you’re feeling peckish, be sure to sniff out a Hong Kong pastry – a tasty treat to give you the energy you need for more shopping!
As always when shopping abroad, there are a few things you should be wary of when out and about in Hong Kong. Some items bought in the city will hold a Hong Kong-only guarantee, meaning you’ll be out of pocket if it goes wrong back home. You should always have a keen eye for fakes and forgeries when a price tag seems too good to be true, especially when it comes to antiques and artwork. If you’re buying jewellery, be sure ask the vendor for a certificate that validates its authenticity.
You should never buy anything that does not have a price tag, as this is a surefire way of telling that it’s either second-hand, or doesn’t work properly.
On the whole, Hong Kong is a very safe city, with low levels of crime. Even so, you should still be on your guard when out and about because, as with any large city, problems can still arise. Even if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of Sydney, the crowds of Hong Kong can still take you by surprise, and you’ll need to watch your pockets and bags in certain areas.
The aforementioned Mong Kok is awesome for bargains, but due to the crowds, bumping and other contact with strangers is going to happen. Nine times out of ten, you’ll have nothing to worry about, but it will pay to have both your eyes and ears (and nose, if you like!) open – you can’t be too careful, so keep a close hand on your valuables!
As always, you should ensure that you have affordable travel insurance in place for your visit to Hong Kong, so get that in place before you go and get your shopping trip rolling!