Commerce is synonymous with the glittering skyscrapers of Hong Kong. Those gleaming towers – and the spectacular skyline they make – have become international symbols of wealth, ambition, and excess.
Visitors and locals alike are constantly surrounded by mammoth shopping malls and sprawling flagship stores – spending is almost too easy.
“A HK amateur could easily find himself overwhelmed by the staggering array of retail options.”
Underneath the steel and gleaming glass, a different side of Hong Kong awaits. For all their bright lights and luxury brands, the islands also retain a traditional side. Hong Kong’s bustling markets beckon to bargain-savvy shoppers and curious tourists. There are spiritual sites, traditional theatre, historic trams, nature reserves, and a world-class culinary scene.
A HK amateur could easily find himself overwhelmed by the staggering array of retail options, but with this guide to Hong Kong shopping, the Pearl of the Orient’s best buying experiences are yours for the taking.
Shopping In: Central
Central is Hong Kong’s business centre, as well as home to many of its best boutiques and behemoth malls. Here you’ll shop alongside the rich and famous (and the star-struck who stalk them). It’s a place to see and be seen, to soak up the luxury side of Asia’s world city, and to put a serious dent in your savings.
A visit to the Landmark is essential. The vast mall complex caters to well-heeled consumers with elegant architecture and one of the highest concentrations of luxury fashion, jewellery, and lifestyle brands in Hong Kong. From Dunhill, to Thomas Pink, to Dior, to Burberry and Balenciaga, the Landmark has it all.
The harbour-front IFC mall is also one of Hong Kong’s top shopping destinations, with a similar mix of visual appeal and luxury fashion. An elaborate network of covered walkways connects Central’s up-market malls so a spending spree need never be spoiled by traffic or foul weather.
Beyond the malls, Central boasts more affordable retailers like Diesel and Zara, as well as antique shops and art galleries. PMQ is a creative hub that showcases local designers in fashion, furniture, jewellery, even food. The crowded lanes of Li Yuen Streets East and West offer an entirely different experience – an ancient Asian bazaar, smack in the middle of one of the most modern cities on the planet.
Shopping In: Causeway Bay
If shopping were a sport, Causeway Bay would win the bid to host the Olympics every year. It consistently ranks as one of the priciest retail locations in the world, which means you’ll need the stamina of Michael Phelps and the wallet of, um, Michael Phelps in order to survive the neighbourhood.
SOGO and Times Square are the it-malls in the area. The former is the biggest and the most popular Japanese department store in Hong Kong, and an iconic meeting point for locals. Like HK’s other mega-malls, it’s brimming with big-name brands like Armani and Brooks Brothers. Times Square is a melting pot of trendy teens, primly tailored businessmen, and awe-struck tourists. Its must-see stop is Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s leading luxury fashion and lifestyle store. Up-market shopping can also be found in Hysan Place and Fashion Walk.
SOGO’s hip neighbour is the Island Beverly Centre, a treasure trove of local, Korean, and Japanese fashions that are popular with a younger, more alternative crowd. Drop into Cuffs for bespoke tailoring. For Causeway Bay shopping at its most affordable, head to the Jardine’s Crescent street market and practice your haggling.
Shopping In: Admiralty
Adjacent to Central is Admiralty, the eastern extension of Hong Kong’s CBD. The area was once a British military base, and in 2014 was the site of the “Umbrella Revolution” protests. Today it’s a predictable mix of offices, hotels, government buildings, and the requisite shopping malls.
The most famous of those malls is Pacific Place, which is connected directly to the MTR Admiralty Station. Within its swanky confines you’ll find high-end men’s and women’s fashion (think Balmain, Goyard, IWC, and Prada) along with a stellar selection of skincare and beauty brands. Shanghai Tang and another Lane Crawford location also cater to Admiralty’s posh shoppers.
Other stops worth adding to the itinerary include Ermenegildo Zegna, Zara, TUMI, Canali, Ted Baker, and the multi-level Harvey Nichols department store.
Shopping In: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tsim Sha Tsui (“TST” to locals) is a major tourist hub in Kowloon and packs all the perks you’d expect to come along with that designation. Luxe shops and restaurants exist in abundance, along with many of Hong Kong’s finest museums.
Look for the neighbourhood’s 5-star hotels and luxury shopping won’t be far behind. The 1881 Heritage, once the Marine Police Headquarters, blends Victorian history with contemporary retail and restaurants. Branching off the main Nathan Road strip, you’ll find the “art mall” K11 and multi-storey shopping complex iSQUARE. Also off Nathan Road is Sam’s Tailor, the famed home of the 24-hour suit. Past clients include Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and Pavarotti.
Deeper into Kowloon is The One, a beast of nearly 30 floors that appeals to fans of alt fashion and street style. Along with luxury options, The One showcases a selection of cult brands and local designers’ boutiques.
The granddaddy of all Tsim Sha Tsui shopping is Harbour City, an enormous ecosystem of hundreds of shops, dozens of restaurants, two cinemas, three hotels, ten office buildings, two serviced apartments, and a luxurious private club – all under one roof. At 2 million square feet, Harbour City is the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong. Its massive size means massive crowds, but also means almost every major brand is accounted for.
Shopping In: Mong Kok
Mong Kok may be Hong Kong’s most congested shopping district, but don’t let the densely packed humanity scare you away. In fact, the people watching alone is reason to go; the shopping is an added bonus.
MK is a refreshing departure from the flashy experiences that dominate so much of Hong Kong’s retail scene. The area embraces HK’s rich history, favouring markets, small shops, and food stalls over luxury brands. Shopping streets are dotted throughout the neighbourhood. The Ladies’ Market is one of Hong Kong’s most famous – drop by if you need a gift for a lady in your life. Mong Kok’s other markets are even more hyper-specific. There’s one for sneakers and one for kitchenware, one for flowers, and even markets for goldfish and birds.
Mong Kok isn’t without up-market options. You’ll also find fine jewellery, electronics, cosmetics, and clothes. Langham Place is MK’s ultra chic one-stop shopping destination. Along with restaurants, entertainment options, and interesting architecture, Langham Place is loaded with stores from both notable and under-the-radar names.
Shopping In: Wan Chai
Historic Wan Chai is more than Hong Kong’s hedonistic party district. By night the former red light district retains some of its raunchiness from earlier eras, but by day it’s a hub for cultural institutions and eclectic retail therapy.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council Design Gallery presents an intriguing assortment of odds and ends, primarily from local designers. You could find anything from home furnishings to laptop accessories to watches here – what you won’t find is boredom.
If you’re looking for a souvenir of your visit, try expat-fave Chinese Arts & Crafts. The vast selection includes porcelain, silk garments, musical instruments, tea, and other traditional Chinese items. Petrolheads should hit the showrooms on Gloucester Road. Interior design buffs will feel right at home along Queen’s Road East.
No shopping spree in the neighbourhood is complete without a sojourn to Wanchai Computer Centre or 298 Computer Zone. Both hawk wares of the digital variety and have made Wan Chai a paradise for tech lovers. Any gadget you can think of – software, hardware, books, laptops, cameras, printers, projectors, and more – is available here.
Shopping In: Sham Shui Po
If it’s a no-nonsense market you want, it’s Sham Shui Po you need. The working-class neighbourhood is a haven for market hounds, particularly those on the prowl for competitively priced gadgets, appliances, and computer products.
Apliu Street Flea Market is the place to be for inexpensive new and second-hand electronics. Sharp-eyed shoppers may also uncover antique watches, old coins, and other relics amongst the merchandise.
The charmingly chaotic market at Cheung Sha Wan Road is a prime destination for local fashion designers, who come to the wholesale markets to purchase fabrics and other raw materials for their collections. Like the ritzy malls in Central, your options are extensive – but unlike those ostentatious institutions, Sham Shui Po doesn’t come with attitude.
Shopping In: Lantau
There’s only one word you need to know when it comes to shopping in Lantau: outlets. Citygate Outlets is the largest outlet mall in Hong Kong, featuring more than 80 international brand names that offer year-round discounts of 30-70%. Your bank account will breathe a sigh of relief.