Let’s face it – we Indians love to shop. And when it comes to shopping abroad, Hong Kong figures prominently in the list of most popular shopping destinations. I must admit that it is a personal favourite too – almost like a second home, as my work takes me there very often. I cannot truly say that I know Hong Kong very well, because there are still many places there which I have not yet explored, and which are on my bucket list. This is probably because I go there primarily for work, and the little bit of exploring that I do is in whatever free time I get in between.
Shopping In Hong Kong – Getting Around The City
Talking about exploring Hong Kong, moving around the city is very easy, even for a first-time visitor. It has one of the world’s best public transport system – the MTR, or Mass Transit Railway, that covers almost the whole of Hong Kong. While you can buy point to point tickets for any route, I recommend buying a Tourist Day Pass which costs HKD 65. This pass allows you to take unlimited trips on the entire MTR network, except the Airport Express line or the trains going to Shenzhen. Apart from that, there is virtually no limit on the number of trips you can take, and the time of 24 hours is counted from your first entry into the station’s paid areas. This makes the MTR the most economical mode of travel in Hong Kong.
Also, if you are planning a slightly longer stay, then instead of the Tourist Day Pass, go for a stored value Octopus Card on loan. This is available from all MTR stations in Hong Kong. You need to pay a refundable security deposit of HKD 50, and top it up with whatever amount you wish to. The fare for all your train rides automatically gets deducted from the stored value. And you can top it up as many times as you wish. When you return the card, you get back the security deposit along with whatever balance remains in the card. The advantage of the Octopus card is that it is valid on all the routes of the MTR, including the Airport Express as well as the Shenzhen line. Added to that is another advantage – it can be used in buses as well, so you can have a single mode of payment for all local travel. Add to that the fact that it can also be used for making payments in convenience stores like 7/11 makes it a very attractive option indeed.
I came across a very helpful article on the Octopus Card that is a must-read if you are planning to visit Hong Kong. Trust me, it will make your life easier there !
For shorter distances, cabs are a viable option too. The good thing about Hong Kong cabs is that they go by the meter and cases of overcharging are extremely rare, though not unheard of. In all my visits to Hong Kong, only once have I been “taken for a ride” by a cab driver, who took a longer route just to make more on the meter. However, that was the first and last time. After that I got smarter. Each time I board a cab in Hong Kong now, I switch on my Google Maps and start the navigation so that I know if we are on the right track. If you do the same, you can’t go wrong.
Let’s talk about the places that you can visit in Hong Kong for shopping, and let me begin by talking of a couple of places which are off the beaten track. The average tourist to Hong Kong flocks to places like Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok, which are certainly more popular, primarily due to their location. However, there are two places which I would specifically like to talk about, and which are close to each other on the same MTR route. These are the Citygate Outlets at Tung Chung and the Maritme Square Mall at Tsing Yi. Both are on the Tung Chung MTR line, about 10 minutes away from each other on the MTR. If you are looking for a place where you can shop in comfort, this is where you should be heading.
Shopping can be a pretty tedious and exhausting activity, especially if you have a long list. Before I talk about the shopping places, let me share some important tips. Of course, you can thank me later for these tips, once you are back from your shopping trip !
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. Be prepared for a lot of walking in Hong Kong. While the MTR connectivity is good, you still need to walk around. A lot. Being on your feet for a full day can be exhausting, so it is best to be well prepared.
- Carry a bottle of water with you, especially in summer. It is easy to forget to drink water while you are on the move, and the summer heat can drain you. Stay hydrated.
- Carry a backpack or a stroller bag with you. You can end up with a lot of shopping bags in your hand if you are not well prepared. Don’t worry about pulling a stroller bag with you while shopping in Hong Kong. Relax. You will not look silly or out of place. A whole lot of people can be seen with stroller bags and backpacks all over Hong Kong. It is quite normal.
Shopping In Hong Kong – Day 1 – Maritime Square – Tsing Yi
The Maritime Square is a mall located at Tsing Yi. In fact, the Tsing Yi MTR station is located inside the Maritime Square at the top level. The best way to reach there is using the MTR Tung Chung line. Step out of the station and you find yourself in the mall.
It has always been one of my favourite shopping places in Hong Kong, as it is not too crowded and has practically everything that you need, including several dining options. It has brands like Uni Qlo, Bershka, Zara, Pricerite, Marks & Spencer, and even a supermarket, apart from several other stores.
Don’t worry if you start getting hunger pangs while shopping. Several dining options for various types of cuisines including Chinese, Thai, Korean etc, and even fast food options like pizzas and burgers are easily available.
Shopping In Hong Kong – Day 1 – Citygate Outlets – Tung Chung
The Citygate Mall is built next to the Tung Chung MTR station – the origin point of the Tung Chung MTR line, close to the upscale Tung Chung Crescent residential complex. It is in the same building that also houses the Novotel Citygate. In fact, the MTR station is an extension of the same complex.
The mall has branded retail outlets on 3 or 4 levels, from ground floor up, and the basement level has the Taste supermarket. There are also some outlets on the 10th level, which is accessible only through elevators. The lower levels are accessible through escalators. Citygate is famous as an “outlets” mall, which has several brands selling their goods at discounted prices. Some of these are Adidas, Timberland, Giordano, Esprit, Fortress etc.
Some of these outlets appear to have genuine pricing, which, by Hong Kong standards, is affordable. And if you visit at a time when clearance sales are on, you can save quite a bit. Personally, I visit the mall mainly for Timberland shoes, which are definitely cheaper there, and you get great bargains at times. Also, I usually have a list of stuff that my wife needs for the kitchen, which I buy at the Taste supermarket in the basement. It is a huge supermarket and has most of the items of daily use that one could possibly need, and I usually manage to complete the list in one visit. The have a huge collection of grocery items, cosmetics, kitchen stuff, fresh supplies etc. They have an especially nice selection of coffees, and another item that I buy from there regularly is garlic salt, apart from various types of seasonings. Oh, by the way, if you are looking or chocolates, you can get very economical packs here, which are far cheaper than buying it at duty free.
If you feel hungry, there are some restaurants as well as a McDonald there, so you can grab a bite there anytime. Alternately, you can also visit the bakery section of Taste and grab some exotic buns and sandwiches. There is a Spaghetti House outlet as well, and just across in the Tung Chung complex is a DeliFrance. There is a Subway outlet outside the MTR station exit on one side, and a very popular Sushi take-away on the other side.
However, it is the area just outside the mall which is very nice, especially in the evenings. There is a walk-through musical fountain which is operational in the evenings and you have people sitting all around on the benches watching children play in the water, or simply relaxing, or just chilling with a beer or a soft drink. I recommend visiting there in the evening – it is much nicer then. Finish your shopping before it gets dark, then just come and relax outside on one of the benches.
Shopping In Hong Kong – Day 2 – Tsim Sha Tsui
A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without a visit to Tsim Sha Tsui – or TST, as it is commonly referred to. This is the heart of Kowloon- the most happening shopping hub for shopping in Hong Kong. It is a jungle of concrete and glass, but teeming with life. It is also one of the most vibrant districts of Hong Kong, and you will go absolutely crazy shopping. But beware – if you try to book yourself a hotel in this area, you will find the rates much higher than the other parts of Hong Kong. Sadly, most Indians don’t follow this advice. Most of us want to be where the action is, and this is indeed one of the most happening places in town. This is the tourist hub of Hong Kong and hotel prices here are about 30% higher than in the other areas. My advice to travelers would be to book a hotel outside TST and use the MTR to commute. Travel connectivity is hardly an issue here, and most of the good hotels run regular shuttle services to TST. The money that you save on the room rental would be better spent on shopping 🙂
There are so many shops, malls and restaurants in the area that you will be spoilt for choice ! Almost all of the world’s leading brands have a presence here. Nathan Road is the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. Right on Nathan Street is the (in)famous Chung King Mansion – a commercial building that is full of Indian shops and restaurants. It is also most popular with Indians for changing currency, with several money changers on the ground floor offering good rates. Personally I change my currency at Patel’s Wall Street Finance, which is owned and manned by Indians. On the higher floors of this building are some cheap guest houses and dormitory type accommodations, used mostly by single travelers and backpackers. Right opposite Chung King is the iSquare Mall, another very popular shopping destination. Then there is the K11 Mall behind the Holiday Inn Golden Mile.
Cross the road at Chung King Mansion and walk straight down Peking Road. You will find some good clothing brands on that road, as well as fast food places. This is my favourite place for buying Giordano and Baleno stuff. Continue down the road and at the end, after crossing the subway you will reach Canton Road at the other end.
Shopping In Hong Kong – Day 2 – Canton Road & Harbour City
Canton Road is the place to visit if you intend to shopping in Hong Kong for upmarket brands. Burberry, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Hermes, H&M, Gucci, Cartier, Tiffany – you will find them all lined up on both sides. And then there is the Harbour City – a HUGE shopping mall that again houses some of the best brands. It is almost a mini city full of shops. In fact you could easily end up spending a whole day there. At the end of the road, opposite the Harbour City is 1881 Heritage – a heritage building converted into an upscale shopping complex.
Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade & Symphony Of Lights
When you are done shopping in the evening, walk down Canton Road, and then turn left from 1881 Heritage on to Salisbury Road, and you find yourself facing the Victoria Harbour. Walk down to the next signal and cross over to the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, where the Hong Kong Cultural Center is located, next to the Star Ferry Terminal. If you want to see the best night skyline view, this is the place to be.
Do look out for the historical clock tower next to the Star Ferry Terminal. Walk across to 7/11 at the terminal, grab yourself something to drink, then go up on the viewing gallery on the first floor. And at 8 pm, enjoy the Symphony Of Lights – one of the world’s largest light and sound show with coordinated dancing lasers lighting up the sky from various buildings across the harbor. And then, if you are up to more shopping, head for the Temple Street night market !
Shopping In Hong Kong – Day 2 – Temple Street Night Market
Getting to Temple Street is not difficult. You can just get on to the MTR and get off at the next station – Jordan. Or you can walk, if you don’t mind a 15 minutes’ walk. Or you can take a cab, which will cost you around HKD 25. This is one of oldest night markets in Hong Kong selling tourist souvenirs, artwork, imitation handbags and lots of other goodies that you can buy. It comes to life at night. It is a walking street with stalls on either side.
You will find a lot of good stuff to buy for friends and relatives back home, at affordable prices. Of course, most of the stuff is made in China, and you also need to bargain. If you are hungry, there are dozens of food stalls – or should I say open food courts – at each junction offering local and Asian food, and if you are open to trying it out, this is the place to be.
And of course, by the time you wind up, it would be too late in the night for anything else. But if you have more time on hand, we will come back to you again with more great tips for shopping in Hong Kong. Till then, stay tuned it !