If convicted shopaholics could enjoy one last retail-hit before cutting up their credit cards, we reckon they’d all head to Hong Kong. Forget Paris, Rome or New York, when it comes to the most comprehensive shopping indulgences on earth, Hong Kong shopping is the bomb. Home of 9 Chanel, 7 Vuitton and 10 Gucci boutiques (at last count), over 100 shopping malls and, let’s just say, thousands of open-air day and night markets, there ain’t a thing on earth that can’t be bought here.
While the city can send a normally conservative person into bankruptcy in mere hours, there are some serious bargains to be had, and unique products to snatch up. However, rather than tell you where to go shopping, we thought we’d be sneaky and tell you what you should be looking out for instead. If you want to take home something which just screams ‘HONG KONG!’ then follow our guide to the most authentic shopping items to buy in this Oriental Pearl.
Jade, Opals & Pearls
Speaking of pearls…Hong Kong has had an absolute love affair with semi-precious stones since time immemorial. Ancient Chinese beliefs that these stones help ward off evil spirits are just one of the many reasons why the city is the jade, opal and pearl capital bar none. We know we said we wouldn’t mention places, but really, we’d be nuts not to mention the Jade Market in Kowloon. You really need not go anywhere else for your jade!
Tailor made clothes
When it comes to clothing, there’s nothing which can’t be tailor made quickly and inexpensively in Hong Kong. Chinese silks are particularly beautiful, affordable and can be tailored to traditional dresses, blouses and skirts.
To find a reputable tailor, your best bet is to ask for personal recommendations from the concierge at the hotel (or perhaps his mother or sisters), or any local you meet upon arriving in town. Word of mouth reputation is of paramount importance in a place like Hong Kong; this place is home to some of the most talented dress-makers in the world…but also some of the worst. If this is something you’d like, then consider it a priority when you arrive; try to meet with a tailor on day 2 of your trip, so you don’t run the risk of leaving here without your goodies. Make sure the choice of fabric is extensive, and do ask about lining, double stitching etc. Above all, (as this is an amazingly inexpensive thing to do compared to home), don’t go cheap! As with everything else, you do get what you pay for, so shop wisely.
Dried foods & herbs
Dehydrated seafood may seem a rather strange souvenir, but keep in mind that it is a staple in Cantonese cuisine, and it’s one of the most authentic items you can bring home. Keep an eye out for dried seafood, mushrooms, herbs and spices, not to mention tea of course, and you can savour Hong Kong long after you leave. Do make sure you’re up to date with the import rules and regulations of your home country before you go shopping crazy!
A few shopping hints:
Bargaining is a way of life here, we know, but there are also some rules pertaining to this most fun of all shopping antics. Department Stores and high-end boutiques will not budge on their prices, so don’t even bother wasting your time there. When buying from markets, and every other type of shop, the usual rule of thumb is that you cut the price down by 50%, and slowly haggle up a little at a time. Funnily enough, locals don’t like stores where bargaining is fierce and prices drop dramatically; they consider this shonky and unprofessional business. Instead, they will haggle for an hour, and only consider buying something if the shop-owner doesn’t budge on the price. Now go figure that one out.
If buying electronics anywhere in the city, that isn’t a major outlet, make sure you open the box and try out the item before buying it. After this is done, DO NOT LEAVE THE ITEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. Tourists have been known to walk back to their hotel with a smug smile on their face and rocks in their bags. Needless to say, don’t buy anything without a genuine international warranty.
If you’re looking to come home with a 100-year old Chinese wedding cabinet then you’ve come to the right place. Only thing is, if YOU can’t ascertain old from new you may run into some problems. After just a day of browsing you will discover that Hong Kong is home to more ‘centuries-old’ antique furniture that could have ever been possibly made, so hone in your antique-o-meter and only purchase items from reputable sellers who are willing to have the item evaluated.
Amy via Flickr
Quinn Dombrovsky via Flickr
Constantine Agustin via Flickr