travel tip shopping in Hong Kong

travel tip shopping in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is still known as an excellent destination for shopping, especially for goods from the mainland. Prices are often comparably cheaper than Europe, North America, or Japan, especially since Hong Kong has no sales tax (VAT). Although Hong Kong prices are still expensive by regional standards, the choice and variety is a lot better than in most south-east Asian countries. Popular shopping items include consumer electronics, custom clothing, shoes, jewellery, expensive brand name goods, Chinese antiques, toys and Chinese herbs/medicine. There's also a wide choice of European clothing but prices are high.

As a generalisation, Hong Kong Island and nearby Tsim Sha Tsui have the upmarket shopping malls (particularly near Central and Causeway Bay), while Kowloon is the place to go for cheap open markets. Causeway Bay in particular is home to Hong Kong's youth fashion scene and is a good place to look for the newest fashion trends. Kowloon's Nathan Road has many shops selling electronics, cameras and gadgets, mainly to tourists (not locals!). Beware that some of the business practices there can be quite deceptive.

Most shops in Hong Kong's urban areas open at about 10AM and stay open until midnight, even on weekends. However, there is no hard and fast rule and shops will typically stay open as long as there are customers, which makes Hong Kong a late night shopping paradise.

For cheaper goods, some Hong Kong residents shop in Shenzhen just across the border into China.

Antiques- Head for Hollywood Road in Central. Here you will find a long street of shops with a wide selection of products that look like antiques. Some items are very good fakes, so you should only buy things that you like and always try and bargain on the price.

Books- Swindon Books is one of the oldest English language bookstores in Hong Kong. Its main branch is on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui but it also has smaller branches in malls like the Ocean Terminal. Page One is a chain-bookstore with branches in Central, Festival Walk (Kowloon Tong) and Times Square (Causeway Bay) offering a wide range of English language and Chinese books, and an extensive selection of travel guides. Dymocks is an Australian chain and has stores in the IFC, The Princes Building, and other locations. The Commercial Press has bookstores in many shopping malls. It has more Chinese titles than English ones but its prices tend to be a bit more reasonable than many other booksellers that specialise in English titles. The Commercial Press has a large store in Miramar Shopping Centre that has a decent collection of English titles.

Cameras- As a tourist you should avoid camera shops in tourist areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui. Instead, seek out one of the larger electronics shops along Sai Yeung Choi South Street in Mong Kok or the Wan Chai Computer centre.

Chinese Art- Try Star House near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui for more expensive items, otherwise buy from the street markets in Mong Kok.

Computers- The Wanchai Computer Centre is located above Wanchai MTR station and is worth a look for anybody seeking computers and computer accessories. Prices are reasonable and you may find a bargain. Don't be afraid to ask the seller to demonstrate to you that the product is in good working order.

Consumer Electronics- There are many small shops selling electronic goods but as a tourist you are advised to avoid such vendors unless you have the help and support of a local person. Major shops such as Broadway, Fortress or TaiLin are more reliable but may not provide you with the sort of of guarantee and after sales service as you would get in your home country (if you spend a lot of time on the mainland Gome provides warranty service there for most electronics). Do not assume that electrical goods are cheaper in Hong Kong, in some instances prices can be up to five times more than in Europe or North America.

Music and Film- HMV is a tourist-friendly store that sells a wide range of expensive products. For real bargains you should find your way into the smaller shopping centres where you will find small independent retailers selling CDs and DVDs at very good prices. Some shops sell good quality second hand products. Try the Oriental Shopping Centre on Wanchai Road for a range of shops and a taste of shopping in a more down-market shopping centre. Alternatively, brave the warren of CD and DVD shops inside the Sino Centre on Nathan Road between Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei MTR stations.

Sports Goods- A good place to buy sportswear is close to Mong Kok MTR station. Try Fa Yuen Street and the roads around it for a wide range of shops selling sports wear (especially sports' shoes) - you could be spoilt for choice.

Tea- Buying good chinese tea is like choosing a fine wine and there are many tea retailers that cater for the connoisseur who is prepared to pay high prices for some of China's best brews. To sample and learn about Chinese tea you might like to find the Tea Museum which is in Hong Kong Park in Central. Marks & Spencer caters for homesick Brits by supplying traditional strong English tea bags at a reasonable price.

Watches and jewellery- Hong Kong people are avid watch buyers - how else can you show your wealth if you can't own a car and your home is hidden at the top of a tower-block? You will find a wide range of jewellery and watches for sale in all major shopping areas. If you are targeting elegant looking jewellery or watches try Chow Tai Fook, which can be expensive. Prices vary and you should always shop around and try and bargain on prices. When you are in Tsim Sha Tsui you will probably be offered a "copy watch" for sale.

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