Getting re-acquainted with Hong Kong

My husband has started a new job, and they wanted him to start his first day in Hong Kong for a week. I could hardly contain the excitement when i first knew. We only managed to get flight details 3 days before he was due to depart, so i scrambled to find the cheapest possible ticket so i could be there as well. It wasn’t very cheap in the end because 1) it was very last minute 2) it was the tail-end of the Lunar New Year festive period. Anyway in order to save a whopping $500, i departed a day later than him and managed to get myself booked on the same flight back.

To be honest, i was very excited for a few reasons. Firstly, I have not taken a flight on my own for 8 years, and it made me nervous wondering if i had left anything important behind (being the occasional scatterbrain that i am). And secondly, the last time i was in Hong Kong was in 2009, for work. I never had time to really do or see anything during my 2 work trips to HK, so i was looking forward to exploring the place at a leisurely pace. I made up my mind not to do sight-seeing this time cos i did all that in the mid-90s when my father was based in Hong Kong for 3 years. It’s been a while since my last visit, i was looking forward to getting re-aquainted with Hong Kong all over again, of course where food and shopping is concerned.

I took the 8am Cathay Pacific flight, and arrived in HK at 11-ish. By the time i cleared customs, it was already 12.30. I spent some time figuring out how to top up my Octopus card (HK’s version of our Ez-Link card) then took the Airport Express train to Kowloon station. That single trip cost me HK$90. Then i cabbed from Kowloon to the hotel – Harbor Grand Kowloon, located in the Hung Hom area which set me back by about HK$50 i think. My husband cabbed all the way from the airport and that cost him HK$300 plus (which is about S$50 plus!!). So if you can’t claim your cab fare from someone, do it my way to save $$. 🙂 It was a lovely, large room BTW. Totally unexpected, because HK has a reputation for tiny hotel rooms (like Tokyo).

The view from across the hotel was quite pretty.

Over the 5 days and 4 nights i was in Hong Kong, i wandered aimlessly through a couple of places recommended to me by friends. I even visited some places a few times because there was just simply too much area to cover. You’ll find that you walk A LOT when you are in Hong Kong. Great exercise! And you won’t even realize how tired you are because you’re too busy walking in and out of shops ;p

Here are a few places/shops you can check out if you’re looking to do some cheap to mid-priced shopping. Just remember that nothing in Hong Kong is really cheap to begin with, so adjust your expectations. You won’t get clothing at prices in Bangkok!

1) Citygate Outlets

A huge in-door outlet shopping mall with several high-end shops in the mix. You’ll find options such as Club 21, MaxMara, I.T, Kate Spade, CK, Diane Von Furstenberg and Kookai just to name a few. What you’ll also find are also Swatch, Giordano (which also includes cool collections from Giordano Ladies and Giordano Concept), Adidas, Timberland, Sasa, Esprit, Levi’s, Mango etc. Worth visiting despite the distance.

2) Franc Franc

This is one of my favorite home & lifestyle stores around (similar to Crate & Barrel in the US). Their stuff is not really cheap, but there are some pretty, yet useful items that are great as gifts for friends and loved ones or souvenirs for yourself. Good to go if they are having a sale. If you enjoy visiting such home & lifestyle stores, you can also check out G.O.D (Goods of Desire) and Homeless.

3) Tsim Sha Tsui

It’s a place filled with endless shopping and eating options (not exactly the best way to describe it since many areas in HK offer great shopping & dining). You’ll need an entire day or more to really explore this place, depending on how thorough you want to be. But what i can tell you is that there are tons of Sasa & Bonjour outlets at almost every junction. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see one. They sell lots of cosmetics, skin care, perfumes and all sorts of beauty products at reasonably good prices. There are also other similar shops with different names selling the same beauty stuff everywhere in TST. So beauty buffs, this is your playground!

Just wander along Nathan Road, and you’ll find many shops selling pretty clothes, bags and shoes. Such a pity that they are still selling winter stuff now, there would have been more options for me if i had gone in Spring or Summer. One other place you might like to pay attention to is Granville Road. If you are lucky, you’ll find designer brand samples at drastically-reduced prices. There’s also a “GI shopping arcade’ on Granville Road you can pop by, yet another place to look for more clothes, bags & cosmetics. And nearby, look for Granville Circuit where they have several shops selling their own local designs or collectibles, along with accessories and vintage items.

If by any chance you are in the Tsim Sha Tsui area and are looking to do some high-end shopping, you can always pop into the Peninsula Hotel shopping arcade. There you’ll find the likes of Chanel, Cartier, Tiffany , Escada, Louis Vuitton, Goyard and many more.

4) Causeway Bay

One word: Super-Crowded! (Or is that 2 words?!?!) LOL. Here is where you’ll find large malls like SOGO and Times Square. I only came here because my Dad wanted me to look for something he claimed only Causeway Bay would have. All the big brand names here. However, you will still find some hidden treasures that will offer more affordable options if you look hard enough in and out of the narrow lanes. One of them is La Foret (which is behind SOGO) where you’ll find many Japanese and local fashion boutiques selling trendy clothes and accessories. Another one i’d like to mention is Island Beverly, lots of clothes, bags, accessories and shoes. They have fun and trendy stuff, something like your mainstream Top Shop or Forever21, but with a bit more character.

5) H&M

Yes i know… what is the big deal with H&M especially since they are here in Singapore as well right? I don’t know to be honest… LOL. I still think they are a good option for affordable yet casual and semi-formal clothings. It was just another place to shop in Hong Kong i guess. 🙂 And since there was a sale going on for past season’s stuff, i snagged a few good deals! Other than clothes, bags and accessories, they sell make-up like lip glosses, eye-shadow palattes and even body lotions and stuff. Great as gifts for friends too if you are looking. The biggest outlet should be the one at Queen’s Road Central near Central MTR Station. I figured it would be quite crowded there since is is the central business district so i went to Festival Walk mall at Kowloon Tong MTR Station instead.

6) Mongkok

A good time to come would be at night. Find a nice place to have a leisurely dinner, then get ready to go to the Ladies Market and Temple Street night markets. I doubt you’d find anything particularly interesting at the night market but it’s just fun to soak in the atmosphere and make your way through throngs of people. There are lots of imitation goods here, but they also sell local souvenirs, sex toys, jade (of which i doubt its authenticity) and millions of mobile phone covers and accessories. You’ll see several fortune tellers around too (they speak English too!) just in case you’d like to know what the future holds for you.

Of course, there’s much much more to shopping in Hong Kong than what i’ve mentioned here. So if you’d like a more in-depth guide, you can read this.

Here are some photos i’d like to share with you of my trip. Thanks for looking! 🙂