Monday, May 6, 2013

Shopping on HK Island, Hong Kong

It would seem that most tourists stay in Kowloon and business travellers stay in HK Island. Even among the locals, if you stay on HK Island, you tend to work/shop/play on HK Island. If you rest your head at Kowloon, likewise you tend to stick to Kowloon stores. 

While Hong Kong's main financial/business district is in HK Island, HK Island is packed with pockets of shopping goodies. My last 4 trips to HK have seen me resting my aching legs and arms (after shopping) on HK Island, so I do feel somewhat equipped to write this post.

The mtr line travelling on HK Island is the Island Line and the 4 mtr stops I want to talk about are:
- Central (also linked to Hong Kong Airport Express Station)
- Admiralty
- Wan Chai
- Causeway Bay

Central mtr station is the mtr stop for the main business district of HK Island. Financial institutions, banks etc typically have their headquarters in Central and it is foolhardy to travel on the mtr during times that office workers commute. Although one would think that there are only office buildings and banks, the retail scene is very much alive in Central.  

Brands of note in Central include: Marks & Spencers, HMV (still very much alive in Hong Kong), H & M, Joyce and Shanghai Tang. If you're in Hong Kong to buy something branded and expensive (watches, bags, couture), you can probably find the brand in Central. 

Central also boasts of a famous street market, Li Yuen Street East and West. I have found costume jewellery, Chinese embroidery, children's clothes and shoes, knockoff bags, socks and stockings in this pair of streets. I don't haggle when buying from this pair of streets as I typically find the prices quoted reasonable. I had seen one vendor decline a potential buyer's bargaining attempts, so I guess you can try but don't be surprised when they turn you down.    

If it's raining in HK Island, Central is an excellent shopping choice as many shopping areas are either directly connected to the mtr station or interconnected from one building to another.

Admiralty Place
Pacific Place mall sits directly on top of Admiralty Place mtr station. Beauty brands like Giorgio Armani, Jo Malone, Jurlique, Nars and Yves Saint Laurent have individual stores here (conveniently located next to each other). Like Central, Pacific Place has many brands, so if you want to give your credit card a workout, this might just be the place. 

Sample of street shopping in HK Island

Just like Li Yuen Street East and West, Admiralty has its own street shopping. From the main road, it would appear that the street sell fresh food (typically the first few stalls might sell vegetables, fruits etc). But when you walk into the street, you might spot stalls selling knockoff bags, children clothes (factory rejects), socks and stockings, swimwear etc. The stalls selling non-food items typically open just before lunch hour and might close just before dinner time. 

Wan Chai
Tai Yuen Street in the Wan Chai area is famous for toys and I have picked up quite a few made-in-China toys here. Like everywhere in Hong Kong, drugstores like Mannings, Sasa and Watsons are also prevalent here. Street shopping prevails in Wan Chai.

Causeway Bay
Causeway Bay apparently has been a popular haunt among the Japanese and Korean tourists for a long time. It is my go-to place for shopping on HK Island. Uniqlo has just opened its first flagship store in Hong Kong in April 2013. It is 3 floors of Uniqlo heaven, located near Times Square. There is also another Uniqlo branch at World Trade Centre (perpendicular to La Foret Shopping Mall). 

The bigger shopping malls of note in Causeway Bay and their main draws (according to me):
- Times Square - Lane Crawford departmental store and City Super supermarket(stocks food and Japanese brands/products. Love the quirky Jap beauty buys here!)
- Hysen Place - Joyce Beauty, Gap, Abercombie & Fitch, Apple (2 storeys), Swarovski (including Atelier Swarovski pieces in store) and eslite
- La Foret - quirky stores, Korean and Japanese retail styles (cosmetics, shoes, wigs, clothes etc).
- Sogo - brands like MAC (store-in-store), Lancome, Clarins, Cosme Decorte, Longchamp, their amazing food hall and supermarket
- Windsor House. Think children's paradise. Toys R Us, stride rite, ItsImagical, Next Children among others

 Some brands found at Windsor House

A branch of Ikea and HMV can also found at the basement of Parklane Hotel (just across from Windsor House).

The street level shops in Causeway Bay are also just as bountiful for beauty products. There is a detailed plan for beauty shopping in Causeway Bay in my beauty shopping country guide HK. I have found more upstairs shops in Central and Causeway Bay than in Admiralty and Wan Chai, so keep a lookout for people distributing flyers and holding placards.

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive payment or payment in kind for writing this blog post. Any opinions expressed are my own.

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