Hong Kong: Shop around the clock

Author: lee tulloch
Photography: CHRIS CHEN

The credit cards are primed and ready to be swiped. The good news? You've planned your overseas shopping trip to coincide with Hong Kong's amazing winter sales (starting late December and running until February) or its famous Shopping Festival (from late June till 31 August) when bargains abound.

The not-so-good news? You've only got one day. Here's the lowdown on how to spend your limited time and money wisely:

7am You're up early and raring to go. Slow down, take a bath, have breakfast in your hotel. Hong Kong is all about money and spending it, so the city's heart beats to the drum of its great shopping malls, which don't open until 10am. The payoff is that it's a late-night town and you can shop until midnight at some markets and malls. Get out your maps and plan the strategy. Don't be overwhelmed by the dozens of malls and hundreds of shopping streets and lanes - you can get Fendi fatigue pretty quickly if you try to do them all. Hong Kong has more high-end stuff than anywhere else on the planet, including New York and London. Fortunately, most of it is interconnected by walkways, which comes in useful when the typhoons strike from June to September - but what's a bit of rain to a serious shopper?

9.30am Head for the new IFC Mall (8 Finance St, Central, www.ifc.com.hk) down by the waterfront in Central on Hong Kong island. If you're staying across the harbour on the mainland in Kowloon, take the MTR, the city's efficient, clean and safe underground rail system. You've probably bought an Octopus debit card at the airport (unused fares are refundable), but if not, single tickets are available at machines in the stations. The colour-coded subway lines are easy to navigate and the transport network is the key to covering a lot of shopping ground in a short amount of time. IFC houses fashion favourites such as Zara and Mango and most designer stores, but the real reason for heading here is the exquisite new Lane Crawford department store (www.lanecrawford.com) on podium level three. This is one of the most beautifully merchandised stores in the world, containing small boutiques of all things precious and desirable, from Agent Provocateur lingerie to Roland Mouret jackets and Catherine Memmi homewares. Even if your budget doesn't run to a $2400 Lanvin sheath dress, it's unmissable - more art gallery than shop. If you get waylaid here, you can always lunch at the chic Café Costa overlooking the harbour.

Hungry for something authentic? The famous old Luk Yu Tea House (24-26 Stanley St, Central, +852 2523 5464) serves a brisk yum cha. Better still, walk or take a taxi to Yung Kee (32-40 Wellington St, Central, +852 2522 1624) for its legendary roast goose, but get there early, as it's always crowded.

1pm Hong Kong is not all malls. For a smidgin of old Hong Kong, take a taxi up to Peel Street and wander downhill, following your nose. There are wonderfully dusty antique stalls, vegetable markets, quaint fashion stores and curious cafés. Seek out adorable handmade jewellery at Chocolate Rain (63 Peel St, Central, +852 2975 8318) and its sister café/store Art in Progress (18 Elgin St, Central, +852 2155 1313); or the diamond-encrusted crucifixes for $5800 at Rock Candy (1 Elgin St, Central, +852 2549 1018, www.rockcandy.hk), which looks like a bondage club from the street; and check out the poetry readings and 'sad' hour at the funky artists' bar and café, Joyce Is Not Here (38-44 Peel St, Central, +852 2851 2999).

To lay your hands on designer bargains - and we're talking up to 80 per cent off - skip Peel Street and take a 20-minute taxi ride to outlet city at Horizon Plaza (2 Lee Wing St, Ap Lei Chau) on Aberdeen Island. Head to the Joyce Warehouse and Lane Crawford outlet shops. Be warned: much ferreting through racks is required and Hong Kong sizes are small, but the finds will by far cover the costs of the taxi.

3pm Back in Central the next stop is Des Voeux Road, where you'll find temples to consumerism: a cluster of designer-packed malls. Chater House (8 Connaught Rd, Central) is Armani-world, containing, all on one floor, Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, Armani Fiori, Armani Casa and Armani Dolce, where single chocolates, stamped with an 'A' can be bought for $6. Check out the new Chanel boutique in the Prince's Building (10 Chater Rd, Central), Prada in Alexandra House (16-20 Chater Rd, Central), Harvey Nichols in The Landmark (15 Queen's Rd, Central) and the amazing new Louis Vuitton store - with its illuminated LED lighting and a dedicated 'bag bar' - also in The Landmark.

4pm Time for a spot of afternoon tea at the China Tee Club (+852 2521 0233, www.chinateeclub.com), an authentic old members-only club that nevertheless accepts non-members at tea-time. It's on the first floor of the Pedder Building (12 Pedder St, Central), a shabby building that's easy to miss. Despite its ramshackle exterior, within its grotty halls are dozens of small shops where sensational bargains can be found all year round: cashmere, designer clothing and a surprising array of quality vintage designer clothes, shoes and bags. At Ty Treasures (shop 303, +852 2810 1612) you can snap up a tweed Chanel suit for $1350 and an Hermès Kelly bag for $3500. Unearth an $860 vintage quilted Chanel tote at The 3rd Avenue Ltd (shop 304B, +852 2537 9168). Chloe dresses and Juicy Couture tracksuits can be found at Fullyrise (shop 205A, +852 2186 7719). Stock up with inexpensive cashmere at Dorfit (shop 605, +852 2501 0018) and Fable (shop 404, +852 2530 5148) or pricier designs at Blanc de Chine (shop 201-203, +852 2524 7875). For a bit of oriental glamour, shop at lifestyle emporium Shanghai Tang (+852 2525 6923, www.shanghaitang.com).

6pm If you can tear yourself away from the Pedder building drop next door into On Pedder (Wheelock House, 20 Pedder St, Central, +852 2522 3022) and drool over designer shoes: Alaia, Galliano, McQueen, Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.

6.30pm Pearl time! Get off the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and dash up to Rio Pearl (39 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2723 7676, www.riopearl.com.hk), one of the city's most reliable pearl dealers. Or for something less expensive and fun, visit Pan Am Pearl (9 Lock Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2723 9231), so named because the Pan American Airways stewardesses shopped here for fake pearls for years. Cheap cosmetics can be found at any of the Sasa chains (web2.sasa.com) and for those looking for cheap second-hand cameras, Champagne Court (12 Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui) houses four excellent stores including David Chan (shop 15, +852 2723 3886), which specialises in antique cameras.

7.30pm You've missed the legendary afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon (see The Fine Print) but you can still find time to have a drink in one of the world's best lobbies. More shopping can be had at The Peninsula Arcade - check out Qeelin, a jewellery store part-owned by Hong Kong movie starlet Maggie Cheung (+852 2368 1328, www.qeelin.com).

8.30pm Time to take your new purchases out for a whirl: sip on Aquatinis, a gold leaf martini for $25, while admiring sensational views at the très glam Aqua Spirit (29 & 30F, 1 Peking Rd, Kowloon, +852 3427 2288). Then it's downstairs to the 28th floor for dinner at the beautiful Hutong (+852 3428 8342), where splendid traditional Chinese cuisine is served in an atmosphere of old China - with ultra-modern views.

10.30pm An after-dinner drink at the noisy, eccentric Philippe Starck-designed Felix (+852 2315 3188) at The Peninsula hotel - or a last-minute dash to a night market for cheap souvenirs? Your choice. For the latter, try Temple Street's night market, off Nathan Road - get there before it shuts at 11pm.

Midnight Bed or nightclub? If you've shopped but haven't dropped, kick on at Dragon-I (60 Wyndham St, Central, +852 3110 1222) or ask your concierge to get you into the members-only Kee Club (6F, 32 Wellington Rd, Central, +852 2180 9000).

Sleep. Maybe.


Getting there
Virgin Atlantic flies daily to Hong Kong and offers three classes of travel: economy, premium economy and upper class. The upper class service features the largest fully flat bed in business class to Hong Kong, plus a sit-down cocktail bar, in-flight beauty therapist, complimentary chauffeur service at both ends of the journey and access to their award-winning Clubhouse lounges around the world. Call 1300 727 340 or visit www.virginatlantic.com.au.

The Peninsula Hong Kong
Spoil yourself with The Peninsula's spectacular views over Victoria Harbour. It's just 40 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport and Rolls-Royce airport transfers can be arranged. The hotel has 300 elegant guest rooms, including 54 suites, 8 restaurants and 2 bars, a shopping arcade, fitness centre, swimming pool, business centre and the newly opened luxurious two-floor, The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. Salisbury Rd, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 1800 116 888, www.peninsula.com.

More info
Contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board on 1800 251 071 or visit www.discoverhongkong.com/australia.

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