Like all major cities, the more time I spend in it, the more I fall in love…and Hong Kong was no different. At first I was skeptical and didn’t understand what the hype was all about. But after a few days, through self-exploration and touring around with blogger and Hong Kong resident, Nikki Plunkett, I saw that there was much more to the city than big box shopping malls and restaurants. I like to take in a city as a city resident would, as that’s how I feel you truly get to appreciate its charm. In a little over 5 days I was only able to scratch the surface, but did enough to know it’s a place I would happily return to one day.
I can shop at H&M, Zara, Chanel and Tiffany’s anywhere else in the world, especially at home. Although it was fun to peruse and take a look, I was particularly interested in picking up “Made in China” items at severely discounted rates or eclectic clothing that represented Asian fashion.
Apple Mall – This is a small underground mall with 6ft ceilings located within HK’s Times Square area. The stores sell high-end fashion clothing you’d find in the luxury department stores for a fraction of the original price due to close links to the manufacturers in China. WARNING, be prepared for cut off labels due to license restrictions. The items were well made, quality fabrics, fashion forward and slightly eccentric — true to Hong Kong’s style.
Jardine’s Bazaar – This is located steps away from the Causeway Bay train station and here you will find stalls after stalls selling accessories, bags, shoes and some clothing shops. This was a good place to pick up souvenirs and some jewelry at discounted prices. It also had a good selection of hand bags. If you are not concerned about brand name and are looking for a quality leather totes or cross body bags, this is the place to go.
Ladies Market – Just outside of the island, in Kowloon, you will find the Ladies Market in Mongkok. It’s bustling with locals, bright lights and many stalls and shops. This was by far my favourite place to shop for clothes. I found some great Korean designs at very reasonable prices. There were also a few shops with great selection of jewelry. The only caveat here is that you can’t try on the clothes – so you need to know it will fit you or take a chance.
Apparently, Korean Skin Care is far more advanced than anywhere else in the world. They follow a 10-12 step skin care routine daily and many bloggers and friends of mine insist they have seen significant improvements to their skin once they started the regime. Naturally, as a beauty enthusiast I had to look into this. I spent hours and made several trips to Sasa, Hong Kong’s version of Sephora if you will – filled with skin care and make up items. Here, I stocked up on many skin care goodies mainly from Korea, some from Japan and a few Swiss made products. I am excited about starting the Korean Skin Care Regime and will do a detailed post on it at a later date.
Because Hong Kong Island is primarily an expat area, you get a variety of foods from around the world. Some of my more memorable meals were found on a whim – the Mediterranean dinner at a bar called Infusion in Lan Kwai Fong (see below), the dim sum at Dim Sum Square, the roast soya sauce chicken in truffle oil at Sing Ying and the best Ramen I’ve ever had at Ramen Jo in Elements Mall.
I noticed that High Tea is very popular in Hong Kong – you can find places serving High Tea from 2-6pm in all the fancy malls. It was so convenient that we decided to indulge before heading to the Airport on our last day.
I did try out a local hot spot, Aberdeen Street Social. It was located in a cute area, had a sleek and stylish design and service was impeccable. However, the food itself didn’t impress as much. I’m happy to spend egregious amounts of money on food if it’s delicious, but personally for me, the food didn’t live up to the price or hype. I would recommend this place to grab cool cocktails in the bar area on the first floor instead.
I met up with Nikki and her friends on the Wednesday night and we grabbed a salad from a cute little restaurant in the Soho District called Nood Food. Afterwards, we headed to Lang Kwai Fong – the clubbing district where all the expats go. Wednesday and Thursday are ladies night where ladies drink free at many of the bars. It’s a whole district of bars, restaurants and patios. The following night I returned with my husband, where we discovered a small alley that one could describe as the Mediterranean alley – where we ate some seriously delicious Mediterranean fare and had some stellar sheesha.
On my second last day, I met up with Nikki again. We started off our day chilling poolside at the W Hotel’s incredible wet deck located on the 76th floor, surrounded by stunning views of Hong Kong. She brought me a delicious smoothie from one of her favourite places, Raw. Afterwards, we freshened up and headed to Tai Hung – Hong Kong’s hipster area – full of cute cafes, bakeries, bars, restaurants, boutiques and more. This was by far one of my favourite places in Hong Kong. Nestled away from the busy streets of Hong Kong, Tai Hung is reminiscent of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg with Parisienne charm, surrounded by Hong Kong’s familiar architecture. We first stopped off at a cute café where I had the most delicious turkey sandwich – thick piece of smoked turkey on a freshly baked bun, garnished with crisp, fresh lettuce and tomatoes. A few hundred meters later, we sat down at La Famille for some coffee and deliciously moist sponge cake. As we continued to explore, a beautiful yellow café caught our eye where we took advantage of their happy hour and indulged on wine. All this was topped off with delicious ice cream at Ice Cream Lab where they make the ice cream fresh the moment you order.
THE QUALITY OF SERVICE
An honourable mention goes to the customer service in Hong Kong. Unlike many parts of the world, is it not custom to tip in Hong Kong. Service staff aren’t paid low wages where tips are supposed to make up for their total wage. I believe the quality of service has to do with the culture of saving face, as ones action is representative of the establishment and one would not want to shame their place of work. From hotels, to restaurants, to shops – the service was outstanding – efficient, mindful and always with a smile on their face.