As the locals will tell you, there’s more to Hong Kong than big business and brands. Just follow this inside guide for cool shopping, glamorous dining and wonderful walks-with-a-view

Welcome to Hong Kong, where neon lights, hoards of photo-snapping tourists and fast-paced living are the norm. Take a deep breath and plunge right into this fascinating city, using our guide to experience it like a local.

Retail Riches

Multi-label fashion at The Collectives Designer labels and luxury stores are everywhere in Hong Kong, but there are plenty of independent stores, too. When the big brands took over Central, the quirky shops headed west. Check out the retailers around Gough Street and Gage Street to find everything from couture to cupcakes, and funky furnishings at General Store to cutting-edge fashion at The Collectives. On nearby Chancery Lane, Lok Man Rare Books is a bibliophile’s dream, full of rare and early editions. As well as China-related books, you’ll find Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling and other treasures. In Central, Shanghai Tang’s new flagship on historic Duddell Street – home of Hong Kong’s last remaining gas lamps – stocks the latest in East-meets-West fashion.
 

View points

In the morning, pop up to The Peak to walk the circular trail around the city’s highest point. The relatively easy walk starts at Lugard Road and takes an hour or so to complete. It also provides amazing views of Victoria Harbour and the Pokfulam Reservoir. After that, recharge with afternoon tea as you people watch at MO Bar at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. The street-level venue is a magnet for the fashionable set and offers a modern twist on traditional high tea, with collaborations with brands such as Jimmy Choo (think chocolate stilettos) and Ladurée (for exclusive ‘Platinum’ macaroons). The evening is the time to watch the city unwind. Take a ride along the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator, which rises from Central to the residential Mid-Levels. Along the way you will encounter the trendy bars and restaurants of SoHo, where the residents of Hong Kong relax after hours. Plus, you will come across interesting and surprising places, like trendy Rednaxela Terrace and the serene Jamia Mosque.
 

Art affairs

'Fruit Bat Bridge' at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre To get to grips with Hong Kong’s burgeoning art scene, check out the dozens of galleries along Hollywood Road. Or for an artistic hangout, head to Duddell’s. Located above Shanghai Tang, it’s a sophisticated salon, art gallery and celebrated Cantonese restaurant in one – the curated exhibits are on the money, and the terrace is the hangout du jour for Hong Kong’s arty crowd. The Asia Society Hong Kong Centre is significant for entirely different reasons. It’s home to many important contemporary art exhibitions, but even between shows it’s a must-see – the galleries are in restored mid-19th-century military buildings surrounded by untamed flora and fauna, and its visitor centre features sleek modern architecture, a tranquil roof garden and a restaurant.  
 

Outdoor living

Sandpipers at Mai Po Marshes Hong Kong may be an urban jungle, but it’s also a paradise for outdoorsy types. Birdwatchers with a bit of time should arrange a visit to the Mai Po Marshes, Hong Kong’s wetland preserve, which is a resting point for a variety of migrating birds. Hikers, grab some water and a guidebook – there are lots of trails of varying difficulty to explore, including many that start near Central. Or try island hopping: board a ferry to one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands to experience the chic suburban beaches of Discovery Bay, the quaint fishing village of Cheung Chau, or seafood destination Lamma Island.
 

Bliss out

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong Escape to The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, which not only spans two floors of five-star therapies and facilities, but also offers beauty exclusives, like the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by renowned podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez, and acclaimed, chemical-free Sodashi treatments. Allow time to enjoy the spa’s heat and water experiences.
 

Dining stars

Amber at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong At lunchtime, join the Hong Kong business tycoons and society tai-tais, who queue for innovative yakitori, or grilled chicken, at celebrated Yardbird. For a heavenly cause, book a table at La Parole, a non-profit establishment offering fine French food with all proceeds going to a children’s charity. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s infamous Demon Chef, Alvin Leung, presides over the three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation and cooks up surprises in every dish. And for stellar dining that has earned countless accolades, including two Michelin stars, don’t miss Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, where executive chef Richard Ekkebus is setting new standards in modern French cuisine.

 

After dark

The Hong Kong Cultural Centre When the sun sets, the entertainment ramps up in Hong Kong, whether you are going to the theatre or a club. The Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts are the city’s two main venues for international acts, which can be anything from the Bolshoi Ballet to Broadway shows, so find out who is in town. For late-late fun, Hong Kong has a choice of nightclubs, which tend to be small but draw big-time DJs. Loungey, Asia-themed Dragon-i has been the nightlife of choice for years, while newcomer Play is the largest single-floor club in Central, and a dance force to be reckoned with.

 

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