It was a good 48 hours in Hong Kong before I felt like I wasn't in New York City anymore; English-speaking denizens, huge Abercrombie billboards, AvroKO-designed restaurants and more or less every major Western retailer are bountiful in the Asian shopping capital. In fact, it took a private guided tour by Kensington Tours (worth the splurge when traveling to any culture-laden country) for me to truly feel like I was in the East.
One thing was ardently clear throughout, however, and that's that folks in Hong Kong LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to shop. It's the prime hobby of pretty much everyone in the city and given the breadth of options (whether at food markets or in any one of the countless shopping malls), it's hard to blame them. Here's a look at where the glitterati go to sleep, eat, shop and party when in Hong Kong.
When traveling to any new country it's imperative to do some basic research. Fodor's guides do a great job of giving a cultural overview along with useful tips like how to get to and from the airport, maps, information on currency exchange, itineraries based on length of stays and more things you'll want to scan through on your plane trip over. Another essential is a Keychain iPhone Charger (or something comparable if you're not an iPhone user) - this is especially crucial if you plan on using your phone as your camera. On that note, most top hotels are equipped with chargers/adapters, but to be safe it's worth investing in a kit like this.
More than splurging on the most amazing outfit or the most decadent meal, splurging on a private guided tour like the ones offered by Kensington Tours is the best investment you can make. The guide will tailor the tour based on your interest as you're chauffeured around in a wifi-equipped car by a driver who knows all the back-roads - vital in a high-traffic city like Hong Kong. Better yet the guides are incredibly well-versed in all aspects of the cities they cover so you'll get true insider knowledge that would be impossible to get otherwise. Plus the convenience - it can't be beat.
It doesn't get more luxurious than the Mandarin Oriental. From the moment you enter the sprawling granite lobby you're greeted by an exceedingly accommodating and well-mannered staff. Ask for a room with harbor views and in all likely-hood you won't want to leave your recently renovated room, which comes complete with Hermes bathroom amenities.
Breakfast of Champions
If you're not staying at the Mandarin you can still experience its splendor via one of its restaurants. The breakfast buffet is a great option because it truly gives you a multicultural experience. Everything from egg white omelets and fresh fruit to stir fried noodles, dumplings and chicken teriyaki is offered.
Spa treatments are central to Asian culture and many, including the ones at the Mandarin Oriental, are based around custom-blended essential oils that reflect your current mental state. Herbal steam rooms and thermal baths are also on hand to make you forget every last beat of your New Yorker anxiety.
If you're looking to stay somewhere cutting edge in terms of design and technology Mira Hotel is a hip boutique hotel that comes complete with LCD TVs that double as computers, Bose sound systems and they have cellphones on hand for all of their guests.
The Mira spa was recently renovated and features nine treatment areas, two couples suites, an infinity Jacuzzi, a nail bar and a floatation lounge. Among their most popular treatments, based on Chinese body balancing rituals, are their facials which use the lastest in anti-aging technology.
Central is where you want to go to get your high fashion fix. Streets are lined with everything from Chanel to Harvey Nichols.
Nestled in between the high-end shops are cult-favorites like COS and Uterque.
Dry Seafood Market
Sheung Wan’s aka 'dried seafood street' brims with hundreds of shops selling everything from dried shrimp to dried fish stomachs (supposedly great for your skin because they're loaded in collagen). Even if dried goods aren't your thing this is a worthy stop.
The Central–Mid-levels escalators is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. It's used by Hong Kong residents to access apartment buildings located on steap hills constructed without elevators. There are plenty of local food and clothing shops along the 800-plus meters.
Odds are you won't end up buying anything at this outdoor market where crammed stalls stock bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs, but it's one of Hong Kong's most famous markets and shouldn't be missed.
Think of Joyce as Hong Kong Theresa or Luisaviaroma.
There are countless malls, the best of which are located in Central and Causeway Bay and anchored by a Lane Crawford outlets (think Hong Kong's take on Bergdorf Goodman).
The Chinese Temples in Hong Kong are stunning and filled with such a rich cultural. These are also where a private guide comes in handy to elucidate all of the ancient rituals and customs.The Man Mo Temple in the Downtown area is particularly impressive.
New York City posh yoga studio, Pure Yoga, originated in Hong Kong and their are amenity-filled locations located throughout the city.
Peninsula High Tea
The Peninsula is Hong Kong's oldest hotel and is touted as the spot for high tea. With its delicate smoked salmon and truffled egg sandwiches, mini tortes and custom-blended teas, the spread, served amidst neo-classical arches, doesn't disappoint.
No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a stop at local favorite Mak's Noodles. The Anthony Bourdain-approved chain serves up traditional Cantonese noodles - they're fast and cheap and what many locals eat for lunch.
Modeled after La Esquina in New York City, Socialito is one of the liveliest spots to have dinner and drinks in Hong Kong and, surprisingly, the Mexican fare delights even die-hard Los Angelenos.
Michael White brings his Italian fare to Hong Kong via a stunning waterside eatery, Al Molo. Friendly service, mouthwatering pizza and optimal views of the city's daily lightshow make it a must.
Lily and Bloom
A bi-level eatery and bar designed by AvroKO this spot overflows with an international set of fashionable 20 and 30-somethings.
For bottles and models look no further than this hot spot nightclub.
Hong Kong denizens live life to the fullest. Case and point Volar, a nightclub which doesn't really get going till around 3am (though if you don't know anyone at the door, get there early).