Ultimate Hong Kong shopping guide: Causeway Bay
Causeway Bay may be the shopping mecca in Hong Kong, but arriving for the first time, all most people see is an overwhelming ocean of humanity circulating around seemingly bland shopping centers.
As the second priciest retail street in the world last year (and the priciest the year before), many local stores have closed or been forced out in recent years by high rents and international chain stores.
But only out-of-towners dismiss Causeway Bay as one big tourist trap.
There are still plenty of treasures and, yes, bargains, to be found in this labyrinth of commerce. That's why you'll find it crowded with shoppers even at 10 or 11 on Sunday and Monday nights.
You'll need faith and the stamina of a marathon runner, but good things can still happen in Causeway Bay.
Here's how to find the biggest and best shops (not always the same thing) and get a head start on the competition.
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SOGO Causeway Bay
Even if you don’t shop in SOGO Causeway Bay, know this: its main entrance is an iconic meeting point for locals.
Opened in 1985, SOGO is the biggest and the most popular Japanese department store in Hong Kong. Its 12 stories (including two basement floors) include everything from high fashion to cosmetics to electronics to toys for kids.
Island Beverly Center
Shopping malls can be monotonous, but Island Beverly Center is different. Located next to SOGO, it's a four-floor treasure hunting adventure.
The small mall has around 100 boutiques that sell local, Korean and Japanese fashion, as well as communal consignment stores in cubicle cells that sell goods from toys to cosmetics. This is where to check out the best (and sometimes worst) of local trends.
Items are generally inexpensive, but fitting isn't allowed.
Island Beverly Center, 1 Great George St., Causeway Bay; +852 2890 6823; opening times vary but usually from afternoon till late
My Rhythm Journey
A new addition to the cluster of unique shops inside Causeway Place shopping mall, My Rhythm Journey sells ukuleles imported from the United States and Japan in different designs and patterns -- some are even waterproof.
Another item are cajons, wooden music boxes that have become popular in Hong Kong.
“The owner used to be a drummer himself and wants to promote cajon and ukulele more in Hong Kong,” says the shopkeeper.
Ukulele and cajon classes are offered at the back of this cozy little shop.
My Rhythm Journey, Shop 209, Causeway Place, 2-10 Great George St., Causeway Bay; +852 5544 9447; daily 2-10 p.m.
Good Old Days at WTC More
Hidden in a corner of a shopping mall, Good Old Days is a small shop cramped with about a thousand antique watches.
Well-dressed Ping-sing Szeto opened the shop 25 years ago to sell precious timepieces that he collected around the world when he was a professional cyclist.
Century-old, diamond-studded watches and even older pocket watches are the kinds of things you'll find.
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From vintage to restored vintage to imitation vintage so convincing you can’t tell they’re imitations, Retrostone is a one-stop location, especially for rockers.
Retrostone made its mark in Hong Kong by importing secondhand band T-shirts from the United States. Although band tees are still the major attraction, the shop also sells a lot of leather products and small vintage design brands from overseas.
Retrostone, 1/F, 504 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay; +852 2838 6419; open daily 2:30 or 3:30-10 p.m.
Retrostone, 2/F, 1 Cannon St., Causeway Bay; +852 3107 9131; open daily 2:30-10 p.m.
Parents see this congregation of kids stores as heaven or avoid it like germs.
There are more than 20 stores to please tired travelers' energetic offspring.
You'll find organic children's clothes, educational toys and even corrective shoes.
Spanning four streets, Fashion Walk combines indoor and outdoor storefronts.
The shopping complex features small, unique items as well as products from well known brands such as Alexander McQueen and Armani.
In addition to obvious international brands, interesting local shops include Liger and GumGumGum (individual entries below).
Food Street sits right in the middle, so there’s plenty of nourishment on hand to keep you from getting fatigued while shopping for just a few more hours.
GumGumGum is fun and chic at the same time.
At this select store for housewares and fashion items, local designers make 90% of the products in stock, including Imperial United, Sketch Around, House of Style and more.
Promotions include a Columbia Sportswear pop-up cafe inside the store (through January 2015), with an outback-camping theme. Shoppers sit on camping chairs and eat dishes like cheese fondue and snow toast (French toast sprinkled with icing sugar).
GumGumGum, G/F, 8-10 Cleveland St., Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay; +852 3486 7070; daily noon-10 p.m.
Located in the midst of Fashion Walk, lifestyle concept store Droog is a Dutch upcycling brand with multiple award-winning furniture designs to its credit.
It sells everything from fun kitchenware to household gadgets and accessories.
A walk through the store is like visiting a mini-design exhibition -- the whimsical Chest of Drawers exhibit made a recent appearance and fit right in.
Stock is imported mostly from Europe and North America -- brands like Life, Royal VKB, Stelton and Eva Solo are typical.
A coffee bar is in the making and scheduled to open in 2015.
Droog, G/F, 13 Cleveland St., Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay; +852 2623 7664; daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
To meet a celebrity or just dress like one, Liger is the place.
Local fashion icon Hilary Tsui and her business partner have opened their third Liger store, pleasing celebrity and fashion-forward clientelle.
The sleek shop carries a range of uncommon international and local brands, such as Alice McCall, Rue Du Mail and Joanna Ho, as well as the in-house label, Oh My God.
Liger, Shop A & C, 55 Paterson St., Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay; +852 2503 5308; open noon-9 p.m. daily
Liger, 1/F, 11 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay; +852 3483 3948; open Monday-Saturday 12:30-9 p.m., Sunday 1-8 p.m.
The stylish store is a hidden gem adored by local celebs -- see all their signatures on the wall.
The store mainly carries younger, high street fashion brands from Europe and Japan, such as KTZ and Henrik Vibskov. They also revamp classics (platform Vans’ sneakers, anyone?) for their own label, Yah.
KniQ, 4/B, Vienna Mansion, 55 Paterson St., Causeway Bay; +852 2881 7903; open Monday-Saturday 2-10 p.m., Sunday 2-9 p.m.
At this avant garde shop you can see the latest fashion K-pop stars wear.
The store stocks labels like Haider Ackermann, C. Neoon and Toga Archieves.
The interior design is amusing. The store on Cleveland Street has a ceiling knitted from 900 white strings.
Shine, Shop B, 5-7 Cleveland St., Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay; +852 2890 8261; open daily from 12:30-10 p.m.
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Despite being the first venture from local fashion newbies, Keith Cheng and Grace Lee's elegant store aims high.
Jexta features bold designs with subtle details and the occasional vintage touch.
Elegant fishtail dresses, vintage brooches and high-quality leather shoes highlight the goods.
“We source different local tailors for different designs, depending on what they are good at,” says Cheng.
Jexta, 1A Cleveland Mansion, 5-7 Cleveland St., Causeway Bay; +852 2972 7893; open daily 2-10 p.m.
eslite, Hysan Place
Eslite is the largest bookstore chain in Taiwan and the Hysan Place store is its first overseas branch.
The 3,800-square-meter (41,000-square-feet) bookstore offers an extensive selection of Chinese books and a decent selection of English books.
More importantly, it’s the home of Hong Kong's best bubble tea shop, cha FOR TEA.
Given its location behind the giant Forever 21 outlet and in the vicinity of the eye-catching Hysan Place, it’s easy to walk past Jardine’s Crescent without seeing anything special.
Jardine's Crescent is a long and narrow street market cramped with clothing, accessories and tacky souvenir stores at good value. It’s a place to polish your bargaining skills.
There are more shops behind the stalls on the side, too.
You already know Forever 21.
But this one stays open till 1 a.m. daily.
Frustrated by the long process to get a custom-made shirt, Ian Fong founded Cuffs, a modern place for bespoke tailoring.
A genius shirt bar and suit bar illustrate the steps to customize your shirt, with a finely curated selection of patterns and fabrics.
Shirts (HK$500-600/US$64-77) take around 10 days to make. Suits (HK$3,500-5,000/US$450-645) take two to three weeks.
Cuffs, 3/F, 27 Lee Garden Road, Causeway Bay; +852 2413 6033; open daily 1-9 p.m.
Satis-Factory Vintage Emporium
For those who enjoy treasure hunts, this is the place.
Every corner of the shop offers something different -- jewelry, decorations, household accessories, one-of-a-kind knickknacks.
But most customers come to Satis-Factory for vintage wedding dresses.
“All of the dresses are imported from England, and there is only one of each,” says owner Salina Lam. “Jewelry and collectible lace -- from as early as the late 1800s to early 1900s -- are popular.”
Vintage dresses range from HK$3,000-9,000 ($390-1,160).
Collectible lace ranges from HK$4,000-5,000 ($515-645).
The shop also offers small repair and refurbishment for vintage items, as well as wedding dress alterations.
Satis-Factory Vintage Emporium, Suite 2M, 2/F, Po Foo Building, 1 Foo Ming St., Causeway Bay; +852 9783 5141; Monday-Saturday 4-7 p.m.
Lane Crawford, Times Square
If you want to eavesdrop on the latest gossip from Hong Kong socialites and tai tai (well-off wives), you can hang out where they shop -- Lane Crawford.
Founded in 1850, Lane Crawford is still Hong Kong's leading luxury fashion and lifestyle specialty store, offering the best of designer fashions.
In addition to womenswear and menswear, there are departments for shoes and accessories, home and lifestyle sections and an extensive area for beauty and cosmetics.
Sweet and strong -- this is how Pink Martini describes itself.
The funky store with a pink neon sign and always charming window display sells the ideal wardrobe for the city’s trendy youngsters.
Products range from the shop's own playful label, Daily Dolly, famous for its redesign of classic brands, to French chic designs from Japanese brand Duras Ambient.
Pink Martini, Shop 2, 3 Yiu Wa St., Causeway Bay; +852 2574 1498; open Monday-Saturday 1:30-10:30 p.m., Sunday 2-10 p.m.
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Founded seven years ago, Oldies Co. was one of the very first fashion tenants in Yiu Wah Street.
The small shop stocks secondhand leather jackets, secondhand dresses and imports Homage USA retro T-shirts. It also designs vintage biker jackets and leather jackets under its own label.
Oldies Co., 1/F, 28 Yiu Wah St., Causeway Bay; +852 2575 8775; open Monday to Friday 3-11 p.m., weekends 1-11 p.m.
Phone cases in the shape of handbags, fortune cats and other clever designs can be found in this small corner store on the second floor of Sharp Street East.
Despite being founded by a Hong Konger, the colorful store made its fame in Japan long before setting foot here.
The shop has expanded its business to add housewares and accessories made of silicone. Some items are exclusive to Hong Kong.
Plus side: You’ll never have trouble finding a phone you buy here. Down side: You may need to shop for a bigger bag, as well.
Candies, 2/F, 9B Sharp St. East, Causeway Bay; +852 2354 9228; open daily 1-8:30 p.m.
Unless you’re a Polaroid enthusiast, Causeway Bay isn't usually a destination for new cameras.
But ::mint:: is Hong Kong’s only Impossible Project partner store -- a company that replicates the out-of-production Polaroid film for Polaroid 600 and sells secondhand SX-70 cameras.
It’s also one of the world’s biggest restoration centers for the SX-70. Hong Kong was a major Polaroid trading port, and ::mint:: has recruited a team of retired Polaroid technicians and possesses a few hundred restored SX-70s.
::mint::, 2/F, 26A Russell St., Causeway Bay; +852 2720 0222; open daily 1-9:30 p.m.
Toys and Models
UML Hobby claims to be the “coolest hobby store” in Hong Kong, and they may be right.
Founded in 1974, UML (Universal Models Limited) is the biggest toy and model chain in the city.
It’s famous for military models, action figures and limited edition collectibles, meticulously made figures designed by its own studio, Dragon Models, and exported internationally.
Signatures include Marvel’s 1:9 Action Hero Vignette collectibles and Disney figures.
Standing at the entrance of the storefront is a life-sized Ironman figure. A perfect photo opportunity, but, unfortunately, not for sale.
UML Hobby, G-3/F, 5 Pennington St., Causeway Bay; +852 2577 5950; daily noon-9 p.m.
Che Che New York
Founded by a pair of Hong Kong sisters, Che Che New York started selling bags in New York and Japan before opening in Causeway Bay.
This flagship store evokes a fun and sweet image -- the interior decor includes a mini Ferris wheel and a mini merry-go-round.
Che Che’s signatures are colorful handbags and handmade sequined purses.
The coin bags shaped like ice cream trucks are adorable.
Not a fan of cute bags? It’s also got custom-made chocolates and confections, including animal-themed macaroons and delicious palmiers.
Che Che New York, G/F, 13-15 Pennington St., Causeway Bay; +852 2882 2979; daily 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Caroline Haven Community
Neat cafes, galleries and stores have started popping up in this little upcoming neighborhood along Haven Street and Caroline Hill Road.
The stores are mostly hidden in the old, once-deserted mall of Lei Shun Court (entrance at Haven Street).
Luddite has a thrilling mix of collectable clothing and interesting accessories. There's also wealth of blue collar worker attire and military accessories.
Luddite, 15A Haven St., Causeway Bay; +852 2870 0422; open daily noon-9 p.m.
Hola Classic offers quality tailoring for men looking for the nostalgic style in their suits.
Hola Classic, 17A Haven St., Causeway Bay; +852 2870 0245; open daily noon-9 p.m.
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