Hong Kong loves to shop, and boasts Asia’s most exciting portfolio of glitzy malls and designer labels. But tucked discreetly away from the melee of big names and their insatiable shoppers is a world of more refined retailing, a refreshing alternative to the mall culture of Central, Kowloon, and Causeway Bay and the over-touristed markets of Stanley and Temple streets.
Halfway between Victoria Harbour and the Peak is the aptly named Mid-Levels, where the sloping streets around Hollywood Road are home to elegant, authentic antiques shops and low-key art galleries. Since 1982, the Altfield Gallery has been a leading purveyor of fine 18th- and 19thcentury Chinese furniture and artworks, and has also diversified into high-quality Southeast Asian artifacts. The Red Cabinet is another specialist dealer, showcasing antique furniture and accessories for private collectors and export dealers, as well as superior reproduction items.
Farther afield, in Aberdeen, China Art sells exquisitely restored antique Chinese beds, cabinets, chairs, tables, and soft furnishings. Promoting a quirkier, contemporary angle on Asian home furnishings is G.O.D. (Goods of Desire), with shops in Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Their stated aim is to promote unconventional and desirable furniture for modern consumers.
Museums and Galleries
Often dismissed as a shopping-and-dining city that views culture with disdain, Hong Kong is seeking to emphasize its appreciation of history and the arts. An annual contemporary art fair has been launched, and the long-running Hong Kong Arts Festival draws an eclectic mix of creative talents. But as well as importing global performers,
Hong Kong is reassessing its own cultural and historic identity. Emerging from its recent slumber is the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Several guest curators have breathed new artistic life into this long-neglected museum – a space always imbued with potential. The Open Dialogues contemporary art series presaged bolder, more conceptual shows. Somewhat more cerebral is the often-overlooked University Museum & Art Gallery, which takes an intellectual but accessible approach to ancient Chinese art and archaeology.
Parks and Natural Spaces
Hong Kong is far more than a chrome-and-glass urban jungle – in fact, some 40 percent of the terrain is dedicated as protected parkland. When the downtown temperature rises, Hong Kongers head for the hills for fine hiking and cycling trails, or to one of myriad national parks and beaches for family relaxation and convening with nature.
Even in the urban areas, pleasant parks and gardens can be found. The delicately landscaped Hong Kong Park sits on a grassy incline overlooking the Financial District. Paths weave between rocks and ponds, attracting city elders, schoolchildren, bank workers, and families, while the fountains are popular spots for pre-wedding photo shoots
Opened in 2006, the 150-acre (61-ha) Hong Kong Wetland Park in the Northern Territories is a modern ecotourism center, demonstrating the dramatic diversity of the wetland habitat, which is often overlooked by city folk. Set in the heart of a picturesque rolling valley, the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden is beautifully maintained and showcases new initiatives for sustainable living and improving wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Keen walkers should head to Shek O Country Park. The undulating 2½-mile (4-km) Dragon’s Back Peak trail, linking Wan Cham Shan and Shek O Peak, affords fine views of Big Wave Bay.
Though not usually a topic to lure visitors, urban planning is critical to Hong Kong’s future vision – especially as land reclamation alters the shape of its shoreline. The Hong Kong Planning & Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery offers a glimpse, via videos, models, maps, and interactive exhibits, of the city of tomorrow. Going back in time, the Museum of Coastal Defence, located in a 19th-century former British fort, explores Hong Kong’s military past.