Hong Kong, which means “fragrant harbor” in Chinese, rose to prominence as a critical trading port of what was once the British Empire, and its status as a vital financial hub has never changed. Largely an archipelago, Hong Kong has promoted a pioneering spirit has given it a spartan, professional image built by banks (HSBC and Standard Chartered) and trading dynasties (Jardine Matheson and Swire).
Hong Kong city is a picture of efficiency built around layers of infrastructure. Elevated indoor and outdoor walkways, interior plazas, subways and underground walkways make the city and its people flow. Hong Kong is at once chaotic and incredibly functional. But it also offers plenty of pleasant diversions, even for those who have only a day or 2 to savor the sites during a business trip. Here are some places not to be missed.
A City within a City
One of the city’s most spectacular destinations -- and an urban miracle -- is the International Finance Centre (IFC), a multi-skyscraper complex that encompasses a major shopping mall, a major transit hub, a hotel, restaurants and a public-access rooftop view of Victoria Harbor. A veritable city, this complex was built on a man-made infill. Within, shop at the 82,000-square-foot multistory flagship of Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s luxury retailer, or take in a lunch at Isola, an Italian restaurant set within a fantastic 2-story dining room; one level is a large terrace that overlooks the harbor.
One of the hipper areas to arise in recent years is the western end of Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, a district just west of Central, the main business district. Visitors can discover what’s cool, such as Innermost, a design company that makes cool home lights and which is just down the street from 208 Duecento Otto, a hip New York-style pizzeria opened by hotelier Yenn Wong. Next to the restaurant is Cat Street Gallery, one of the city’s fastest rising, new galleries. It showcases such international artists as Grillo Demo, Hannah Jensen and Piers Bourke.
The Kee to the City
A visit to Hong Kong isn’t complete without a sampling of traditional Cantonese food. The most legendary restaurant is Yung Kee on Wellington Street. Always busy and buzzing, the 3-story structure serves staples such as dim sum and roast goose, its most famous dish for more than 50 years. Upstairs, visitors will find Kee Club, a mostly members-only enclave that takes its name from its renowned neighbor below. An epicenter of the Hong Kong elite for more than a decade, Kee is an ideal place for Champagne in the afternoon or in the evening when the crowds pack in. For non-members, a good concierge can help you make a reservation.
A Reason to be in Causeway Bay
Hong Kongers, as the city’s residents are known, know how to make money and spend it. Shopping is not just a pastime in Hong Kong, it is a religion. Beyond the well-traveled thoroughfares, Causeway Bay has long been the hip district for shopping in Hong Kong. Its streets are reminiscent of the Shibuya district in Tokyo. Mainstream brands predominate, such as Calvin Klein and agnès b., and major department stores such as SOGO and Lane Crawford. Cool local brands include izzue, b+ab and 5cm.
Get Suited Up
One of the best sartorial experiences in Hong Kong is getting fitted for bespoke clothes in the form of men’s and women’s suits, collared shirts and dresses. Such famous tailors as Sam the Tailor have built up a global reputation suiting up celebrities and politicians on historic Nathan Road in Kowloon. More practically, tailors can do a fitting within an afternoon. Many will keep measurements on file as well as ship the finished product anywhere in the world.
A resident of Shanghai from 2007 to 2010, Andrew Yang has written on architecture, design and travel for, among others, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and Wallpaper.