Hong Kong International

Hong Kong International • definitely not faking it ….

Duty Free Hong Kong AirportThere are some airports that are a pleasure to spend time in, and this is one of them. Hong Kong International airport (HKIA), built in 1998, has gone from strength to strength and regularly picks up Skytrax awards for customer satisfaction.For shoppers this is also one of the best airports in the world, so it is worth building some time into your travel plans to explore all it has to offer. Terminal 1 has the biggest selection of stores: around 200 plus over 60 food and drinks outlets, while the much smaller Terminal 2 has about 80 stores and 20 places to get fed and watered.It’s not just a question of scale though • the shopping here runs from the seriously high-end, to mass market high street brands; the latter found mostly in the landside SkyPlaza in T2 which is accessible by everyone at the airport.

Essentially T2 has no gates (they are in T1), just check-in facilities. However the building acts as an easy-access shopping and entertainment complex complete with a 4-D Extreme Screen cinema, a large interactive sports area and Aviation Discovery Centre. The stores are dominated by souvenir units and trendy, but not pricey, brands.

So for example, if fashion is your bag take your pick from regional retailers like Kinja, Kaiser and Pelle Borsa to international brands including Tie Rack, Lacoste, and Shanghai Tang. For a more casual high street offer that extends to accessories, the list is long: G2000, Levi’s, Swatch, Giordano, Le Coq Sportif, Bossini and many more. Jewellery is also in good supply from Chow Sang Sang, Enzo or House of Amber, and lingerie lovers will feel at home in Private Shop which, despite the name, is all very above board. Most of these stores are concentrated on Level 5, with food and drink outlets, plus all the entertainment, on Level 6.

It’s when you get to T1 that your realise where the real shopping is! An ultra-prestige selection of brands resides here and you might want to raise your credit card limit before browsing this area. Individual boutiques in the East Hall include Alfred Dunhill, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Daks, Gucci, Hermès, IWC, Jimmy Choo, Loewe, Montblanc, Omega, Pal Zileri, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Valentino. The list goes on • and on! At the last count there were more than 30 high-end designer boutiques here and in the West Hall and Northwest Concourse where Agnès b, Coach, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Swarovski and Vertu are located.

Beauty fanatics are also catered for extremely well. There are at least five giant Temptation Duty Free stores filled with top international cosmetics brands and HKIA also boasts standalone locations for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, Kiehls and MAC in T1. Temptation is known for getting many new launches before the local market which makes its stores a must-visit, especially for mainland Chinese passengers.Clearly T1’s East Hall is for those who want to splash a lot of cash. The only regular fashion store nestled in all that luxury is Zara • for some peculiar reason. On the west side though there are a few more accessible brands including G2000, Juicy Couture and Links of London. On the next floor up (Level 7/8) the shopping is a bit more mixed. Here you can find Folli Follie jewellery, Muji, Le Sportsac and Swatch alongside Bose, Leica, Torino Lamborghini and Tissot boutiques.This is just a snapshot of what HKIA has to offer. The retailing facilities are vast and you would do well to research what you want to buy before you are at the airport. Also, given that Hong Kong is still a low-tax region of China, it’s best to compare prices of specific items both downtown and at the airport before deciding where to shop. After all Hong Kong also has downtown duty free shops so there may be several options for finding the best deal on a designer handbag or the latest smartphone.

HKIA Factfile

  • Passenger numbers, 2011: 53.5 million.
  • Terminals: Two, plus a north satellite.
  • Airlines: More than 100 going to about 160 destinations, including around 40 in mainland China. Among the biggest (by number of routes) are Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Dragonair, Hong Kong Express, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines.
  • Worth knowing: If being web-connected at all times is your thing, the airport has free wi-fi in both of its terminals as well as the north satellite concourse and SkyPier.

For information on Duty Free Allowances for travellers to Hong Kong: see Hong Kong Duty Free Allowances Check Our Tax Free Travel Shopping Guides to …