Make the most of the Aussie dollar and shop – and dance – ‘til you drop in Hong Kong.
It’s with Cyndi Lauper’s famous tune Girls Just Wanna Have Fun set to repeat on my iPod that I head off to Hong Kong for a gal’s weekend. With my cocktail dresses and party attitude packed in the suitcase, I set off to discover the delights of a city that people call “the New York of Asia”. Hong Kong ticks all the boxes for a few days with your favourite girlfriends or even for a hens weekend away.
Not only is it just an eight-hour flight from Brisbane but there’s a plethora of activities for a group of ladies – including an endless amount of shopping, dancing and pampering. And with the Aussie dollar about seven times stronger than the Hong Kong dollar, your credit card won’t be too burdened by the workout it’s likely to get. Here’s how to fill at least 24 hours in the Asian city that never sleeps.
9am: Check in at the Mandarin Oriental, one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful hotels. Enjoy a glass of champagne in your room overlooking the glittering Victoria Harbour before heading down to the hotel’s Cafe Causette for breakfast. Fill up on everything from dumplings and fried rice to fresh fruit and bacon and eggs – which will fuel the body for the next venture of shopping (think of all the bags you may have to carry). With 10 bars and restaurants in the hotel it is almost tempting to just stay put and never leave the building, there’s certainly no risk of boredom. Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong.
11am: No girls’ trip is complete without at least one great shopping experience. Hong Kong is especially accommodating to the shopaholic because many locals admit that shopping is the city’s favourite pastime. A good place to start is the Citygate Outlets, the largest outlet mall in Hong Kong. Prices on designer brands like Coach, Calvin Klein and Guess are slashed by up to 70 per cent. Citygate Outlet, 20 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung, Lantau Island. For those who can’t quite afford the real thing, head to the Ladies Market at Mong Kok where the fake designer handbags look genuine. Open from noon to 11.30pm. Ladies Market, Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon (MTR Mong Kok Station Exit E2). After you’ve bought yourself a new wardrobe, head to Stanley Market to buy something special – if not yourself then for family or friends. Here you can pick up Chinese artwork, silk collectibles and scarves. Open 10.30am to 6.30pm. Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong Island.
2pm: Even though you’ve had a big breakfast, all that shopping has probably made you hungry by now and the batteries will need recharging. If you’re still in Stanley, head to one of its famous restaurants for some relaxed alfresco dining overlooking the water. You’ll find everything from Vietnamese and Thai to traditional Chinese restaurants.
4pm: At this point it’s probably sensible to move into relax mode before embarking on Hong Kong’s night life. The Aqua Luna 45-minute boat ride is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in Hong Kong. Apart from enjoying the best views of Victoria Harbour, the 70-year-old boat has an open air deck, with wide lounges and chill-out music. And to top it off, one drink is included in the price. The Aqua Luna departs several times daily from Pier 9 in Central next to Star Ferry and Pier 1 in TST next to the Cultural Centre. Cost, about $20.
6pm: Head back to your hotel to relax and prepare for the evening fun. The Mandarin Oriental has a luxurious spa or just draw yourself a huge bubble bath in your room. Don’t forget the hotel’s famous cake shop for a sweet treat.
8pm: Though Hong Kong has many amazing dining options, one of the best and most popular restaurants in town is right inside the hotel. The Mandarin Grill + Bar has a long list of seasonally-inspired dishes. The meals are expensive but try it for the experience of dining at a Michelin star restaurant. Try the sea bass or the delicious Mallard duck. Meals from about $60.
10pm: The Dragon-i is one of Hong Kong’s most talked-about and high profile bars. It’s where you go if you want to be seen. Have a drink, have a dance and mingle with locals, expats and other tourists. If it’s too pretentious for you it’s certainly not hard to find another bar nearby. Dragon-i, The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong.