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5 unforgettable shopping malls
Hong Kong's most eccentric malls feature guns, DJs and a very big box
MegaBox: The name says it all
Hong Kong’s newest shopping mall is shaped like a very, very big box. But despite being a 19-story, deep-red behemoth that’s visible from across the harbor (and possibly from outer-space), this revolutionary take on suburbia’s social touchstone (the shopping mall), is actually home to surprisingly few shops. Instead, big-ticket operations like an ice rink, upscale karaoke parlor, and British homewares giant B&Q fill the spaces. Elevators crisscross huge, geometric atriums and an attention-grabbing color scheme is a defiant rebuke to the bland pastel palettes of less visionary shopping centers. When mall-fever starts to set in, escape to the upper-floor terraces for the sweeping views of Kowloon Bay and Victoria Harbor.
38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay (Kowloon Bay MTR, exit A; free shuttle bus available from Telford Plaza taxi stand)
Sin Tat Plaza: Mobile phone magic
Want an iPhone without the hefty price tag? How about the tiny Chinese-made version, the Mini Phone? You’ll probably find one at Sin Tat Plaza, a shopping mall in Hong Kong dedicated almost entirely to new and used mobile phones. Ignore the big phone company outlets just outside the mall, or even the shops on the ground floor, and head straight to the escalator as the real bargains can be found on the first and second floors. A random handful of stores selling magic tricks are inexplicably sprinkled amid the mobile phone dealers, so if you can’t find the PDA you want, you can at least take home a cool hypnosis kit.
83 Argyle Street, Mongkok Mongkok MTR, exit D2
Argyle Centre: Street-style mania
Not many Hong Kong shopping malls have their own DJ, but Argyle Centre is not just any mall. On evenings and weekends, as music blares from the DJ booth, this 1970s-era mall becomes the pulsating heart of Hong Kong street style. Inside its walls, a labyrinthine collection of microscopic shops sell the hottest trends from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
At peak times, the mall can be a sensory overload as tireless teenagers prowl around the endless maze of shops. It is worth braving the chaotic scene if for nothing other than the prices: clothes and accessories are significantly cheaper here than in Causeway Bay, and often less expensive than in the nearby Mongkok street markets.
If your appetite for shopping begins to wane, then refuel the way real Mongkok kids do, with a HK$2.50 bag of cold noodles from one of the mall's food stalls.
688 Nathan Road, Mongkok Mongkok MTR, exit D2
Langham Place: Off-the-wall design
While the slick Langham Place does not have the grittiness of the surrounding Mongkok neighborhood, it makes up for it in off-the-wall design. The chief attraction is The Spiral, a corkscrew-shaped promenade that winds past four floors of food and fashion geared toward free-spending youths. Then there is the huge Grand Atrium, as well as Hong Kong’s longest indoor escalator, all capped by a magnificent virtual sky.
A wide variety of popular international brands guarantee you will find everything you are looking for, while tiny boutiques offer novel trinkets such as the one that sells a bobble-head doll made in your image so that someday you can fool your grandkids into thinking you were once famous.
8 Argyle Street, Mongkok Mongkok MTR, exit C3
Yan On Building: War games
Wandering past the rows of handguns, assault rifles, and other Rambo-style firearms inside the Yan On Building, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve somehow been transported to a Tennessee gun show. Don’t be alarmed, as all the weapons in this small Hong Kong shopping arcade in the lower end of Mongkok are actually air guns that shoot nifty little projectiles like paint pellets.
War game geeks flock here every evening to talk strategy, compare equipment, buy accessories for their toys, and plot the demise of frienemies lurking throughout the city.
1 Kwong Wah Street, Mongkok Mongkok MTR, exit E2, or Yau Ma Tei MTR, exit A2