Become a Hong Kong Hipster in Two Easy Steps

by  Darren Frei | Mar 2, 2009
Hong Kong Financial District skyline
Hong Kong Financial District skyline / danielvfung/iStock

If there’s one thing Hong Kong does supremely well, it’s shopping – from high-end malls to vibrant open-air markets, there’s always something for sale (sans the sales tax!). While strolling in the boutique- and gallery-filled Soho neighborhood, just off trendy Hollywood Road, I happened upon Vintage HK, a very chic second-hand art, clothing, and knick-knack store run by a sharp-eyed hipster named Nadia. Equal parts kitsch and cool (mostly a combination of both), Vintage HK stocks everything from giant plastic Chinese characters (like the Cantonese word for “happiness” pictured in this store window) to funky shoes and accessories to adorable gold shaving kits decorated with animated tigers, horses, or pandas (see photo after the jump).

These tiny shaving kits, complete with fold-out mirror and deconstructed razor, are only HK$60 (about US$7.75) and make great souvenirs (I bought four). I also picked up a modish (and rather Mao-ish) black jacket for around US$30.

After bagging my new purchases in a Communist-red cloth bag, Nadia invited me to her Friday-only bar, Sense 99. (If you want your nightcap away from the hotel bar scene and far removed from the garish, tourist-filled Lan Kwai Fong area, head to this discreet spot that feels more like a locals-only house party than a bar.)

That night, following a few expensive-but-worth-it martinis at nearby Sevva (worth it for the incredible views of Victoria Harbour and I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower from its 25th-floor wrap-around terrace), I made my way to Sense 99, which did end up requiring a keen, if not entirely sober, "sense" to locate (don’t look for clues like loud music, street-side smokers, or any semblance of life). Once you find the address, just look for the Sense 99 buzzer on the nondescript door and ascend two flights of stairs. You’ll feel like a true Hong Konger upon entering this cozy space, where the beers are cheap, the crowd is almost 100% local, and the live alty-jazz music plays into the wee hours.

So, if you want to blend in with the HK hipsters – and stylishly stand out upon your return – just remember these two easy steps:

  1. Vintage HK (G/F 54-59 Hollywood Rd.)
  2. Sense 99 (2/F 99F Wellington St.)

Thanks, Nadia!

See our Hong Kong Travel Guide for more HK shopping and nightlife recommendations. Got a great tip of your own? Let us know!

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