What’s not to love about the glamorously disheveled cement jungle that is Hong Kong? The weather is great, the exchange rate rocks, and because it was under British rule until recently, you can get by in English.
There are two main districts: Kowloon, attached to mainland China, is basically Brooklyn to the Manhattan-like Hong Kong Island. A quick red-taxi ride or ferry gets you from one side to the other. At night the skyline on both sides of Victoria Harbour dazzles. Get used to it: High-gloss HK is eager to show off.
Power-nap — or just power-trip — at the InterContinental Hong Kong (18 Salisbury Road, +852-2721-1211), where floor-to-ceiling windows overlook Hong Kong Island. Book the third floor rather than higher up — it’s like being on the water. Can’t afford to stay? Have a dragon cocktail at the lobby bar or a meal at the Ducasse restaurant, Spoon.
The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (1 Harbour Road, +852-2588-1234) has great views of Kowloon. The Grill is one of the only places you can dine alfresco without gagging on traffic fumes.
Prefer an intimate nest to a gilded cage? The Jia boutique hotel apartments (1-5 Irving Street, +852-3196-9000) have whimsical Starck-designed interiors.
So many foreigners, so many culinary surprises. Best Hans Christian Andersen-inspired hot spot: new Scandinavian restaurant FINDS (33 Wyndham Street; +852-2522-9318), as in Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden. Best Thai/Shanghai/Canton fusion with an Aussie twist? Cheap, adorable Wooloo Mooloo Bar & Grill (29 Wyndham Street, +852-2894-8010).
Best highbrow Chinese: the Water Margin (1205 Times Square, +852-3102-0088). On the twelfth floor of a modern building, it’s all dark screens and paper lanterns inside. Best local delicacy: Shia Wong Hip (170 Apliu Street, +852-2720-8361). Snake whisperer Ms. Chow makes her infamous snake soup from the ones that piss her off.
Best come-for-dinner-stay-to-club: the uber-glam Aqua Spirit (One Peking Road, +852-3427-2288), a glass box in the sky. Best members-only: the Kee Club (32 Wellington Street, +852-2810-9000), where the Canton pop stars mix with jet-setters (like Mick Jagger). Ask your concierge to get you in.
Goods of Desire (48 Hollywood Road, +852-2805-1876) is one-stop shopping for young, local HK talent. Hit Lane Crawford (International Financial Center 2, IFC Central, podium 3; +852-2118-3388), the Barneys of HK, for Sasa cosmetics, Dickson Yewn jewelry, and goods from top bad-boy designer Barney Cheng. The store’s martini bar has flat-screen TVs with flight-departure information; the Airport Express train on the ground floor gets you to the airport in 23 minutes. Check your bags; then head upstairs for a last-minute spree.
Okay, you should totally know better, but if you must score grade-A cheap designer knockoffs, head to the Shenzhen district. It’s in mainland China, so you’ll need to arrange a visa through your concierge 48 hours in advance. But after that it’s a 40-minute subway ride to faux heaven, where even the latest It bag costs less than US$50. (Fake Hermès camel-leather sneakers are just $25.)
If you’re feeling brave, try a Chinese treatment. Find everything from diet aids to aphrodisiacs at Wai Yuen Tong (9 Wang Kwong Road, +852-2727-8911). The pedicure at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (5 Connaught Road, +852-2522-4466) is heavenly and scary: They use old-style machete-like knives to get your feet looking oh so pretty. For a cheap thrill hit one of the many foot-massage parlors around town. A 45-minute reflexology feels like torture but gets results. You’ll leave refreshed and toxin-free.
And ready to dive right back in.