Next time you are in Hong Kong, head out of town for the best bargains. Ride the MTR and explore shopping in the New Territories.
It used to be a major excursion just going into the New Territories, and memories of long bus-rides, farm villages, country parks and beach-side barbecues still dominate the memories of the Hong Kong born-and-bred whenever the name is raised.
With the rapid development of new towns in recent years, however, stops along the Kowloon Canton Railway (KCR) line have become hot shopping destinations, including that closest to the Shenzhen border, Sheung Shui.
If you are tired of the crowds in Tsimshatsui, try heading out to the excellent suburban malls. All you need is an Octopus card from any subway station, and you are armed and ready to go.
Festival Walk - Kowloon Tong Station
This is a more upmarket mall with a gourmet supermarket in the basement and eateries in the upper levels. In between, designer labels, local labels and multinational fashion chains fight for attention and the shopper's dollar.
Anchor stores include British chain Marks & Spencer, H&M, Armani Exchange, Ashworth, Diesel, French Connection, Vivienne Westwood and Vivienne Tam among other designer brands.
Restaurants to check out include Dan Ryan's with its famous toy train track and oyster shooters, the elegant showcase that is Festive China and a smorgasbord of Asian and Western choices.
To get there: Both the MTR and KCR lines stop at Kowloon Tong.
Shatin New Town Plaza - Shatin Station
Shatin was one of the first residential satellite towns to be established in the New Territories, riding on the hinterland of its large industrial estate. Its pretty river-side apartments soon became the accommodation of choice for young couples buying their own homes. Two decades on, both demographics and psychographics have changed.
The mall at Shatin New Town Plaza reflects that new prosperity and it challenges Festival Walk with its collection of top-dollar shops.
Zara, the Spanish fashion label, UniQlo from Japan, agnes.b, Armani Exchange are all here, as are the usual suspects. The Apple Shop is also a favourite stop for many shoppers keen to check out the latest iPad, Mac Books and other must-have accessories.
The Crystal Jade restaurants offering excellent ramen and the little dumpling called xiao long bao are great feeding stations. If you fancy Thai, Vietnamese, Taiwanese or maybe a New York sandwich or two, there are the cafes and restaurants to cater to your palates.
To get there: Shatin is on the KCR line. If you are coming from town, take the MTR to Kowloon Tong and change trains to the Lok Ma Chau or Luo Wu lines.
Tai Po MEGA Mall - Tai Po Market Station
Tai Po was a sleepy market town before the media big boys decided to relocate. Now, major players such as Phoenix Cable Television, Asia Television, Oriental Daily and the South China Morning Post all have their headquarters here. The resulting boom has made Tai Po a bustling hub with new condominiums, shopping malls and eateries.
If you like a taste of suburban living, drop by for a leisurely afternoon and explore the neighbourhood malls and stop for a meal at the Chinese restaurants, which offer anything from a steamboat buffet to quick stir-fries of home-style dishes.
And, if you know someone working at any of the media companies, wrangle an invitation to visit and hop on to the free shuttle buses that ply within the industrial estate. This is the heart of broadcasting and publishing in Hong Kong.
To get there: From town, the nearest connecting station is still Kowloon Tong. Walk over to the KCR station and take the trains that head toward Luo Wu or Lok Ma Chau.
Sheung Shui Centre
Shopping Arcade - Sheung Shui Station
This is the nearest stop on the train line before it crosses the border to Shenzhen, Guangzhou. For that reason, Sheung Shui has become an extremely popular day-trip destination for shoppers from Guangzhou.
Ironically, Hong Kong residents pop across to Shenzhen in hordes every day to do the same thing - shop.
The shops here are housed in several connected arcades, Sheung Shui Centre, Sheung Shui Town Centre and Landmark North. Outlets stock mainly goods popular with cross-border visitors including designer sports goods, luggage, street-wear chains and gold and silver jewellery.
To get there: From Kowloon, the nearest connecting station from the MTR is Kowloon Tong. Walk over to the KCR station and take the trains heading for Luo Wu or Lok Ma Chau. Visitors from Shenzhen take the train that goes to Kowloon. It is just one stop away, after the border formalities.