Having grown up in a relatively hot Country, I thought I was used to the heat; but nothing prepares you for the heat of Hong Kong in the Summer. The actual temperature is not the issue, it's the drenching humidity. My goodness the humidity. We're talking sweat-down-the-crack kind of humidity. Normally when we enter a Mall, the first feeling is the excited sense of anticipation for the day ahead, usually preceded by a deep inhale to take it all in. But not in this Mall. The first thing you notice as you walk into the IFC is the sweet sweet air-conditioning. It is glorious, addictive and sorely missed when wondering around the spectacular Victoria Bay on the Kowloon Peninsula, once just a sprinkling of fishing Villages, now the beating heart of Hong Kong.
Towering over the Bay is the International Finance Centre, a series of buildings including one particular 94-floor, 400 metre behemoth resembling a giant silver claw nicknamed 'Two IFC'. This is probably what most people think of when they hear the name IFC. The building of the IFC Complex took a short 3 years to complete and when on-sight you wouldn't believe that the Two IFC Tower is only the second highest Skyscraper in Hong Kong. Those familiar with the 2008 movie 'Dark Knight' will recognise that one classic scene involves Batman jumping between the two main Towers of the IFC. Nestled within the IFC is the Mall - a light, white, bright and beautiful Mall stretching over 4 levels and housing over 200 stores, including Hong Kong's first Apple Store, a massive Flagship spanning 3 of the Mall's 4 levels.
Photo courtesy of Wpcpey
Photo courtesy of TongQUEENS
The stores in the IFC are mostly Fashion based, from extremely prestigious brands such as Dunhill, Miu Miu and Prada (very fitting for probably the most exclusive and expensive land in China), to far more reasonable brands. The more opulent stores contain, as usual, a lone exquisitely-dressed Customer Service Assistant who can identify within a split second whether you are just a gormless every-person taking a sneak-peak at how the others' live, or a serious customer with serious cash. Not that these Assistants aren't incredibly amiable and well-trained if you are looking for that special purse the price of a car. We also noticed a strange Mall phenomenon we haven't encountered before – queues outside the more popular stores, or those which are having a big sale. We were later informed that, at busy times and not to overwhelm staff, the numbers of people allowed into a store at any given moment is limited to a certain number, so naturally a queue starts to form outside the store. We found it a bit odd (not the limiting of customers but rather the long queues) but this is certainly great news for the stores! So, if you come looking for a bargain, get in early to get the good stuff or best bargains!
That being said, there is plenty for those not fashion-focussed – giant book stores, florists, stationers and technology stores. The technology stores in particular include some fabulous audio-visual equipment, with extremely high-end stuff and a pleasure to hear. There is also a Cinema whose entrance belies how good it is. From the front you wouldn't think much of it - it resembles that area in an airport just before you go through security and onto your gate - but once inside it is swanky and luxurious, decked head-to-toe in marble. We didn't really care about things like the wine bar, but once inside one of the 5 screens you realise you're dealing with a whole new level of Cinema experience. The seats are large, leather and vibrate. The screens are huge, the sound is incredible and the whole movie-house is carpeted and curtained, like cinemas used to be. No matter the film, you always get the impression that you are about to see something special. This is a nice Cinema indeed and we highly recommended it.
Photo courtesy of ShingWong
Photo courtesy of Himhimkwan
When we got peckish we spied out the food options. Much like the Mall's fashion stores, you could choose to either have a good traditional Chinese meal for relatively little money, or you could bankrupt yourself with a Michelin-starred dining extravaganza. We chose the creatively named 'Cuisine Cuisine' because it has views of the harbour to which the Mall is attached. We chose a seat with a great view of the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. Luckily for us Gweilo, there are picture menus for you to point at politely when it's time to order. However, don't be caught out as we were by the lack of scale on the pictures, we ordered two bowls of rice and received what we decided was about one third of China's total rice crop for that year.
Photo courtesy of Wpcpey
If you for some reason get bored of the Mall, you have one of two options (not counting just leaving and going back to your hotel or house!): you can either brace yourself against the humidity and venture out into the frankly stunning Harbour. In fact, we suggest you do this anyway. It is located just outside one of the Mall's entrances. The other option is to check out one of Hong Kong's other great Malls, which are conveniently attached by tunnels to the IFC. It is such a great idea, common in Asia and similar to the sky-bridges of Chicago and Melbourne. In fact it's quite fun to see how far you can get without being exposed to the outside elements!
The day we spent at this Mall was magical, it is truly an awe-inspiring structure and the whole experience was positive. The Mall could not be faulted. It meets all of your needs. The only slight downside is that the eating options aren't as plentiful as in other Malls and you do really need a love of fashion to truly wring every little drop of awesomeness out of the IFC. However the sheer scale of the Mall is enough to keep you gripped in a sweet and blissful Mall stupor. The fact that there is also a 4-star luxury Four Seasons Hotel attached directly to the Mall (something we absolutely love in Malls in general), provided you can afford it, pushes this Centre to Gold status. An absolute must if you are planning a trip to Hong Kong.
Address: 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Contact: 852 2295 3308
Number of Stores: Over 200
Number of Levels: 4
Opening Times: Vary from store to store, but generally Monday - Sunday 10h00 to 22h00