Leanne Mirandilla


  • Hong Kong, China, Asia

Leanne Mirandilla is a correspondent who lives in Hong Kong and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. She is a staff writer at HK Magazine, a weekly lifestyle publication and proclaimed Hong Kong city-living authority, and the associate editor of The List, a local, biweekly how-to magazine. Having grown up in Hong Kong, she left for the States to attend Dartmouth College before returning to the city she calls home, where she enjoys soaking up culture and sampling the various delicious cuisines. Her work has also appeared in Where Hong Kong and RAW Magazine.

  • On February 3, 2013
    Leanne Mirandilla answered the question: Leanne Mirandilla

    Where is the best shopping in Hong Kong?

    Considering that shopping is jokingly referred to as a national pastime, you'll find good shopping in most of the central hubs in the city--some districts have shopping malls on practically every street. Certain areas are better depending on what you're looking for, however:

    Brand-names and luxury: If it's Louis Vuitton, Armani or Dior you're after, head to Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. The street itself is lined with shops, but there are also shopping malls like Ocean Terminal and Harbour City--the former of which faces Victoria Harbour and is bedecked with extravagant displays during the holidays. On the opposite side of the street is 1881 Heritage, which used to be the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police from the late 19th century onwards--now, some of the preserved buildings have been converted into a hotel, exhibition hall, and shopping mall with a European-style facade.

    Unique and affordable: Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Granville Road in Tsim Sha Tsui are all filled with small local stores and more nondescript shopping centers, where shops are crowded together and each floor can be a bit of a maze. It might take a bit more time browsing through the myriad of runway ripoffs and local fashions, and the quality can be patchy, but you'll be able to find interesting pieces at affordable prices.
  • On January 31, 2013
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  • On January 31, 2013
    Leanne Mirandilla answered the question: Leanne Mirandilla

    What are some things to know before visiting Hong Kong?

    Hong Kong is a relatively easy city to visit, but there are a few things worth knowing while you plan your trip:

    - Hong Kong is a "Special Administrative Region" of China. Though Hong Kong is a part of China, there are some logistical differences due to "One Country, Two Systems" (which will be in effect until 2047). The currency and visa requirements are different in each place. Renminbi generally isn't accepted in Hong Kong--make sure to exchange your currency for Hong Kong dollars, instead (approximately HK$7.8 per each US$1). American passport holders can visit visa-free for up to 90 days (click for a full list of requirements), while entering China proper requires a visa to both enter and exit the country.  Laws in both places are different, as well, e.g. censorship of various social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, and of other online content, doesn't apply in Hong Kong.

    - It's fully possible to travel in Hong Kong using only English. Since English is one of the two official local languages and the city is a bustling commercial hub, you'll easily be able to get by on English alone. (Click for more about languages in Hong Kong.)

    - Hong Kong is a safe city with a low crime rate. However, violent crime--though rare--does occur, and you should safeguard against pickpockets in dense and crowded areas.

    - It's hot and humid at least 8 months out of the year. For the most part, temperatures range between 68 to 90F and humidity is always at about 75% or higher. It's easy to get dehydrated due to the heat when you're outside, so drink lots of water. Also pack a few layers and light jackets along with your summery clothes, since the air conditioning in shopping malls, restaurants, buses and other indoor areas is often cranked up to high.

    - Don't visit during Chinese (Lunar) New Year. Not unless you plan your trip way in advance, that is. It's traditional for locals to visit relatives--including relatives abroad--for Chinese New Year, so there's plenty of traffic both in and out of Hong Kong. Flight costs soar as a result. Chinese New Year is on a different date every year, but usually falls some time in late January or early February.
  • On January 29, 2013
    Leanne Mirandilla answered the question: Leanne Mirandilla

    What language is spoken in Hong Kong?

    Since Hong Kong is part of the Canton region of China, Cantonese is the primary language that's spoken here--followed closely by English and Mandarin. All three languages are taught in schools, with Cantonese typically being spoken in most Chinese households. Despite being handed over back to China from Britain in 1997, Mandarin still isn't prevalently used except for between Mainland visitors and locals. In fact, it can be more efficient to use English over Mandarin, as it's not a given that a local's Mandarin will necessarily be better than their English, and it's commonly expected that communications with a non-Chinese visitor will be conducted in English.

    It's also fully possible to travel in Hong Kong without any Mandarin or Cantonese knowledge whatsoever--most of the local population has some fluency in English, and all major road signs, public transport maps and routes, etc are written in both English and Chinese. The more off the beaten track you go, the more useful it will be to have a few Cantonese phrases under your belt, but you'll mostly be completely fine with English alone. Also, considering Hong Kong's multicultural nature, don't be surprised if you run into native speakers of all sorts of other languages--from French to Japanese to Hindi.
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