As the saying goes, one can find anything in Hong Kong… for a price. And that’s basically true. But sometimes the price is outrageous, or the price is actually a trip to a corner store 15 MTR stops away. Not going to happen. The unofficial import tax looms large, no matter how you cut it.
We’ve rounded up some favourite American products for you (or a traveling friend!) to snag whilst stateside this summer. When the Hong Kong smog and crowds get you down, these tokens from the U.S. of A. will cheer you right up.
Adorable Decorative Band-Aids
When you’re hurt, there’s no comfort in neutral brown plasters. Blech. From Dora to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s serious healing power in these bandages. Or, let your toddler peel and stick them all over herself on your next long-haul flight, iPad be damned.
Where to buy: Band-Aid, or any grocery or pharmacy
More than 17,000 results for costumes on Amazon…your five-year-old will probably change his mind at least that many times this year. Order a few for the dress-up box and save yourself a trip to the mad market come October.
Where to buy: Amazon
Kids Shoes at Nordstrom
They carry the cute and the comfortable, plus in-person shoppers leave with a free balloon. Converse tennies, Roxy flip flops, Hunter rain boots—what’s not to love? (And hey, that return policy cannot be beat.)
Where to buy: Nordstrom
Secret Solid Deodorant
Because the summer heat, ladies, the heat! When roll-on just won’t do, freshen up with the classics. Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman in oppressive Southeast Asian weather. Pro tip: Ridiculously fruity scents are actually awesome. Give in and buy them all.
Where to buy: Secret, or any grocery or pharmacy
Quality Food Colouring
Dying Easter eggs is no fun with blah colours, and it’s hard to find the real deal in Hong Kong. McCormick’s classic hues can be found in every granny’s baking cupboard from Rhode Island to San Diego. It’s unnatural, and that’s why it is miraculous.
Where to buy: McCormick, or any grocery store
Pulling hot towels from the dryer is even more luxurious when they smell this good. Why they haven’t caught on here in Hong Kong (at a remotely reasonable price) is beyond us! The famous orange box will be a new staple in your laundry cupboard.
Where to buy: Bounce, or any grocery or pharmacy
When a girl looks up ibuprofen in the dictionary? “Sweet, sweet nectar.” Any and every mama needs a stash of these, the world’s most perfect over the counter painkiller. Plus, the Walgreens spokesperson is one of Carrie Bradshaw’s best boyfriends. Get thee to Walgreens.
Where to buy: Walgreens, or any grocery or pharmacy
Truly Fluffy Bath Towels
Life is too short to use crummy towels. Walk into the light that is Restoration Hardware’s linen department and spend your life savings on all the plushness in the land. Your husband won’t be bothered—these are that soft.
Where to buy: Restoration Hardware
Bras at Nordstrom
Oprah’s Bra Revolution is still a thing, right? Plus, anything bigger than a C is a lost cause in Hong Kong. One personal fitting and you will be a Nordstrom customer for life. From the sexiest option to the nursing bra you will wear way (way) too often, Nordie’s is the one-stop shop.
Where to buy: Nordstrom
A Good Dose of REI
America’s favourite outdoor retailer sells everything from yoga mats to hiking packs—at fair prices, and with a return policy that’s almost too good to be true. Get your family new water bottles, active wear (better quality than Lulu!), and a travel cooler for trips to Shek O.
Where to buy: REI
Snacks from Trader Joe’s
Since a bag of cashews costs more than a taxi ride to Shanghai, it’s worth committing an entire US-bound suitcase to the glories found in the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s. Don’t miss the raw almond butter, cocoa dusted truffles with toffee bits, and the iconic cat cookies for people.
Where to buy: Trader Joe’s
Real Deal Vanilla Extract
Because paying $150 for one dribble of vanilla makes every batch of cookies an even guiltier pleasure. At least if you’ve stocked up at a reasonable price, the only problem with the cookies is calories.
Where to buy: Williams Sonoma, and grocery stores
Spray sunscreen gets in their eyes (not to mention their lungs), and the lotion is always such a mess. Enter Neutrogena’s stick sunscreens, which glide on perfectly, need no blending, and protect kids from the big bad rays all day.
Where to buy: Target, or any large grocery or pharmacy
Cotton swabs seem like something that would be the same across oceans, but it turns out, they aren’t. Hong Kong’s supply is decidedly unfluffy, so stock up on authentic Q-Tips stateside. Here’s to good grooming!
Where to buy: Drugstore.com, or any grocery or pharmacy
Bring the neurotic American sports fan persona to Hong Kong with some baseball hats and Superbowl t-shirts. Whether you’re shopping for t-shirts or pennants, a token of American sports is bound to be a hit with kids and dads alike.
Where to buy: Sports Authority
DayQuil and NyQuil
Nothing kicks a nasty cold to the curb like these American classics. (Sorry, essential oils, keep trying.) When you want to curl up and die but have a huge presentation, you’ll be glad you have a stash of DayQuil and NyQuil.
Where to buy: Vicks, or any grocery or pharmacy
Stationery for All Occasions
Nothing beats an all-out binge on thank you notes and washi tape. Paper Source is ground zero for paper addicts just like us, when you’ve maxed out all there is to shop at Eslite.
Where to buy: Paper Source
Scotch Magic Tape
Why does tape in Hong Kong shred to bits? A daily frustration for everyone from office workers to kindergarten teachers. Ditch your adhesive issues and go Scotch. You’ll never go back!
Where to buy: Staples, or any office supply store
Target’s Toy Aisle
Yes, we have toy stores in Hong Kong, but something about a trip to Target’s toy aisle really can’t be beat. It’s cheaper, of course, but the selection is massive and beautifully displayed. Buy now, give at Christmas.
Where to buy: Target
When sinus pressure gets you down, Sudafed 12-Hour gets you through. It’s not their tag line, but it could be. Under lock and key at most US stores because of abuse, it’s safe to use when following directions! Look for a main ingredient called pseudoephedrine.
Where to buy: At staffed pharmacies only, not available online
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
Beach babes in Hong Kong know there’s a fine line between salty-sexy hair and a horrible head of hay. Bumble and bumble’s Surf Spray is hard to find in HK, but it’s perfect for our weather. Grab a bottle for yourself and a friend. Best just-because gift ever.
Where to buy: Bumble and bumble, and at select salons
Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap
Soap that smells so good you want to eat it. That’s what we’re dealing with here. Mrs. Meyers products aren’t impossible to find in HK, but they are much easier to scout (and, you guessed it, cheaper) in the US. Lavender is the classic scent, but honeysuckle and red clover are also popular.
Where to buy: Target, and at larger grocery stores
It’s impossible to take a bad turn in Anthropologie. Dresses for summer weddings? Definitely. Shoes everyone will envy? Of course. Linens to make even the smallest HK bedroom shine? You bet.
Where to buy: Anthropologie