Buying swimwear in Hong Kong is no mean feat if you are:
a) over a UK size 8
b) in need of a bra AT ALL TIMES when out and about in order to avoid startling passers-by.
While there are a great options at the higher end of the price spectrum, the bargain cossies that I miss from the UK are few and far between. I personally hate buying swimwear online as it’s pretty much impossible to guarantee a decent fit. So what to do if you’re unwilling to part with $$$ but want to avoid the Shamu look on your next holiday? Take a trip down the Island Line to North Point.
I’d heard rumours of a magical swimwear expert camped out east via the all-knowing oracle that is the HK Moms Facebook group. Seriously, about 99% of all worldly knowledge is contained within this magic portal… along with 99% of everything head-scratching about the internet. The ability to scan effectively, plus a stopwatch is necessary if you’re planning on signing up to this forum of over 11,000 Hong Kong parents (EDIT – you can tell this post was written a while back as HK Moms now numbers 20,000 parents, and growing every day). It’s brilliant and VERY addictive, as all the guiltiest pleasures should be!
Anyway, I gathered my data, called tame North Point resident, friend and business partner Rach to help me on my mission/console me with cake afterwards as applicable, and set off in search of perfect togs.
Ms Ching, as I now know she is called, is tucked away in a nondescript building just opposite exit B1 of North Point MTR. She has two tiny cubicles packed to the rafters with swimwear; mostly for ladies, although there are also some kids and gents options, including rash vests and full UV suits for the little ones. Roll up your sleeves and get hunting – whether you’re after one-piece, bikini, tankini or cut-out styles, you’ll find them here, in a huge variety of colours, prints, styles and – crucially – sizes.
What you won’t find are specific maternity styles, although many of the costumes I saw would probably be easily adapted. Neither will you get the really big brands (though there are a few names you’ll recognise), so if you’re hoping to score a discount designer bikini, you’ll be disappointed.
Although she doesn’t speak much English and my Canto is pretty much limited to “jo sahn” and “lei dou”, Ms Ching immediately found about twelve suitable costumes in my size and style, and was very happy for me to try these on, giving me some honest feedback, (“yes! Very good!”, “oh NO!”) along the way. I finally alighted on a style I liked by UK brand French Connection… except for the fact that the neckline plunged to the naval. Not a good look post breastfed baby, I’m sorry to report. Not an issue. Ms Ching whipped out her pins and thread and was making on-the-spot alterations before I knew what was happening, leaving me with a respectable, but still stylish suit.
I have to say, I did get a little carried away and, although I’d only originally come in for one item, ended up leaving with three: the French Connection one-piece in two colours, plus a basic black tankini which fit like a glove and, at $160, was too good a bargain to pass up.
So the final reckoning? Three swimsuits, all double-lined and tailored to fit in 10 minutes: $580. Yep, less than 50% of the price I’d anticipated having to spend on ONE suit, and altered while I waited. You really can’t say fairer than that.
If you’re off on holiday, want a change of style or just love a bargain, I’d highly recommend investigating Ms Ching’s North Point hideout as there’s just so much to choose from. Spend your savings on cocktails round the pool.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 11am – 6pm(ish).
Room 123, 1/F, Plaza 888, 441- 447 King’s Road, North Point, Hong Kong; 9088 6693 (text your enquiry and Ms Ching will ask her son to translate for you).
From North Point MTR, take exit B1 and cross the road at the crossing in front of you. Plaza 888 is just along the road to your right and Ms Ching’s is on the first floor above what I think is a lighting shop.