Hong Kong Market Hopping with Kensington Tours


Shopping has long been a favorite past time of Hong Kongers, which is apparent in the massive shopping malls, as well as the countless markets. There’s no doubt that Hong Kong is an excellent high-end shopping city. Multiple outlets of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Cartier dot the streets like Starbucks in New York City. But if your idea of traveling doesn’t involve seeing the inside of a mall, then Hong Kong’s diverse markets are for you.

My time in Hong Kong was cut short due to Typhoon Haiyan, so I was even more grateful that I was touring the city with my favorite private guided company, Kensington Tours. Since it was my first time in Hong Kong, I wanted to see the highlights of the city. Of course, that included shopping in the markets. With a driver and the advice from my guide and lifelong Hong Konger, Katie, I moved efficiently from one place to the next. Though, even with an expert in tow, I still wasn’t able to see all of the city’s markets, but here’s the rundown of the ones I did visit.

Temple Street Night Market

Located near the center of Kowloon, Temple Street Night Market started as a make shift market with hawkers selling food and small items. In the 1920s, it became a more organized market, and now is one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist destinations.

Although Temple Street becomes pedestrian-only at 2:00 pm, most vendors don’t set up until later in the day. But once the sun goes down, the market is a bustling place filled with locals and visitors alike.

The hawker stalls contain a variety of goods including small electronics, jewelry, shoes, clothes, art, purses, traditional Chinese crafts, luggage, and t-shirts. The quality of these items varies, but Temple Street is a great place to grab some inexpensive souvenirs, but don’t take the initial price—bargain. As expected, there are some knock-offs in the stalls, though “designer” purses are not prominently displayed. Instead, men holding photos of the copies are stationed along the walkway, inviting market goers to check out their inventory.

Temple Street is also a popular spot for dining. From street food to cafes to restaurants, there are multiple delicious options for a snack or full dinner. Seafood, soup, noodles, and dumplings are among the most popular offerings.

In addition to the bargains, food, and people watching, Temple Street Night Market is also a traditional area for fortunetellers. Not actually in the market, the fortunetellers are located near the temple gardens. Look for signs indicating English speakers if interested in a reading.

Stanley Market

Once a fishing village on the island of Hong Kong, the Stanley Market was also where the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Now, it’s a place for tourists to score good deals and dine near the waterfront.

Things are a bit more laid back in the Stanley Market. For the most part, vendors aren’t too pushy or persistent. Instead, the market feels more like a series of regular stores. Although there are plenty of low-quality knick-knacks, the Stanley Market is best for embroidered table and bed linens, silk clothes, and cashmere. In order to avoid the crowds, morning is the best time to visit.

Flower Market

On the island of Kowloon, over fifty storefronts line Flower Market Road selling fresh cut flowers and potted plants. Once a place for florists to buy merchandise for their shops, the Flower Market has grown into a tourist destination and a place for people from Hong Kong to buy small plants and fresh flowers for their apartments.

Brought in from Mainland China, the shops are filled with brightly colored blooms, stunning {and inexpensive} orchids, and bamboo plants, which are said to bring financial fortune. Sadly, none of the beautiful blooms can be taken out of Hong Kong, but the Flower Market is still worth a visit.

Yuen Po Street Bird Garden

Around the corner from the Flower Market is the Bird Garden. Interesting enough, the Bird Garden emerged from Hong Kongers bringing their caged birds to a nearby dim sum restaurant in order to enjoy their music. Noticing this trend, vendors then began selling bird feed nearby. Once the restaurant was torn down, the large number of hawkers moved to Hong Lok Street, later renamed to Bird Street. In the late ‘90s, the market was again moved.

Now, Yuen Po Street Bird Garden is home to more than 70 stalls selling birds, bamboo cages, porcelain water dishes, and live grasshoppers for the birds to eat. Even more culturally interesting is watching the elderly gentlemen who proudly show off their birds in the garden. Having the most beautiful bird with the loveliest song is a huge source of pride and also a bit competitive amongst the men.

Jade Market

Believed to bring good health and ward off evil, jade is prized by the Chinese. The highest quality pieces of jade can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are passed down from generation to generation. Visitors won’t see those kinds of pieces at the Jade Market. Instead, various trinkets, bracelets, pendants, beads, and earrings of low-grade or fake jade are found.

Located in a non-descript building on Kowloon, the Jade Market is a one-stop shop for those looking to take a piece of Hong Kong tradition home. Fifty or so vendors proudly display their stock to would-be buyers. In order to not over pay, take a look around the market, and remember that most of the jade is either lower quality or made from glass or soapstone that’s been dyed.

Although jade is the primary product in the market, there are also antique-looking Chinese trinkets and other tchotchkes. The Jade Market is a good place for inexpensive mementos from Hong Kong, but don’t count on them becoming family heirlooms.

Options abound in Hong Kong, and it seems as if there is a market for everything. Other popular shopping spots include the Ladies’ Market, Goldfish Market, Cat Street for antiques, and Apliu Street Flea Market for electronics. When shopping the markets of Hong Kong, bring plenty of cash, keep an eye on your wallet, and get ready to bargain.

I was a guest of Kensington Tours. In no way was I swayed to write a positive review based on the luxurious chauffeured Mercedes, my accommodating and friendly guide, or the treasure trove of goodies I brought home. As always, opinions are mine.

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