August 25, 2015
Hong Kong is something of a shopper’s paradise”¦but not only for its high-end boutiques and many sprawling shopping malls. What truly makes the retail therapy in this city stand out? It’s all about the market scene. Whether you’re shopping for bamboo steamers or vintage cameras, seasonal fashion or jade pieces – or simply want to absorb the unique atmosphere of these chaotic hubs – these 10 markets in Hong Kong capture the sights, sounds (and even some of the smells) of this busy city.
For after-hours shopping – and a carnival of crowded stalls, neon signs and the tempting aromas of adjacent eateries – make the Temple Street Night Market your introduction to Hong Kong market culture. Even if you don’t buy anything (do your best to dodge the more touristy knickknacks), it’s worth it for the ambience. And once you’ve pushed through the crowds, grab a street-side stool and settle in for a steaming bowl of brothy noodles to finish off the night.
Even though you may not wish to bring a pair of lovebirds home with you, the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden is a nigh-on essential stop for those looking to discover some of the best markets in Hong Kong. With its trilling and squawking cacophony, the market sees thousands of colourful parrots, parakeets, and other tropical species and songbirds displayed in traditional teak cages.
Once you’ve taken in the rainbow feathers, it’s time to admire some equally vivid blossoms. Just adjacent to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden is the Flower Market. Located on Prince Edward Road in Mong Kok, the market is filled with an abundance of fragrant cut stems and potted plants (including a wide range of orchids and bonsai trees).
Also known by it fluffier alias – Cat Street – Upper Lascar Row has long been an antiques hub among the markets in Hong Kong. A shopping staple for almost 100 years, Upper Lascar Row occupies one of the earliest-settled areas of Hong Kong Island, giving it a fair amount of historic cred. Today, actual antiques are interspersed with more budget-friendly recreations, depending on whether you’re looking to collect or simply decorate.
Not one of the most tourist-frequented markets in Hong Kong, but certainly one of the most compelling: the loud and lively Chun Yeung Street offers a window into the daily routines of the Fujianese immigrant community that lives in the area. A “wet market” that mainly sells food products (wet markets are so-called because they’re regularly washed down with water to keep them clean), this culinary stretch defies supermarket-style shopping with its many individual stalls and specialist vendors. It’s also bisected by a working tramline – keep an eye on the tracks!
Hong Kong’s famous Goldfish Market – located on a busy stretch of Tung Choi Street – specialises in all things aquatic, with rows of aquarium-fronted shops selling goldfish, vibrant tropical fish, turtles, and other marine species. Save any goldfish purchasing for the locals, but note that the fish are considered lucky here. Surely a poke-around is a good idea, then.
If you’re in the market for some Hong Kong souvenirs, odds are jade’s at the top of your list. While a number of high-end dealers sell wallet-shredding jewellery items and other pricey mementos, more affordable souvenirs can be had at the popular, indoor Jade Market, from decorative home accessories to cell phone accessories.
If there were one word to describe the Ladies’ Market – which, like the Goldfish Market, occupies a stretch of Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok – we’d have to go with “hectic”. Crammed with stalls selling everything from t-shirts and hats to trinkets and gadgets, it’s less a destination for its wares (despite the name, it’s welcoming to more than just women) than its slightly mad, unique ambiance.
As you’ve likely gathered, Hong Kong’s markets are often thematically divided, and the Apliu Street Market is no exception: come here for all things electronics. Though you’re likely to find some of the latest gadgets amidst the piles, vintage pieces – from rotary phones to old-school cameras – may be some of the biggest draws.
Looking to do some cooking? If Apliu Street is host to all-things electronic, the shops and vendors along Shanghai Street are your destination for kitchenware. Opt for the items that you might have a hard time finding at home: from steamers to other bamboo-hewn products to woks and ceramics. You might want to give the cleavers a miss, though – they’re not so luggage-friendly.
Header image: Hong Kong’s busy markets draw crowds day and night © fazon1/iStock/Thinkstock
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Hong Kong every day – get ready to shop.
Written by Claire Bullen