Hong Kong Market Hopping with Kensington Tours
Leah Walker December 18, 2013

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.

Hong Kong Market23

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

Hong Kong Market1

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.

Hong Kong Market5

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.

Hong Kong Market7

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.

Hong Kong Market6

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

Hong Kong Market9

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.

Hong Kong Market22

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

Hong Kong Market12

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.

Hong Kong Market16

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

Hong Kong Market14

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.

Hong Kong Market10

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

Hong Kong Market20

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.

Hong Kong Market18

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.

Hong Kong Market19

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.

Hong Kong Market21

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.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

30 Comments

  1. I have to say that the bird garden, while initially kinda cool with the uniqueness of it all, started to bother me the longer I stayed. All those beautiful birds in cages, rather than be free in the world. After some time looking at all the people and all their pet birds (and yeah, all those cricket/bug jars), I had to leave. But I really liked the idea of finding different kinds of markets in Kowloon!

    1. I agree, Henry. I don’t like seeing the birds in the cages either. I really hate that they clip some of the wings so they can’t fly. 🙁

  2. Great article ! Hong Kong is really beautiful and one of my favourite destination to explore. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful information about its markets.

  3. These markets looks amazing! And those orchids at the flower market are just beautiful – I absolutely adore orchids. I must admit I was pretty disappointed with the markets we visited in Bangkok, but it looks like I need to head to Hong Kong.

    1. You can buy an orchid for like US $8 in HK. I hate hearing about the Bangkok markets. I was looking forward to visiting them.

  4. I am not much of a shopper whether it is a mall or market. I do enjoy walking around and people watching and then finding some food and a beer. I am sure I could find that in Hong Kong.

  5. Ace post Leah! I’m very curious though – Did you buy absolutely loads of goodies? Or were you just very stealthy with the camera? Because I saw so many signs saying “NO PHOTO”, particularly in Temple Street market.

    Great to read about the ones I didn’t manage to get round to too. Although I deliberately missed out the bird one – I would not have liked being near that many birds haha!

    1. To answer your question, I bought a few things, but was also quick with the camera. I did pay attention to the “no photos” signs and tried not to point it in those stalls direction.

  6. Shopping is a major part of our travels, although it usually means my wife shops while I walk around with my son who despises the idea of it. We would enjoy these markets. Walking markets is something he actually enjoys. I’ve been interested in Hong Kong since I was in the second grade. I was gullible enough to believe a classmate when he said he and a friend along with our music teacher visited Hong Kong the previous night. Because of the time change and a super-fast jet they were able to visit Hong Kong that night and still make it back in time for school. I hate to admit that.

  7. Great photos! I love markets in Asia, so many interesting finds. I definitely hope to do a tour like this when I eventually get to Hong Kong.

Your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

Have the world delivered to your inbox
Well, maybe not the whole world, but some of it. Either way, subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I'll include my latest articles from around the Web, travel announcements, and maybe even a few Paris insider tips.