Header image courtesy of @barrydrone (via Instagram)
Originally published by Sophie Pettit. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
Often touted as a shopping paradise, Hong Kong is full of glitzy department stores and maze-like malls, packed with the world’s most iconic and famous brands. But for those looking to develop a real understanding of the Hong Kong shopping scene, a visit to one of the city’s bustling markets is an absolute must. Get ready to haggle for everything from flowers to flip-flops, gadgets to goldfish, as we take you on a tour of Hong Kong’s best street markets.
Rickety stalls and tables spill onto the street at this ever-buzzing flea market in Sham Shui Po. Pop by any day of the week between noon and night-time and you’re bound to find Apliu Street brimming with shoppers looking for all sorts of brand-new and pre-loved electronics—be it mobile phone parts, kitchen appliances, or cable cords. As you browse through the stalls, you may even be surprised by some unusual finds like vintage typewriters or antique clocks. Prices run on the cheap end, but you can probably get the cost even lower if you have got a knack for haggling!
Apliu Street Flea Market, Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po
Perfumed with the sweet scent of ripe, seasonal fruits, and bathed in a rainbow of colours, it’s hard to miss this vibrant wholesale fruit market. Spanning several blocks along Reclamation Street and Waterloo Street, the century-old Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market is loved not only for its historic value—having been listed as a Grade II historic building—but also for vending in some of the freshest seasonal fruits in town! Offerings run the whole gamut in price and variety alike; so whether you want to stock up on the affordable staples, or try out some rare, luxury fruits such as Japanese white strawberries and Shine Muscat grapes, this place has you covered.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the normally quiet neighbourhood of Kam Tin comes to life as the Kam Sheung Road Flea Market opens for business. Located just a stone’s throw away from the MTR station, this open-air shopping destination may not be huge, but the variety is impressive, with offerings that range from toys and pet accessories to gardening supplies and local snacks (think nostalgic childhood favourites like candied hawthorn sticks, traditional candy and coconut wrap (糖蔥餅), and maltose crackers.) Even if you’re not looking for anything in particular, the laid-back vibe and eclectic vendors make this the perfect place to wander around and laze away a weekend afternoon!
Kam Sheung Road Flea Market, Kam Sheung Road, Yuen Long
A time-honoured haunt among the city’s crafty creatives and budding fashion designers, Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar has been around Sham Shui Po for over 40 years, with around 200 stalls in operation at its height. A stroll beneath the low-slung, metal-and-tarpaulin roof will reveal a treasure trove of colourful fabrics, textiles, and fashion accessories sold at modest prices. In typical Hong Kong street market style, the merchandise is stacked, piled, and jam-packed in every nook and corner to maximise the available space, so take your time scoping out all your options here if you want to bag the best deal!
Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar, 373 Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po
With stalls overflowing with bargain clothing, accessories, and souvenirs stretching for over a kilometre, the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street is the perfect place to put your haggling skills to the test. This bustling market takes its name from the huge amount of clothing, accessories, and accessories on sale for women of all ages. However, with other goodies such as watches, home furnishings, CDs and trinkets also up for grabs, men and children can also enjoy having a browse. Many stalls sell the same goods, so it’s wise to bide your time and shop around for the best price. Discounts are possible, with the more experienced hagglers able to get as much as 50 percent off the original sale price. Be warned however that some stall owners can be quite forward in their sales approach!
Ladies‘ Market, Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok
When the sun goes down, traders fill their stalls with goodies, as opera singers and fortune tellers begin to emerge in this culture-fuelled popular street bazaar. Named after a Tin Hau temple located in the centre of its main strip, Temple Street Night Market is steeped in local atmosphere, and is a hugely popular attraction for anyone looking to buy trinkets, tea-ware, electronics, and menswear. From watches and sunglasses to belts and T-shirts, this colourful market has it all. Jade and antiques are scrutinised, while claypot rice, seafood, noodles, and other treats are consumed by locals and tourists with gusto. Sometimes referred to as the “Men’s Market,” this is famous for its electronics, wallets, and novelty lighters, and the obvious place to go if you are hunting for mobile phones, tablets, hand-held devices, or other small gadgets. Be prepared to haggle as prices here start unrealistically high.
Temple Street Night Market, Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei
Set in the quaint village of Stanley on the south of Hong Kong Island, Stanley Market is a huge hit with locals and tourists alike due to its enormous selection of brand-name clothing items, and accessories, jewellery, home furnishings, souvenirs, and knick-knacks, which can be bought at reasonable prices. Compromising one main street and several adjoining alleyways, the market is a nice, manageable size and the perfect place to take a stroll and pick up a bargain. The stalls do get a little cramped with shoppers on weekends, however, so it pays to pick a quieter time to go—especially if you get overwhelmed by the sprawl of other markets. Most goods here are already fairly priced, but keep an eye out for discounted leather products, cheap artwork, electronic gadgets, silk, and silver jewellery. And if that’s not enough to grab you, the nearby eateries along the breezy seaside strip surely will.
Stanley Market, Stanely New Street and Stanely Market Road, Stanley
Arguably the best market in Hong Kong for children’s toys and gifts, Tai Yuen Street Market is also a popular hot spot for locals looking to buy a variety of household goods including china, clothing, and bric-a-brac. Goods such as bags, accessories, underwear, and sweet and savoury treats can be found here at rock-bottom prices, but be warned that the quality is not always top-notch. You can also find several butcher shops, vegetable stalls, and fruit stalls, which sell fresh produce at much lower prices than the local supermarkets.
Tai Yuen Street Market, Tai Yuen Street, Wan Chai
Those looking for arts and crafts, paintings, antiques, or rare souvenirs will find a world of hidden treasures on Cat Street. Tucked away in the little back alley of Upper Lascar Row in Sheung Wan, this market boasts a fantastic congregation of antique dealers, art galleries, and trinket shops. Ancient Chinese snuff bottles, old propaganda posters, and rare Ming dynasty furniture can be bought at haggled down prices.
This is also a great place to browse bargains in jade, silk products, embroideries, and wooden handicraft items, but be aware that while most vendors will claim they stock genuine antiques, some are undoubtedly excellent fakes or copies—so take care before buying anything expensive.
Cat Street Antiques Market, Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan
Delve into a jungle of exotic blooms and delicate aromas among the dozens of shops and wholesalers at Mong Kok‘s Flower Market. Houseplants and blossoms are said to bring luck all year round, especially in the run-up to Chinese New Year, and this is the perfect place to pick up some petals to keep the good fortune flowing. Gorgeous orchids can be picked up at a mere $15, while pots of various sizes, materials can be purchased for under $100. Look out for the more unusual plants such as cacti and Bonsai trees, which can be snagged at delightfully low prices.
Flower Market, Flower Market Road, Mong Kok
Like flowers, goldfish are thought to bring good luck to the home, and Tung Choi Street North—better known as the Goldfish Market—is lined with bags of aquatic beauties of all shapes, sizes, and colour. In between tanks of fish, which range from a few dollars to gaspingly high prices, you will also discover a few amphibians and reptiles crawling about, as well as impressive saltwater aquarium set-ups complete with coral, pebbles, and decorative features. If you are looking for a lucky companion, this is the place to go.
Goldfish Market, Yuen Po Street, Mong Kok
If you need some new pots and pans, or are looking to explore the joys of baking, then Shanghai Street (Yau Ma Tei section) has everything you could possibly need to stock up your kitchen with the necessary accessories. Among the piles upon piles of inexpensive kitchenware on sale you can find chopping boards, bamboo steaming baskets, cutters, cake tins, jelly moulds, and cake stands at rock-bottom prices. There are also shelves of cooking ingredients, ranging from flour and icing sugar, to food dyes and decorative sprinkles, so you can get super colourful and creative in the kitchen. I Love Cake, Chan Chi Kee, and Man Kee Chopping Board are among the highlights in this baker‘s paradise.
Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
One of the easiest markets to navigate, Fa Yuen Street—often dubbed as ”Sneaker Street”—sits very close to the Ladies’ Market and is home to the greatest gathering of sports shoe and sportswear shops on the planet. Fashion-conscious Hong Kongers have been shopping here since the 1980s, bagging the latest designs of statement-making footwear, as well as limited-edition releases from all over the world. Discounts are possible, but as this is predominantly a market for locals, many vendors will stick to non-negotiable, but still low, prices.
Sneaker Street, Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok
Get lost in a sea of green at Hong Kong’s famous Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei. Associated with good luck, health, and often given to newborns as a tradition in Hong Kong, jade plays a key role in Chinese culture (and fashion) and you are sure to find the perfect piece among the hundreds of stalls here.
The most common items to be poked through are jade accessories, including rings, bangles, pendants, and earrings, but expect to come across some more unusual finds as well. Jade varies in colour (from deep green to yellow, brown, and white) as well as cost, so whatever your preference and budget, you will unlikely walk away empty-handed. The stall keepers will help you choose the right one, and will happily make slight alterations or even tailor a piece to your own taste. Little fact: if your jade breaks, take it as a good sign that some bad luck was headed your way and the amulet took a hit on your behalf. Great excuse to buy another one!
Jade Market, 261 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei