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Originally published by Annette Chan. Last updated by Celia Lee.
It’s a question we encounter often: “Where do you get beautiful Hong Kong souvenirs?” Besides your airport bookstore postcards and fridge magnets, there is a wealth of Hong Kong-themed merchandise out there, thanks to the city’s visually striking iconography and fast pace of life, which necessitates preserving its unique quirks in unexpected formats.
Whether you’re preparing a care package for a relative studying abroad, sending off an expat friend, or just looking to kit out your home in Hong Kong pride, keep reading to see where you can get your hands on fairy lights, note pad stands, jewellery, coasters, and socks that have been given Hong Kong-specific twists.
As the original specialists in Hong Kong-themed knickknacks, G.O.D. has plenty of goodies that would suit the homesick Hongkonger. You’ll find founder Douglas Young’s trademark patterns on all manner of home goods, from stackable mug sets to soap dishes, aprons, cushion covers, tissue box covers, and doormats.
The core patterns, which mostly have a pop art sensibility, feature themes such as old Hong Kong letterboxes, Yau Ma Tei tenement buildings, bright neon sign streetscapes, red prosperity porcelain patterns, and the quintessential red-white-blue bags.
One of our favourite items, however, is that hallmark of the uni student apartment—a string of fairy lights—which is given a Hong Kong twist with adorable red wet market lampshades over each tiny bulb. When it comes to clothing and accessories, we’re also very fond of the collab collection with Hong Kong-based sock brand Playful Socks, featuring adorable patterns such as Hong Kong taxis, dim sum, mahjong tiles, cups of milk tea, and trams.
Looking for unique tote bags and scarves with a distinctly Hong Kong pattern? 852 Fabrics has got you covered. As the only independent fabric design house in Hong Kong offering locally themed designs, 852 Fabrics has grown from a small fabric distributer to selling unique speciality gifts representative of the city we all know and love. Check out the vibrant stained-glass compact umbrella ($240) featuring the well-known neon signs of Hong Kong.
Its Alice in Wonderland fabric series presents the lovable fairy tale in a transformed wonderland of skyscrapers, Mount Lion, and Victoria Harbour, which you can get pre-made as cotton tea towels ($150) or as a bolt of fabric to fashion into scarves or clothing!
For the stationery-loving Hongkonger, Iglooz’s Insight collection is full of adorable gift ideas. Various memo pads in the shape of Choi Hung’s famous rainbow basketball court, pineapple buns (with the yellow pads acting as the butter), and street lamps; a memo board in the shape of an egg waffle iron with magnetic egg puffs to hold up your scribbles; pencil sharpeners in the shape of orange rubbish bins and ashtrays; a set of pushpins that look like Cheung Chau’s famous “peace buns,” presented on a mini cork tower for the full effect.
Besides its online store, you can find Iglooz at a number of local retailers, including G.O.D., the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Design Gallery, the Hong Kongers Design store in Causeway Bay, The Barn in Lai Chi Kok, and the gift shops at Xiqu Centre and Sky100.
Speaking of buns, there are a few more ways to rep these rotund little snacks—including as jewellery! Hong Kong Oapes’ Cheung Chau Bun Festival collection comprises earrings and necklaces, both of which offer two inscriptions—“平安” (ping4 on1; peace) and “囍” (hei2; double happiness)—on freshwater pearls. We also like the neon sign collection, featuring pawnshop signage-inspired pendants and earrings, which glow in the dark.
Meanwhile, indie accessories brand Riley the Jewellery makes Hong Kong coin pendants, rings, bracelets, and bangles in different styles and finishes. Made using genuine (and often vintage!) coins, the pieces are all unique, but they may leave a harmless green mark on your skin after long periods of wear, as they are made from copper, nickel, and brass.
Looking for speciality bags that truly represent Hong Kong? Our iconic red-white-blue carrier tote definitely comes to mind. But is the nylon bag the only souvenir you can get to commemorate your time spent in the city? Not anymore! You can now get your fill of RWB memorabilia from RWB330, where the famous nylon bag comes in fashionable, reimagined tote bags (starting from $228), coin pouches (starting from $188), and more.
Any visitor to Hong Kong is no stranger to its delicious variety of traditional street snacks. But what if you can carry these delicious bites with you wherever you go? Grew From Hands has the solution! Its egg waffle purses (starting from $800) and Hong Kong-style waffle purses (starting from $520) are handmade using high-quality genuine leather, and make for the perfect vessel to store and preserve your precious memories of the city.
Can’t get enough of Hong Kong coinage? Give your homewares a refresh with handmade coin-shaped concrete coasters, which come in three colourways—copper, black, and grey—and one-dollar and two-dollar options. In the same vein of finding the beauty in the mundane, Concretology makes manhole cover coasters, featuring round and square designs lifted from the city streets. For a slightly more colourful option, Concretology also offers yellow coasters based on the Lego-esque design of Hong Kong’s tactile guide path tiles.
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If G.O.D.’s taxi and tram socks spoke to you, then you may want to check out the other Hong Kong transport-related paraphernalia out there. Local toy shop Tiny specialises in miniatures, from die-cast models of buses (regular and mini) to taxis, trams, ambulances, and fire trucks. It also carries a range of humorous minibus signs in the form of display pieces and keychains, though a larger range can be found in its brick-and-mortar stores.
If you—like any child in the 1990s with a less common name—are having trouble finding the exact message you want, you can also custom-order a minibus sign or keychain through Eldage. The signs, which are hand-painted by an actual minibus sign painter Master Mak Kam-sang, can say whatever you like—even proclamations of love for ginger candy, for example. If you’re interested in learning how to make your own minibus sign with guidance from Master Mak, you can also consider taking his minibus sign calligraphy class.
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Well into living with the pandemic, one thing we took away from our extended periods of time spent at home is that puzzles and games are really fun. Seeing as puzzling is an hours-, if not days-long commitment—just ask the Localiiz team, who has been poring over this jigsaw for the last three lunch hours—you may as well find something beautiful to put together. We like this puzzle of Choi Hung Estate from Hongkongmaper, which you can custom-order in options from 300 pieces to 1,500 pieces, depending on your confidence.
Lion Rock Press makes lovely Hong Kong-themed puzzles, which are double-sided—an illustration on one side, a photograph on the other—meaning that you get twice the entertainment for the price of one! If you want to take a break from jigsaws, Lion Rock Press also stocks other Hong Kong-themed games, including a bilingual Transport Bingo and educational memory game for children called Hong Kong Lotto.
Meanwhile, for a considerably less child-friendly game, check out Ride the Minibus, a themed card-based drinking game developed by 852 Prints and GetHigh HK. With hilarious cards saying things like “On the count of three, point at the person who is most likely to come back with a fake accent after studying abroad” and “Take a sip if you’ve ever told a Singaporean that Hong Kong is better,” this game is silly, snarky, and ever-so-specific.