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Header image courtesy of Hong Kong Market
We know what you’re thinking: You never thought that wet markets could be pretty, did you? Neither did we. Although they are fantastic places for buying local produce at killer prices (and cultivating good relationships with vendors), wet markets do not always have the best reputation in terms of cleanliness and presentation. Floors are often wet and slippery, it can be hard to find what you want, and weird aromas waft from every corner.
That is, until these recent few years when more and more wet markets have been refurbished. Despite some controversy over the high rent prices, nobody can deny that these newly renovated markets look really nice (to our pleasant surprise!). Here are some of our favourite picks—see if there are any near your neighbourhood!
One of the latest refurbished wet markets to open in Hong Kong is the sophisticated T Market. Instead of the usual smattering of groceries, you are invited to first stroll through a corridor adorned with Japanese paper lanterns. Street food stalls tempt you from both sides, with a seated eating area at the far end of the aisle.
T Market itself may not look big but there are actually more than 70 stalls located in the centralised layout. With its sleek wooden accents and contemporary Japanese design, it’s one of our top places to do groceries.
T Market, G/F, T Town North, 30 & 33 Tin Wah Road, Tin Shui Wai
Maritime Market takes after the nearby Maritime Square, Hong Kong’s first ocean-themed mall. Both are on the water-hugged island of Tsing Yi, which is clearly used to their advantage in the inspired design. At its entrance from the mall is a grand aquarium, too. Yes, it’s a video wall, but that doesn’t make it less impressive: we’re talking about a wet market here, not Ocean Park!
Thousands of multicoloured fish—including a gigantic stingray—hang from the ceiling while you shop, while the blue hues remind you that you’re “underwater.” Even its exterior is decorated as a wharf to make sure you get the point. It’s only natural to buy some fresh raw seafood here, but don’t miss the adjacent street food bonanza with plenty of stalls to sate your appetite.
Maritime Market, G/F, Cheung Fat Plaza, 6 Tam Kon Shan Road, Tsing Yi
Venture into old Hong Kong at Siu Sai Wan Market’s seafood section. An abundance of nostalgic signage makes this fish bazaar reminiscent of Nathan Road in twentieth-century Hong Kong, as seen in the movies. In a dizzying contrast, the main Siu Sai Wan Market is a technicolour bomb; the floor tiles jump out in a kaleidoscope of colour in contrast to old Hong Kong’s greys. Be sure to check out Siu Sai Wan Market’s curious “i-Chicken” system, which allows customers to purchase live chickens through video chat!
Siu Sai Wan Market, G/F, Siu Sai Wan Plaza, 10 Siu Sai Wan Road, Siu Sai Wan, Chai Wan
Wet markets are usually dimly lit and cramped: Freshall turns these conceptions on their head with its sterile, minimalist design. Psychedelic trees canopy its spacious aisles, making you wonder if you have accidentally wandered into some bizarre museum exhibit instead. Like many of the markets on this list, customers can pay electronically at Freshall’s stalls. How’s this for a high-tech stroll through nature?
Freshall, G/F, Sha Kok Commercial Centre, 5 Sha Kok Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 3620 2343
Red telephone boxes, red brick walls, and oil lamps: Foodin is probably the most British corner in the New Territories. So maybe it doubles as an Instagram spot, but don’t forget that Foodin is still a wet market first and foremost despite the unexpected crossover, selling local fresh groceries rather than British or international imports.
Those in the area should head on over to its convenient location just right outside Lam Tin Station, even if just for a bite in their street food halls. If you come at the right time, you may even catch a live musical performance by local bands—something we never thought we would see at a wet market!
Foodin, G/F, Kai Tin Shopping Centre, 50 Kai Tin Road, Lam Tin, Kwun Tong
You no longer have to go to the History Museum or travel to faraway villages to admire traditional Chinese architecture. Well, okay, maybe Fanling is a bit far itself, but Fresh Town is worth shopping at for its distinctive antique design.
Modelled after Chinese courtyard houses known as siheyuan (四合院), the market features sloped tiles on the roof, carved wooden windows, and pavilions aplenty. Chinese red lanterns dangle throughout the market for a more festive atmosphere, paying homage to the 2,000-year-old architectural style.
Fresh Town (Wah Ming Market), 21 Wah Ming Road, Fanling
While Siu Sai Wan Market and Bauhinia Garden’s Hong Kong Market were inspired by the psychedelic atmosphere of 1970s Hong Kong interior design, Hong Kong Market in Yat Tung steps it up a notch with its nostalgic presentation of Kowloon City in the 1960s.
You cannot miss the bright red rickshaw parked at its entrance, nor the colonial postbox that instantly transports you back in time. Walking through the aisles, you truly feel as if you are exploring the lanes of Kowloon City in its heyday; if you look up, you can even see decorative bamboo poles with hanging laundry! Don’t miss the gigantic paper plane that dominates the ceiling, traditionally crafted in tribute to the skilful landing manoeuvres back when Tai Kak Airport was still in operation.
Hong Kong Market (Yat Tung), G/F, Yat Tung Shopping Centre, 8 Yat Tung Street, Tung Chung
Be prepared for a bout of disorientation at Freshin, where Hong Kong meets rural France in an outlandish mash-up. With its arch windows and kitsch colour palette, we’re getting strong vibes of French cottage themes, but we can’t say we’re not impressed at the attempt. Sky blue and pristine white definitely aren’t colours that come into mind when we think of wet markets but the revolutionary Freshin might just change this.
Freshin, 1/F, Tsz Wan Shan Shopping Centre, 23 Yuk Wah Street, Wong Tai Sin