Written by: Nigel Ong
Hong Kong is a city famous for its ultra-modern metropolitan life, and yet still retains deep ties to its cultural roots. From the street eateries (Tai Pai Tongs), classic tea shops (Cha Chaan Thengs) all the way to its many night markets, the real Hong Kong shows itself right here.
Sure they are noise, chaotic and messy, but street markets are often the best place to check out the real culture of the place. In Hong Kong, it is just the same. There's just something about looking for the unique souvenirs, see the tradesmen work their charm selling their wares in their local languages.
Sounds good to you? well, why not start with these seven markets when you visit Hong Kong the next time?
1. Temple Street Night Market
Location: Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei
Nearest MTR Station(s): Yau Ma Tei (Exit C) and Jordan (Exit A)
During the day, the street looks just like other Hong Kong streets, busy, with lots of people walking around.
The magic happens when the sun sets. Stalls got set up, and the street is transformed into a night bazaar.
Take your time to visit the stalls, perhaps take some time to check out the jade ornaments, teawares and trinkets you could take home as a piece of memory.
When its all done, find one of the Tong Sui (desert) stalls, order a bowl of cool sweet soups, a cup of tea, and enjoy the scenery. Do not be surprised if there is an opera show!
2. Yuen Po Street Bird Garden
Location: Yuen Po Street, Prince Edward
Nearest MTR Station(s): Prince Edward (Exit B1)
If noisy and chaotic night market is an issue for you, then you will like Yuen Po Bird Garden.
It is designed to look like a traditional Chinese Garden, selling mostly bird paraphernalia - bamboo bird cages, bird feeds, clippers, porcelains. Be prepared to be offered to buy exotic birds by the breeders too!
While at the market, observe the 'old timers' there. Try to see how they work hard on gently feeding and doting these birds, to draw a tune out of them. See their smiles when their lovely bird whistled tunes, and maybe you could be drawn to try it out yourself!
3. Sino Center
Location: Nathan Road, Mong Kok
Nearest MTR Station(s): Mong Kok (Exit E2) and Yau Ma Tei (Exit A2)
Looking for a piece of Hong Kong from the classic days? Check out Sino Center, it is not really a street market, but more of a flea market, nestled into a 4-storey building.
Classic records of Chinese singers from the 30's? tin cigarette boxes? Japanese Mangas? action figures? music albums? They are all available here.
Pop culture fans must not miss out Sino center. Just watch out for the Hello Kitties, they are everywhere!
4. Shanghai Street Night Market
Location: Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
Nearest MTR Station(s): Yau Ma Tei (Exit C)
Fancy cooking Chinese food? Serial kitchenware hoarder?
Then this is the place for you.
Shanghai Street made its name with many of its traders selling high quality, traditional Chinese kitchenware. ornamented chopsticks, board, the amazing Chinese chopping knife, bowls, pots and pans... all there for the taking.
As a start, consider buying some dim sum bamboo baskets to take home, they look like as a souvenir piece, plus if you are to steam up some dim sum yourself, you can serve them out nicely!
5. Fa Yuen Street
Location: Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok
Nearest MTR Station(s): Mong Kok (Exit D3)
Sneakerhead? You will have to check out Fa Yuen Street. Famous for its rows and rows of sneaker shops, Fa Yuen Street is the paradise for Hong Kong youngsters, as well as sneakerheads worldwide.
Arm yourself with a list of sneakers you want to hunt for. Take your time to walk into as many stores as you can, and see how these shopkeepers will actually have the rarest, or the most recent 'drops'. All makes are available here, from the usual Nikes, Adidasses, Air Jordans down to Reebok and New Balance.
The key here is to survey the price. walk into as many as you can, before purchasing your dream kicks!
6. Tung Choi Street Gold Fish Market
Location: Tung Choi Street (North), Mong Kok
Nearest MTR Station(s): Prince Edward (Exit B2)
In Feng Shui, gold fishes are seen as auspicious animals - they bring good luck, fortune and prosperity to its owners. The ever risk-taking Chinese will always appreciate anything that will bring 'good fortune' to their houses, offices, and so gold fishes are always in high demand.
As such, here in Tong Choi street gold fish market, business is booming with all sorts of gold fish on display - small, big, different hues of gold, swollen of normal head... some at prices so outrageous you do not see the rationale!
7. Gough Street
Location: Gough Street, Sheung Wan
Nearest MTR Station(s): Sheung Wan (Exit A2)
If you are in the hunt of the Colonial Hong Kong vibes, then Gough Street is the place for you.
During the colonial days, Europeans and Chinese people live together at this place, and most of them are of the financially better off. As a result, this area developed a different feel compared to the rest of Hong Kong.
Stores here have a very 'British' feel, although the china on sale are distinctively Hong Kong - think British style teapots made with Chinese porcelain and paintings for example. Even if you are not here to purchase anything, its good to just take a stroll and take in some of the slower, more leisurely Hong Kong of the past!
Nigel Ong is a Malaysian that enjoys mountain hiking, long walks, and jungle trekking.He is also the co-founder of FlyMe360 Travel & Lifestyle Magazine.
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