Haiphong Road - Hong Kong's quintessential shopping strip

by edapeters

This is quite my favourite thoroughfare in Hong Kong; it encompasses just about everything that’s vital about the city

Oh, I do like to be beside the (former) seaside

Haiphong Road in Tsim Sha Tsui runs roughly east-west; its northern side is fringed by Kowloon Park (a British Army barracks in days gone by) and shaded by century-old Camphor trees. The southern pavement is bordered by neon-clad buildings that give the phrase higgledy-piggledy its full measure, though there is a modern shopping mall at one end, as well as a wet market and an especially charismatic cooked food centre under the bridge that is crossed by Kowloon Park Drive.

Nathan Road – the much trumpeted “Golden Mile” – lies at the eastern end of Haiphong, and Canton Road (rather ambitiously touted as “Hong Kong’s Rodeo Drive”) at the other. I have to suppress the tiniest of yawns at the thought of either. Whereas Haiphong has character in spades, and is fun just to wander along as well as shop.

Haiphong, incidentally, means “seaside” but Hong Kong’s thirst for reclamation has gobbled up what was once the waterfront.

Let the revels commence

Starting on the corner with Nathan Road (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, exit A1), the first of Haiphong’s offerings is Luk Fook Jewellery (2311 7887; www.lukfook.com.hk) one of Hong Kong’s premier – and trustworthy – chain jewellery shops. Yvonne Lim, one of the supervisors, is especially helpful.

At 53-55 Haiphong, on the first floor, VIP Fashion (2301 3733; www.vipfashion.com.hk) sports a large array of designer label bags and accessories. Its near neighbour, S.Culture (2367 7538) stacks up some of the world’s leading shoe labels. No need to explain Underwear (no phone), next door, which is choc-a-block with everything from leg warmers to suspender belts, but all (ostensibly) aimed at gals.

With a hop…

Crossing Lock Road leads to Myer Photo & Audio (2368 8932) at 51-52A. It’s very much a typical Tsim Sha Tsui outlet; loads of geek glitz on display – and a bunch of hoods sizing you up inside. My recommendation: look, pass the time of day, buy somewhere else.

At 51-52B, Milan Station (2366 0332 www.milanstation.com.hk) is rendered “Rice Orchid Station” in Chinese, neither of which seems to have much to do with the handbags that are its principal wares.

Things get more interesting at Hing Lung Store (47-50; 2366 2849) which is not so much a shop as a brace of alleyways lined with shelves. Oriental knick-knacks is the best catch-all phrase; the parade of statuettes featuring cheeky Chinese chappies and pliant maidens leaves little to the imagination. There’s a lot of jade here too, though I wouldn’t swear to its authenticity.

At 45, the self-explanatory Bespoke Tailors (2730 8566; www.bespoketailorshk.com) shares the first floor with Nail Me (2311 0377), which does fake finger nails that have been PhotoShopped to the other side of the rainbow.

A skip…

Cross Hankow Road to reach Italy Station (2882 0522; www.italystation.com) which is obviously hoping to pinch business from Milan Station up the road. And then it’s climb the (particularly narrow) stairs again at 41, where Henderson & Co (2366 8030) sells reproduction chests and furniture. They can also arrange shipping.

Spare a thought for Ming Kee Store (no phone) at 31; no need to spend a long time browsing here, as the entire premises is confined to beneath a stairway. Watches, stockings, playing cards and cigarettes make up the eclectic albeit limited range of merchandise.

And a jump…

The Fook Tak (Old Fortune Morality) temple marks the divide between Haiphong’s outlets and the Temporary Market, which has been provisional for a good 20 years.

Beyond here lies the Silvercord mall (2735 9208, www.silvercord.hk) which stands at the junction with Canton Road. It’s a nice mix of international labels and local ones that would dearly love to join the former category. The anchor store G.O.D. (2784 5555; www.god.com.hk) is a Hong Kong success story, founded by Anglophile architects Douglas Young and Benjamin Lau. An abbreviation of Goods of Desire, it’s a lifestyle brand store that mixes East and West, and dabbles occasionally in controversy. Tee-shirts bearing the logo 14K (one of Hong Kong’s criminal triad gangs) excited the attention of the police in 2007, and selling traditional cakes shaped like human posteriors attracted everyone’s attention the following year.

And finally

“Copy watch, sir?” If there were global awards for persistence, Tsim Sha Tsui’s touts would be up on the winner’s podium every time. I can’t think why they bother, as those passers-by who do acknowledge them usually do so peevishly at best. Offering to sell a tout something usually leaves him (and they are all male) nonplussed, and he will avoid you in the future, having marked you down as a weirdo.

edapeters

A two-year round-the-world trip in the early 90s ended in Laos mere months after I'd set off from London for that time-honoured reason: zero cash. Took a boat over the Mekong (no bridges in those days), jumped the train to Bangkok, flew the credit card to Hong Kong, and got a job within a week. And like Mrs Lot, from that moment, I've never looked back. Somehow my rucksack has grown exponentially into a house and garden and similar impedimenta - but it's a rare month that I'm not travelling somewhere, preferably with my Kinshasa-born, Chinese-speaking, Flemish wife.

Over the years I’ve contributed to numerous guidebooks on Hong Kong, edited three editions of Asia’s Best Hotels & Resorts, and am currently working on a new guide to private villas in the region. I’m also Senior Editor at Large for AsiaSpa magazine, and have written for other publications such as Gourmet Traveller, Business Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Los Angeles Times, The Australian and The Scotsman.

This SimonSeeks guide was actually inaugurated by Teresa Machan, who writes:

A travel journalist with over 15 years’ experience, I lived in Hong Kong in exciting times – before, during and after the Handover. Before a stint at regional travel magazine Holiday Asia, I worked on the Hong Kong Standard and edited Concierge, the Hong Kong Hotels’ Association magazine. Cutting my teeth on some of the world’s finest hotel stock I chewed the fat with top chefs, interviewed the city’s finest Swiss-finished managers, and sampled some of the best Chinese food on the planet. Since returning to the UK I have written extensively about Hong Kong for magazines and newspaper travel sections, and I also edited a Smart Guide, published by Insight. One of the most fun stories I’ve done was for the Telegraph’s Ultratravel magazine. Hanging out in some of the city’s most glamorous spots, I had dinner with designer Barney Cheng, lunch at the hallowed China Club with philanthropist and society high-flyer Warren Mok, and benefited from some top tipster advice in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s member’s box.
But I’m just as happy hanging out in flip-flops and slurping noodles with the locals in my former home, Lamma Island.

These are some of our favourites around Hong Kong

Best for people watching

From the upper deck of a tram as it trundles around Sheung Wan, Central Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley.


The most breathtaking city view

From The Peak or with a cocktail at Aqua (29th and 30th floor, One Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui).


Lunch at the China Club
Tuck into hairy crab dumplings and watch the world turn on a high-decibel axis of lazy Susans. Members only but hey, this is the world’s greatest networking city!

Best cheap thrill
The pungent cross-harbour whiff of industry; the sailor-suited deckhands; the creak of the gangplank, the view… it’s quintessential Hong Kong. (ie Star Ferry)

Favourite walk
The day you are due to leave Hong Kong, drop your bags at the in-town check-in, catch a ferry to Lantau, then walk over the hills to Tung Chung (it takes a couple of hours) and cab it to Chek Lap Kok (you can grab a shower in Departures). Sensational scenery - woodland, waterfalls, small farms, open countryside - and what a way to combat DVT!

Best new attraction

1881 Heritage – A former downtown police station converted with a fair degree of sensitivity into a hotel, restaurants, and a swathe of designer label shops.

Don’t leave without...
Taking the MTR to a station that’s not mentioned in any guidebook, and plunging outside to explore.

Favourite dining spot
China Beach Club in Mui Wo – superb Mediterranean food and marvellous maritime location. Dogs welcome. Huge portions. Warsteiner on tap, likewise banter with the resident chorus of cook, owner and passing folk.

The best spot for some peace and quiet
Sir Edward Youde Memorial Pavilion, towards the northern end of the Wilson Trail above Luk Keng in the north-eastern New Territories. An incredible amalgam – 100% rural New Territories to the fore, with Mainland container terminal and TV mast on the horizon. Quiet as the grave, and only about ten minutes’ walk from the road-head.