Hong Kong's Wildest Shopping Markets

by edapeters

Shopping should be fun, and Hong Kong’s markets and themed shopping streets are exactly that

As a rule of thumb, Hong Kong’s marts tend to open mid-morning and then close late-evening on a daily basis. The exception is Kam Tin Flea Market which only runs at weekends and on public holidays.

Bargaining is pretty much de rigeur. If you want to buy something, ask the price, offer a (reasonable) fraction, then meet in the middle. Walking off in a supposed huff helps lower the price towards the end of this intriguing piece of street theatre.

Pickpockets can spot you a marathon away; don’t flash your cash, and keep whatever you contain it in well guarded, especially when you are trying on clothes.

I’ve included the relevant MTR or bus connections by each mart. All you need do now is grab a wad of cash and set off around these – the best markets and shopping streets in Hong Kong.

No question about it, I’d say that Stanley market (Bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260) is best for ambience; you can dawdle around the alleyways and then drop down by the seaside for lunch. The shops are roughly arranged in a T-shaped layout, with the elongated cross-piece running parallel to the shore. Rugby shirts of the world, Chinoiserie, copy artworks, sports shoes, mementos and souvenirs – they’re all here. Highly-salaried bureaucrats’ efforts to modernise Stanley (ie totally negate the market’s character) happily remain on the drawing board.

The Lanes – Li Yuen streets East and West – between Des Voeux and Queen’s roads in Central – have as good a selection of clothes and knick-knacks as anywhere in town. My cousin and her husband did all their Christmas shopping here in one fell swoop when they came to visit. Note that, as well as the stalls and street-level shops, there are a number of other outlets on the higher floors. Central MTR, exit C.

In Yau Ma Tei, Temple Street Night Market (Jordan MTR, exit A; 4pm kick-off daily) tends to lack quality – its offerings are very much mass market, with a lot of gadgets and luggage on offer. It’s more a spectacle than somewhere to do any serious shopping.

Further north, Tung Choi Street (Mong Kong MTR) hosts both Ladies’ Market (which could well be renamed Unisex) and the Goldfish Market – traditionally viewed as lucky, and about the only sort of pet many Hong Kongers have room to house.

Running parallel to Tung Choi, Fa Yuen Street is a grand parade of sportswear outlets. For electronics, and also – slightly bizarrely – cosmetics, try Sai Yeung Choi Street South, which is only a few minutes’ walk away. Similar geekery – including second-hand stuff as well as antique watches and old coins – is on show at Ap Liu Street Flea Market in Sham Shui Po (MTR exit C2).

Jardine’s Crescent in Causeway Bay (MTR exit F) is perhaps the least enticing market on Hong Kong Island: it’s crowded even by Hong Kong standards, and the clothing and accessories on show not instantly buyable. So it's worth seeing, but not worth going to see.

There are two sides to the Jade Market (Yau Ma Tei MTR, exit C): it’s a wholesale mart, with trading accomplished via tic-tac type hand signals. And there’s the retail side; you really need to know what you’re doing if you’re forking out large sums. And if what you fancy seems rather cheap, chances are it’s not jade.

Tai Yuen Street in Wan Chai (MTR exit A3) is somewhere that would appeal to seven-year-olds of all ages. It’s stacked with toys and games, including good old-fashioned stuff like hula hoops as well as Buzz Lightyear and his ilk.

The Kam Tin Flea Market (Saturday and Sunday only) is a direct descendant of the Gurkha Market that used to take place in Sek Kong, the former UK military base up the valley. When the Brits (and their Gurkha soldiers, and all their families) marched home in 1997, the flea market, in search of a new customer base, moved down the road to the forecourt of Kam Sheung Road station.

If you come out here (about 40 minutes by train from Central), it’s worth taking in the Sum Ngai Brass Factory (2477 7202; www.sumngaibrass.com) which is only a few minutes’ walk away and also does porcelain, lampshades and cloisonné. The adjacent Red Brick House is an indoor mart – open only at weekends – with a similar intriguing jumble of odds and ends to the Flea Market.

Finally, the Flower Market and Yuen Po Street Bird Garden (Prince Edward MTR, exit B) are more or less next to each other. They’re both highly picturesque, the latter especially so as proud owners come here to hang their pets’ cages in the open air and listen to their singing. There’s a range of avian paraphernalia on sale, such as cages. 


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.