World ? Asia ? China ? Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Markets/Produce

Markets offer the best deals in Hong Kong, though a lot depends on how well you can bargain. Be sure to scrutinize the items that interest you carefully, since you won't be able to return them. Check clothing for faults, tears, cuts, marks, and uneven seams and hemlines. Make sure electronic gadgets work; the cheap alarm clock I bought my son lasted only a week.

Hong Kong Island

Stanley -- Stanley Market, rather small and easily navigated, is probably the most popular and best-known market in Hong Kong. Located on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island on a small peninsula, it's a great place to buy inexpensive clothing, especially sportswear, cashmere sweaters, silk blouses and dresses, and even linen blazers and outfits suitable for work. Men's, women's, and children's clothing are available. During my last visit, shopkeepers were not keen about bargaining unless you're buying several pieces, no doubt because tourists come here by the busload. In fact, Stanley is not as cheap as it once was, and many shops have remodeled into chic boutiques. Still, you're bound to find at least something you're wild about, especially if you like cheap, fun fashions. The inventory changes continuously -- one year it seems everyone is selling tie-dyed shirts, the next year it's linen suits, washable silk, Chinese traditional jackets, or Gore-Tex coats. I usually walk through the market first, taking note of things I like and which stores they're in, and then I compare prices as I walk through. Most stores carry the same products, so it pays to comparison-shop. In addition to clothing, there are also many souvenir shops selling Chinese paintings, embroidered linen, beaded purses, handicrafts, curios, and jewelry.

To reach Stanley, take bus no. 6, 6A, 6X, or 260 from Central's Exchange Square bus terminal (bus no. 260 also stops in front of Pacific Place) or Minibus no. 40 from Causeway Bay. The bus ride to Stanley takes approximately 30 minutes. From Kowloon, take bus no. 973 from Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui East or from Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. The shops are open daily from 9:30 or 10am to about 6:30pm.

Li Yuen Street East & West -- These two streets are parallel pedestrian lanes in the heart of the Central District, very narrow, and often congested with human traffic. Stalls are packed with Chinese jackets, handbags, clothes, scarves, sweaters, toys, baby clothes, watches, makeup, umbrellas, needles and thread, knickknacks, and even brassieres. Don't neglect the open-fronted shops behind the stalls. Some of these are boutiques selling fashionable but cheap clothing as well as shoes, purses, and accessories. These two streets are located just a couple of minutes' walk from the Central MTR station, between Des Voeux Road Central and Queen's Road Central. Vendors are open daily from 10am to 7pm.

Jardine's Crescent -- The open-air market that spreads along this narrow street in Causeway Bay is a traditional Chinese market for produce, household goods, cheap clothing, and accessories, including shoes, costume jewelry, handbags, hair accessories, children's clothing, and cosmetics. Though you may not find something worth taking home at this very local market, it's fun just to walk around. The nearest MTR station is Causeway Bay (take exit F), but you can also reach this area easily by tram. It's open daily from 11am to 8pm.

Wanchai Market -- This local market, centered on Spring Garden Lane and Wan Chai Road (between Johnston Rd., Tai Yuen St., and Queen's Rd. East), is very much a local market, attracting housewives with its wet markets and household goods, but also young office workers with its stalls selling clothing, shoes, and handbags originally meant for export at very competitive prices. It's located near the Wanchai MTR Station and is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

Kowloon

Jade Market -- Jade, believed by the Chinese to hold mystical powers and to protect its wearer, is available in all sizes, colors, and prices at the Jade Market, located at the junction of Kansu Street and Battery Street in two temporary, tentlike structures in the Yau Ma Tei District. The jade comes from Burma, China, Australia, and Taiwan. Unless you know your jade, you won't want to make any expensive purchases here, but the quality of jade sold here is great for bangles, pendants, earrings, and inexpensive gifts. This market is also recommended for pearls, especially inexpensive freshwater pearls from China. Otherwise, this market is fun just for its unique atmosphere.

The Jade Market is open daily from 10am to about 4pm (mornings are best), though vendors stay until 6pm on busy days like Sunday. It's located halfway between the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan MTR stations or is less than a 30-minute walk from the Star Ferry.

Ladies' Market -- If you want to shop at a market on the Kowloon side in the daytime, this very large market is your best bet. Stretching along Tung Choi Street (between Argyle and Dundas sts.) in Mong Kok, it serves as a lively market for inexpensive women's and children's fashions, shoes, socks, hosiery, jewelry, sunglasses, watches, handbags (including fake designer handbags), and other accessories. Some men's clothing is also sold. Although many of the products are geared more to local tastes and sizes, an increasing number of tourists has brought more fashionable clothing and T-shirts in larger sizes, and you may find some great bargains here. The atmosphere is fun and festive, especially at night. The nearest MTR station is Mong Kok. Vendors are open daily from about 12:30 to 10:30pm.

Fa Yuen Street Market -- Located just a few minutes' walk north of Ladies' Market, north of Mong Kok Road, this street market is geared to local residents rather than tourists and offers clothing for women and children, as well as toys and produce. With laundry fluttering from the apartments above, this is a typical Mong Kok Street, full of character. The nearest MTR station is Prince Edward, and stalls are open from 9:30am to 8pm daily.

Temple Street Night Market -- Temple Street, in the Yau Ma Tei District of Kowloon, is a night market that comes to life when the sun goes down. It offers the usual products sold by street vendors, including T-shirts, jeans, menswear, watches, lighters, pens, sunglasses, jewelry, CDs, mobile phones, electronic gadgets, alarm clocks, luggage, Chinese souvenirs, and imitation designer watches and handbags. Bargain fiercely, and check the products carefully to make sure they're not faulty or poorly made. The night market is great entertainment, a must during your visit to Hong Kong, though the surge of shoppers can be overwhelming. If you follow the market north around the left side of the car park (the wares here get decidedly more racy -- sex toys, and so on), you'll come to the Tin Hau Temple, to the right of which are fortunetellers and sometimes even street-side performers singing Chinese opera. Although some vendors begin setting up shop at 4pm, the Night Market is busiest from about 7pm until it closes at 10pm, and is located near the Jordan MTR station.

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