Where to Shop in Hong Kong Now
Wander crowded market aisles jammed with stalls selling jade and goldfish and knock-off handbags or head instead to the hushed and air-conditioned boutiques of world-class fashion designers. Buy a bespoke suit and put a plastic Chairman Mao figurine in your pocket—the port city of Hong Kong is where you’ll find what you didn’t even know you were looking for.
Battery St & Kansu St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
Jade is very important to the Chinese and represents long life, good health, and beauty. Do your homework if you want a serious piece—for example, the best jade is translucent and green; the stuff to avoid is opaque with brown or gray bits. Hundreds of stalls sell jade pendants, bangles, earrings, and good-luck charms based on the year you were born and the animals of the Chinese zodiac. You’ll find loose stones plus pearls and semiprecious jewelry of all styles. Pick up something you like, but unless you’re an expert, think twice about buying an expensive piece of jade here, as there could definitely be fakes in the mix.
Upper Lascar Row
Cat Street, also known as Upper Lascar Row, is the purr-fect place to browse for kitsch and curios that make great gifts for friends back home. In contrast to the expensive antiques sold along the parallel Hollywood Road, colorful Cat Street is a fun jumble of the quirky: snuff bottles, silk slippers, embroidered things, vintage jewelry and clothes, old propaganda posters, and Chairman Mao–themed everything. The bustling-market vibe appeals even to nonshoppers. (Wondering about the name? Back in the 1920s the area was known for markets that sold secondhand and sometimes stolen goods; the people who bought the hot property were called cats, and so a nickname was born.)
PMQ - Staunton, Central, Hong Kong
This handsome complex was built in the early 1950s to serve as the city’s Police Married Quarters. It was reborn in 2014 as a shopping haven with a heritage twist. Today, two seven-story buildings are filled with independent designers’ shops, ateliers, and hip pop-up boutiques selling everything from clothes to handcrafted shoes, jewelry, funky bags, and housewares. You’ll find well-known local brands like Goods of Desire (G.O.D.), a store founded by two local architects that sells furniture, accessories, and gifts with a Hong Kong flair. Stylish coffee shops, teahouses, bakeries, and cafés are also a part of the PMQ mix and offer atmosphere as well as great food.
Stanley Market Rd, Stanley, Hong Kong
Stanley Market is the first place local people think of for shopping. For out-of-towners, a Stanley shopping trip kills two birds with one stone—sightseeing and bargain hunting. The 45-minute bus or taxi drive from Central to the little seaside town of Stanley skirts along the bays of Hong Kong Island’s hilly southern coastline and, if the weather is good, offers excellent views. Once at the market, explore the narrow lanes chockablock with Chinese and Southeast Asian knickknacks, cheap clothes, watches, kids’ costumes, luggage, backpacks, handbags, and much more. You’ll likely have to buy a cheap suitcase, too, to lug home all your great finds.
Li Yuen Street East, Hong Kong, China
Smack dab in the center of the bustling financial district, these parallel lanes are lined with shops with a row of stalls running down the middle of each street. The twin shopping strips are packed with discounted clothes of all kinds, plus shoes, bags, and costume jewelry. The colorful, frenetic scene is part of the shopping experience, and unlike other cheap and cheerful street markets in Hong Kong, this one is centrally located. No schlepping to the far corners of the island to satisfy retail impulses. Pick up silk, leather, watches, Chinese outfits for kids, and all manner of souvenirs.
2A Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
This Victorian-era building complex was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police from the 1880s until 1996 (except for a few years during WWII) and was where pirates and smugglers were once imprisoned. Today, the restored complex is a combination of high-end shopping arcade, hotel, and exhibition hall, and more important, it’s a treasure chest of historic relics and a wonderful place for a stroll. The complex was vital to making Hong Kong a modern port in the days before technology. The ball at the top of its beautifully preserved Time Ball Tower, in use from 1885 to 1906, was manually raised each day and then dropped precisely at 1 p.m. to let ships recalibrate their chronometers (marine timepieces) before setting sail. Ship captains and others also checked the typhoon mast for signal flags indicating warning of severe storms. The coops along the walls of the building’s courtyard once held carrier pigeons that carried messages to and from ships in the harbor. Free guided tours are available by calling +852 2926 8000.
A1, 1-7 Pak Sha Rd, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
This Macanese bakery, or pastelaria, is renowned for making and bringing in the best of Macanese snacks to Hong Kong. Once just a seller of peanut brittle candy and ginger sweets, they now have shops all over Hong Kong and Macau selling traditional treats like nougat and almond cakes. We especially loved the limited edition packaging that is an ode to vintage design. After pondering between the choices, egg rolls and “salty cut biscuits”, which are crispy and salty-sweet, ended up in our shopping basket. But who were we kidding? We also added some phoenix egg rolls, pineapple cakes and sesame biscuits to bring back for friends and family.
China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Weiyang Qu, 范家南村54号 邮政编码: 710016
The Muslim Quarter of Xi’an is famous for its vendors of dried fruits and nuts. These aren’t just any old packs of nuts. They are of the finest quality, selected and dried by hand. A pound of shelled walnuts goes for the equivalent of around $10.
Kowloon, Hong Kong
As a lover of all things market, as well as a diver and serious animal lover, I was beyond ecstatic to find out there was a goldfish market in Hong Kong. The market is situated in the Mong Kok area of Hong Kong’s Kowloon. The market is a series of streets, rather than a structured market. It’s amazing! Shop upon shop selling every type of fish you could imagine and some you have never even heard of or seen. Things that would be illegal in many western countries, and bargain-bin prices compared to your local fish store. The fish are often displayed outside the shop in plastic bags, ready for you to take home. The Chinese consider goldfish to be particularly lucky, but there are hundreds of other varieties of fish to be found in the streets around Tung Choi street.