It’s easy to understand why Hong Kong is one of the world’s most dynamic cities; there’s so much to see and do, from famous landmarks like the Po Lin Monastery, Victoria Peak and the Avenue of Stars, to popular tourist amusements like Hong Kong Disney Land and Ocean Park – and everything in between.
While most, if not all, of these should definitely be on your to do list, there’s no better way to experience Hong Kong than by immersing yourself in the true hustle and bustle of daily life. And what better place to do so than in Kowloon? Buzzing with markets and shopping streets, it’s the place to find souvenirs and unusual objects of all shapes and sizes, as well as see some beautiful animals and sample some delicious foods…
Cheung Sha Wan Road
Filled with wholesale fashion markets, Cheung Sha Wan Road is a trend-setter’s dream. Whether you’re a serious stylist or just love being creative, these markets have over 250 stalls and shops containing fabrics, textiles and embellishments in so many colours that it resembles something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
Mongkok Flower Market
Surround yourself with the wonderful scents of exotic plant life in the Mongkok Flower Market, where locals come to buy gifts and decorations for their loved ones and their homes. Wander between stalls of orchids, blossoms, pot plants, and bonsai trees, and admire the intricate arrangements created by the stall’s vendors. If you visit during holiday periods like Chinese New Year, you can join the crowds to watch these stunning displays being made.
Tung Choi Street North
More commonly known as the Goldfish Market, Tung Choi Street is definitely not to be missed. If you have your own home in the city, this is the place to find all you need for your aquarium; if you’re just visiting, make sure you bring your camera so as not to miss the fantastic photo opportunities. Even if you’re not keen on aquatic animals, it’s hard not to appreciate the sheer volume and array of fish on display here. There are even some lizards, turtles and a few extremely rare species of fish that often fetch enormous prices!
In Chinese culture Jade is highly valued, both for its material properties and association with long life and good health. It is not unusual for babies to be gifted with tiny Jade bangles for protection, and adult wearers believe that Jade absorbs the ‘bad chi’ that would otherwise affect them. If you want to pick up your own authentic Hong Kong good luck charm, there are around 400 stalls of beads, bangles, accessories and ornaments in this colourful, and somewhat mesmerising, marketplace.
Yuen Po Street Bird Garden
If you’re seeking a little tranquillity, look no further than the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. Designed in the style of a traditional Chinese garden, it’s filled with the sweet songs of unusual birds in intricately carved bamboo cages. It’s the perfect place to relax and watch the age-old hobby in all its glory, as the elderly men look after their feathered companions. The only down side is that you can’t take one home in your suitcase (a bird, that is!)
There are plenty more markets in Kowloon to keep you occupied, particularly if you’re keen to pick up some all-important souvenirs: the Apliu Street Electronics Market, The Temple Street Night Market and the aptly named Ladies Market are to name a few. If you really want to delve into the fast pace of Hong Kong life, why not base yourself at one of the many hostels, hotels and serviced apartments in Kowloon? That way, you can truly make the most of these fantastic markets on your doorstep!
Jessica is a keen traveller living in London. When she’s not at work, she can usually be found researching her next destination or writing about past travel experiences to share with fellow explorers.