Shopping in Hong Kong
Hong Kong shopping was a heck of a lot of fun! I’ll admit I was taken by surprise. With a family full of boys, we don’t tend to make shopping an important part of our travels. Experiences are what we strive for, and Hong Kong did not disappoint. However, Hong Kong shopping was an experience in itself. Here are our favorites…
Browsing: Hong Kong has some of the most unique markets I’ve ever seen. The great part about them is that they are located on streets close together, so you can wander through them one after the other in just a few hours. We took the metro north to the Prince Edward station on the Kowloon side and walked our way back south towards our hotel that was located directly on the harbor.
Our first stop was the Bird Garden. Because of limited living space in Hong Kong, small pets are best. So while birds are available for purchase, it is also a place to bring your bird on an outing. There are poles set up to hang your bird cage on to give your bird a taste of the outdoors. We even saw one bird on a woman’s finger that had a leash attached to its leg. One giant parrot was just sitting on a rock. Some of the bird cages were very intricate carved wooden masterpieces. Birds have to eat, so the bags and boxes of live crickets and worms were another thing to fascinate my teen boys.
Our second stop was the flower market. It’s definitely the best smelling street in Hong Kong. I have a black thumb and cannot grow anything at home. Planting and gardening is not my thing either. But I really enjoyed the flower market. There were so many different things and the sheer volume of them all! Our teen boys weren’t exactly into the whole thing, but we were walking along and the smells were great so they didn’t mind. It’s actually quite a long street but it lead right into the next market that didn’t smell very good.
The third market we visited was the goldfish market. It’s a long street with shops that cater to Hong Kong locals by selling small pets such as goldfish, lizards, rabbits, frogs, mice, turtles, etc. The smell was a little jarring after having just left the flower market! My teen boys were amazed at all of the different varieties. We were scolded a few times for taking pictures. The boys said a few of the things they saw (some alligator snapping turtle) were probably illegal to sell. As a mom, I was kind of creeped out by some of the slimy offerings, but it sure was fun.
Lastly, we visited some of the food markets on the Hong Kong Island side. The only place to grow food near Hong Kong is up in the Northern Territories. So a lot of their food is imported from mainland China. The outdoor market stalls were brimming with amazing fruit. The boys enjoyed seeing fruits like dragon fruit and durian, since we don’t see that very often at home. The fresh fish and meat markets were a little yucky to me, but the boys were transfixed. When the fish monger cut open the live fish and displayed it at the front of the stall with the heart still beating, it was the coolest part of the day for them! Then when a man bought the fish head with it’s eyes still twitching was even better.
Shopping: After browsing for items we couldn’t possibly take home, we made our way towards markets that we could purchase a souvenirs to take home. Most of these items are imported from mainland China and not handicrafts. I think it’s the main difference between the markets in Hong Kong and somewhere like Thailand, for example. Thailand seemed to have both imported items and handicrafts. The only thing I keep my eye out for in markets like these are gifts for someone else, or something I can make into a Christmas ornament for our tree. I was surprised when all my boys seemed to find several things they wanted and were not afraid to negotiate to get them.
The Ladies market in Hong Kong was by far, the boys’ favorite market. The sheer volume of booths and items was insane. Since I’m not a shopper, it makes me a little crazy, but we wanted to show the boys what markets are like. They each got a specific amount of money and could spend it any way they wanted. The youngest boys spent 45 minutes negotiating for fake rolexes. I wish I was kidding. I think they paid about $30 each. All of them bought spinning toys, button cubes and even a triangle shaped rubix cube. Unbeknownst to me, they had been scoping these things out at home and knew when they were getting a good deal.
Each of them also bought a full soccer uniform of their favorite players for about $12. They were decent copies complete with real patches, etc. They saved about $170 if we’d bought them in the states. I did find something that would work as a Christmas ornament and even bought some beautiful hand cut pop up greeting cards. On the streets parallel to the ladies market, there are electronic shops and sporting goods shops. While these streets were interesting, the regular storefronts prices were about the same as home. So we stuck to the stalls in the ladies market and even went back again at the boys’ request. Another famous market is the Temple Street night market. We did visit this popular market one night, and found the variety a little lacking. They had some things that the ladies market didn’t have, but not enough to make us want to go back, we could have skipped it.
Bespoke suits for all the boys was one of my best ideas if I do say so myself. I had personally had some clothing items made in India last year, but Hong Kong seemed like the place for suits. Sam’s Tailor has a solid reputation, probably a little more expensive than some places, but I felt comfortable with it. Hubby and the oldest got full suits and the 2 young boys got jackets. We visited Sam’s 3 times. The first time was for measurements and to pick out styles and fabrics. The second time was about halfway through the process to mark and make adjustments to the fit if needed. The last time was to take them home. One of the boy’s jackets needed some tailoring on the placket pockets so we had to have it mailed home to us, and it worked out just fine. My boys aren’t that into clothes, but they loved the bespoke suit experience!
I gave in and even bought some Jade while in Hong Kong. After asking around about good places to buy Jade, we just kind of picked one at random. After ruling out the jewelry store in the Peninsula (all I could imagine were cash register noises) we went to the Rio Pearl Jade Market in Kowloon. Don’t confuse this with the actual Jade Market. I needed a reputable storefront, since the market could have sold me plastic and said it was Jade since I know so little. I ended up with a small but beautiful set of carved jade earrings that were set in white gold and will always serve as a great reminder of our anniversary trip. I didn’t spend enough that if I got ripped off, I’d be upset.
Well, that’s about it for the shopping we did in Hong Kong. I’ll admit it’s a little more than we are used to while on vacation. Since we travel hacked a lot of the trip we had a little bit more in the shopping budget this time. But in Hong Kong, shopping and the markets are all a part of the experience, so we took one for the team. We’re givers like that.
Note: None of this post was sponsored and the links are there for your convenience, not affiliate links. As always, my opinions and photos are my own.