Susan Heller once said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” This prescription most certainly applies to Hong Kong, a city that is filled with high-end malls and luxury retailers. However, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir that won’t break the bank, spending time walking through vendors’ stalls is the perfect afternoon activity. Below are some of my favorite local markets, as well as tips on how to navigate them.
The Jade Market
Located in Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong, the Jade Market sells, you guessed it, Jade. For the Chinese, Jade is synonymous with wealth, beauty, wisdom, grace, and purity. Accordingly, it is incredibly common to see locals in Hong Kong sporting Jade trinkets, bracelets or necklaces.
To match the fashion of the locals, stroll over to the the Jade Market, where you can find everything from jewelry to Jade zodiacs and elephants. Moreover, the Jade comes in a variety of colors, from the traditional green to a paler grey.
While every vendor will claim that their Jade is authentic, unless you’re a gem expert, it is difficult to tell the difference between real and knockoff Jade. Therefore, I wouldn’t advise spending too much money on any one item.
Unlike other market places, the Jade Market is indoors, which makes it a perfect place to visit on a rainy or overly hot day. In total, expect to spend one to two hours walking up and down the rows.
If you have the time, Stanley Market is a fantastic place to go. The vendors open shop between 10a.m. and 11a.m. and close at around 6p.m. Within this market, there are more classically tourist items, such as “I heart HK” t-shirts, as well as higher quality, more unique finds, such as silks and sterling silver jewelry.
After shopping around in the morning, Stanley Beach is a five-minute walk away. Along the beach there are numerous restaurants, which make for a great place to grab a bite to eat.
The Ladies Market/ The Temple Night Street Market
The Ladies Market in Mong Kok and the Temple Night Street Market in Yau Ma Tei are similar markets. Both are located outside, and they sell largely the same goods. Within these markets you can find clothing, electronic gadgets, jewelry (mostly knock-offs of top brands, such as Cartier bracelets) and knick-knacks such as fidget spinners and key chains. However, there is the occasional unique find; I bought a jade elephant for 60 Hong Kong Dollars, or $7.
So you’ve visited these markets, seen something you really want and now it’s time to buy. Here are my major tips for obtaining that perfect souvenir:
Bargain, bargain, bargain. Most of these vendors are selling the same goods. If you find something you really like you, firstly, you have to be ok with walking away. Nine times out of 10 a vendor will continue to lower their prices as you walk until they’re at something that you believe is acceptable.
If the walk away technique doesn’t work, I’ve also haggled by telling a vendor that a stand down the road is selling the trinket for X dollars, which has worked out well. To give you an example of how far prices come down, the aforementioned Jade elephant started at 150 Hong Kong Dollars and ended at 60.
Secondly, if you or someone you know can speak Chinese or Cantonese, use your language ability. If you want a lower price, it often helps to strike up a conversation or joke with vendors in their native tongues.
Finally, it is important to know that one vendor may own multiple stalls. Within the Jade market, a singular seller may walk down an entire row of stands with you, asking what you want to buy. When trying to bundle deals (for example, agreeing to buy three bracelets you want for 100 Hong Kong instead of 1 for 40 Hong Kong), it is easier for you to haggle down prices or find more products that you want to purchase. Happy shopping!