Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hong Kong - Where to shop; part 1 Markets

One thing you learn in China/Hong Kong - they all bullshit. They will all tell you it is real, it authentic, it is famous brand, it is popular, it is well made, it is cheap etc. 8/10 I would say it is not what they say it is. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of reputable dealers - but you will rarely (if ever) find the 'real deal' on a street stall. Even the shops can be dubious, but that is for another post.
Just be prepared, know what you are looking for, do your homework, or if all else fails, take someone that knows their shit. You might think you can spot fake leather, but you would be surprised. Can you tell turquoise from marble imitation? can you tell real jade from fake jade?
Just be prepared and you should be right :)
Tai Yuen Street, Wan Chai

Hong Kong is renowned for several street markets. I will start with the more popular and well known ones...

Ladies Market
Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon (MTR Mongkok Station Exit E2)
Time open: noon – 11:30pm
A lot of the stalls here can be repetitive, but if you know how to bargain you WILL get a deal. See the end of this post on my tips for bargaining. Main items on sale are bags, accessories and women's clothing. Men's and children's clothing and toys is also on offer, but the predominant thing here seems to be bags atm.

Temple Street Night Market
Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon (MTR Jordan Station Exit A. Turn right into Jordan Road, then right into Temple Street - it is signposted)
Time open: 4pm - midnight
Once again, a lot of repetitive stalls. Similar items on sale as at Ladies Market - throw in some adult lingerie and mens decorative posing pouches and away you go! Lots of cheap eats at the start of the market. Nothing mind blowing, but good standard cheap fare.

Stanley Road Markets
Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong Island (MTR Hong Kong Station Exit D and take bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Exchange Square Bus terminus, Central). Or, for around $100-120HKD take a taxi directly from central.
Time open: 10:30am – 6:30pm
I would say there are a better variety of stalls here than at some of the other markets. They are not too keen on the bargaining here, and it does feel like the vendors have closed ranks a bit. They can be difficult to bargain with at times. Main things for sale are jewelry, kids clothes, kids costumes, Chinese artwork, silk collectibles and curios, as well as larger-sized clothing. There is a large sized footwear store here called Alibabas, it is down the little alley (in middle) that runs down to the waterfront. The waterfront has been developed beautifuly here, so be sure that you do not bypass it. There are a few stalls down there as well, but the jetty now is home to 4 large restaurants, plus the waterfront is littered with small cafes that have beautiful views.

Jardines Crescent Markets
Jardine's Crescent, Causway Bay, Hong Kong Island (MTR Causeway Bay Station Exit F)
Time open: 11am – 9:30pm
I actually didn't get a chance to make it here, but it is supposedly good for  inexpensive clothing, accessories and domestic goods.

Tai Yuen Street Markets
Tai Yuen Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island (MTR Wan Chai Station Exit A3)
Time Open: 7am - 7pm
I found this one great for kids toys. I managed to get my kids a heap of Godzilla and godzilla related toys really cheap. 

Cat Street Markets (Cat Street)
Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
(MTR Central Exit D2 and turn right to Theatre Lane. Walk along Queen's Road Central towards The Centre. Then take the Central - Mid-Levels Escalator to Hollywood Road.)
Time open: 11am - 6pm
(Cat Street/Upper Lascar Road) Wonderful little flea market lining an antiques specialities street. I didn't get here this time, but I thoroughly enjoyed this last visit. Specialities are jade, silk products, embroideries and wooden handicraft items. Take someone with you that knows their stuff !

You can find further details about street markets HERE . Check all the categories, not just street markets, because they have them filed under what they mainly sell. Ones I would classify as street markets are not on their stree markets list.
Above I have only mentioned ones that I have personally found interesting, or ones that I would have liked to have gone to.

My rule of thumb is to always start offering less than half - usually around 30-40% of what the vendor is asking. I almost never pay over 50%  of what they have asked for.
What you have to remember - and actually DO!
* Be prepared to walk away! there is a very good chance that there are at least 20 other stalls selling the exact same thing you are looking at. And the further/deeper you go into the market, the cheaper you will get it!
* Never bother with the first stalls you encounter - all the tourists hit those first, so they are always harder to bargain with.
* Once again, walk away! Some stalls you don't even have to try bargaining with they just drop drop drop. Like one stall I was looking at a necklace, I wasn't particularly interested in it so I went to walk away. The woman dropped the price 200HKD in the beat of 3 seconds just to get me to buy something.
* Know what it is worth! Don't just think you are getting a bargain, KNOW that you are!
* Have  a cheap show purse. This is what I do. I put 100-200HKD in it and I keep the rest of the $$ in another purse in my bra. If I am having trouble beating something down, I will open my "show" purse and show them and say "I am sorry, this is all that I have". It has only failed me once - and she was a hard assed bitch.
* Always always be polite. You may be bargaining like hell, but it is never any excuse to be mean or rude.
* Try and learn basic terms in their language before you go on holidays. A little does really mean a lot. Be it "how much is that?" (phonetic pron: gay doh chin) or even a simple thank you (phonetic pron: shay shay). Be sure you get it right though. Hong Kong is mainly English speaking, but their main language is Cantonese. If you go across the border into mainland China for shopping (ie Shenzen) their main language is Mandarin.

That is about it. If I remember anything else, I will come and update, or if you have tips of your own, please comment!

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