Travel in Asia: Hong Kong Street Markets
“Copy watch, copy purse.” “Tailor-made suit, sir. One day.” “Copy watch, copy purse.” Welcome to the streets of Hong Kong, home of the some of the best deals in the world! Clothing, electronics, jewelry, DVDs, toys, jade, pearls, watches, purses and faux-designer deals are all available at the side of the road in downtown Kowloon.
Hong Kong is an island. Kowloon is the part of Hong Kong on the Chinese mainland. Both are treasure chests waiting to be opened by the adventurous and discriminating bargain shopper, but most of the street markets are found on the Kowloon side. Hop on the famous “Star Ferry” for a few pennies and enjoy a traditional Chinese harbor cruise to the other side. If you get seasick, or are in a hurry to spend your American money, the subway tunnel goes under the water and surfaces on the other side, right at the markets.
Get your free highlight map of Hong Kong at any hotel. Check the locations of the numerous street markets. Are you interested in ladies’ clothing? Go to the fashion district for the massive Ladies’ Market. Fashion, fashion and more fashion! Tops, pants, shoes, jewelry and more can be found in the crowded bazaar. Get Ed Hardy knock-offs for a fraction of the price of the real thing. Find Gucci, Armani and Tommy Hilfiger products, from watches to pens to suits to hats. If you want memory sticks, digital cameras and laptops, just go to the Electronics Market in the north end of Kowloon.
Words of wisdom – don’t be too eager or too interested. You can barter with these vendors. If the sign says “Four T-shirts for 100”, demand “Five”. If those irresistible shoes are 25, offer 20. Even better, look at the merchandise carefully, nod knowingly and walk away. The vendor will chase you down the marketplace with a better offer. Was that 50? “Hey, mister! OK 45? OK 40? OK, what you want to pay?”
As you walk through these markets, you will often see authentic North American merchandise, produced and labeled in Hong Kong, with the English language tags from Sears, and an original $30 US price tag on the ladies’ bras. These are factory overproduction, sold in Hong Kong for $3 each. What a steal! The best experience of the market, though, has to be the sales of unlicensed knock-offs. Small tables are covered with catalogs from Bulgari, Rolex, Jimmy Choo and other high-end designers. A pretty young lady will inquire your intentions. “Copy watch? Copy purse?” Sit down, enjoy a cup of Chinese tea, and peruse the catalogs.
When you find the item that you wish to examine, she will pick up her cell phone, speak a few fast words of Chinese, and two minutes later, your purchase will arrive in a dark plastic bag. If you like the merchandise, hand over the cash. If not, just look in the catalogs and choose another. Don’t worry; as long as the items are not on public display in the market, the police turn a blind eye to these underground sales.
So, happy with our purchase of a knock-off Rolex Coca-Cola Submariner watch and a nice fake Jimmy Choo handbag, we make our way back to our Hong Kong hotel, tired but satisfied with our Hong Kong shopping experience.