Mongkok markets sell just about everything; from albino terrapins to knockoff Shenzhen Chanel perfume. There are markets all over Hong Kong but no area has more than Mongkok. Many of Mongkok’s markets have been established for decades and despite almost constant criticism that they’ve become tourist traps they continue to attract locals and maintain low, low prices.
If this is your first time to Mongkok, brace yourself. This place is packed. Mongkok was once the most populated place on the planet and it’s still number two. While it’s the people, the noise, and the unrelenting street life that make Mongkok, it can be a little overwhelming.
Mongkok’s flagship market, the Ladies Market, on Tung Choi Street, is one of the biggest markets in Hong Kong—possibly pipped to the post by the Temple Street Night Market next door. The Ladies Market is filled with just about everything; cheap clothing is the market's bread and butter but you’ll also find tourist tat—think chopsticks—thousands of them—and knock off handbags, leather goods and perfumes shipped in from Shenzhen. Just about everything is cheap and just about everything is of the absolute lowest quality. It’s a great place to pick up cheap souvenirs, such as imitation carved chess boxes, Chinese letter engraved tea sets and, yes, lots of chopsticks.
Certainly the best-titled market in Hong Kong—maybe anywhere—the Goldfish market does exactly what it says on the tin: sells goldfish. But it’s not just fish. Set along Tung Choi Street, dozens of stores are packed with a zoo like collection of dogs, cats, reptiles, insects, and everything in between. It’s an impressive sight, especially at night, as the displays spill out onto the street and are illuminated by the neon glow of the advertising hoardings. As a tourist, you’re unlikely to make a purchase, but the thousands of goldfish bags hung above the street, coral aquariums, and exotic species make it well worth a visit.
While this market is primarily where enthusiasts come to pluck a Nightingale from inside their elegant hand-carved teak cages, more enjoyable for visitors is watching the obsessive old men proudly parading their songbirds around the park. Set on Yuen Po Street, amidst landscaped gardens, you can see exotic birds being hand fed or listen to beautiful bird songs. While you’re unlikely to pick up a bird from one of the 70 or so stalls the bird cages made from teak or bamboo can make nice decorative pieces.
Like the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market is actually a street of shops where the displays spill out onto the street. Set on Flower Market Road, the market has a 100-year-old history and many of the florists have been in business for decades and remain family run. Towering stacks of bouquets mean the street is bursting with color and fragrances—it’s particularly atmospheric during Chinese New Year and other Chinese festivals.
Mongkok Computer Centre
A little different from the traditional markets on this list, the Mongkok Computer Centre on Nelson Street is a three floor, indoor market filled with hundreds of independent retailers. If it’s got a microchip, you’ll find it here. Brand new and second-hand laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are just part of the story with shelves piled high with cables, computer parts, and just about everything else a geek could dream of. Electronics in Hong Kong are already cheap, but the ferocious competition at these centers makes prices cut-throat. The Mongkok Computer Centre is the biggest of several similar centers in Hong Kong.