If a city is only as lively as its buzziest market, then Hong Kong could possibly top them all. The renowned region of Mongkok is a labyrinth of alleyways pulsing with eager shoppers, fortune tellers, street chefs, and more.
A fantasy for some tourists and a nightmare for others, the Mongkok markets are so fast-paced, noisy, and populated that navigating them can be a stress-inducing experience. The Guinness Book of World Records has called it one of the most densely populated places on Earth. The name, itself, means "busy corner" in the local tongue.
Once you're in the current, though, floating in the midst of the masses under those flashy neon lights, you'll find a treasure trove of toys, food, souvenirs, flowers, and just about every other random thing. There are a few niche markets, specifically, that should not be skipped.
This is Mongkok’s flagship market, located on Tung Choi Street. It's one of the biggest markets in Hong Kong and filled to the brim with cheap clothing, thousands of chopsticks, and everything in-between. Here, you'll find the typical tourist tats, knockoff handbags, leather goods, and perfumes shipped in from Shenzhen. The fare is cheap because it's generally low quality, so don't come here looking for authentic Gucci and Louis Vuitton. It is, however, prime territory for picking up cheap souvenirs (think: imitation carved chess boxes, Chinese letter-engraved tea sets, and, again, lots and lots of chopsticks).
A toy store to suit children and adults alike is what you'll find at In's Point. Miles of Legos, movie merchandise, and old-school collectors' items pack this two-story emporium from ceiling to floor. In's Point also hosts a slew of other stalls—vintage clothing and antiques are popular items—but retro playthings by the thousands are its main draw.
Fa Yuen Street Market
For some people, sampling the local fare is the best part of traveling. Exotic foodies will have a heyday marveling at the funky fruits and vegetables that decorate the colorful Fa Yuen Street, sampling the notorious stinky tofu whose putrid aroma beckons curious palettes, then washing it down with a fresh mooncake from a certain specialty bakery. Fa Yuen Street is also home to the famous Sneaker Street, where tourists flock to claim authentic, limited-edition Nikes (the minute they launch, no less). So, if your feet get sore from all that walking, there is light at the end of the neon-lit tunnel.
Blooms of every color and kind come spilling out of dozens of florist shops when Flower Market Road comes to life. This botanical oasis has a century-old history. Many of the shopkeepers have been in business for decades and remain family-run. Even those who aren't in the market for a bouquet will be enthralled by the towering stacks of flowers that line the street, bursting with color and fragrance. The Flower Market is particularly atmospheric during Chinese New Year and other Chinese festivals.
Mongkok Computer Centre
Sure, market hopping in Asia can be somewhat predictable: knockoff designer fashion, kitschy bric-a-brac, and a smorgasbord of the traditional cuisine are all to be expected. An entire street dedicated to tech, however? Not so much. The Mongkok Computer Centre on Nelson Street is an indoor market filled with hundreds of independent retailers. If it’s got a microchip, you’ll likely find it here. Brand-new and secondhand laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are just some of what line the piled-high shelves of this three-story outlet. Electronics in Hong Kong are already cheap, but the ferocious competition here guarantees a good deal.