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3 Hong Kong Night Markets: Sights, Sounds, and a Myriad of Scents

Updated on November 13, 2017
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Cedric earned a bachelor's degree in communications studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, mythology, and video gaming.

Hong Kong night markets are famous worldwide, and over the years, I’ve visited many of them. This doesn’t stop me from returning to them again and again during new trips, though, for they are really such an atmospheric and classic way to experience Hong Kong. In my opinion, there’s no easier, more convenient, and more immediate way to get up close and personal with the street culture and food of the ex-colony. The following is a visual summary of my visit to three Hong Kong night markets during my latest trip. These include the two famous Kowloon ones of Temple Street and Ladies Market, and the more locally inclined stretch at Chun Yeung Street, North Point.

Temple Street Night Market (廟街)

Temple Street is always the first attraction I’d visit on any trip to Hong Kong, and that’s not just because it is so easily reached. Named after a Tin Hau (Empress of Heaven) Temple at the heart of the district, this venerable bazaar is not only for tourists, it’s also where locals head to for fortune telling and delicious Cantonese cuisine. Visiting it before everything else thus effectively puts me in the right “mood” for the rest of my Hong Kong stay.

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I began my visit at Bowring Street, which is a stone's throw away from Temple Street. From previous visits, I knew there were roadside stalls here too. These serve as a sort of appetizer for the rest of the evening.Chinese sausages and cured meats on sale at Bowring Street. Note that the small white vertical sign could mean "feel free to use the toilet" or "don't even think of asking for the toilet."Jordan Road entrance to Temple Street night market with its signature gate.Heart of the market.Hong Kong night markets are the best places to get one's I Love Hong Kong tee, if one's bargaining skills are refined.You could get a complete fashion and accessory makeover here! At an affordable price too.
I began my visit at Bowring Street, which is a stone's throw away from Temple Street. From previous visits, I knew there were roadside stalls here too. These serve as a sort of appetizer for the rest of the evening.
I began my visit at Bowring Street, which is a stone's throw away from Temple Street. From previous visits, I knew there were roadside stalls here too. These serve as a sort of appetizer for the rest of the evening.
Chinese sausages and cured meats on sale at Bowring Street. Note that the small white vertical sign could mean "feel free to use the toilet" or "don't even think of asking for the toilet."
Chinese sausages and cured meats on sale at Bowring Street. Note that the small white vertical sign could mean "feel free to use the toilet" or "don't even think of asking for the toilet."
Jordan Road entrance to Temple Street night market with its signature gate.
Jordan Road entrance to Temple Street night market with its signature gate.
Heart of the market.
Heart of the market.
Hong Kong night markets are the best places to get one's I Love Hong Kong tee, if one's bargaining skills are refined.
Hong Kong night markets are the best places to get one's I Love Hong Kong tee, if one's bargaining skills are refined.
You could get a complete fashion and accessory makeover here! At an affordable price too.
You could get a complete fashion and accessory makeover here! At an affordable price too.

I have something to share here.

Visitors familiar with Hong Kong night markets would know of Temple Street’s rather dodgy reputation. Brands are often misspelt, intentionally. Rather spartan DVD and Blu-Ray stores feature blockbusters curiously still running in cinemas. And then there are the dilapidated tenements behind the stalls, said to be where prostitutes ply their trade. I never let such talk get to me. In my opinion, neither should other tourists. While they aren’t untrue, Temple Street night market is well familiar with visitors from all over the world and keen to preserve its reputation as a tourist attraction. There is no hard selling. No harassment as well. If anything, some tourist might even find the stall keepers a little too aloof.

Dining at Temple Street

As mentioned earlier, Temple Street is also where locals head to for good food. Nowadays, many of the enterprising restaurants and dai pai dong here also cater to tourists, with English menus readily available. It was truly quite interesting to see how some outlets were seated with more Westerners than local Hong Kong residents.

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The stretch of eateries along Nanking Street, which runs perpendicular to Temple Street night market. This street is famous for crab dishes.Tong Tai Seafood Restaurant at the junction of Temple Street and Ning Po Street. You could smell the sea just walking past it, if you know what I mean.This was where I first tasted guai ling gou,  or Chinese herbal jelly, all the way back in 1991. The name literally translate to tortoise jelly and was previously indeed made with the powdered bottom shell of golden coin turtles.Another junction view of the night market.A popular beef offal stall at adjacent Arthur Street. Beef offal is beloved street food in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, both the aroma and taste are too exotic for me.Northern entrance gate at Kansu Street. This doesn't mark the end of the night market, it's actually at the middle of it. It's also where the fortune tellers are.
The stretch of eateries along Nanking Street, which runs perpendicular to Temple Street night market. This street is famous for crab dishes.
The stretch of eateries along Nanking Street, which runs perpendicular to Temple Street night market. This street is famous for crab dishes.
Tong Tai Seafood Restaurant at the junction of Temple Street and Ning Po Street. You could smell the sea just walking past it, if you know what I mean.
Tong Tai Seafood Restaurant at the junction of Temple Street and Ning Po Street. You could smell the sea just walking past it, if you know what I mean.
This was where I first tasted guai ling gou,  or Chinese herbal jelly, all the way back in 1991. The name literally translate to tortoise jelly and was previously indeed made with the powdered bottom shell of golden coin turtles.
This was where I first tasted guai ling gou, or Chinese herbal jelly, all the way back in 1991. The name literally translate to tortoise jelly and was previously indeed made with the powdered bottom shell of golden coin turtles.
Another junction view of the night market.
Another junction view of the night market.
A popular beef offal stall at adjacent Arthur Street. Beef offal is beloved street food in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, both the aroma and taste are too exotic for me.
A popular beef offal stall at adjacent Arthur Street. Beef offal is beloved street food in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, both the aroma and taste are too exotic for me.
Northern entrance gate at Kansu Street. This doesn't mark the end of the night market, it's actually at the middle of it. It's also where the fortune tellers are.
Northern entrance gate at Kansu Street. This doesn't mark the end of the night market, it's actually at the middle of it. It's also where the fortune tellers are.

Getting to Temple Street Night Market

Temple Street Night Market can be reached in three ways.

  1. Take the MTR Tseun Wan Line to Jordan Station. Look for Exit A and turn right upon leaving the station. Walk along busy Jordan Road till you see the Chinese style gate marking the start of Temple Street.
  2. Alternatively, you could use Exit C2. This will put you in Bowring Street, where there are also roadside stalls. However, you would need to use a map to know when to turn in order to reach Temple Street.
  3. If you do not mind not starting in the “heart” of the night market demarcated by the two Chinese-style gates, you could take the MTR Tseun Wan Line to Yau Ma Tei station. Use Exit C and head up Man Ming Lane i.e. away from Nathan Road. The northern end of Temple Street is after Arthur Street.

Mongkok Ladies Market (女人街) and Sai Yeung Choi Street South (西洋菜南街)

At around 8 pm, I made my way from Temple Street to Ladies Market. A journey that involved just one MTR ride on the Tseun Wan Line. Located in the heart of the lively Mong Kok district, Ladies Market is to me an even bigger tourist draw because it is surrounded by several other attractions. In the vicinity are tens of eateries, an alley specialising in sneakers, even a stretch of pet stores with window displays that would melt your heart. Best of all, the adjacent street i.e. Sai Yeung Choi Street South (西洋菜南街) is pedestrianised on weekends. I was really looking forward to watching the many street performances here. Many of these have been featured on Hong Kong television and YouTube.

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View upon exiting Mong Kok station. This is the junction of Sai Yeung Choi South Street and Argyle Street.Overview of Sai Yeung Choi Street South. Look at the number of people!One of the many, many performing groups. I counted over twenty.Many of the performing "stations" consist of people spiritedly dancing to recorded Cantopop.She is really into her performance, as you can see.Another view of this energetic street.The actual Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street. After the street performances, the market itself feels curiously serene.Ladies' handbags. Standard merchandise in all Hong Kong night markets.Another view of the night market and the tenements flanking it.
View upon exiting Mong Kok station. This is the junction of Sai Yeung Choi South Street and Argyle Street.
View upon exiting Mong Kok station. This is the junction of Sai Yeung Choi South Street and Argyle Street.
Overview of Sai Yeung Choi Street South. Look at the number of people!
Overview of Sai Yeung Choi Street South. Look at the number of people!
One of the many, many performing groups. I counted over twenty.
One of the many, many performing groups. I counted over twenty.
Many of the performing "stations" consist of people spiritedly dancing to recorded Cantopop.
Many of the performing "stations" consist of people spiritedly dancing to recorded Cantopop.
She is really into her performance, as you can see.
She is really into her performance, as you can see.
Another view of this energetic street.
Another view of this energetic street.
The actual Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street. After the street performances, the market itself feels curiously serene.
The actual Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street. After the street performances, the market itself feels curiously serene.
Ladies' handbags. Standard merchandise in all Hong Kong night markets.
Ladies' handbags. Standard merchandise in all Hong Kong night markets.
Another view of the night market and the tenements flanking it.
Another view of the night market and the tenements flanking it.

A word of “warning” regarding this night market, so to speak. My route that evening was to exit Mong Kok station using Exit D3, head south down Sai Yeung Choi Street South, make a left turn when I hit Dundas Street, then another left turn to head north up Tung Choi Street.

If you are also using this U-shaped route of mine during your own visits, be aware that the snack shop at the junction of Sai Yeung Choi Street South and Dundas Street is one of the most beloved outlets for Hong Kong Stinky Tofu. To say Stinky Tofu is an acquired taste/smell is an understatement, yet some would also insist that one has not truly experienced Hong Kong without at least one sniff of it. In my case, it’s an aroma to immediately flee from! For that reason, I have no pictures of this junction and outlet for you. I was too preoccupied with scuttling away!

Tip: Not the End of the Road

I have another tip regarding Ladies’ Market. Don’t limit yourself to the stretch south of Argyle Street. Cross over Argyle Street when the roadside stalls end and continue heading north, in the direction of Prince Edward MTR station. Pretty soon, you’d come to an overpass and beyond this is the pets market. Many of the shops are opened till late and full of oh-so-cutesy window displays. (Many do not permit photography, though)

Getting to Ladies’ Market

The most convenient way is to take the MTR Tsuen Wan Line to Mong Kok Station. Use Exit D3 and you’re at the start of the performance stretch on Sai Yeung Choi Street South.

North Point Night Market (北角/春秧街)

Two evenings later, I made my way to Chun Yeung Street night market at the heart of the North Point district. There were many reasons for me wanting to visit this market, foremost of which being it was a major inspiration for one of my favourite open-world games, United Front’s Sleeping Dogs. Having read in advance that the market primarily caters to locals, I anticipated the visit to be a very different experience from my earlier ones, no souvenirs or bargain clothing hunting at this one. Instead, I would be getting an intimate peep at a typical Hong Kong resident’s daily life. Here was also where I might also look a little odd, stumbling about with my touristy DSLR camera and tripod.

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This greeted me upon exiting the MTR station. One of my other intentions for visiting North Point was to check out the Cantonese opera scene at Sunbeam Theatre, one of the major performance venues for the art.Chun Yeung Street is a short walk away from North Point MTR station. This is Marble Road, which is itself lined with budget clothing stalls. From HKD 35 onwards. That converts to about USD 4.50. Is that a bargain?The actual wet market at Chun Yeung Street. Note that those tracks on the road are for Ding-Ding trams. They appear every five minutes or so, crawling up the road.Closer view of the fresh produce shops that line the whole street. I took this shot around 7 pm. Guess people were soon be returning home with their purchases to prepare dinner.Seafood shop. Hong Kong cuisine places a lot of worth on live, yeow seou seafood.Another view of the fresh produce shops.Down-the-street view of the night market. You can see that there are also clothing and apparel roadside stalls here.
This greeted me upon exiting the MTR station. One of my other intentions for visiting North Point was to check out the Cantonese opera scene at Sunbeam Theatre, one of the major performance venues for the art.
This greeted me upon exiting the MTR station. One of my other intentions for visiting North Point was to check out the Cantonese opera scene at Sunbeam Theatre, one of the major performance venues for the art.
Chun Yeung Street is a short walk away from North Point MTR station. This is Marble Road, which is itself lined with budget clothing stalls.
Chun Yeung Street is a short walk away from North Point MTR station. This is Marble Road, which is itself lined with budget clothing stalls.
From HKD 35 onwards. That converts to about USD 4.50. Is that a bargain?
From HKD 35 onwards. That converts to about USD 4.50. Is that a bargain?
The actual wet market at Chun Yeung Street. Note that those tracks on the road are for Ding-Ding trams. They appear every five minutes or so, crawling up the road.
The actual wet market at Chun Yeung Street. Note that those tracks on the road are for Ding-Ding trams. They appear every five minutes or so, crawling up the road.
Closer view of the fresh produce shops that line the whole street. I took this shot around 7 pm. Guess people were soon be returning home with their purchases to prepare dinner.
Closer view of the fresh produce shops that line the whole street. I took this shot around 7 pm. Guess people were soon be returning home with their purchases to prepare dinner.
Seafood shop. Hong Kong cuisine places a lot of worth on live, yeow seou seafood.
Seafood shop. Hong Kong cuisine places a lot of worth on live, yeow seou seafood.
Another view of the fresh produce shops.
Another view of the fresh produce shops.
Down-the-street view of the night market. You can see that there are also clothing and apparel roadside stalls here.
Down-the-street view of the night market. You can see that there are also clothing and apparel roadside stalls here.

How do I feel about Chun Yeung Street night market? Well, it’s definitely not touristy. Much smaller than the famous ones too, with 90 percent of products unsuitable for tourists.

On the other hand, it is a different look at Hong Kong. Easily accessible as well; merely two stations away from the tourist haven of Causeway Bay. And oh yes. I did attract some attention with my photo-taking. A bunch of elderly gentlemen were making faces at me, much amused by my constant fumbling with my tripod.

Getting to Chun Yeung Street Night Market

Take the MTR Island Line to North Point Station and use Exit A2. Marble Road is to the right of this exit. Head to its end and Chun Yeung Street is across the road. (You would need to make a slight detour to cross the road because of a traffic flyover) If you wish to see Sunbeam Theatre, then use Exit B1.

Three Hong Kong Night Markets

show route and directions
A markerTemple Street Night Market -
Temple St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
get directions

B markerLadies' Market -
Tung Choi St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
get directions

C markerChun Yeung Street -
Chun Yeung St, North Point, Hong Kong
get directions

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    • CYong74 profile image
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      Cedric Yong 7 days ago from Singapore

      Bang, you're welcome!

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      Bang Abdul 7 days ago

      Thnks for the information :)

    • CYong74 profile image
      Author

      Cedric Yong 11 days ago from Singapore

      Hey Linda, thanks for commenting. Hope you'd visit them in real life some day too.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 11 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the interesting tour, Cedric. I enjoyed looking at the photos very much. The markets look entertaining and enticing.

    • CYong74 profile image
      Author

      Cedric Yong 2 weeks ago from Singapore

      Hey Srsddn, thanks for your comment. Yes, HK movies and tv series are choked full of triad storylines and inevitably they portray areas like Temple Street, Portland road as gangster strongholds. Again, while these aren't entirely untrue, I've never remotely seen anything triad-like at these places. (Except illegal DVDs, that is, lol) This would esp be so if one were to refrain from back alleys and venturing up the tenements.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 2 weeks ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Hong Kong seems to be full of life in night markets. I have seen it in films or TV serials and normally the views formed through these are the same as expressed by you in your description about Temple Street Market. I am sure films and TV serials make dramatic presentations. Thanks for depicting the true night life at these markets, Cedric,