3 Hong Kong Night Markets: Sights, Sounds, and a Myriad of Scents
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.
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.
Getting to Temple Street Night Market
Temple Street Night Market can be reached in three ways.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.