If you're an insatiable shopper, then Hong Kong was made for you. Here, we take a look at the allure of the city's best shopping experiences...
Crowded people walk through the market in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock
Crowded people walk through the market in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock

Hong Kong prides itself on being a shopper’s paradise, and most locals are insatiable shoppers. If you love to shop, you will love Hong Kong

Whether it’s in a mall – Hong Kong has some of the largest and most glamorous in the world, packed with designer names – or down on street level in one of the lively street markets or dusty “antique” stores, there is no shortage of finds. Perpetual browsers will find plenty of fascinating side streets to explore, too many to mention here, and determined bargain hunters will always be rewarded. Best of all, Hong Kong’s compact size means that it’s easy to cover a lot of shopping ground in a remarkably short time. 

Since Hong Kong is a duty-free port with no sales tax, some goods are cheaper here than in their country of manufacture. On photographic equipment, electronic goods and watches, you avoid the luxury tax payable in your home country. Specialty goods and souvenirs, often handmade, come from Hong Kong and elsewhere in China. Garments custom-made by skilful Hong Kong tailors are still much in demand and cost less than elsewhere for comparable items. There are some exceptions to Hong Kong’s duty-free regime, however – you will pay tax on tobacco and all alcohol except wine. Take a shopping trip with Insight Guides' Hong Kong Highlights trip. 

Bulgari sign and window display outside a branch in Central, Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock


Hong Kong’s markets

There’s plenty of fun to be had at Hong Kong’s street markets. Ladies’ Market and Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon are overflowing with a mix of tacky souvenirs, cheap clothes and the odd “real find,” with a unique urban Kowloon backdrop.

"If you do go to Mong Kok’s Ladies Market stalls, don’t forget to haggle!" Rachel Read, the Hong Kong-based writer behind Through the Looking Glass, tells Insight Guides.

By day, the Flower Market near Prince Edward MTR is packed with unusual flowers and plants. To see, and smell, an authentic Hong Kong wet market, visit the Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building, or Graham Street in Central. Also in Central, The Lanes sell souvenirs, sportswear, pashminas, linen, knitwear and chinoiserie. Stanley Market sells similar goods plus factory over-runs, but its popularity is due to the number of stalls, and the chance to relax in a seaside café-bar to recharge your batteries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board recommends a visit to PMQ, as well. "Check out PMQ – the recently revamped old Police Married Headquarters building – for some more unique boutiques than the usual chain stores and giant malls," adds Read. "Most of the stores here are occupied by independent businesses and local designers, so it’s well worth a browse."

Read also suggests checking out Goods of Desire, which she calls "a homegrown lifestyle brand offering a wide range of homeware and gifts with a contemporary, unique and quintessentially Hong Kong flair." 

Purple Orchids in the flower market in Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock


Shopping top tips

• Stores do not open until 10am or later, but often stay open until 10pm on. Most shops are open seven days a week. Stores in Central are an exception; they generally close at 7pm and on Sunday. The only holiday on which all commerce comes to a halt is the Chinese New Year in January or February.

• Shopping in Hong Kong can sometimes be a fraught business for the amateur. Consumers can trust shops showing a Quality Tourism Services (QTS) sign (identifiable by the logo of a red junk with the Chinese character for "quality" written in black). Other things to look out for are shops that fail to clearly display prices or provide product information.

• When buying electrical goods, consider whether you need an international guarantee and not just a local Hong Kong version. Goods that seem suspiciously cheap may only be guaranteed for the local area, and repairs or replacements will have to be carried out in Hong Kong.  

• Beware of “bait-and-switch” tactics, where retailers showcase a product at an ambiguous price, accept a deposit, and then claim the item is out of stock before pressuring the buyer to accept an inferior product. Finally, always ask for a proper receipt that clearly states purchase details, and avoid street touts.

• Most stores have fixed prices, but it never hurts to ask for a discount or the "best price," especially if you buy several items in a smaller shop or stall. Also, compare prices before you buy.

• Note that when haggling, the merchant assumes you are prepared to pay cash. If, after making a deal, you try to pay with a credit card, they may then boost the price.


Uncover the most luxurious shopping destinations on Insight Guides' Hong Kong Deluxe holiday.


Shoppers try out Apple products while shopping, International Finance Centre, Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock


Ready to hit the shops of Hong Kong?

Insight Guides can help you with the planning of your trip to Hong Kong. Simply get in touch, and tell us when you'd like to go, for how long, and what other interests you have. If you're still in need of some inspiration, you can browse our existing trips to Hong Kong here, which are all fully customisable!


Article by Insight Guides