Little Koo’s guide to shopping in Hong Kong

I’ve posted before (a long time ago) about shopping in Hong Kong but I think it’s time to do it again! When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was so confused. I had heard that Hong Kong was a shopping mecca (and Hong Kongers certainly love to shop!) but I found that all the malls were full of designer labels, which I am not interested in and certainly must be out of the price range of many Hong Kongers. So where do they shop? Over the years (nearly 4 now) that I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve gradually found shops that I actually like shopping in and I now know where to get most things I want or need. So if you are new to Hong Kong, just visiting or looking for some inspiration, I thought I would share some of these places with you!

Little Koo's guide to shopping in Hong Kong

 

N.B. I’ve not stated where you can find any of these shops but I’ve linked to the store finder pages for their websites (where appropriate) so you can take a look for yourself.

Firstly, I should point out that nothing beats taking a walk around your local neighbourhood, or indeed any neighbourhood in Hong Kong. There are so many tiny independent shops and some of them are so handy for this or that. Whilst you may be a bit scared that the storekeeper won’t speak English (and they may well not, depending on where you are), it’s amazing how much you can get by with gesturing and if you want something specific you could try using google translate to show them the (traditional) Chinese characters! (N.B. it may be best to get a Cantonese friend to confirm the translation if possible!) My favourite shops are those little ones that sell ‘everything’ – mainly homewares, but then you discover stationery, gadgets and even (in one case) underwear! (I didn’t buy the underwear) So fascinating to look round.

I should also point out here the importance of buying something when you see it! So often I have thought about buying something later and then when I went back, it was gone. Boooo.

My favourite areas in Hong Kong to shop are Whampoa Gardens in Hung Hom (which happens to be very close to where I live) and City Plaza in Tai Koo. I feel like they have more of a range of affordable shops, of the kind that I like to shop in, rather than just miles of designer shops. Many of the shops below can be found in these areas but also in many other places in Hong Kong too.

Groceries

To start this shopping guide, if you are really new to Hong Kong then you’ll need to know where to buy groceries! Thankfully you are very likely to be near a Park N Shop or Wellcome supermarket wherever you are. Fusion, Taste, International and Great are also owned by Park N Shop. I personally prefer the Park N Shop stores over Wellcome as they have more western products, and I can buy most of the same food as in the UK here (if different brands). Market Place is owned by Wellcome but has more of a range of international products. If you like your supermarkets more upscale, then check out city’super, Oliver’s or ThreeSixty.

Markets

Supermarket fruit and veg isn’t the greatest, so you might want to head to your nearest wet market. These sell mostly fresh produce (although some of it may be a little fresher than you’re used to!). including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables and are generally housed in government centres in each area (try googling ‘wet market <area name>’ to find one in a specific area). Many also have stalls selling local ingredients (great if you like to cook Chinese food!), dried seafood (smelly!) and a cooked food centre on the top floor. The cooked food centres are like low budget food courts, with cheap (mostly) local food. The few times I have been, the food has been pretty good although they can be a little confusing if you are new to Hong Kong. Some have table service, and often this means that if you sit at a specific table you are tied to the food from a specific vendor. It’s all good fun though, and if you’re not feeling that adventurous get a friend to take you!

While we’re talking about markets, there are street markets as well as the wet markets. My favourite is the one in Wanchai, on Tai Yuen St and Cross St, just south of the MTR. It’s not huge but it has a nice range of stalls. I go there to buy plastic shoes for myself (useful in spring!) and swimsuits for the kids but I always leave with at least one other thing! The Lanes in Central (on Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West), has mainly clothes and accessories. Stanley Market (between the bus terminus and the sea) is quite touristy but has a mix of clothes (including cheap children’s clothes), toys, Chinese art and crafts and tourist items. Sham Shui Po street market (next to exit A of the MTR, on Pei Ho Street and Apliu Street) is a real local market with a mix of cheap clothes, second hand electronics, tools and much more.

The most famous markets in Hong Kong are the Ladies’ Market (Tung Hoi Street, Mongkok) and Temple Street Night Market (Temple Street, Jordan/Yau Ma Tei). These are pretty touristy but are quite a fun experience if you just want to browse or buy some tourist tat. They can get quite busy though! Temple Street Night Market has lots of restaurants and food stalls around too so you can make a night out of it. I think it opens at around 6pm.

Convenience stores

I can’t go much further without mentioning 7-Eleven. These little convenience stores are everywhere and they are so handy. As well as selling snacks and the all-important cold drinks (essential in summer), you can buy milk (useful if the supermarket is shut) and a few toiletries, top up your Octopus card, get cashback with an EPS card, pay bills and buy stamps. This last tip I only learned recently! There are alternatives to 7-Eleven, which include Circle K and V>nGo, which have similar services but I don’t know if they do everything that 7-Eleven does.

Clothes

H&M – I love this shop so much, even when I was in the UK I used to buy almost all of my clothes here and that hasn’t changed in Hong Kong. It helps that the price is about the same as in the UK too. And since I’ve had children (my twins are two and a half now) it’s my go-to place for kids’ clothes. They have some great designs and it’s reasonably priced too.

Uniqlo – another reasonably priced clothing store. Mostly the clothing isn’t to my taste but I’ve bought a few pieces there, and when my kids are a bit bigger I’ll start getting them the cute children’s clothing they have there too!

Marks & Spencer – I feel like this store is a little ‘old’ for me (I’m in my mid thirties) but the clothes are high quality and it’s good to take a look every now and again. The price of the clothes sold here is significantly higher than in the UK so I baulk a bit at the price! But if you really love M&S, you can shop from the UK site (with UK prices) and get it shipped here for £15. Marks and Spencer Food is taking off in Hong Kong (as it is in the UK) with new stores springing up all over the time. The food is expensive but really good!

Zara – another shop where I baulk a bit at the price but love to look around every now and again. It’s not designer prices though, and they have some beautiful clothes.

Gap – slightly overpriced in my opinion, but I’m not sure if the price is different to the stores in the UK. I do like their jeans though! The website is in Chinese but you can zoom in on the map to see where stores are in HK.

Forever 21 – cheap and cheerful fashion clothing. I think there is just one store in Hong Kong, in Causeway Bay, but it is enormous! It’s located opposite Exit F1 of Causeway Bay MTR, at Capitol Center, 5-19 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay.

Bossini – good for cheap casual clothes.

Baleno – more cheap casual clothes. And some very cute children’s clothes! (click the box in the right hand corner of the website and choose ‘International’ to see the site in English)

G2000 – reasonably priced suits and work wear

If you prefer independent clothing shops, these are everywhere so take a walk around and see what you find. I quite like the shops on Wan Chai Road, there is a real mix of styles there!

I took a look around here Elgin Street and Staunton Street in Mid Levels for a dress to wear to a wedding at the recommendation of a friend and I wasn’t short of options! If you are looking for a party dress or something for wedding or a black tie event, this area is great, there are loads of shops and a real range in price so hunt for a bargain or splurge on something amazing!

Beauty/Health

There are a few options if you’re looking for high street beauty products, including Sasa, Colormix and Bonjour. They have both western and Asian brands. Great if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, but the skin whitening products do freak me out a little bit.

Watsons and Mannings are a great place to shop if you are looking for health-related products (the kind of things you would go to Boots or Superdrug for in the UK). They have lots of stores too, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. Many Mannings also have pharmacy counters, and the pharmacists generally speak good English so they can help you if you are looking for something specific!

Household items

If you’re setting up a household (i.e. you’ve just moved to Hong Kong) and looking for all those little bits you need for your kitchen or bathroom then Japan Home Centre (which also calls itself JHC) is a great first port of call (unless you happen to have found one of those shops that has everything that I mentioned above!). It has a pretty wide range of stuff and it’s all quite cheap. They are everywhere too, so you shouldn’t have to go far to find one! Just a note of caution: I have heard that the electronics they sell aren’t great. Maybe look elsewhere for those things!

Similar to Japan Home Centre (but with a more limited range of small items) is Price Rite. They also sell furniture, but they have a good range of storage and sell most kitchen items. Similar price to Japan Home Centre. The website is in Chinese but you can look at the maps to see which store is nearest to you.

Aeon (which used to be called Jusco) is another one of my first ports of call, mainly because there is a large store very close to me. It’s got a good range of baby items which has been invaluable for me. The price is not that cheap but it’s not expensive either. And it’s a department store so it has a wide range of goods including clothing, shoes, toys, kitchenware and household appliances. I like to shop in their kitchenware department too. My friend likes to shop in the supermarket there, but I’ve not used it that often.

A subsidiary of Aeon is Living Plaza (click the Aeon link above and scroll down to see the Living Plaza shops), another one of my favourite shops! Almost everything in the store is $12 (approx. £1) and they have a really wide range of things in there! I always go in looking for one thing and come out with five!

Ikea – beloved of almost every country and Hong Kong is no exception. Definitely one of the most affordable places to get homewares and furniture. Don’t go on a Sunday though, the queues for the tills are horrendous!

Fortress – I mentioned above that Japan Home Centre is not a great place to buy electronics so you might want to head to Fortress instead. They have a wide range of electrical items from TVs to dehumidifiers (the latter is pretty necessary in HK) at pretty standard prices.

Baby & Children’s

I find that most baby and children’s items are a bit pricey in Hong Kong, but maybe that’s because I’m coming at it as a westerner who is looking for certain types of products. Anyway, I buy many things from Park N Shop – especially nappies, wipes and baby food. You can find these things in most supermarkets I think, and also in Watsons or Mannings (see above). I already mentioned above that I go to Aeon for many baby items, and Ikea has a surprising (to me) and affordable range of baby equipment and toys. Toys R Us (especially the bigger ones which have a Baby R Us section) is another useful place to look. Other baby shops include Mothercare, Bumps To Babes and Tiny Footprints but I don’t shop there often as I find the price is quite expensive and they are not close to me. Many bookshops (see below) have toys and gifts for children.

Books & stationery

For English language books, check out Popular Books, Page One, Eslite or Bookazine. Many of these shops also have cards, wrapping paper, gifts and a selection of stationery and craft supplies. For even more places to find books, check out these posts by HK Hub and Sassy.

For stationery supplies, you can’t beat the little independent stationery stores that are everywhere. Take a walk around your local area and you should come across one. If you’re very lucky you might find one with craft supplies and other bits and bobs too! I loved the one that I used to go to on Sing Woo Road in Happy Valley (when I lived there) – it had everything!

Art & craft supplies

Please check out my previous post with a comprehensive list of places where you can shop for art and craft supplies in Hong Kong.

And there’s more…

There are many other articles on other websites about shopping in Hong Kong, so take a look at the links below for even more places to shop!

Speciality shops in Hong Kong

Lonely Planet guide to shopping in Hong Kong

Sassy’s top five gift stores in Hong Kong

Guide to small malls on HK Magazine

Time Out’s list of Hong Kong’s best secret shops

Bagging a bargain from HK Hub

Finally, if you would rather shop from the comfort of your own home, I have written two useful guides about online shopping in Hong Kong, and overseas shops that deliver to Hong Kong.

Where do you like to shop? If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Candid Hong Kong – shopping mall craziness

Every fortnight I share a photo that shows a little insight into Hong Kong life. Sometimes they are things that made me smile, classic Hong Kong sights or just really unusual things.

Shopping is one of Hong Kong’s favourite pastimes and on a weekend or a public holiday the shopping malls can get seriously busy! This is an area of a shopping mall where I live which is full of attractions and rides for kids. During the week it is almost always empty and looks a bit like a ghost town, but during the weekends it looks like this:

151117 Candid Hong Kong busy shopping mall

Craziness! I dare not venture down there!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Toy Street – bargain toys in Sham Shui Po

I first heard about Toy Street (aka Fuk Wing Street in Sham Shui Po) a while ago from a couple of friends who recommended it to me. But then I was round a friend’s house recently, and she had bought a little toy tool bench complete with plastic tools and an electric screwdriver that screwed the screws into the holes on the bench – all for HK$100 (£8)! I knew I had to get myself over there!

I do love Sham Shui Po anyway. It’s a traditional style Hong Kong neighbourhood with relatively low rise buildings (mostly less than 10 stories), great eateries and fantastic shopping. I go there frequently to buy craft, and particularly jewellery, supplies (as I mentioned in my ‘buying craft supplies in Hong Kong‘ post). I also really enjoyed getting to know the area a bit more on the Foodie Tour that I did with my husband last year.

To get to Toy Street, all you do is leave Sham Shui Po MTR station by exit B2. You immediately cross a pedestrian street, then continue straight. At the end of the next block, turn right and the toy shops are right there (you can’t miss them!). If that’s really not clear enough, this website has a nice map showing you where to go.

This is what I mean when I say that you can’t miss the toy shops!

Toy Street Sham Shui Po

Those shops are seriously loaded with toys!

Toy street Hong Kong

Now, you should be aware that you are not getting top quality toys if you come here. There are a lot of cheap plastic toys imported directly from the factories in China. Having said that, Toys R Us is also full of plastic toys at a significantly higher price (I’m talking about Toys R Us in Hong Kong here, I’m not sure about other countries), so if you’re just looking for some cheap and cheerful toys to entertain your little ones then why pay more than you have to?!

In general I would say that this is the place to go if you’re looking for items for stocking fillers or party bags, small everyday toys such as balls, cars and stationery, or larger plastic toys that you’re expecting to take a bashing.

There are lots of shops on Toy Street which are quite similar but the two that stood out most to me were Laugh Laugh (which had a large selection of bigger toys in the back of the shop)…

Laugh Laugh toy shop Sham Shui Po

…and Toystar, which had some branded toys, such as V-tech and wooden toys (although I’d not heard of the brand of wooden toys, it might have been German?).

Toystar toy shop Sham Shui Po

I was looking for larger toys and found quite a few to pick from – including a fold-up kitchen, drum kit (including an electric one!), easels galore and a full supermarket shop! (Alas, I didn’t see a tool bench like the one my friend had) In the end I plumped for a tent which came with 50 ball-pit type balls – it cost HK$100 (£8). The twins seem to quite like it!

20150806_154445

Do let me know if you go to Toy Street and tell me what treasures you find there! If you’ve got kids it’s a great place to shop.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Stanley – a little slice of home

If ever I am feeling like I have had a bit too much of Hong Kong, or the strangeness of it gets to me, I know I can escape to Stanley. It really reminds me a little of home!

Stanley is a small town on the south-eastern corner of Hong Kong Island. You can get to it on the number 6 or 6X bus. The bus journeys are quite nice in themselves. The number 6 goes over Chung Nai Gap and has views over the valley and then round Repulse Bay. The number 6X goes through Aberdeen Tunnel and skirts Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay on its way to Stanley.

The town of Stanley straddles a peninsular (Stanley Peninsular). It has a beach on one side and a promenade on the other. The beach is nice enough, but I hear it gets very busy at weekends in summer.

Stanley from the Dragons Back

The promenade is quite recently renovated and at one end is Stanley Plaza, a new shopping mall. It houses a fair number of pricier home-ware shops and similar, and is worth a look round although I’ve never bought anything there.

Stanley Plaza

At the same end of the promenade are Stanley Pier and Murray House. When I was researching for this blog post, I found out that Murray House used to be barracks which were located in Central. The whole building was moved to Stanley in the 2000s! (ref) Now the building houses the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (although I think this has now moved to Central Ferry Pier 8).

Stanley Pier and Murray House

Stanley Pier

At the opposite end of the promenade is Stanley Market. This is quite a fun market with a real mixture of shops. There’s all the usual tourist tat, but mixed in are quite a few more expensive shops, some selling more unusual items. My favourite is a lacquer-ware shop called Good Lacque (I also appreciate the pun there!). I’ve got a really nice wine bottle holder from there in the past. Last time I went in I saw two things that I wanted to buy but didn’t have the money for at the time. I hope they’re still there next time I go!

Stanley market

So why do I like Stanley so much? It has the feel of a seaside town in the UK. The majority of it is very low-rise with 3-4 storey houses lining the hills which have balconies facing out to sea. This gives is quite an open feel. Many of the bars and restaurants lining the promenade are Western-style and have big open frontages where you can sit out and see the sea. One of my favourites is a small café called Lucy’s which lies at the market end of the promenade. You can have lovely freshly made sandwiches and cakes here. And sitting out there on the promenade munching on a chocolate brownie really does make you feel like you’re not in Hong Kong any more!

Stanley waterfront

…well, that is until a large group of Chinese tourists parks themselves nearby and start trying to (not-so-subtlely) take pictures of the Westerners…

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Shopping in Hong Kong

There’s a saying that there are two things that Hong Kongers do best: eating and shopping. I totally agree with the eating – there is so much wonderful food here to try! But to be honest, I find shopping here to be a pretty frustrating experience.

First of all we thought that if we wanted to do some clothes shopping we’d go to the big malls. But pretty much without exception (in our experience), they’re full of very expensive, designer brands. Such as Gucci…

Gucci Hong Kong

…and Burberry…

Burberry Hong Kong

…and Prada, Louis Vitton, Tiffany’s etc etc.

Amusingly, there are some UK high street staples which are situated alongside these designer brands, such as the Body Shop…

Body Shop Hong Kong

…and Marks and Spencer!

Marks & Spencer Hong Kong

Clarks shoes is also a favourite here, and Boots and Topshop have just made it over here!

I believe that there is such a plethora of designer shops because the Chinese equate wearing designer brands to status. One of my husband’s colleagues was saying that his wife works in PR and if she isn’t wearing designer brands she won’t get any work because potential clients will assume she can’t afford them because she isn’t very good at her job. I’m glad I don’t work in a field like that, I have no designer brands and no plans for buying any! I was quite amused by this article, which highlights how some designer brands are re-designing some of their products for the Chinese market because the Chinese want the branding to be more obvious.

I’m finding it very difficult to find clothes here that aren’t very cheap and poor quality or really expensive. Luckily I’m saved from total despair because they have H&M!

Outside of the big shopping malls and main streets, the majority of the shops in Hong Kong seem to be small, independent businesses, like these:

Independent dispensary Hong Kong Independent hardware shop Hong Kong Independent camera shop Hong Kong

I really like this as I much prefer buying from someone who will directly benefit from my custom and put the money back into the local community rather than some anonymous fat cats who live abroad. However, it does make it very hard to find what you want! In the UK, if you want to buy something you go to your preferred shopping centre and you pretty much know what will be there as they all have similar chains so you know what you can buy where. In Hong Kong these small businesses are so small, they have no online presence or advertising, and things really work by word of mouth. So for someone new to Hong Kong who doesn’t have many people to ask where to find things, it can take quite a long time to find what you want. I am starting to get to know where I can get most things now but it’s taken a while. But if anyone knows where I can get a reasonably priced charcoal BBQ from in Hong Kong please let me know – we haven’t found one yet!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Christmas present ideas

Well, it’s getting to that time of the year again, and everyone is starting to think about which presents to buy for Christmas. I’ve been a big fan of buying handmade products from independent craftspeople for a couple of years now. Sites such as Etsy, Folksy and notonthehighstreet.com have unique, beautifully crafted and high quality products which make excellent gifts. Here are a few of my favourite Etsy shops for inspiration!

tovicorrie

Leather iPhone / iTouch /HTC (Desire&Mozart) Case - Burgundy Lace

This shop has a range of beautiful leather mobile phone, iPad and kindle cases, as well as leather cuffs. I just love the patterns, especially the lace one above.

PrinceDesignUK

Pottery bird bowl in seafoam turquoise stoneware ceramic with vintage lace crochet texture Soap dish Ring dish Home decor

I love the ceramics in this shop, especially the bird bowls and poppy bowls. Very elegant!

misala

Little salmon pink piggy clutch purse

This shop is full of incredibly cute animal purses, like the one above. I had a hard time choosing which picture to use!

decoylab

Modern Animal Clock - Owl with Numbers

This shop has a range of quirky clocks which would look great in anyone’s home.

jimbobart

Side Plate - Hand Painted -The Sandwich Defender Bear

This shop has a selection of lovely painted plates and cups, featuring animals such as the Sandwich Defender bear above.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these beautiful gifts. If you go to Etsy, Folksy or notonthehighstreet.com you will find thousands of unusual items like these. I definitely plan to buy some of my Christmas presents there!

N.B. Most of the shops on Etsy are based overseas (to the UK), and some have significant P&P charges. Also, some have early ordering deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to enable the makers enough time to make all the products.