The Kowloon side of Hong Kong (where I was staying) was full of historical markets all within a few subway stops. Maybe it’s a bit touristy, but I like open air markets and was curious to see what Hong Kong had to offer. The first was the flower market. It was a series of flower and plant shops all open to the street with their flowers pouring out onto the street. Many had their handwritten signs in English and Chinese. Everything from bouquets, to live plants, to seeds were available. It was fun to walk from scent to scent as it seemed the most fragrant flowers were set out on the street to draw you in.
It was easy to walk through from the end of the flower market to the bird market. The bird market was a bit dirtier and noisier of course. Sellers displayed cages with birds of many varieties and wild birds came to play as well. Some of the sellers gave their birds clean, beautiful cages with plenty of room, but others put several birds together in one cage. Some of those sharing cages were clearly stressed, picking the feathers from their chest. So, the bird market was a little bit sad actually. We didn’t visit there for long. But it seemed as though some local people were taking their birds for a walk. They brought their birds in a small cage to visit the market, get fresh air, and sing with the other birds.That was interesting.
Next was the Temple Street Night Market. I went to the Shihlin Night Market in Taipei and found it be awesome. Night markets aren’t a thing in the US, so it was a cool experience. We arrived at Temple Street a bit too early for the market to be in full swing, so we went to the nearest Cafe de Coral (which is the nicest “fast food” chain ever). When we returned, the sky was growing darker and the merchants were setting up their booths.
To be honest, the Temple Street Market was disappointing. If you’ve never been to a lot of open markets, you’ll probably have some fun, but it was nowhere near as nice as the Taipei Night Market or the street market around the duomo in Florence. There weren’t a lot of handmade crafts. It was mostly mass produced tourist souvenir style stuff. That was disappointing. Then walking back through, we decided to walk down the side, instead of through the sellers again. After a moment, I realized that was a bad plan, because the back side of the market seemed to be full of prostitutes. I suppose you can really buy anything at the night market.
If you like open air markets, Hong Kong has an interesting variety of options to explore in Kowloon, but for an amazing Night Market experience, it might be worth a stopover in Taipei.