South East Asia is known for hosting some of the best markets in the world. From the night markets, where you can snack on street food while shopping around, to the farmers markets, where you can pick out ingredients for the night’s meal, Asian markets will amaze you with their vast variety. Additionally, many markets specialize in one type of good, and it is amazing to observe the competition amongst vendors whose goods are nearly the same in almost every way.
Throughout this article I will share photos I have taken in markets in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta (Including Shenzhen), to give a glimpse into the remarkable beauty of these markets and the people who bring them alive.
Hong Kong’s markets are more than just food and inanimate goods!
Take a stroll on Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok and prepare to be surrounded by pet stores on all sides. Although most of the shops specialize in fish (especially “fancy” goldfish), all types of animals are for sale. Shops dedicated to cats, dogs, and birds also line the streets, making Tung Choi Street the pet store headquarters of Hong Kong.
The best part about taking a walk through the gold fish markets is that when you’re done, the infamous Ladies’ Market is just a few steps away!
The Ladies’ Market
Mong Kok is a popular area for Hong Kong street markets, and there is even a dedicated street for the Ladies’ Market. Pictured above, you can see the stalls preparing for a long night of commerce. Almost every stall is managed by a woman, but during the day the tent setup was largely contracted out to day laborers.
Stretching over 1km of street, the market is seemingly endless, and if you don’t like one vendor’s price it is highly likely you will find one willing to compete. Hong Kong’s Ladies’ Market is a 100% do-not-miss!
If you’re reading this story on an Apple device, you are currently experiencing a unique connection to the Pearl River Delta. Foxconn — the factory that manufactures Apple devices (and many other electronics) — is based in Shenzhen, China, immediately over the border from Hong Kong.
If you have a Chinese visa, you can take a subway from Hong Kong to the mainland border and walk across. The massive electronics markets, based primarily near Huaqiangbei (Huaqiang North station), sell everything from led components to semiconductors. Their sheer size is mind boggling, and you can actually get some pretty cool souvenirs at wholesale prices! Some stalls even have a plug (pun intended) at Foxconn and can sell legitimate iPhone components or accessories!
The electronics markets are a perfect place to expand your curiosity, and if you’re an inventor (or wannabe inventor like me) the markets are teeming with inspiration for your next breakthrough device! Although most vendors speak very little English, you are bound to be awestruck with the sheer intelligence and motivation of everyone there.
Although this has been just a small glimpse into the region’s markets, I find the commerce and entrepreneurship so fascinating and beautiful. There are many interesting markets I didn’t include (such as Guangzhou’s jade streets, because my camera deleted the photos…), and I invite you to explore them for yourself, in person! Photos can’t quite portray the true beauty of these markets — the smells, sounds, and interactions create an incomparable energy that can only be witnessed in person. And if you can’t go all the way to Asia, check out your local markets! Farmers markets, flea markets, and more are all very accessible, and they provide a great opportunity to get social and support local farmers, artisans, and more. Thank you for reading :)