Uncovering The Golden Triangle Of Markets In Kowloon

26 May 2015

On day one in Hong Kong my senses were assaulted by mounds of dried fish at an open-air seafood market. The next morning, they were overpowered by the perfumed bouquets lining Flower Market Road.

This is the essence of Hong Kong – the beautiful, intoxicating contrast that makes the city what it is.

 Beautiful blooms at the Flower Market (Image: Luke Wheatley)

Come February, the flower markets swarm with families frantically buying bunches of  blooms to attract good fortune for the Chinese New Year. But on this peaceful Tuesday morning, it's just us and the deliverymen.

At around 9 o'clock, trucks roll in and a mob of grisly guys begin unloading the day's fresh flowers with a great level of care. I'm most enchanted by the roses. Each bud is carefully wrapped in Styrofoam netting, like half cuts of melons you usually find at farmers' markets.

 Meeting Geneva for a mid-morning coffee (Image: Luke Wheatley)

Our guide for the morning is Geneva Vanderzeil, a Brisbane-born Hong Kong local who spends her days running a successful DIY style and travel blog, 'a pair & a spare'.

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The flower markets are one of Geneva's secret go-to spots for impressing visitors. We start with an Americano coffee at the adorably named Cafe Hay Fever before calling in on the many florists of Flower Market Road.
 Exploring the Flower Market (Image: Luke Wheatley)

It's Spring and the dahlias, carnations and roses are on show.  A bunch of peonies starts at just $HKD10, or about $1.65 Australian. If I lived within reach of a market like this, there would be fresh flowers on my kitchen table every Saturday.

We take our time to stop and smell the roses. As we do, there's a scene in the background running on repeat. One by one, elderly gentlemen dally down the street carrying covered cages.

Follow the faint sing-song coming from the veiled cages and it will take you to the Yuen Po Bird Garden at the end of Flower Market Road. You will most certainly hear it before you see it.

 Ornate bird cages at Yuen Po (Image: Ashton Rigg)

More than just a place to pick up ornate bamboo cages with tiny porcelain water dishes, Yuen Po is a spot to socialise. It's like taking your dog to the park. The age-old ritual of bringing songbirds to market is something special to watch.

After Yuen Po we make the short drive to the jade market, stopping first for lunch at Geneva's favourite old-school cafe. Mido Cafe is straight out of a 1960s Hong Kong movie with a menu equally nostalgic. Think steamy bowls of chicken noodle soup and delicious soy-soaked Asian greens.

Speaking of green, you will find it in huge supply at the jade market! Jade is particularly auspicious in Chinese culture. It's long been associated with good health and prosperity and is at its best quality when it is pure green with no dark tinges in sight.

 Jewels galore at the jade market (Image: Ashton Rigg)

I try my hand at bartering for a jade necklace but play it too coy. Geneva steps in and asks for the best 'morning price', adding 'good for you, good for me'. Her tip for bartering is to start at half the price. You'll find your end price somewhere in the middle.

"Remember to go in with a smile on your face," she advises. "Laugh and smile while you are bartering and you’ll be more likely to get what you want."

I walk away with a new appreciation for the art of shopping and a souvenir sure to win me some brownie points with nan.

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Had your fill of shopping? Add these 11 Hong Kong restaurants to your must-try list

Need a place to sleep it all off? Try the Harbour Grand Kowloon or Harbour Grand Hong Kong

Surprised by the flower markets? Here are 6 more Hong Kong surprises


We finish the trifecta of Mong Kok markets on Tung Choi Street. The Ladies Market is a one-kilometre stretch lined with more than 100 stalls, stocked with everything from 'I Heart HK' shirts to flashing iPhone cables.

It's bright and brimming with bargains. It's the perfect excuse to spend the last of your Hong Kong dollars and end your day of market-hopping around Kowloon. As if you needed an excuse!

 Stuck for souvenirs? The Ladies Market has you sorted (Image: Ashton Rigg)

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Hong Kong.

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Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg