Temple Street Night Market opens at 4 p.m. daily. // © 2012 Hong Kong Tourism Board
Hong Kong’s Temple Street night market might not be for everyone. It smells like dried fish. It’s crowded. And merchants ply their wares late into the night. But for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the local culture, a visit to Temple Street in Kowloon after 4 p.m. is an experience like no other.
On my visit this past fall, stall after stall overflowed with quirky gadgets and knickknacks, the kind of conversation pieces that make great souvenirs or gag gifts, including humorous T-shirts, electronics, jewelry, Buddha statues in all shapes and sizes, elaborate Chinese fans, Chairman Mao tote bags, reproduction Chinese propaganda posters and knock-off leather purses.
Everything for sale on Temple Street is negotiable, and tourists might just get a funny look if they don’t try to haggle over the suggested price. The better deals come to those buying in bulk — more items give the buyer more leverage. For example, a jewelry vendor wanted $5 per piece but let me walk away with three pairs of earrings and three rings for less than $20.
For my preferences, I found the local street food intriguing, but I managed to stay away from Temple Street’s fish balls, egg tarts, salty beef lungs and pork intestines on a stick. If nothing else, the night market food scene proved to be great photo fodder.
Amid all of the eye candy, I was struck most by the Yau Mai Tei end of the street, where locals belted karaoke songs in open-air tents and dozens of fortune tellers awaited curious customers. Upon encouragement from a colleague, I had my fortune read for about $30 and, according to the clairvoyant, I need to take more vacations. To be sure, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the future.