Oh Hong Kong, why do I love thee? Since my first visit to Hong Kong as a tourist 5 years ago, I was struck by the contrasts in this city. Or like a recent friend visiting said: “It’s like visiting 4 places at once!” One minute, you feel like you could be in midtown Manhattan, and then you turn a corner, and it’s like old shanghai.
Bowrington Road Market in the Wan Chai neighborhood leans more towards Old Shanghai. And I love it. Let’s explore…
This sprawling indoor and outdoor market is on the Wan Chai / Causeway Bay border, just beside the “Villain Hitting” Bridge (stay tuned for more on that soon…) Up and down the two main streets of the market, there are market stalls spilling out into the streets selling fruit, spices, medicinal herbs, racks of hanging meat cut to order with a huge cleaver, still flapping fish, and greens … so many greens!
The indoor market has yet more fruit and veg stands, as well as household goods, clothing, tailors and even a cooked food center for a quick meal during your shopping trip.
It can feel intimidating since the majority of signs are in Cantonese and that’s the language you’ll hear throughout the market. But we are in Hong Kong, so most people speak a bit of English — so don’t be shy to ask about the produce or even strike up a conversation. While taking these photos I had a great conversation with a vegetable seller who told me about a must-visit beach, and also a woman at the herbal tea stand, where I ended up perched in the shop window drinking a bowl of medicinal tea that’s supposed to “clear the heat” from my body (not a bad thing in Hong Kong in August!)
Unlike the picture-perfect farmers markets you’ll see in the US and Europe, the wet markets in Hong Kong are very much working markets. The vendors are constantly getting deliveries, trimming their produce, chopping and prepping – right in the middle of the street.
The sheer variety of good sold at the market is almost overwhelming, especially when you don’t recognize most of them! I could spend a couple of hours in this market easily, really looking. (OK, let’s be honest, I HAVE spent many hours in this market! Plus we haven’t even talked about the nearby bakeries with juicy steamed pork buns or the takeaway dim sum stall…)
Once you get beyond the sea of meat and green, you start to see more unusual things: buckets of fermented vegetables, dried seafood, and tons of medicinal herbs…
If you’re visiting Hong Kong, definitely stop off at this market and explore.
Bowrington Road Market, 21 Bowrington Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
And if you’d like some help identifying what’s for sale in the market, I recommend The Chinese Wet Market Handbook, complete with pictures, English and Chinese names and even eating/cooking instructions!