SHOP TILL YOU DROP; Combining a Holiday with a Shopping Trip Is Now More Popular Than Ever, with People Jetting off for Long Weekends to Distant Cities to See, Literally, What's in Store. Here, Travel Editor Lisa Piddington Checks out the Bargains in New York, While Michael Higgins Enjoys a Spot of Bartering in Hong Kong

By Higgins, Michael | The Birmingham Post (England), June 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

SHOP TILL YOU DROP; Combining a Holiday with a Shopping Trip Is Now More Popular Than Ever, with People Jetting off for Long Weekends to Distant Cities to See, Literally, What's in Store. Here, Travel Editor Lisa Piddington Checks out the Bargains in New York, While Michael Higgins Enjoys a Spot of Bartering in Hong Kong


Higgins, Michael, The Birmingham Post (England)


Maybe it's because I have a dishonest face. Perhaps 'street vendor entrepreneurs' believe I am in the market for some dodgy goods. But it seems almost impossible to move in some parts of Hong Kong without someone trying to sell me a fake Gucci, Rolex or Calvin Klein watch.

Walk down any of the major thoroughfares in Hong Kong and you can see the free marketeers on every street corner, hassling tourists and offering the 'best bargains in town'.

Thankfully, unlike some towns, a quick 'no' is all it takes to put them off. However, if they are persistent a forceful: 'No thanks, I've already got one,' equally works wonders.

But one of the great things about shopping in Hong Kong is that it is a land of contrast and contradiction.

Sure, you can buy 'copy watches' on any street corner or in any of the many markets throughout the country.

But you can also buy the real thing at any one of a hundred stores and also at a 'bargain' - although it does depend on what you call a bargain.

A Gucci watch in one of the shops in Harbour City 700 might still be bought for several hundred pounds less in nearby Nathan Road. And while some people might enjoy the delights of the stalls and bargaining in Stanley Market on Hong Kong Island by contrast others might delight in the more upmarket shops to be found on the island or on Kowloon peninsula.

Recently Harrods was screaming out for Fendi handbags as worn by the likes of the Duchess of York, Sharon Stone, Liz Hurley and Madonna. Here they can be found in abundance.

Certainly Hong Kong has much to offer both the dedicated and the inexperienced shopper.

Stanley Market is perhaps one of the best known shopping areas in all of Hong Kong and is a must for every tourist.

Situated on the south of Hong Kong Island, the market is a bustling mass of people crowded into a small area which is packed with hundreds of individual stalls.

Silks and satins, jade and jewellery, clothes and curios, this is a market where it's hard not to find what you want. Next to the man selling fake watches it is not unlikely that you will find one selling exquisite, top quality silk prints, the best in the world.

It is also the place where one never accepts the first offer. 'Bargain, always bargain,' says Denny Ip, of the Hong Kong Tourist Association. 'It's all part of the game, part of the enjoyment of shopping. The stallholders expect it so it doesn't come as any surprise when you try to knock the price down.'

And he's right.

A beautiful, pacific blue china tea set is being sold for HK$50 (just over pounds 4). This comes as something of a surprise as only hours earlier we had taken refreshment in a charming tea house on Hollywood Road where the proprietor had offered me a similar one for HK$600 (pounds 50).

Still in Stanley Market, I followed Mr Ip's advice and eventually bought a tea set for HK$45 (pounds 3.75). Which only goes to show my lack of bargaining prowess.

On Kowloon peninsula, similar marketing experiences can be found at Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, in the Mong Kok district or the nearby Temple Market, which is open late into the night.

Negotiating a price is less welcome at Temple Market, but better bargains can be found. Where else can you buy a Versace shirt for HK$50 (pounds 4.10)?

Also in the Mong Kok district is the Jade Market. Here this mineral has been hammered and shaped into a million items - bracelets, bangles, necklaces, elephants, buddhas, cats, dogs and many, many more. This green, sometimes almost white ornamental stone, has been manipulated into items to wear, ornaments to look at and artefacts to appreciate. …

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SHOP TILL YOU DROP; Combining a Holiday with a Shopping Trip Is Now More Popular Than Ever, with People Jetting off for Long Weekends to Distant Cities to See, Literally, What's in Store. Here, Travel Editor Lisa Piddington Checks out the Bargains in New York, While Michael Higgins Enjoys a Spot of Bartering in Hong Kong
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