Walking shoes? Check.
Pocket money? Check.
Bottle of water? Check.
Some big bag for all the nifty finds? Check.
Basics, really, of what you’d need to explore Mongkok’s famous Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street. You’ll also need a bag of courage and a few pills of patience while you’re at it. I exaggerate of course, but that’s only because I’m not the best haggler in the world. I find some of the vendors in Hong Kong’s counterpart for the Greenhills’ tiangge akin to vultures swooping in for the kill.
Squaring my shoulders, I left the hotel past 12 noon to take the MTR to Mongkok.
TIP #1: Be the buena mano. It pays to be early. I found my daytime visit more pleasant. My night vultures were tamer, friendlier even, partly because they had just unpacked their wares. It might also be because they were in search of that first customer for good luck. At night, they could already be trying to get as much margin as they can for the day, especially if they drove prices low for the first few customers they had earlier on.
TIP #2: Be brave and haggle! And when you haggle, haggle low! As much as that cute Angry Bird USB drive is hard to resist, remember that they need you to buy more than you need to complete some weird collection of yours (or maybe tick off people from an extensive Christmas list). I’ve read it before and people really advise that you haggle for at least half the price. Oh, if you watch this show called Pawn Stars, you could pick up great ways to do it (as well as applying logic to the bargaining process).
TIP #3: Canvas. Don’t buy immediately just because you like it already. There’s a high chance more than one stall is carrying that passport case you fancy. When you canvas, you should also know how many pieces of a certain item you plan to get before you bargain. We all know that the price can go much lower with a bigger quantity.
TIP #4: Make sure you eat before your shopping excursion. The last thing you want is to faint in between a haggling tourist and a merchant out to make a sale. Despite it being one long street, hunger can disorient you. (Yes, I speak from experience.) I gather the sale will still be pursued even after you’ve plastered yourself to the ground anyway.
- For something cheap and value for money, you can look at Hong Kong street food or their fast food Cafe De Coral.
TIP #5: Do carry cash with you – the smaller denominations. No credit card terminals here, sorry. The idea is to get a good bargain, not earn points while you swipe a card.
These are by no means guarantees but they’re worth a try, yeah? Good luck!
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