There are souvenirs aplenty at Hong Kong‘s ubiquitous markets – try Temple Street, the Ladies Market and Stanley for the more predictable tourist tat. But Hong Kong-inspired products are taken up a notch or two elsewhere in the city, and there are plenty of fun and quirky things to take home. For home-grown brands that draw on the city for inspiration, try PMQ, the redeveloped and repurposed former Police Married Quarters in the heart of Soho where design and creative enterprises flourish and you’ll find yourself fighting over fab souvenirs with the locals. Here are a few others that might have you re-packing your luggage to accommodate them on departure.
Found in shops, restaurants and outside apartments around Hong Kong, these blank-eyed golden or white cat figurines wave an arm in a manner thought to bring fortune into your home or business – a waving right arm beckons money, while a raised left arm is thought to draw customers. The beckoning cats are considered a symbol of good luck throughout Hong Kong, though their origins date back to 17th century Japan, where they are known asmaneki-neko.
Cat onesies and more
The fortune cats have inspired many a product, so if you don’t want a figurine but still fancy trying to bring in some of that Japanese cat’s luck, try the cute ‘Lucky Cat’ onesies at Baby Hero. (Even better, purchasing a Baby Hero onesie funds a life-saving Neonatal Survival Kit for a mother and newborn in the high-risk communities of Pakistan and Kenya.) There are also Fortune Cat tea towels, t-shirts, coasters, ceramics, trays and more at Pinyin Press.
Found in Hong Kong’s wet markets where their soft light makes food look more appealing, these iconic red lamps are also known as egg lamps. Find them in Hong Kong’s hardware stores – there are plenty down the far end of Wellington Street in Central. The originals are made by Red-A Star Industrial Company, but they have also become something of a design piece and you can find variations on them in G.O.D. a local brand that takes inspiration for its kitsch design products from classic Hong Kong items.
The amah, or homecoming bag, is often called the red-white-blue bag, and was so called for its use in travel across the border from mainland China to Hong Kong. Incredibly durable, the checkered woven plastic was originally used as shelter for both people and crops, and these square sacks are the strongest bags you’ll find. Get them in most hardware stores in Hong Kong and in the wet markets. Try Wan Chai wet market for a selection of sizes and variations in the red, white and blue design. Contemporarised versions have hit the market too and you’ll find them at concept store rwb330, created by Hong Kong artist and designer anothermountainman, and also at G.O.D..
Excellent tailoring can be found in Hong Kong from the legendary Sam’s Tailor in Tsim Sha Tsui and others found in the shopping arcades of luxury hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula Hong Kong, as well as those touted on the streets of Kowloon. It’s always best to get a recommendation.
Need a pair of cool cufflinks to go with your new suit? Try Patinova’s Hong Kong-themed cufflinks which incorporate classic Hong Kong coins, including the five-cent pieces which were phased out in the 1970s and special commemorative twenty-cent coins that were released in 1997 to mark the Handover of Hong Kong back to China.
The elegant Chinese dress with its high neck and fitted form, made popular in the west by Nancy Kwan in the 1960 movie “The World of Suzie Wong,” can be found in the tourist markets – including the Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market, though locals might go to Hong Kong department store Yue Hwa for their pick of proper silk cheongsams. For something really upscale and contemporary, try Shanghai Tang.
There’s a huge range of Chinese ceramics on offer at King Tak Hong Porcelain Company. Located at 128 Queen’s Road East in Wanchai, it’s been around since 1954 and is filled with a range of your classic blue-and-white china pieces and slightly more modern designs, all at great prices. Go a little more upscale at much-loved Hong Kong department store Wing On, or for quirky and contemporary design homeware, there are fine examples at G.O.D., Shanghai Tang and Pinyin Press.
Tea stores abound in Hong Kong and it won’t be difficult to find one selling everything from loose leaf tea to tea cakes, bricks and gift packs, with differing colors, varieties and grades of tea. Many also sell traditional tea ceremony apparatus from which to enjoy your tea as a sip takes you back to your time. For a modern tea retailer, there’s Ming Cha, which retails in supermarkets across Hong Kong – their authentic flower teas make great gifts. Or you can skip the tea and go for something a little stronger and pick up some Yellow Wine, kaoliang or baijiu.
Food and snacks
If you’re not traveling too far, egg tarts (strictly speaking a Macanese souvenir), pineapple buns and preserved prunes are among Hong Kong’s popular snacks. Kee Wah Bakery has a range of Chinese pastries and baked goods, including gift boxes. If you are traveling during the holidays, festive foods such as Mid-Autumn Festival’s moon cakes, filled with egg yolk, red bean or lotus paste, make a popular take-home. Dried goods are found in Sheung Wan, and among them dried scallops, dried sausage, dried abalone, ginseng and bird’s nest. There’s even locally harvested honey. Pick up a jar or two of the raw stuff, some honeycomb or even some honey-based body care products from Bee’s Nest Pure Honey.