Nathan Road, the heart of Kowloon

nathan road 1

“You sir, yes you sir, how about a suit” as the tailor pushed his business card in front of my face ” for you very cheap “

I didn’t stop or even blink but they are persistent as soon as you pass they are onto the next person “How about a suit for you, good price”  If it’s not the tailor trying to sell his threads to you it’s another type, the watch man or the bag man as I like to call them trying to sell you a great fake Rolex or a bag for the lady. The touts are amazing and a unique bunch of ethnic groups, one even manages to proposition me while chatting on his mobile with not only a suit, a watch but also a bag see it is good to be able to multitask. It is not  just on the pavement outside that you have to be weary of but also the camera shops that run their own scams too often ripping off customers if you do need to buy a camera  I suggest buying it in Central.

nathan road 2

This is what to expect though on Nathan road, the heart of Kowloon, a vibrant lively street that runs  from the top of Tsim Sha Tsui all the way south to Mongkok. Nathan road is the oldest street in Kowloon, named after the 13th Governor Sir Mathew Nathan.

chungking mansion 1

chungking mansion

Nathan road is a special place, high end boutiques, hotels stand next to old tea shops or chinese medicine shops. The Peninsula, Hong Kong’s most historical hotel opened in 1928 and is still one of the most luxurious hotels in Hong Kong is just a stones throw away from the infamous Chungking Mansions, a run down fire trap building with 80 of the cheapest guest houses in Hong Kong. It is a sleazy, lively street that lures people from all over the world to venture down.

A plethora of cheap dining is found everywhere along Nathan road but there is none better than Tim Ho Wan located a 15 minute walk from Yau Ma Tei station. A simple 20 seat restaurant is as popular as it is simple serving up a succulent meal of juicy shrimp and pork dumplings and rich flour rolls. You can’t miss it by the queue of people waiting outside but the wait is definitely worth it when you can dine in the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world.

bird market Mogkok

goldfish market

Further into Mongkok at the Yuen Po bird market is a great place just to relax and watch the locals with their song birds. The owners carry their birds in intricate carved bamboo cages, another market just nearby is the gold fish market, the fish bobbing up and down in small plastic bags waiting to be sold to Hongkanese. Aquariums bring luck and natural beauty to many living rooms in HongKong. For me Mongkok felt like the real Hong Kong where many of the blue collar workers live. It offers a good contrast in people compared to other parts of Hong Kong.

In the evening,there is no better market than temple street market just off Nathan road near Yau Ma Tei station. Be prepared to bargain, the market is long and caters for tourists and locals. The market sells everything from clothes, watches to toys. It’s another great place to sit on the plastic chairs watch people go by their normal life while you eat great street food and after you are done with the food you can also watch some Cantonese opera or have your palm read from the many booths.

temple street market 4

temple street market 3

Nathan road, a place you either love or hate but you will always return time and time again.

What was your experience on Nathan Road? We would love to hear it.

One thought on “Nathan Road, the heart of Kowloon

  1. Nice summary, and you’re right, it is the real “Chinese side” of the Hong Kong experience, as opposed to the business district of Central. Did most of these same things several times. And I was also struck by the contrast between the high end hotel at TST and the next thing is sleazy Chungking Mansions, with its annoying Indian and Pakistani touts in front of there.
    Another tip if you like the local experience: Sham Shui Po. Take the MTR and leave the Sham Shui Po station at exit C. Then you’re in the middle of a street market where (if you go to the right) they sell all sort of used tools and ancient electronics that you couldn’t even remember that it existed. A bit more modern shopping mall nearby (mostly very local visitors) is Dragon Centre, at the end of the old market street, then slightly to the left and cross the main road. It has one of the best indoor food courts (a bit like street market style) on the 8th floor, with loads of food stalls!

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