Stanley Market on Hong Kong Island’s southeast peninsula combines the colorful bargain shopping that tourists and expats love alongside a beach promenade literally a block or two away and open air restaurants overlooking the sea. You can wander a zig-zag of alleys full of clothing, electronics, antiques and nick-nacks and still escape in seconds to beautiful surroundings. For some visitors naturally it is a dream, and many of nearby Central and Kowloon’s residents consider it a must to visit for shopping and an escape from the city.
The town of Stanley’s history goes back to its time as a large fishing village on this maritime island. When it was settled and annexed by the British it served temporarily as a government center before the government moved to the north side to Central. Its age old Cantonese nick name Chak Chue (meaning Bandit Post) allegedly was earned by the presence of the infamous pirate Cheung Po Tsa and perhaps remembers the days when the South China Sea crawled with pirates, some of them the forerunners of the Triads.
The market area at Stanley is a network of streets along Stanley New Street and Stanley Main Street, and today includes a shopping area right on the beach promenade as well. Some of its most recommended wares include Chinese antiques (though most are not very old), linens and watches. You can also get an excellent deal if you know how to haggle, although by some reports the prices are not as good as they used to be. Like other Chinese markets, part of the excitement is just to wander through the hectic streets and narrow alleyways overwhelmed by the assortment of wares, if not also by the sight, sound and people.
What to Do
Few people take the hour long bus ride from the north side of Hong Kong Island only for the shopping though, since the harbor, beaches and a variety of historical sites embrace Stanley Market on either side. Most well-known are Murray House, a recently reconstructed Victorian building full of restaurants overlooking the water, Stanley Promenade in front of the market and Blake Pier just on the other side of the harbor. Also, the 50,000 square-meter Ma Hang Park which was established in 2011 is just west of the pier and features a network of beautiful hiking trails including abundant flowers and bird-watching posts. This large park area houses Kwun Yam Temple, and is not far from Tin Hau Temple, which dates back to 1767.
That may sound like a lot to see and do when taking a jaunt to Stanley Market, and it is. Look at the map though, and you will see nearly all of these places are quite close, and you will have no trouble at all walking between them, unless you are absolutely beat. Stanley Market area is also well known for its restaurants, and you can expect an array of international food, including Cantonese, Thai and Indian alongside western fare and even fast food. It’s no wonder this market area is a top destination in Hong Kong. Its combination of fascinating bargain shopping, sea vistas, food and history as a maritime center make it perfectly unique.