When traveling, the best way to get to know the country and the culture is to get off the beaten tourist path. Go where the locals go. Eat what the locals eat. Do what the locals do. This is how you have the most authentic experience possible. And that is exactly how I found the Haiphong Road Temporary Market.
Given that Hong Kong is such a small destination, people tend to think it’s not possible to find any cool hidden sights here. But it is! Like any metropolis, tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Hong Kong are a world of unique places that few foreigners ever stumble upon. So come with me and let’s explore one of Hong Kong’s hidden gems. (Two videos further down.)
Haiphong Road Temporary Market
My first day in Hong Kong I asked the concierge at my hotel a simple question: “What is your favorite place to eat around here?” The answer I got was a bit surprising:
Go down Haiphong Road and to the trash center. Go into the flower market next to it, continue past the vegetable market on through the warehouse and look for the food vendors. No foreigners, no English. Let me write what you should order in Cantonese.”
In seven years as a nomad I have never once had someone answer the question of where to eat by starting with “go to the trash center” — so of course that meant I had to go for it!
Sure enough, Haiphong Road Temporary Market is really easy to find — if you know where to look. You literally have to find the trash center and then walk through a flower market, vegetable market, and active warehouse in order to find the food stalls buried within. The food there is delicious! Turns out that Haiphong Road Temporary Market is known by Hong Kong locals for having the best beef ball noodle soup in all of Kowloon. It is so good that I ate there three times during my first week in Hong Kong!
Despite its name, this “temporary” market has actually been in the same ramshackle building underneath the Kowloon Park Drive bridge for 40 years. There is no air conditioning but that doesn’t stop local businessmen dressed in their fancy suits from swarming to this place on their lunch break. And if traveling teaches you one thing, when locals flock in huge numbers to one place to eat or can be seen queuing up outside a restaurant, the food there is guaranteed to be some of the best in town. This is true in every city and country on earth.
Tip: Haiphong Road Temporary Market gets really busy around lunch time, so I recommend visiting it in the afternoon between 2-4pm.
My room at Sheraton Towers Hong Kong, complete with a see-through shower and spectacular view of the Hong Kong Harbour skyline
Fast forward two weeks later. I’m back in Hong Kong for a second trip, this time staying at Sheraton Towers. Upon check-in I was handed a flyer on their #1HourGem campaign. And guess what the first item on the list was? That’s right: the Haiphong Road Temporary Market.
How To Find These 1 Hour Gems
The #1HourGem initiative is ongoing at Sheraton properties throughout Asia, from India all the way to Japan. They are easy to get to places that can be squeezed into any trip, even if you only have one hour to spare. The idea is to get more people visiting some of the hidden hotspots which all the locals know about but few foreigners do.
To select these locations, Sheraton had their employees choose the places. They were all picked by the people who know the cities best — the ones who have grown up there. It doesn’t get any more authentic than this.
After learning about this, I couldn’t resist filming another episode of Derek Eats That! on the amazing Haiphong Road Temporary Market. Armed with two cameras and an empty belly, I returned yet again to my new favorite market in Hong Kong.
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) September 17, 2016
By now the lady there and her husband know me well and are always happy to see me again. Filming in there was a bit of a spectacle, with people staring at me, but it was a great experience. I even made new friends with the local guy sitting next to me, Parker, who has offered to be my guide around Hong Kong for the next week and show me some of his favorite places.
None of this would ever have happened if I had trusted TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet more than the people who actually live in the city.
For more on where you can find the best beef ball noodle soup in all of Hong Kong, check out the newest episode of Derek Eats That!
New episodes of Derek Eats That! will be published every Friday. For the last year I’ve been filming all my offbeat, strange and taboo food experiences, so get ready to have fun with food 😉 After two years of doing videos for clients I am finally going to start posting kick-ass videos to my own YouTube channel.