The seedy side of Temple Street

When you list the big tourist attractions of Hong Kong, a few places come to mind: Victoria Peak, the Big Buddha and the Star Ferry. The Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei is another, but the tourist guidebooks usually leave out the seedy side…

Lets start at the south end of the street, in Jordan where the night market starts, and walk towards the north end.

Open top bus delivers tourists to the Temple Street night market, Hong Kong

First off are the food stalls, with tables and stools overflowing from the restaurants onto the footpath.

Grabbing a bite to eat

Continuing north a bit the first market stalls are found, selling cheap clothing, souvenir t-shirts, cheap clones of electronic gadgets, fake sunglasses, pirated DVDs, tacky jewellery and trinkets…

Laneways between stalls on Temple Street

After a while the stalls start to look the same: more souvenirs, novelty cigarette lighters, replica Hong Kong style road signs…

Get your souvenirs here!

Magnifying glasses, flashlights, still more miscellaneous electronic gadgets…

Magnifying glasses and flashlights for sale

After a few blocks of stalls repeating the same products over and over, Temple Street comes to an end, with a multi story carpark blocking the path ahead. From here the stalls split into two, and a more interesting side of the night market emerges.

First up are the Cantonese opera tents, where amateur singers come and perform. Most of the stalls have a pricelist out the front, detailing the cost for onlookers to take a photo or video of the performers.

Temple Street and tents with Cantonese opera performers

The other thing Temple Street is known for are the fortune tellers, who have their tents set up just around the corner, beside the Tin Hau temple that the street is named for. Their banners along the street spruik for business from passing tourists, advertising the languages the fortune teller speaks and the famous people who have visited before.

Fortune tellers around Temple Street

Around the temple is also where the seedy side of the night market starts. The first thing you will notice is the products for sale at these stalls: sex toys, dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, blow up dolls and all other kinds of “adult” products. Most of these stalls are found along the western side of the carpark, so it isn’t a place you want to take young children past!

Sex toys for sale at the Temple Street night market

From time to time on the streets around the carpark you may also find street prostitutes soliciting for business. In Hong Kong prostitution itself is legal, but public solicitation is not.

Street prostitution around Temple Street

I guess that explains why I found the local police on the same street corner a few days later.

No street prostitutes around tonight: the police are everywhere around Temple Street

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5 Responses to The seedy side of Temple Street

  1. Evan says:

    That night market is like DealExtreme – only it’s a market!

  2. xahldera says:

    One of the things I found personally amusing in Hong Kong is the police notices in the local newspapers that “named and shamed” individuals guilty of “keeping a vice establishment” on a fairly regular basis…

    • Where those police notices only in the Chinese newspapers, or the English ones as well?

      • xahldera says:

        Apologies for the late reply. I can’t speak about Chinese newspapers as I don’t read many but in the English lanaguage “The Standard” these notices appear in the classifieds in the back, often detailing that the named individuals will be banned from entering named property in the notice for a certain period.

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