Antique Street and Cat Street are two streets which are quite popular among tourists from all over the world and it seems that these special streets rank very high on each visitor’s itinerary to Hong Kong. Both streets are a great place to look and shop around especially if you are looking for antiques, Mao/China memorabilia, knick-knacks and other curios.
Antique Street (Hollywood Road)
Hollywood Road was built more than 100 years ago in 1844 and was one of the first roads in Hong Kong. The name of Hollywood Road is not originated from the famous Hollywood in California USA but because of the plant “Hollywood” along the street. Back at that time Hollywood Road was close to the coastline which is nowadays quite hard to imagine. In the past hundreds of years Hong Kong has conducted plenty of land-reclamation projects that changed Hong Kong Island tremendously and moved the coastal line away. Just simply imagine that Hollywood Road was the place where the sailors, foreign merchants and adventurers tried to sell antiques and artifacts they got from China before their way back to Europe. This is the starting point of Hollywood Road acting as an Antique Market and being called “Antique Street” nowadays.
In addition, a substantial Chinese residential and commercial district developed along the Sheung Wan area and Hollywood Road after the British arrived in 1841. The district is known under the name Tai Ping Shan and traces of the old history still can be found along the Tai Ping Shan Temple which easily can be reached from Hollywood Road. The area quickly became the center of the Chinese community. Another temple along Hollywood Road marks the heart of the center, the famous Man Mo Temple. The Man Mo Temple once was used as a meetinghouse where Chinese merchants met to discuss community affairs and is today one of the most atmospheric and historic places of worship on Hong Kong Island.
Hollywood Road has developed into a large museum with price tags and fully packed with antiques shops, art galleries and stores of all kinds. Stuffed to bursting with Buddha statues, replicas of the famous Terracotta Warriors, Chinese porcelain wares, Ming furniture or other collectible items such as jade, carpets, rugs, lacquer ware or paintings, strolling along Hollywood Road is more like walking in a museum or an art gallery than shopping on a street.
The antique stores stretch from the Central District Police Station to the Man Mo Temple. Even if you are not hunting for an expensive antique item, some stores also focuses on special souvenir items which are affordable for everyone. In case you are not such a big antiques fan, there are some really great art galleries worthwhile browsing. As a matter of fact, in the last decade Hollywood Road has transformed into one of the contemporary art districts in Hong Kong where galleries like Asia Art Archive, Grotto Fine Art, Connoisseur Art Gallery, Zee Stone Gallery and many more are located.
Movie lovers should not miss out to stroll along Hollywood Road. The vicinity are often used as sets for movies (not only Hong Kong movies, but also for Hollywood ones). One of the most famous ones is the Hollywood movie “The World of Suzie Wong”. Although Hong Kong is a fast changing city and society you still can find the atmosphere of this famous movie in and along Hollywood Road.
While walking along Hollywood Road, look out for Possession Point (close to Hollywood Road Park) where the British Flag was first raised in Hong Kong.
Cat Street (Upper Lascar Row)
Follow the stairs in front of Man Mo Temple and you will come to Lascar Row street. The Upper Lascar Row or Cat Street (sometimes also referred to as Cat Alley) is a about 200-meter long road parallel to Hollywood Road where you will find more affordable junk-store knick-knacks and Chinese Communist propaganda here.
Originally, the area round Cat Street had been a rather run-down residential area. In old times, some antique stores on Upper Lascar Row sold the stolen items from thieves. Since the Hong Kong locals called the thieves “Rat”, gradually the buyers who purchased those stolen items were referred as “Cat”. It is where Cat Street got its nickname from. After the World War II, Cat Street developed into a street selling second-hand articles and became somehow one of Hong Kong’s hub for antiques and curios. More than 30 antique stores opens on this narrow street selling items from antique jade, ceramic, bronze Buddha statues, copper pot, old furniture and many more mixed on the shelf.
Nowadays, the Upper Lascar Road is basically known to suit everyone’s budget and similar to Hollywood Road you are able to find antiques, but you definitely need to be an expert to spot them.
The Upper Lascar Row focuses more on the lower end items and prices are considerably cheaper than in Hollywood Road. In addition, the shops, stores and stalls focus more on tourist hunting for the perfect souvenir/treasures to take home. You are able to find historic Chinese coins, Chinese Snuff Bottles, jade bracelets, Mao memorabilia (Chairman Mao badges, Mao book, etc.) or posters from the Cultural Revolution/Bruce Lee. Some would argue it’s the perfect place for treasure hunting or a great place to browse for little things to take home that don’t cost too much. Since the Cat Street is more like a street market it is expected to bargain and haggle over the price.
Some pieces of advice:
On the Antique Street and Cat Street, there are not only authentic antiques, but fake handicrafts. Some experts said that the”porcelain antique” stores can be classified into three types: one is selling valuable and genuine antiques, one is selling arts and crafts and the third one can be called “just porcelain shops” that you can even consider to purchase for daily use. It maybe sounds like a joke, but tells us on the Antique Street, you need the sharp eye and experience to differentiate the real and fake.
Most owners of antique stores are “undiscovered talents” and cultural and antique experts. If you are eager to do some shopping, please read our related article about shopping and know your products and prices before you start bargaining. Also make sure to look around and compare at other stores, shops and stall before making a purchase decision.
Opening hours are usually around 11:00am till 6:00pm. Many shops and stores are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Therefore the best time to visit is during the week. On Saturdays this area is usually quite busy and there are often traffic jams. Try to avoid taking a taxi and enjoy the area by walking through it.
Interesting sight-seeing attraction in close vicinity or along the Hollywood Road are Man Mo Temple, Tai Ping Shan Temple, Possession Point, Hollywood Park, Central Police Station, Mid-Level Escalators, Ladder Street and Lan Kwai Fong.
How to Get to Antique Street and Cat Street:
By MTR: Take the MTR to Sheung Wan station and exit through Exit A2. Then walk along Hillier Street and turn right at Queen’s Road. Walk towards Ladder Street and then turn left and walk to Upper Lascar Row or Hollywood Road.
More Street Markets in Hong Kong
Other Shopping Options and Tips