Prince Edward is kind of like the book that collects cobwebs on your shelf for years. Despite your friends pushing you to read it, you never bother to pick it up because you're not convinced it's even worth your time. And, you know - cobwebs.
So let's start by seeing what Prince Edward is about.
A quick glance at its totally comprehensive, two-sentence-long Wikipedia entry will tell you that Prince Edward, technically speaking, is not an official district, but rather the northern section of Mong Kok. As a result, it's often overshadowed by it's big brother and all his neon glory (though this means that you can easily visit both Mong Kok and Prince Edward in one trip). Also, with how Prince Edward is situated as a major junction in the MTR system, people are usually too busy dashing between the red and green MTR lines to even consider making a pit stop and exploring the area.
Poor Prince Edward!
This guide is here to convince you to get off that train.
While there's not a whole lot in terms of shopping (at least things you'll actually buy, you'll see what I mean in a second), Prince Edward houses three so-weird-you'll-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it markets, a wealth of Asian cuisines (well duh), and - if you're feeling adventurous - bars that offer a unique, local drinking experience.
Part traditional Chinese garden, part paradise for all things avian; Yuen Po Bird Garden (less creatively known simply as 'The Hong Kong Bird Market') is a quaint little slice of nature hidden in Prince Edward.
From super-duper-early morning to late afternoon, you'll see loads of old people out showing off 'walking' their pet songbirds. These colorful creatures are hung throughout the garden to serenade the public, while the owners sit around and fan themselves and do... whatever it is old Chinese people do.
There are even a handful of market stalls inside the park should you ever feel the impulse to snag a new songbird, hand-crafted cages, ceramic water bowls, or bags of live crickets.
It sounds silly, but exploring the Bird Garden for the first time is an almost-otherworldly experience, especially when you consider how miraculous it is for something so antiquated to survive in the heart of Kowloon -- where a square footage is worth an arm and a kidney.
But as exciting as Yuen Po Bird Garden is, the laws of science state that the human body can only withstand the presence of flying rats for no more than 15 straight minutes before one spontaneously combusts (okay, maybe that's just me). When you hit the breaking point, head next door to our second attraction.
Yuen Po Bird Garden: Yuen Po Street, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit B1 > east along Prince Edward Road
Here's another local haunt that's nearly as mind-boggling as Sneaker Street over in Mong Kok -- the Flower Market.
Be prepared to get blasted by all sorts of exotic scents and colors. The street and sidewalks here burst with every type of flower you can think of. And more. For god's sake, this market is so popular that they even changed the street name to Flower Market Road.
From roses, bonsai trees, venus flytraps, to orchids, cacti, and other plants even Matt Damon cannot identify. Plant prices range from mere dollars upwards to a couple grand. Seriously.
I really wish I could explain to you how the vendors can earn enough money here to afford rent year after year from selling flowers. Freakin' flowers! I knew I was in the wrong line of work...
The Flower Market is especially busy towards Chinese New Year, when the hordes of 'see-lai' (師奶, slang for housewives) come scooping up all sorts of lucky plants, like kumquat trees and mini bamboo shoots. If you need to grab a cheap gift for someone for New Year, this is the place to do it!
Pro Tip: Unless you're willing to duke it out with other shoppers over precious floor space, try to avoid going on weekends as it does get very packed, especially with shops taking up bits of the sidewalk for plant displays
Flower Market: Flower Market Road, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit B1 > east along Prince Edward Road (next to Bird Garden)
There's a light-hearted, usually-sarcastic Cantonese term for 'pedophile' -- 'gum yu lo' (金魚佬), meaning 'goldfish guy'. Our third attraction is filled with tons of 'gum yo lo's'. Luckily, it;s the literal kind.
For as long as the earth has spun, Chinese culture has been enamored with everything gold (google 'Chinese gold iphone'). Naturally, they favor the goldfish, associating the creature with all sorts of good things I will never have, namely wealth and fortune. Apparently, goldfishes also do wonders for one's Feng Shui -- which explains a lot, since all the goldfish I've ever owned as a child always died within days.
Naturally, it only makes complete, logical sense for Hong Kong to dedicate an entire street to the enslavement and trading of these divine creatures. Hence, Goldfish Market.
Goldfish Market also kind of acts like a free zoo. Besides fish, there's so many other animals -- like snakes, lizards, insanely-expensive turtles, and even cats and dogs -- that the area is often mistakenly referred to as Pet Street. Hours will disappear like seconds here.
You're free to look and take pictures. Just make sure you don't touch any of the animals without permission.
Pro Tip: If you're an animal lover who's super into animal rights, you might want to give Goldfish Market a pass. Animal living conditions here tend to be questionable at best...
Golfish Market: Tung Choi Street North (section between Nullah Road & Mong Kok Road), Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit B2 > walk southeast
Technically, those markets in the last section belong here too. But as much as I'd like to cheap out and copy & paste them here, I'll instead show you a few other niche places in Prince Edward. For those who want to do some real spending, don't miss our guide to Mong Kok, aka the shopping capital of Kowloon.
Fa Yuen Street Market (clothes, fruits, everyday items)
To get to where the locals shop, just make a turn onto Fa Yuen Street and walk up to hit the superior Fa Yuen Street Market.
Gone are the fake Zippos and tacky fridge magnets. Here, stalls sell stuff you might actually use. My description of 'clothes, fruits, everyday items' is a little bit of an understatement, because there is a everything here. Snorkeling gear, anyone?
As Fa Yuen Street Market's target clientele is the local residents, prices here are even cheaper than in Ladies Market. You can still try to haggle though!
Pro Tip: With the high humidity and number of shoppers, Fa Yuen Street Market is going to make you sweat buckets. Luckily, fruit stalls sell fresh coconuts for only $10, perfect for rehydration.
Fa Yuen Street Market: 156 Fa Yuen Street Getting There: Mong Kok MTR exit D2 > walk east on Argyle Street until you hit Fa Yuen Street > head two blocks north
Golden Plaza (wedding stuff)
Despite sounding suspiciously similar to Sham Shui Po's Golden Arcade, Golden Plaza couldn't be more different. It's an entire mall dedicated to every single thing you'll need to plan a wedding.
Dresses, gowns (actually, are dresses and gowns the same thing?), tuxedos, shoes, jewelry, accessories, invitation cards, decorations, etc. I'm 89.7% certain there's even a flower shop.
Golden Plaza is popular for being low-cost. The merchandise here cost a fraction of what they would normally go for in a Hong Kong wedding boutiques (though -- as can be expected -- the quality is also lower). Many stores even rent out dresses and suits for those who can't afford to buy.
Red appears on everything in Golden Plaza. Tacky as the color may be, there's good reason for the overuse. Marriage is a BIG thing in Chinese culture, and since the idea of divorce is still not totally socially acceptable, families often stuff their wedding ceremonies with as much luck as they can cram. As red is considered the luckiest color, it's only natural for soon-to-be-weds to abuse the crap out of the color.
Even chopsticks can't escape.
With the rise of Hollywood influences, many are starting to opt for 'white weddings', which is your typical Western affair featuring white dresses and black suits. There are stores here for that too.
So, in the one in a centillion chance you find yourself chasing after traditional or Western wedding supplies in Hong Kong, now you know where to go.
Golden Plaza: 745-747 Nathan Rd, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit C1 > walk south one block
I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a way to make Pioneer Centre sound unique and exciting. I can't do it. Not to say there is anything wrong with Pioneer Centre... it's just too mundane.
Unlike the other entries in this guide -- each of which has its own unique quality -- Pioneer Centre lacks the sort of unifying theme and niche offerings you'd expect from an attraction. With so shopping alternatives in the neighboring areas, there's really no way for Pioneer Centre to compete.
I mean, there's a SaSa and a 759 Store, so not all is lost. There's also a few decent restaurants, like Genki Sushi, Nabe One, and Starbucks (I know, I know, Starbucks isn't a restaurant). The rest of Pioneer Centre is mostly office space.
Why do I bother mentioning it at all? Well, that's because Pioneer Centre is probably the only place in Prince Edward to score free air conditioning.
Yep. Air con. That's it.
You're going to work up a sweat from all those street markets. When you now, pop into Pioneer and cool off. Just don't tell anyone I told you to do this. Oh, don't roll your eyes. You know you'll do it. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Pioneer Centre: 750 Nathan Rd, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit B2
While there's obviously tons of street food and fast food restaurants around, Prince Edward truly shines when it comes to local cuisines. Loosen up that belt a few notches. You're gonna wanna try them all.
One Dim Sum
Five words: Michelin Star, all-day dim sum.
Is that technically 6 words...?
Not only is One Dim Sum located conveniently close to the MTR, it also has - wait for it - English menus. And if you need more convincing, just take a peek at the restaurant's never-ending queue.
For those uninitiated in dim sum, I recommend mixing some safe, local favorites with whatever remotely tickles your fancy. Commonly ordered items include Steamed Siu Mai($25), Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($26), Sticky Rice with Pork Meat & Lotus Leaf (terribly name I know - $26), and Steam Vermicelli Roll with Dried Shrimp.
I also recommend chicken feet (which they eloquently list as Steamed Chicken Paws with Chili - $17). It's really not that bad! I triple dog dare you.
With the average price per dish being roughly $20HKD, one may notice One Dim Sum costs slightly more than your regular dim sum joint. However, when compared to Western standards, One Dim Sum is still a total steal.
While One Dim Sum didn't manage to retain its 2012 Michelin Star, its superb food quality has not at all diminished. You can still see the Michelin Star plastered to front door in all its faded glory. Don't worry, your Instagram followers will be none the wiser.
One Dim Sum: No.15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit E > walk east two blocks
Kam Wah Cafe
In Hong Kong, where anything is possible, one restaurant has managed to make its name by making one small thing really, really well -- Pineapple Buns.
Before you start an argument about pineapples and bread and pizza -- no, there's no real pineapple inside the bun. This famous pastry gets its name from its sugary crust. Kam Wah Cafe's pineapple buns are noteworthy for having a crunch outer layer, and soft and fluffy innards.
You may have seen pineapples buns being sold at streetside bakeries. The difference with pineapple buns at cafes is that they are served warm with a generous slice of butter inside, which is really how they should be eaten.
Unless you're lactose intolerant like me. Then you can only watch and drool.
Many foodies online argue that Kam Wah Cafe serves the best pineapple buns in Hong Kong. Whether that's true or not, I cannot say, as all bread sort of tastes the same to me (blasphemy, I know!). Nonetheless, if you're interested in trying a pineapple bun, Kam Wah is a pretty good place to do it.
If pineapple buns aren't your thing, Kam Wah is also known for their Hong Kong style french toast and milk tea.
Pro Tip: Not 100% sure if they have an English menu. In the event they don't, either point around like a maniac, or say 'baw law yau' for pineapple bun with butter (菠蘿油), 'sai daw see' for french toast (西多士), and 'yeet lai cha' for hot milk tea (奶茶), or 'dong lai cha' for cold.
Kam Wah Cafe: 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit B2 > walk south one 2 blocks
For a truly definitive Chinese experience, I present to you: hot pot.
In case you're not aware, hot pot is exactly what it sounds like. You use a boiling pot of broth to cook food. A literal hot pot.
Hot pot dishes are only limited by the restaurant's imagination and your bravery. This can mean anything from beef slices, instant noodles, fish balls, to goose intestines, blood curds, and FREAKIN' FROGS.
Not only is hot pot about satisfying all your weird cravings with the huge variety of foods, it is also a unique social experience. The idea of dunking everyone's chopsticks into the same bowl of soup is a little weird, but you'll be really surprised at how much fun you'll have chatting with friends as you cook. Think of it as the urbanized version of a camp fire.
Obviously you can technically hot pot alone, but I'd probably judge.
Look. I know it sounds absurd paying to cook your own food, not to mention the risk of food poisoning because it's actually really damn hard to tell when meat is properly cooked -- but just trust me, okay? Hot pot is fantastic.
Hot pot restaurants can be found throughout Hong Kong, with an oddly high concentration of them being in Prince Edward. Due to number of options (and my profound laziness), you'll have to do a little research of your own to find the best joints.
Do keep in mind there's essentially two types of hot pot restaurants: 1) places that charge by the dish, and 2) all you can eats. I prefer all you can eat as I'm a cheapskate, but these places typically come with a 90-minute time limit and the stress of having to stuff your face to get your money's worth.
One of my favorite hot pot places is a little hole in the wall here in Prince Edward called the Gold Beauty Star Restaurant. They offer all you can eat hot pot dinners for a measly $100ish HKD. Yes, the food and service are absolutely dreadful, but your meal does come with unlimited canned beers. So if you're feeling particularly YOLO and happen to know someone who speaks Cantonese (no English menus there), then consider the Gold Beauty Star.
I promise it'll be an experience and a half.
Gold Beauty Star Restaurant: 2/F,Good World Building,197-199 Tong Mi Road Getting There: Prince Edward MTR exit C2 > walk west along Prince Edward Road
Now that you're full, what better to wash down all that food than with a quick pint... or five? Prince Edward to has plenty of 'dive bars' to help you do just that.
I stuck the quotation marks there because if you Google 'bars in Prince Edward', you'll see a bunch of results labeling them as 'dive bars'. That can't be further from the truth.
Sure, these bars may have the same kind of questionable clientele and dirty washrooms you'd expect from a real dive bar, but one major thing sets them apart: price. It may surprise you to know the local bars actually charge as much as bars on Hong Kong Island (which I found out the hard way). However, local bars do provide a different drinking experience than that of LKF or Wan Chai.
The most noticeable distinction is the emphasis on bar games. Whereas Western bars tend to revolve more around the alcohol, local bars are socializing and chilling out. In nearly every bar, you'll find electronic dart machines along with dice and cups for liar's dice. Some places, such as Co Co Duck in Prince Edward, even have pool tables.
There's also the different background music. Gone is the top 40 dross you're probably sick to death of hearing, replaced with the strangely melodic sounds of top 40 cantopop. Okay, maybe this isn't a good thing after all...
A fading local tradition you might get to witness is the profession of beer girls. These women are deployed to bars and restaurants, where they basically flirt with patrons in order to push their respective beer brand, taking home a small commission for each sale made. These girls wear their brand's uniforms, usually a tight top and short skirt.
Obviously, it doesn't take a genius to realize why beer girls can be a bad idea. With beer companies finally smartening up in recent years, beer girls have now become a relic of the past -- though you may still see some in action at low-end bars and restaurants.
Local bars can be found all along the blocks of Tung Choi St and Sai Yeung Choi St, just north of Prince Edward Road. If you're having trouble finding the area, just look around for a big grey building - the Mong Kok Police Station. Someone's weird idea of a joke, I can only assume.