Once just a road that gave the British colonists access to Hong Kong’s countryside, Nathan Road has evolved into the island-city’s busiest thoroughfare due to the number and range of shops and goods sold here. Also referred to as ‘Hong Kong’s Times Square’ for to the forest of neon signs and brightly lit marquees and building facades, this street sells everything, from apparel, to sunglasses, jewellery, sporting goods, shoes, cosmetics, luggage, electronics and gadgets, arts and crafts, shoes, handbags, luggage and watches, and everything else in between!
At 4-km-long and with thousands of shoppers, tourists, hawkers and locals constantly moving along this broad thoroughfare, Nathan Road resembles a ‘moving street’, sans the conveyor belt. But shoppers had better be warned – although authentic goods are sold here, this is also a haven for rip-offs, and the sleight-of-hand employed by touts and scamsters can be slick and devious.
But let that not put you off. Ambling – or being propelled – along this street is an experience not to be missed. It is a great place for people-watching, and when you need to kick your feet up, stop by any one of the numerous restaurants populating this street.
Nathan Road is named after Hong Kong’s 13th governor, and replaced the name ‘Robinson Road’ after the 5th governor. Since his predecessor already had a road named after him on Hong Kong Island, Sir Matthew Nathan (1904-07) was conferred this privilege. But if his Lordship could take a look at Nathan Road today, he would not recognise this once peaceful, suburban neighbourhood. But the very reason it would be unrecogniseable makes it one of Hong Kong’s most iconic images. Ironic, isn’t it?