At first glance, Hong Kong’s hawker culture seems to be alive and well. But in the years to come, you’ll be seeing fewer and fewer vendors on the streets.
Walk around any major Hong Kong district like Central, Mong Kok or Sham Shui Po, and you’ll notice green tin-roofed stalls in alleyways and on roadsides, manned by hawkers peddling everything from fruits and vegetables to mobile phone accessories and breezy lingerie. These outdoor retail outlets, aka pai dong, are owned by those possessing the official government-issued Fixed-Pitched Hawker Licenses.
These hawker licenses — around 2,600 in total — were issued by the Hong Kong government from the early 20th century up to the 1970s. With a few exceptions, the government hasn’t issued new licenses since then, and generally only family members of current license owners are allowed to take over in the event the owner passes away.
So you can do the math: Hong Kong’s hawker culture is disappearing with each generation and the familiar green tin stalls will eventually become a thing of the past.