WITH a shopping list in one hand, hard cash and a pocket calculator in the other, mainland Chinese are turning the territory's venues for violent robbery into popular tourist attractions. Troops of mainland tourists are crossing the border every weekend to crowd around jewellers' showcases of gold statuettes, nuggets, lockets and necklace along the congested Queen's Road Central, Hennessy Road and Nathan Road. While the value of the yuan continues to slip after the renminbi was allowed to float freely at China's currency swap centres this month, the future of the Chinese paper money is as uncertain as ever. And the new wealthy class from south China was quick to make investments which guaranteed financial returns. ''While our paper money is worth less and less these days, gold has a value and I can always resell it in the future. Besides, I like wearing gold,'' said Ms Li Sau-yin, a 46-year-old tourist from Guangzhou. ''But we don't come to Hongkong very often because we have to run a small business in Guangzhou city. We only come here when we have enough time and money.'' Like other members of the tour she was on, Ms Li belongs to the property-owning class, a product of the more open and relaxed southern Chinese economy over the past two years. But not all tourists come to Hongkong to buy gold because of the depreciation of the yuan. ''The quality and craftsmanship of gold pieces in Hongkong is good and very beautiful. So despite the extra charges [labour and design costs], I think gold is something worth buying anyway,'' a fellow tourist said. Local goldsmiths and jewellers are only too happy to meet the new demand. Many have already wooed their mainland customers by accepting, for the first time, Chinese yuan for all purchases. Moulded carat gold, known locally as ''999.9'' gold for its purity, is in most demand and is the most expensive. Plated gold is of lesser value. One local gold retailer believes there are other factors involved in the goldrush. ''I don't think the wealthy Chinese are rushing down to Hongkong to buy gold because of the depreciation of the Chinese yuan, but it is true that gold gives a greater sense of security,'' the jeweller said. Hongkong people did not buy as much gold as their mainland counterparts because local demand calmed down long ago. ''Gold is only one of the many investment options for the Chinese, investing in property and foreign currency (which they buy from black markets) are just some of the alternatives,'' the jeweller said. Mr Chan Lup-chi of Hongkong Association of China Travel Organisers believes the number of mainland tourists who have the money to visit Hongkong is still relatively small. ''Normally, tourists don't buy [gold] just for themselves, some are company representatives who come down to buy gold for their colleagues, relatives, friends, and even villagers,'' he said.