Glance beneath the soaring skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island’s Central district to find traditional and modern art, colonial and Chinese heritage sites, multicultural dining delights and hidden gems at street level.
Whether it’s your first trip to Hong Kong or you’re a repeat visitor to the former British colony, there is always something new and exciting to discover. Old Town Central is one of the city’s oldest colonial neighbourhoods where new and old elements complement each other for an immersive East-meets-West experience.
Down unassuming back alleys and winding streets, the tiny area of Old Town Central is lined with colonial monuments, temples, art galleries and street art, restaurants and bars, and traditional shops and chic boutiques. The compact neighbourhood is ideal to discover on foot for an easy half-day, self-guided walk that can be customised to different interests from foodie to cultural.
A stroll up from Possession Street will find you on Tai Ping Shan Street, where traditional temples abound. Locals still visit the various places of worship to pray to different deities for specific requests. Tai Sui Temple is the site to pray for good fortune, while others ask to be blessed with wealth at Kwan Yin Temple.
Follow Ladder Street, a steep flight of steps, which historically linked the Chinese and Western communities from Sheung Wan to the Mid-Levels. Many classic buildings can be found in this area, including Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, and the Bridges Street Centre of the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong – a blend of Chicago School architecture and Chinese roofing techniques.
Further down Aberdeen Street is an excellent example of a colonial building experiencing a new lease of life. The former Police Married Quarters is now known by the much hipper moniker of PMQ, and the multi-storey building now houses up-and-coming local artists and designers, offering a heritage location to showcase the new creative scene.
Take a pit stop on Hollywood Road to sample some authentic sugarcane juice – Kung Lee teahouse has been serving the naturally sweet fresh-pressed nectar since the 1940s, and the decor hasn’t changed much over the years either.
For a more sustaining meal, take your pick of the global cuisines in SoHo (short for ‘south of Hollywood Road) where you can sip Cantonese-influenced cocktails in a historic lounge bar, dine on Lebanese dishes created by a Michelin-starred chef, or snack on handmade buns at oh-so-hip Little Bao.
With so much to experience in the one fascinating area, be inspired to strike out on your own and discover more of Hong Kong in Old Town Central.
Feature image: Hong Kong Tourism Board