Ordinary as it may seem, Possession Street has a significant place in the history of Hong Kong. On 25 January 1841, the British navy arrived at nearby Possession Point (now Hollywood Road Park) and began 150 years of colonial rule, marked by a flag-raising ceremony the day after the initial landing. Originally perched on the waterfront, Possession Street was given a new lease of life through reclamation. The area is now dotted with hip restaurants and boutiques, alongside historic stores where you can still sample a taste of an older Hong Kong.
By Time Out Hong Kong
There’s no shortage of attractions in Old Town Central, from decades-old temples to chic rooftop bars. To help you make the most of your time in this vibrant neighbourhood, we’ve put together this highlight route, which allows you to discover some of the best historic monuments, shops and restaurants in the area. Whether you’re looking to learn about the colourful heritage of this district or sample some delicious local eats, this walking tour will introduce you to the very best that Old Town Central has to offer while also helping you to discover some other hidden gems along the way.
This iconic neighbourhood homeware shop is a treasure trove of household goods from a time gone by. A dwindling sight in Hong Kong, Chu Wing Kee is a place where you can find stacks of old-school crockery and teapots, bamboo baskets dangling from the ceiling, and feather dusters and kerosene stoves tucked away in corners. Forget mass-produced modern items and opt for these classic and affordable Hong Kong products, which also make for great souvenirs.
|Address:||24 Possession Street, Sheung Wan|
|Tel:||+852 2545 8751|
Walk up from Possession Street and you will find yourself at Tai Ping Shan Street. A number of distinctive ancient temples line the two sides of this 300-metre-long path. The most eye-catching of them all is probably the smoky, red temple called Kwong Fook I Tsz. Built in 1856, it is a classic example of a temple that fulfilled diverse roles. It was an ancestral temple for migrant families, a shelter for the ill and also housed memorial tablets for immigrant workers who passed away while in Hong Kong. Also be sure to visit Tai Sui Temple near the staircase, Kwun Yum Temple, and the unassuming Fook Tak Palace – all of which are still frequented by worshippers.
|Address:||Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan|
The highlight of Upper Lascar Row is the seemingly endless row of antique stores, offering an eclectic collection of Chinese calligraphy, arts and vintage furniture. This runs parallel to stalls that sell an array of bric-à-brac collectibles, such as Mao Zedong alarm clocks and Bruce Lee posters. In recent years, local designer boutiques and vintage clothing stores have popped up nearby, attracting more locals as well as visitors.
|Address:||Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan|
A five-minute walk from Tai Ping Shan Street, Man Mo Temple is a stunning complex estimated to have been built more than 150 years ago. It comprises three blocks, each serving different purposes. The namesake structure, Man Mo Temple, pays tribute to the God of Literature and the God of War, while Lit Shing Kung was created for all heavenly gods. Finally, Kung Sor was an assembly hall for resolving community disputes.
A great place to visit for history lovers, the well-preserved historic building houses a bronze bell dating back to 1847 and a sedan chair from 1862. The structure itself is just as fascinating, and comprises granite pillars, granite door frames, engraved wood plaques and ancient mural paintings.
|Address:||124-126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan|
|Tel:||+852 2540 0350|
From Tai Kwun, walk down Hollywood Road and you’ll soon reach Pak Tsz Lane Park, one of the 15 stops along the Dr Sun Yat-sen Historic Trail. This tranquil patch of green was built to commemorate the achievements of the Furen Literary Society, which was founded by revolutionary leaders Yeung Ku-wan and Tse Tsan-tai on 13 March 1892. The group eventually merged with Dr Sun’s Revive China Society and was heavily involved in the 1911 Chinese Revolution. Revitalised with an urban architectural design, this memorial park features exhibition panels, interactive facilities and an educational playground that traces the society’s history and revolutionary activities.
|Address:||Pak Tsz Lane, Central|
Without a doubt the most photographed example of street art in Hong Kong, local graffiti artist Alex Croft’s colourful mural of old townhouses shines a light on the city’s iconic tong lau tenement buildings. Boasting a vibrant blue background, this piece of street art is vibrant and colourful window into the past.
|Address:||Intersection of 46 Graham Street and 48 Hollywood Road, Central|
Fancy a piping hot, silky and irresistibly aromatic egg tart? Grab one from Tai Cheong Bakery. With more than 60 years of history, this time-tested shop used to be a favourite of Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten. Although the bakery now has branches all across the city, the original location on Lyndhurst Terrace remains the most iconic.
|Address:||35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central|
|Tel:||+852 8300 8301|
If you want a cup of authentic Hong Kong-style milk tea, Lan Fong Yuen is the place to go. The popular beverage was influenced by British culture but is made with evaporated milk and sugar. At Long Fong Yuen, be sure to try the famous “silk stocking milk tea” which is passed through a fine mesh to give it a particularly smooth texture. While Lan Fong Yuen’s original street stall still stands today under the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, diners can also head to the sit-down restaurant right next door to enjoy dishes such as the chicken noodles with scallion oil.
|Address:||2 Gage Street, Central|
|Tel:||+852 2544 3895|
Tai Kwun, meaning ‘big station’ in Cantonese, was a nickname for the former Central Police Station Compound, which boasts a history of more than 170 years. The site comprises 16 heritage buildings – all magnificent works of architecture. The former Police Headquarters, for example, is a resplendent example of Neoclassicism while the barracks, built between 1862 and 1864, is known for its distinctive Roman-style arch.
Wonderfully preserved, the historical site has since been transformed into an arts and culture hub – and one of the largest conservation projects to date in Hong Kong. Along with two newly built structures, the original buildings now house art galleries, retail shops and various bars and restaurants. Tai Kwun also hosts curated art exhibitions, performances, workshops, film screenings and guided tours, so be sure to check ahead for schedules and details.
|Address:||10 Hollywood Road, Central|
|Tel:||+852 3559 2600|
This rooftop terrace is one of the coolest places in town to wine, dine and be merry. Complementing the stunning views, the space is decorated with one of the iconic polka-dot pumpkins by world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kasuma. In this stylish and whimsical space, chill out on one of the comfy beanbags and enjoy wines, cocktails and a variety of ‘piqniq’ baskets filled with international dishes ranging from charcuterie and cheese to spicy tuna maki and the thick-cut ‘Wagyu Sando’.
|Address:||R/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queens Road Central|
|Tel:||+852 5200 1683|
This is one of five self-guided walks in Old Town Central, Hong Kong’s most quintessential neighbourhood. Be sure to check out the others here.
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