Wan Chai is located in the center of Hong Kong Island's north coast. It used to be a small fishing village but, after decades of construction, it has become a unique district combining both modern shopping avenues and traditional houses and buildings.
Today, Wan Chai can be regarded as a history book recording previous times and the development of Hong Kong. You are recommended to spend some time exploring Wan Chai and you are sure to see another side to Hong Kong. Read on to see what you can expect to find in Wan Chai.
1. View Hong Kong's Skyline at Golden Bauhinia Square
Golden Bauhinia Square is located in the artificial peninsula of Wan Chai, about 10 minutes' walk from Wan Chai subway station.
With Victoria Harbour surrounding it on three sides, the square is a great place to admire the Hong Kong skyline, which is praised as being one of the best skyline views in the world.
Every night at 8pm, the famous music and light show, A Symphony of Lights, will be shown around Victoria Harbour. Golden Bauhinia Square is one of the best places to enjoy it.
2. Eat Local Food in a Cha Chaan Teng
A cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) is a type of Hong Kong-style fast-food restaurant. You can find the restaurants in the streets and alleys of Wan Chai. Some old restaurants opened right after WWII and are still serving food with the most traditional flavors today.
Different from the fast-food restaurants in your country, there are no burgers, French fries, or Coca-Cola available - instead, you'll be able to buy pineapple crisp bread, egg tarts, and milk tea. Some cha chaan tengs also offer healthy Chinese herb teas.
However, due to the impact of Western cuisine, traditional cha chaan tengs are disappearing in Wan Chai. If you want to taste the most original flavors of Hong Kong, you are recommended to visit one of these restaurants as soon as possible.
3. Ride the "Ding Ding" Tram
Hong Kong Tramways is known locally as the "Ding Ding" tram because of the "ding-ding" sound it makes when the driver steps on the brake. This is a double-decker tram with a history of over 100 years, and it can only be found in Hong Kong.
The track spans from east to west across the northern shore of Hong Kong Island, connecting important regions, such as Central, Causeway Bay, and Wan Chai.
The "Ding Ding" tram drives slowly, so you have plenty of time to experience the traditional transportation, to appreciate the old streets, and to have a glimpse at Hong Kong's development.
4. Do Exercises with Locals in Southorn Playground
Located in Luard Road, Southorn Playground has been a popular recreation area for the people of Wan Chai since 1934. Although it was reconstructed in the 1980s, it is still a good place to go to get a closer look at the local people's daily lifestyles.
You can visit it before or after the typical working hours and join in with the local people as they do their exercises. Alternatively, take some shelter under the trees and learn to play Chinese chess with the elders. Sometimes, there are street basketball matches - don't miss these if you like the sport.
5. Appreciate Hong Kong's Stories in a Tong Lau Building
Tong Lau (唐樓) is an architectural style that was popular in South China from the 19th century to the 1960s. This kind of architecture features a mix of Chinese and Western architectural styles. The most famous example of Tong Lau is the so-called Blue House in Stone Nullah Lane. Just as its name suggests, the building is painted blue.
The Blue House has contained the memories of local people for over a century. It used to be the site for some hospitals, schools, martial arts halls, and shops. After being renovated in 2016, the Blue House became a historical and cultural relic open to visitors.
The Hong Kong House of Stories is located inside the Blue House. There, you can visit the exhibition that displays old objects used in local people's daily lives and culture.
If you want to discover more examples of Tong Lau, you can also visit the following buildings:
- The Green House in Mallory Street
- The Yellow House in Hing Wan Street
- The Orange House in King Sing Street
6. Visit Exhibitions in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is located in the north of Wan Chai and is a landmark on the shore of Victoria Harbour.
April is the main month for exhibitions in Hong Kong. During this time, many world-class exhibitions will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
During the rest of the year, you will still find exhibitions and auctions, such as the International Travel Expo in June, the Hong Kong Mega Showcase and the Hong Kong Food Festival around Christmas, and Christie's/Sotheby's auctions in spring and autumn.
7. Enjoy Horse Races at Happy Valley Racecourse
Happy Valley Racecourse was the first horse racecourse in Hong Kong and its first race was held in December 1846. At present, the races are held every Wednesday night and the racing season is from September to June.
If you are interested in Hong Kong's horse racing history and culture, you can visit the Hong Kong Racing Museum on the second floor. The museum has exhibitions of Hong Kong's horse racing history and interesting data about race bonuses as well as famous racing horses and riders. You can also see the skeleton of a champion racehorse there.
8. For Hong Kong Police Movie Fans: the Police Museum
Do you like Hong Kong police and gangster movies? Then don't miss the Police Museum in the former Wan Chai Gap Police Station.
The museum includes four galleries:
- Orientation Gallery: Learn about the history of Hong Kong's police force and their uniforms, weapons, and vehicles.
- Triad Societies and Narcotics Gallery: Learn about the Triad gangs in Hong Kong. Discover the history of narcotics in Hong Kong, including a simulated heroin manufacturing laboratory.
- Hong Kong Police Then and Now Gallery: This describes the police force's transformation in Hong Kong over the years.
- A gallery for other themed exhibitions.
9. Experience Cultural Integration in King Yin Lei
King Yin Lei (景賢里) is a historical house located at 45 Stubbs Road. Built in 1937, King Yin Lei is a Chinese Renaissance style building that combines the essence of Chinese and Western architectures.
King Yin Lei used to be the house of a distinguished family and was used as the shooting site for some movies and dramas, such as the Hollywood movie Soldier of Fortune starring Clark Gable.
After the rehabilitation project from 2008 to 2010, King Yin Lei is well preserved and has retained its original beauty. If you want to escape from the bustling avenues of Hong Kong, it is a good choice to go there and find some of the famous scenes from the movies.
10. Learn about the Local Culture in Pak Tai Temple
As one of the earliest residential areas in Hong Kong, Wan Chai still retains some of the oldest temples. The most famous of these is Pak Tai Temple in Lung On Street.
Built in 1863, Pak Tai Temple is the largest temple in Hong Kong Island. In the main hall stands the statue of the lord god Pak Tai, which is 3 meters high and has a history of over 400 years. The statue of Pak Tai is even older than the temple.
The third day of the third lunar month is the birthday of Pak Tai. On this day, believers will gather in the temple to pray. If you happen to visit Wan Chai on this day, just seize the opportunity to experience the local culture.
Visit Wan Chai with Us
There are a lot of things to do and see in Wan Chai, but many are known only to the locals. So why not visit the area with us? You can simply tell us what you want to do, and you will travel with a local guide who speaks your language. Your guide will suggest characteristic places to visit and authentic local food to eat.
Check out more of our Hong Kong tours and add Wan Chai as one of your destinations.