Listed in any guidebook as a must-go place for tourists to visit in Hong Kong, Stanley is a booming marketplace on a peninsula to the east of Repulse Bay and Shek O. Easy to get to on either the scenic 6a or the express 260 bus route from Central, Stanley is a relaxing day trip away from busy Hong Kong. With Murray House on the waterfront and Stanley plaza just behind it, there’s an old-meets-new feel to Stanley that combines relaxed luxury with heritage well. Restaurants line the waterfront promenade, where big chains like Pizza Express and Chez Patrick are nestled among smaller independent bars and cafes.
Start the day at the newly-opened Cupping Room, for a brunch to match others in Hong Kong. With its concise menu that’s shorter than the list of coffee’s they’re famous for, The Cupping Room offers a chic and industrial interior that breathes out the perfect morning smell of freshly brewed coffee. Their small kitchen means food will take a while to come, but it’s well worth the wait and beautifully presented.
First things first – Stanley market must be done. Wander through the jumbled shops and twisting lanes, taking in the touristy Chinese wares (we’re talking fans, silk pouches, dresses etc.), making your way up past the painting fakes and jewellery stores. Then you’ll pass a few antique shops on the way in a circle back to the waterfront again. There’s a silver shop somewhere in the middle of the market that has beautiful and incredibly sophisticated charms for sale (Chinese junks, lanterns etc.). The perfect place to pick up gifts for friends back at home or the occasional jack-pot buy, Stanley market is full of hidden wonders behind all the tourist tat on display.
Lunch. You’ll definitely need this after a full morning of exploring, so head to Murray House for food on the waterfront. Built in 1844 in Central, as the officer’s quarters of the Murray Barracks, Murray House was later moved in the 2000s to Stanley. The Victorian-era structure is the oldest surviving public building in Hong Kong and was designed in a popular early colonial style. The building was also used as the centre for the Japanese military during the 44-month occupation of Hong Kong. Besides the obvious historical attraction, Murray House also boasts beautiful views over the ocean from the tip of the peninsula. Restaurants are raised on the three-story building and feature outside seating on the tiled balconies. Constantly changing and not the mostly highly-rated, if you get to Murray House and none of its restaurant’s take your fancy – head to Pizza Express on the waterfront instead. You’ll find great pizza; reasonable prices, a fantastic spot and even better views, with outside seating that’ll make you forget you’re in Hong Kong entirely.
Just behind Murray House, on a cliffside is the Stanley Ma Hang Park and Pak Tai Temple. The beautiful natural landscape has been skillfully combined with wooden walks and gardens that lead to the precariously balanced temple on the cliff edge. The temple was built for the protection of fisherman when Stanley was still a major fishing village in 1805 and was the major temple of the Ma Hang Village in Stanley.
Head towards Stanley Beach for sunset, where you’ll have breathtaking views out onto the South China Sea. Taking a walk along the golden sand beach, soak in the calm atmosphere of Stanley, remembering you’re only an hour away from the craziness of central. If sipping a gin and tonic, while watching the sun setting is more your style, then the Beach Club is the place to make a beeline to. With a terrace overlooking the beach and sea, this spot is famed among locals for its cheap beer ($20-30) and basic grub.
For more info about Stanley Market and Murray House:
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Editor | Emma Russell