Hong Kong’s latest hipster-hangout – Sai Ying Pun is a district that’s changing fast. With the new MTR stop bringing visitors and commuters ever-more efficiently to Sai Ying Pun, there’s been a recent renewal of the area – into a cool arty hub.
We’re talking underground bars, quirky art galleries and kooky coffee shops, in one of Hong Kong’s most historical regions. Previously home to the British Military, Sai Ying Pun, literally means ‘Western Encampment’ and while the area lets on little about its heritage, the streets – First, Second, Third and High Streets – do epitomize this past British-style regimentation.
Vegetarians welcome at the Opendoor Café & Courtyard! | Source
Begin your day in true Sai Ying Pun fashion with art and coffee at the Opendoor Café & Courtyard. This neighbourhood café offers up a fantastic selection of specialty drinks from almond milk coffee to kefir smoothies, perfect for health conscious or vegan Hongkongers.
With a courtyard out the back as well as a gallery/restaurant at the front, the Opendoor Café makes for a perfect Sai Ying Pun spot to start the day.
While in the lower realm of Sai Ying Pun, walk from Connaught Rd to the harbourfront, making your way to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Garden. This waterfront park is dedicated to the Chinese historic figure Sun Yat Sen and is a peaceful way to start your morning.
Surrounded by elderly women doing Tai Chi, you’ll also have spectacular views towards Central and get a sense of Hong Kong’s many islands.
Enjoy delicious sweet treat at Eat My Cakes | Source
Make your way back up towards Western St, stopping at Eat My Cakes for a freshly baked cake or cookie from chef Charoal Chu.
Gaining a cult following by local SYP-ers, make sure you don’t miss out on a sugar high from this neighbourhood favourite.
Sai Ying Pun Community Complex | Source
Once you’re done, make your way towards the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex (cake in hand) at No. 2 High Street. The 9-storey building was built on the site of the Old Mental Hospital – giving credence to the ghost stories that surround the building. With a Victorian façade of granite and an arched verandah, the Old Mental Hospital was built in 1892 and was used as the quarters for European nursing staff of the Civil Hospital until WW2. Now known as High Street Ghost House, the building was unoccupied for 20 years from the 1970s and became the haunt of local teenagers and drug addicts. Now used as a community complex, the government has listed the building a Grade 1 site and part of Hong Kong’s heritage trail.
Sip a coffee at Beans and Dough | Source
Once you’ve finished wandering around Sai Ying Pun’s High Street, head to Beans & Dough for lunch. The Italian Bakery Coffee Shop busily kneads dough and brews coffee from the early hours of the morning until late at night for the gentrifying area of Sai Ying Pun. The three-story bakery, has a warm, friendly vibe with its open kitchen featuring young chefs hard at work in the entrance on the ground floor.
Sai Ying Pun market | Source
With independent shops like Cabinet Organic, Sips and Thorn & Burrow between the High Street and First Street, Sai Ying Pun is full of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Spend an afternoon wandering around, peeking into the Sai Ying Pun market and exploring the districts efficiently labeled streets on your way. Once you’ve finished exploring, make a beeline for the urban contemporary art gallery Above Second, where you’ll find shows of local and internationally acclaimed artists.
Ping Pong Bar | Source
Then head on to Ping Pong, a Gintoneria that still has the same buzz it attracted when it first opened in Sai Ying Pun back in 2014. With an intimate, neighbourhood feel and an urban-chic vibe, Ping Pong attracts laid-back locals and expats alike through its simple red door and down their steep set of stairs into their uniquely cool space. With it’s fishbowl G&Ts and fantastic selection of Spanish tapas, their jazz and DJ nights make Ping Pong the perfect place to end your day in Sai Ying Pun.
Opendoor Café & Courtyard – G/F 120 Connaught Rd, 3460 3880
Eat My Cakes – G/F, 21 Western St., Sai Ying Pun, 3480 8842
Beans & Dough – G/F 2a Second St, 2540 2833
Ping Pong – 129 Second St, 9158 1584
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Garden – Sai Ying Pun
Sai Ying Pun Community Complex – 2 High St, 2540 2812, 9am-5.30pm
Above Second – 9 First St, 3483.7950
Cabinet Organic – 27 High St
Thorn & Burrow – 1/F, 30 High St,
Sips – 8 First St, 2547 3000
Emma Russell | Editor