The Ultimate Guide to Wan Chai
Best known for being Hong Kong’s red-light district and home to the adored lead of the World of Suzie Wong – Wan Chai is the raucous hub of Hong Kong. At night, its streets are filled with strip clubs, tattoo parlous and sports bars, yet by day the district paints a very different name for itself.
On Lockhart Road you’ll find a seemingly endless array of furniture shops and bathroom stores, on Johnston Road the tram attempts to push its way along flocks of taxis and people. While Stone Nullah and Queen’s Road boasts beautiful temples and market stalls….
10am – The Coffee Academics
Taking the tram to Johnston Road, you’ll find The Coffee Academics where you can start your day. A large, open-plan space serving a wide assortment of couture coffee that put the café high on Wan Chai’s hipster hit list. With breakfasts ranging from full-on fry-ups to American-style pancakes, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
11.30am – Wan Chai’s Green Trail
Then, if you think Hong Kong is all busy streets and people, have a go at Wan Chai’s Green Trail – a hike that promises to take you up into the green heart of Hong Kong Island in an hour. A difficult hike, mostly uphill, you’ll start on the corner of Wan Chai Gap Road besides a small old building, built in 1913 that’s situated on a raised stone foundation.
Continuing onto Middle Gap Road, you’ll pass evergreen trees native to the area, and struggle on uphill to Black’s Link – a popular place for Hongkongers to go jogging. Next you’ll head to Wong Nai Chung Reservoir Road, where you’ll finish your walk. Taking the number 6 bus towards Central (Exchange Square) to get back to Wan Chai.
1pm – Hopewell Centre
At Queen’s Road Central, depart the bus and head to the Hopewell Centre, where you can levitate in their famously circular lift.
Only taking a few minutes to go up and down (unless you’re like me and have to be removed by security…) the Hopewell lift has spectacular views over our breathtaking megalopolis and after the morning’s walk, you really could be in an entirely new country.
2pm – Beef and Liberty
Next, wander towards Star Street where you’ll find Beef and Liberty. Hong Kong’s best burger restaurant that’s very proud to serve ethically sourced, hormone-free, grass-fed beef. Starting out in Shanghai and featuring at all Hong Kong’s biggest festivals, Beef and Liberty has now joined the trendy Star Street area.
Where it boasts two stories of the precinct building, where it has floor to ceiling windows and a distinctly cool ambience. Beef and Liberty can also proudly hail a spacious terrace area for guests to enjoy their famous dirty lemonade on, one of the rare rooftop terraces in the city.
3pm – Wan Chai market
Next head along Johnston Road towards Wan Chai market. Where you’ll find everything from clothes stalls to meat shops and kitsch trinkets.
Wander through here at your own pace, taking in the fantastic buzz of a classic Hong Kong marketplace, heading out towards Queen’s Road East. Here you’ll find the Hung Shing Temple, which is believed to have been built in 1847.
4pm – Wan Chai Livelihood Museum
At 4, you’ll want to head to Stone Nullah Lane, which is famous for its brightly coloured Blue House. The 4-storey balcony-style tenement block is one of the few remaining examples of tong lau buildings built in Hong Kong and Macau in the 1960s.
Inside, you’ll now find the small Wan Chai Livelihood Museum dedicated to a seemingly random collection of cameras, posters, pots and pans.
4.30pm – Pak Tai temple
If you continue up the street from the Blue House, you’ll find the beautiful Pak Tai temple, parts of this building date back to 1604. Situated in a tranquil oasis in the heart of Wan Chai, the grey-coloured brick and granite of the temple blend elegantly into the jungle-y environment surrounding it.
With huge lanterns dominating the front and a little courtyard outside, it’s possible to spend a while enjoying the serenity of this peaceful spot.
5pm – $1 Happy Hour drink
Then, true to form – you can catapult yourself back into the chaos of Hong Kong. Heading to Stone Nullah Tavern at the bottom of the street for a $1 Happy Hour drink.
Full of businessmen and women piling out onto the street, Stone Nullah Tavern in Wan Chai is the place to be at 5pm. (Every 20 minutes between 5-7pm the drinks double in price.)
Bars and Restaurants in Wan Chai:
- NOSH by Secret Ingredient (Happy Valley) – 14 Tsun Yuen Street, Hong Kong
- Oolaa Petite – Shop 2 Tower 2 Starcrest, 9 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
- The Coffee Academics – 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
- Beef and Liberty – 23 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai
- Stone Nullah Tavern. G/F, 69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wanchai
- If you want to eat from the comfort of your home, you can ind a list of top restaurants in Wan Chai here.
Emma Russell | Editor