Your insider’s guide to Hong Kong

Central on Foot

While Central might be best known for its glittering skyscrapers, it actually has rich pockets of culture tucked away in the midst of the urban jungle. Here’s a simple walk that you can take to get a glimpse into Hong Kong’s historical and cultural side.

Words: Sarah Fung

The Hollywood Road History Walk

Start: Mid-Levels Escalator, Hollywood Road
End: Hollywood Road Park

This route from Central to Sheung Wan can be completed in as little as 30 minutes, or it could take you an entire afternoon as there’s so much to explore. Starting at the Mid-Levels Escalator, head west on Hollywood Road towards Sheung Wan. From the hustle of the city, you will immediately sense a change in atmosphere, as skyscrapers are replaced by low-rise shophouses and coffee chains make way for antique stores.

Historically, Hollywood Road was considered an inauspicious part of town, thanks partly to a plague outbreak in neighbouring Tai Ping Shan Street in 1894. The epidemic saw the area became home to several morbid industries, including coffin and paper offering shops, and it was believed to be populated by ghosts.

 

Tai Ping Shan

Hollywood Road

However, the resultant cheap rents attracted the city’s young entrepreneurs, and the area that comprises Hollywood Road, PoHo (Po Hing Fong and the neighbouring streets) and NoHo (North of Hollywood Road) has gentrified. Now chock-a-block with quaint cafes, design stores and restaurants, it’s also become a creative hub, with boutique architectural firms and galleries moving in.

Architecturally, PoHo is one of the best parts of the city to see real tong lau, or Chinese-style tenements. These shophouses sprung up between World War II and the 1960s, and are part of the city’s unique cultural heritage. Visit Wing Lee Street to see an example of the buildings, which have been preserved by the government and are now home to several artist groups and organisations.

Wing Lee Street

Museum of Medical Sciences

Surprisingly, you’ll also find red brick Edwardian-style buildings, including the Chinese YMCA on Bridges Street, and the Museum of Medical Sciences, a beautiful structure and site of the former Pathological Institute, where Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin first discovered the microbe that caused bubonic plague in 1894. It’s this mash-up of architectural styles that make this area so fascinating – and so quintessentially Hong Kong.

From there, you can end your walk at Hollywood Road Park, a small but pretty oasis where the British first planted their flag in 1841.

Hollywood Road Park

Must visits:

Frantzen’s Kitchen – Nordic bistro by Swedish chef Björn Frantzén.

 

PMQ – the former police married quarters have been redeveloped as a creative hub for local designers and entrepreneurs in the creative industries.

 

Corner Kitchen Cafe – a cheerful cafe opposite Hollywood Road Park with killer homemade cakes.

Man Mo Temple – A Taoist temple dedicated to the gods of Literature and War. Famed for its immense coils of burning incense that hang from the ceiling. It is believed to have been built in 1847 and is a Grade I listed heritage building.

 

Man Mo Cafe – a creative dumpling house that serves east-meets-west dim sum with a French flair.

 

G.O.D – Hong Kong’s original design store. Great place to stock up on stylish souvenirs, Hong Kong-inspired fashion and homewares – god.com.hk

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