Neighbourhood: Old Town Central
By Laura Gelder – 2 minute read
Old Town Central is one of Hong Kong’s oldest neighbourhoods, where East and West, past and present, tradition and innovation coexist – it’s the perfect starting point for visitors to Hong Kong.
Encompassing the sloped streets and small alleys of Central and Sheung Wan, Old Town Central encapsulates Hong Kong’s rich and diverse spirit. It’s a place where century-old temples share the same streets as fashion-forward concept stores, and where authentic tea houses sit next to modern art galleries. It’s also immensely walkable.
In Old Town Central it’s the variety which will strike visitors, from traditional restaurants and dai pai dongs (open air food stalls) to slick modern eateries and hipster bars.
For good old fashioned Cantonese cuisine, recommend Lan Fong Yeun, a pioneer of Hong Kong milk tea as well as pork buns and other quick eats; and Sing Heung Yuen, famous for its tomato noodles. More modern options include Duddell’s, serving high-end dim sum in an old mansion with a secret terrace and rotating art works; Teakha, presenting a modern take on a traditional tea house; and Man Mo Dim Sum, a great example of fusion dim sum.
Visitors will find a sophisticated scene when they go out in Old Town Central. Some top picks include Ernest Hemmingway-themed cocktail bar The Old Man; uber-chic Sevva which offers sprawling views, a menu that is inspired by the diversity of Hong Kong and a 15-metre-long vertical garden; and PiqNiq, another terrace atop arts venue H Queen's with views of the Peak and more.
For a totally off-beat night out, quirky speakeasy Foxglove is disguised behind a sophisticated umbrella shop which invites drinkers to touch a specific umbrella handle in order to pass into the bar’s glamorous interior, inspired by first-class aeroplanes and vintage cars.
Art & culture
Art abounds in this diverse neighbourhood, from the gritty urban canvas in Art Lane, where iconic street art adorns the walls, to H Queen's, an architectural icon in itself and a modern development that houses non-traditional spaces for exhibiting art, with the aim of expanding the city’s art audience.
Also in the area is Tai Kwun, which opened in Summer 2018 in the colonial-styled former Central Police Station Compound and is a centre for heritage and arts, including performing and contemporary art. There's also PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters, now an arts and design venue with residential units transformed into studios, shops and offices for the city’s creative start-ups.
Man Mo Temple is a quiet haven of reflection and British visitors might be interested in visiting the aptly-named Possession Street, where the British flag was first raised in 1841.
There are some big shopping malls in the area but it’s the local retail outlets that visitors will want to see.
Graham Street Market is one of Hong Kong’s most famous wet markets, full of atmosphere and great photo opportunities amongst the fresh produce and haggling locals.
Linva Tailor is the place to go for a tailor-made cheongsam, or one off-the-rack if budget is tight. Around since 1965, it shot to fame when it featured in the film, In the Mood for Love.
Boutique shops include ABoutique and vintage store Hipster9.