Hong Kong Asia's World City

Old Meets New

Old meets new

Uncover Hong Kong’s rich history by exploring its unique, revitalized historical buildings

Hong Kong’s revitalized historical buildings provide a window into the city’s rich architecture and heritage. Below you’ll find an introduction to the city’s old-meets-new character: where new businesses exist alongside old and where run-down tenements have been revitalized into modern urban projects. You can also take a closer look at how this Hong Kong characteristic is in play in the district of Sham Shui Po, or how the old and new live side-by-side in Tsuen Wan.

Picture Hong Kong and the first image that springs to mind is usually a dramatic cityscape, with towering skyscrapers jutting into the sky. While the city certainly has no shortage of big, glitzy high-rises, remnants of old Hong Kong remain apparent in its many historical buildings.

Thanks to efforts in the past few years to preserve these beautiful older buildings via adaptive reuse, visitors to the city can explore these fascinating sites. While some have been repurposed as museums, others have become restaurants, theaters and shops, ensuring that they remain part of Hong Kong’s vibrant street culture.

Blue House

One well-known example of successful heritage preservation is Wan Chai’s Blue House. This rare example of a wooden tenement building, known in Cantonese as a tong lau, dates back to the 1920s and is classed as a Grade 1 Historical Building. A successful revitalization campaign has resulted in a vibrant neighborhood landmark, with tenants still living inside the building. A Chinese medicine shop, a dessert parlor, and the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum occupy the ground-level.

The Blue House has delivered a boost to its neighborhood. While traditional businesses continue to ply a successful trade in the area, the appeal of the Blue House has attracted a trendier crowd to this portion of Wan Chai. Tai Lung Fung is a stylish bar decorated in a classic “nostalgic Hong Kong style”—a perfect place for happy hour after a day of sightseeing. Or if you’re looking for a bite to eat, nearby Maureen offers a gourmet, molecular twist on Chinese noodles. Just a stone’s throw from there is the Stone Nullah Tavern, an American gastropub located in a refurbished tong lau.

Hollywood Road

Another “old-meets-new” hub is the well-trodden Hollywood Road. Home to antique shops and art galleries, the area is becoming increasingly gentrified as the hip SoHo crowd expands westwards. Start in Sheung Wan and walk to Central along this road and you’ll find kitschy souvenirs on sale alongside designer clothes, and traditional tea parlors standing beside European-style cafes and restaurants. Spend an afternoon soaking up the atmosphere along and around this famous road, being sure to take in the Man Mo Temple, which dates back to 1847. While you’re there, it’s just a few minutes to the newly opened Man Mo Café, which sells contemporary fusion dim sum in among the traditional curio stalls of Cat Street.

PMQ

To walk off all that dumpling goodness, head down neighboring Aberdeen Street to the recently-opened PMQ. After nearly 14 years of being closed off to the public, the former Police Married Quarters has reopened as a creative hub for young designers. The stated mission is to give young talents a hand in developing their brands, by bringing them face-to-face with potential clients and other designers. There are many floors to explore which include studios and shops, plus hip food and drink outlets from well-known UK chef Jason Atherton and restaurateur Yenn Wong.

The conservation extends to an “underground interpretation area,” where the foundation stones of Hong Kong’s first secondary school, the Central School, are preserved in-situ. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung and his predecessor Donald Tsang are both former residents of the married quarters – both their fathers were in the force.

Finally, if you want to take an extra flavor of old Hong Kong back home with you, pay a visit to the homeware and knick-knack store G.O.D. Also located on Hollywood Road, this shop is well known among locals for its tongue-in-cheek take on quintessential Hong Kong design. Within such a compact and varied city, there are myriad examples of how Hong Kong’s historic tapestry is etched onto its architectural façade. Dig a little deeper – take a tour, push open those ancient doors - and you’ll uncover how this cultural heritage is being preserved, but also how it’s being renovated and adapted for the city’s future generations.

Get Going

  • The Blue House
    The Blue House
    A 1920s wooden tenement building, known in Cantonese as a tong lau, now classed as a Grade 1 Historical Building.
    Address:
    72 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2835 4372
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. Walk along Tai Yuen Street to Queen's Road East, then turn left to Stone Nullah Lane.
  • Tai Lung Fung
    Tai Lung Fung
    A stylish bar decorated in a classic “nostalgic Hong Kong style”—a perfect place for happy hour after a day of sightseeing
    Address:
    5 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2572 0055
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. Cross Johnston Road and walk along Tai Yuen Street. Turn left on Queen's Road East and right onto Stone Nullah Lane. Hing Wan Street is the second street on the left. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
  • Maureen
    Maureen
    A restaurant with a gourmet twist on classic Chinese noodles.
    Address:
    G/F, 11 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2915 2261
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. Cross Johnston Road and walk along Tai Yuen Street. Turn left on Queen's Road East and right onto Stone Nullah Lane. Hing Wan Street is the second street on the left. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
  • Stone Nullah Tavern
    Stone Nullah Tavern
    An American gastropub located in a redeveloped tong lau tenement building near Wan Chai’s Blue House.
    Address:
    G/F, 69 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 3182 0128
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. Cross Johnston Road and walk along Tai Yuen Street. Turn left on Queen's Road East and right onto Stone Nullah Lane. It’s about a 10-minute walk.
  • Man Mo Temple
    Man Mo Temple
    Hong Kong’s only Man Mo Temple, built in 1847, pays tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), who were both worshipped in imperial China.
    Address:
    124-126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2540 0350
    How to Get There:
    • Bus 26 outside Pacific Place at Admiralty to Hollywood Road and get off near Man Mo Temple.
    • MTR Central Station Exit D2 and turn right to Theatre Lane. Walk along Queen's Road Central towards The Center. Then take the Central—Mid-Levels Escalator to Hollywood Road.
    • MTR Sheung Wan Station Exit A2 then walk along Hillier Street to Queen's Road Central. Then proceed up Ladder Street (next to Lok Ku Road) to Hollywood Road to the Man Mo Temple.
  • Man Mo Café
    Man Mo Café
    Trendy, contemporary fusion dim sum in among the traditional curio stalls of Cat Street.
    Address:
    40 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2644 5644
    How to Get There:
    MTR Sheung Wan Station, Exit A2. Walk along Wing Lok Street and turn left on Cleverly Street up to Queen's Road Central. Turn left and then go right up the steps of Ladder Street. Turn right off onto Upper Lascar Row.
  • PMQ
    PMQ
    PMQ houses around 100 design and creative enterprises in a revitalised historical site in Central, Hong Kong.
    Address:
    35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong Island
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    • MTR Sheung Wan Station, Exit E1. Turn right to Des Voeux Road Central, then turn right to Gilman’s Bazaar. Go straight towards Queen’s Road Central. Walk along Aberdeen Street for around 7 minutes to reach PMQ.
    • MTR Central Station Exit C. Walk along Des Voeux Road to the Hang Seng Bank Headquarters, which is linked to the Central–Mid-Levels Escalator. Take the escalator to Staunton Street and turn right. Walk for about three minutes to reach PMQ. The whole walk takes about 15 minutes.
  • G.O.D.
    G.O.D.
    A homeware and knick-knack store selling trendy tongue-in-cheek products inspired by vintage Hong Kong design trends.
    Address:
    G/F & 1/F, 48 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2805 1876
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    MTR Central Station, Exit D1. Walk west along Queen’s Road Central until you come to the Central-Mid Levels escalator. Take this up to Hollywood Road, turn right and walk for 2 minutes.

Old Meets New ‘Musts’

  • The Pawn
    Drink like a broker
    The Pawn
    Four-storey tenement The Pawn, now restored into a cult bar and restaurant, hails to the famous Woo Cheong Pawn Shop that once occupied a tong lau shophouse on the now-protected Wan Chai site.
    Address:
    62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2866 3444
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station Exit B2, walk along Southorn Playground to Johnston Road.
  • Comix Home Base
    Check out graphic art
    Comix Home Base
    A hub for culture and leisure and an exhibition space for local comics, all interwoven perfectly in a revitalised colonial building.
    Address:
    7 Mallory Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2824 5303
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A3. Walk along Johnston Road for approximately 10 minutes and turn right onto Mallory Road.
  • Western Market
    Shop in ancient surrounds
    Western Market
    Western Market is a Hong Kong mall of shops selling arts and crafts in a beautiful Edwardian building.
    Address:
    323 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 6029 2675
    How to Get There:
    MTR Sheung Wan Station, Exit B or C.
  • Graham Street Market
    Get snap happy
    Graham Street Market
    Weaving in and out of Central’s skyscrapers, the 160-year-old Graham Street Market is Hong Kong’s last functioning open-air wet market. Stalls are clustered around Graham Street, but also extend to Peel, Gage and Stanley Streets. The lively sights, sounds and smells of the hawkers selling their fresh produce to their loyal customers, a market frozen in time among the ever-changing, fast-paced Central Business District, is something you’ll only find in Hong Kong.
    Address:
    Peel Street, Gage Street, Graham Street, Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong Island
    How to Get There:
    MTR Central Station, Exit D1. Walk east along Queen’s Road Central for about 10 minutes before turning left up Graham Street.
  • Yau Ma Tei Theatre
    See Cantonese opera
    Yau Ma Tei Theatre
    The Yau Ma Tei Theatre resonates a nostalgic Hong Kong charm that speaks of its history as a pre-war cinema. It has been renovated in its former style and is nows a Cantonese opera theatre.
    Address:
    6 Waterloo Road, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2264 8108
    How to Get There:
    MTR Yau Ma Tei Station, Exit B2. Walk along Waterloo Road for approximately five minutes to Reclamation Road.
  • Lui Seng Chun
    Experience Chinese medicine
    Lui Seng Chun
    Visit a heritage-listed Chinese shophouse that is home to a herbal tea shop and traditional Chinese medicine healthcare centre.
    Address:
    119 Lai Chi Kok Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 3411 0628
    How to Get There:
    MTR Prince Edward Station Exit C2. Walk along Prince Edward Road West to Lai Chi Kok Road. Proceed along Lai Chi Kok Road until you reach Lui Seng Chun.
  • Tai O Heritage Hotel
    Lock yourself away
    Tai O Heritage Hotel
    Tai O Heritage Hotel, on Hong Kong’s outlying Lantau Island, is the beautifully restored 19th century former Tai O Police Station, one of the earliest police stations built in the New Territories.
    Address:
    Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands
    Tel:
    +852 2985 8383
    How to Get There:
    Walk for five minutes from the Tai O bus terminus to the Rope-drawn Ferry Bridge. Cross the bridge and walk along Tai O Market Street. Turn left to Shek Tsai Po Street and walk another 30 minutes to the street's end.

This guide was produced by HK Magazine Media Group from 2014-2015.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

Information in this guide is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this guide, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and HK Magazine accept no responsibility for any obsolescence, errors or omissions contained herein.

Sponsored