Best Of All It's In Hong Kong

Time Traveller

Time Traveller
Time Traveller

By Weekend Weekly

The Central and Sheung Wan area was where the story of modern Hong Kong began. From Possession Point, where the British flag was first officially raised, to the Tai Ping Shan area, which was where many Chinese first settled in the 1840s, this journey leads you through some of the city’s oldest streets. The walk takes in Chinese temples, the city’s first bacteriology laboratory, the haunts of a famous revolutionary, Hong Kong’s earliest judicial and police buildings as well as many little shops that still offer glimpses of what life was like when a world city was still in the making.

History through the Eyes of a Local

Chu Yiu Cheong

Chu Yiu Cheong is the owner of Chu Wing Kee, a homeware store which has been in business on Possession Street for over 60 years. Having grown up in Sheung Wan, Chu has witnessed the developments and changes in the area and knows its history well.

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Chu Wing Kee
Address: 26 Possession Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2545 8751 / +852 2545 3560

Possession Street
Possession Street

Ordinary as it may seem, Possession Street has a significant place in the history of Hong Kong. On 25 January 1841, the British navy landed at nearby Possession Point and began 150 years of colonial rule. Originally perched on the waterfront, Possession Street was given a new lease of life through reclamation. The area is now dotted with hip restaurants and boutiques, alongside historic stores where you can still sample a taste of an older Hong Kong.

Address: Possession Street, Sheung Wan
Tai Ping Shan Street
Tai Ping Shan Street

Walk up from Possession Street and you will find yourself on 300-metre-long Tai Ping Shan Street. A number of distinctive ancient temples line the two sides of this small alley: Tai Sui Temple near the staircase, Kwun Yum Temple, and the unassuming Fook Tak Palace.

The most eye-catching of them all is probably the smoky, red temple under an iron sheet, called ‘Kwong Fook I Tsz’. Built in 1856, it is a classic example of a temple that fulfilled diverse roles. It was an ancestral temple for migrant families, and a shelter for the ill. The bodies of immigrant workers who passed away were also kept here until they could be transported back to their hometowns. For those who could not afford to have their remains sent home, memorial tablets would be set up for them here.

To date, the temples dotting Tai Ping Shan Street are still frequented by worshippers. Each temple was built for a different deity and served a different function. Some visit Tai Sui Temple to pray for good fortune, while others pray for wealth at Kwun Yum Temple.

Address: Tai Ping Shan Street
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

This Edwardian brick building is a symbol of the development of medical sciences in Hong Kong. After the bubonic plague hit the city in the late 19th century, the colonial government stepped up efforts in medical development, which eventually led to the establishment of the first bacteriology institute. The laboratory came into service in 1906 as the city’s first clinical laboratory for public health, and the cornerstone of the development of medical sciences in Hong Kong. It is also the world’s first museum comparing Chinese and Western pathologies.

Address: 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan
Tel: +852 2549 5123
Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, Bridges Street Centre
Man Mo Temple
Pak Tsz Lane Park
Tai Kwun
Pottinger Street
Linva Tailor


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This is one of five self-guided walks in Old Town Central, Hong Kong’s most quintessential neighbourhood. Be sure to check out the others here.

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Discover more Central stories with these guided tours!

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