Hong Kong enjoys a unique cultural heritage that is informed by both its eastern identity and western history. While the city was handed back to China as a Special Administrative Region in 1997 after more than a century and a half of British rule, you can still find vestiges of the colonial era preserved in grand buildings and various cultural traditions. If you want to take a step back in time, this one-day itinerary will guide you through notable sights and experiences that showcase Britain’s influence on the city.
Opened in 1906, the iconic red-brick structure known asis one of the oldest buildings in Sheung Wan district. The majestic Edwardian-style building now houses retail shops that sell traditional crafts, fabrics, clothing and accessories. There are also a handful of snack shops, a bakery and a restaurant for those who skipped breakfast or are feeling peckish, but it’s worth venturing out into the surrounding neighbourhood where you’ll find a greater variety of dining options.
Aside from being known as the financial heart of Hong Kong, Central district is home to plenty of fascinating historical landmarks. From Western Market, take public transportation or a 20-minute stroll – where you’re sure to come across even more fascinating sights – toin the Old Dairy Farm Depot. Although the club is open to members only, you can still admire the neoclassical-influenced architecture, which features a unique “bandaged brickwork” design.
Next, head to the Former French Mission Building, which was originally constructed by the French Society of Foreign Missions and opened in 1917. The building has served a multitude of purposes throughout the years but remains best known for its ornate neoclassical design, which includes a red-brick exterior, rounded dome, vaulted ceilings and inner courtyard. Finally, be sure to visit the, which sits right in the heart of Central. A reminder of the colonial-era architecture that defined Hong Kong’s landscape before the rise of towering skyscrapers, this iconic monument boasts many fascinating features, including a statue depicting the Greek Goddess of Justice.
From Central, hop on the MTR or any other form of public transportation to Causeway Bay to experience theceremony. Started at multinational company Jardine Matheson in the 1860s, this daily ritual involves a one-shot gun salute fired from Causeway Bay’s waterfront at 12pm. It’s a unique local tradition that’s also become a popular tourist attraction.
A picturesque (and incredibly affordable) ride on thefrom the Wan Chai ferry pier takes you across the harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui, where you’ll be greeted by the Former Kowloon-Canton Railway . Built in 1915, this 44-metre tall Declared Monument is the only still-standing reminder of the original Kowloon Station, and remains a beloved historical monument in what has since become a bustling shopping district. In fact, the tower is located close to several popular retail complexes, including . Formerly the Marine Police Headquarters, this landmark, which is over 130 years old, has been revitalised in recent years and now houses high-end shops, an exhibition hall and a heritage hotel with several restaurants where you can enjoy a light lunch. Much of the Victorian-era architecture has been preserved in structures such as the Time Ball Tower and Main Building.
Get a taste of one of the most popular British traditions in Hong Kong with the afternoon tea experience at. Served daily at The Lobby, this lavish mid-day meal consists of tiers of scones, finger sandwiches and homemade cakes designed to be enjoyed over cups of tea – or champagne if you’re feeling extra special – as you’re serenaded by a string quartet in the hotel’s sumptuous surrounds. This delicious treat is extremely popular so advanced booking is recommended.
If you’re in town during horse racing season from September to the following July, be sure to catch a race at either of the city’s two racecourses inand . Introduced to the city by the British in 1841, horse racing has become one of the most popular pastimes in Hong Kong, with big-ticket events such as the Hong Kong Derby, Hong Kong International Races and Champions Day attracting massive crowds every year. One of the best and easiest ways to experience this high-adrenaline sport is with the season-round Happy Wednesday parties at Happy Valley Racecourse. Aside from the horse-racing action, this weekly celebration features live entertainment, snacks, drinks and a party atmosphere that make for an unforgettable night out. Whichever racecourse you choose, be sure to check the calendar in advance!