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Eastern District: a day trip of old and new Hong Kong by tram

LUXE City Guides
  • Written by LUXE City Guides, Images by Calvin Sit
Experience old and new Hong Kong on a tram through the Eastern District

Ng Cho-bang has driven Hong Kong’s double-decker trams through for more than 30 years. In that time, entire hills have been flattened and replaced by apartment towers. A tram route that once meandered along the waterfront has been straightened. Even the waterfront itself has shifted, extended outwards by decades of land reclamation. Where there were once factories and shipyards there are now hotels and luxurious office towers.

And yet, despite the changes, some things remain the same, not the least of which is the Hong Kong Tramways. Ng says homemakers and elderly people still take it to the wet market to fetch their daily groceries. “Sometimes I’d help them to carry their groceries onto the tram,” he says, “and some of them had given me fruits as thank you gifts when they alighted.” While the city around it may grow, the tram remains a throwback to a friendly, simple time.

That’s why it’s the perfect vehicle to explore Eastern District. In 1904, the Hong Kong Tramways extended its route from Causeway Bay to Shau Kei Wan, linking up the neighbourhoods that were quickly growing along the eastern shore of Hong Kong Island. Even today, perched on the upper deck of a tram, a warm sea breeze blowing through the carriage, you can get a sense of the district’s rich history and evolving culture.

Follow our tram itinerary through Eastern District to uncover cultural gems and local treasures hidden along the way!

Explore local arts and films

Oi!, Sunbeam Theatre and Hong Kong Film Archive
Oi! is a community art space in North Point

Much of the tram’s route takes it along King’s Road, which is lined by distinctive 1960s-style buildings. As you pass by Oil Street, look to the left and you’ll catch a glimpse of the century-old clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, which has been preserved and converted into a community art space, Oi!. Not far away is another mid-century landmark, the Sunbeam Theatre, where Cantonese opera shows are still performed today. Further along, the Hong Kong Film Archive is a repository of Hong Kong’s unique film heritage, and a must for any film buff.

Get a glimpse of Minnan food culture

Chun Yeung Street
Chun Yeung Street Market witnessed the history of the Eastern district as it preserved the hawker culture in the old days.

If you’re on a tram bound for North Point, you’ll end up in the Chun Yeung Street Market, where motormen ring the tram’s bells as they pass within inches of fruit hawkers and clothing stalls. This market street bears the marks of Eastern District’s unique social history. In the 1940s, after the Second World War and Chinese Civil War, many families from Shanghai moved to North Point and opened barbershops, tailoring businesses and restaurants. In the 1960s, they were replaced by migrants from Fujian province. Today, about a third of Hong Kong’s one million Fujianese still live in North Point and there’s no better place to discover the unique Minnan food culture than in the grocery stores and market stalls of Chun Yeung Street.

Find space for creativity

Para Site, ArtisTree and Quarryside
ArtisTree holds art exhibitions and performances from time to time

There are a few hidden surprises worth exploring en route. It may not be obvious from street level, but inside glossy office towers and dingy industrial blocks in Quarry Bay is a burgeoning creative scene anchored by spaces like Para Site and ArtisTree, which offer art exhibitions, performances and other events. These spaces coexist with new development that is reshaping the former industrial area and shipyard.


Stroll towards the harbourfront and you’ll arrive at Quarryside, a community space just launched in July 2023. The multifunctional space boasts an open lawn, pet-friendly amenities and event facilities, with design elements inspired by Quarry Bay’s industrial past as a dockyard and sugar refinery. The Dockyard Theatre, for example, is an amphitheatre for performances; while the Workshop Space offers you the chance to meet and interact with artists. Quarryside also hosts a range of creativity-led activities; visit their website to see what events are coming up.

Local sustainable market

Tong Chong Street Market
Tong Chong Street Market offers performances and food tastings

Make a stop for the Tong Chong Street Market when it’s on. The themed market brings fresh locally farmed produce, tasty snacks and live performances to the heart of Quarry Bay. “More great things have happened at the market than I could have ever imagined — Pop-up food stands becoming brick and mortar restaurants, people getting to meet local farmers first-hand, watching vendors collaborate with each other,” says the market’s founder, sustainable food advocate Janice Leung Hayes.

You can get to the market by bus or MTR — but somehow, the tram, which has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest double-decker tram fleet in service’ in 2021, feels particularly appropriate. When Ng Cho-bang navigates his tram through Eastern District, he thinks about the “gigantic changes” it has seen, but he is put at ease by the idea that the tram still unites its people and places. “It makes me feel proud and fulfilled,” he says.

Taking the tram for the first time? Here’s all you need to know to ‘ding ding’ your way through the city!

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

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.

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