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A tram journey through Hong Kong’s Western District

Take a break at Blend & Grind during your tram journey in Hong Kong’s Western District

A ride on the iconic ding ding, or Hong Kong tram is an indispensable part of any visitor’s experience. If you’ve already been on the well-trodden routes from Central to Causeway Bay, take your adventure westward to explore another side of Hong Kong Island. Begin your journey from Sheung Wan and uncover the allure of the Western District all the way to Kennedy Town.

The Western District is a treasure trove of unique experiences: savour artisanal coffee in chic cafes, capture Insta-worthy snaps beside charming British-style red-brick buildings, or unwind on the lush lawns of waterfront parks. Whether you’re an art and culture buff or are simply seeking a tranquil urban retreat, follow our guide to discover the best-kept secrets and popular hotspots of this district.

Stop 1: Hong Kong Tramways 84W Eastern Street Station

The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park: a serene harbourfront sanctuary

Kick-start your journey at the Sheung Wan (Western Market) terminus, and in just seven minutes, you’ll arrive at our first destination, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park, located by the Sai Ying Pun waterfront. A tribute to Dr Sun Yat Sen’s monumental contributions to modern China, the park boasts thematic designs and amenities. The spacious circular lawn by the sea is perfect for a relaxing stroll or a casual picnic. The park’s allure evolves with the changing seasons, with a long corridor and a large fountain pool adding to its picturesque charm. As you relish the panoramic vistas of Victoria Harbour, you can also see the Tsing Ma Bridge in the distance.

Winstons Coffee

Winstons Coffee: a cinema-inspired cafe

Just a stone’s throw away from the 84W Eastern Street tram stop in Sai Ying Pun lies Winstons Coffee. This cafe, renowned for its Australian flair, has earned a spot among ‘The 50 Best Coffee Shops in Asia’. With retro cinema-inspired signage and window designs, it stands out amidst the vintage architecture of the Western District. Opt for an outdoor seat and indulge in their signature Flat White coffee or the spirited Espresso Martini.

Stop 2: 86W Western Street Station

The vibrant murals at ARTLANE in Sai Ying Pun

ARTLANE: a street art gallery in Sai Ying Pun

Among the top photo spots in the Western District, the murals at ARTLANE in Sai Ying Pun are must-sees. This cultural hotspot showcases 26 large-scale murals created by local and international artists, each featuring a distinct theme and artistic style.

The outdoor seating at Not Just Coffee

Not Just Coffee: a bohemian cafe

Sai Ying Pun is brimming with shops full of personality. Head on over to the bohemian-style coffee shop, Not Just Coffee. Relax with a cup of aromatic coffee amidst the wooden decor, rattan chairs, wooden tables and large potted plants that add to the serene ambience. The outdoor seating of this popular café in the Western District is a favourite spot for photos.

Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun is one of the steepest roads in Hong Kong

Centre Street: Hong Kong’s steepest road

Centre Street is a prominent thoroughfare in Sai Ying Pun, and it’s not your typical street — it’s one of the steepest roads in Hong Kong, with a gradient reaching 1:4 at its highest! If you’re up for a challenge, take a five-minute walk from the tram stop up the street to experience the local vibe here.

Western District Community Centre and Sai Ying Pun Community Complex: heritage buildings worth exploring

The Western District is popular with architecture lovers for a reason: it’s home to many old buildings, such as the Western District Community Centre on Western Street and the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex on High Street. The former is just a 10-minute walk from the 86W Western Street tram stop. It once served as the Tsan Yuk Hospital back in 1922, and its intricate wooden spiral staircase and copper handrails make it a popular photo spot. About 10 minutes away is the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex, also known as the Sai Ying Pun Psychiatric Hospital, or the ‘High Street Haunted House’ to locals. Its granite facade and arched corridors exude a unique charm that transports you back to a bygone era.

Stop 3: 88W Water Street Station

The University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong mainly houses Chinese relics and artworks

University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong: a journey of Chinese art

A 10-minute walk from the 88W Water Street Station, will take you to the University Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Hong Kong on Bonham Road. Situated in the Fung Ping Shan Building of the university, the museum is one of the city’s oldest and has been collecting a diverse range of Chinese art and archaeological treasures from the Neolithic Age to the Qing dynasty since its establishment in 1953. Think magnificent ceramics, exquisite calligraphy and paintings, and sculptures. Admission to the museum is free, so don’t miss it if you enjoy art.

The Ground Kitchen’s House Special Crispy Apple Pie

The Ground Kitchen: a taste of art

There are many trendy coffee shops in Sai Ying Pun; one of them is The Ground Kitchen, notable for its unique powder blue storefront. The cafe exudes an artistic feel — even the plating of the dishes is tastefully done to create a visual feast. The food and drinks are garnished with edible flowers, and the menu is updated regularly to ensure that each dining experience is unique. Try Galaxy Fantasy, which features a top layer of blue butterfly pea flower, and the bottom layer is drizzled with orange-yellow lemon honey and fresh lemon slices. Served with red edible flower ice, it offers a delightful sensory experience for both the eyes and the palate.

Stop 4: 98W Kennedy Town Praya Station

The Belcher Bay Promenade offers a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour

Belcher Bay Promenade: a Tranquil waterfront park

After leaving Sai Ying Pun, take the tram to the 98W Kennedy Town Praya Station. There, you’ll find the Belcher Bay Promenade, which covers an area of about 5,900 square metres and is a picture-perfect spot. This waterfront park offers a 24-hour open space for relaxation and leisure. With its minimalist dark brown wooden flooring and chairs, it provides an ideal setting to enjoy close-up views of Victoria Harbour and the sunset.

Stone wall trees growing out of the crevices in the wall

Stone Wall Trees: a century-old urban oasis

About a 10-minute walk from the tram stop, the Stone Wall Trees form a serene tree-lined path in the bustling city. This cluster of stone wall trees on Forbes Street are the largest and best-preserved in Hong Kong. Despite the scarcity of soil to provide moisture and nutrients, the trees on the 150-metre-long stone wall miraculously thrive within the crevices. The 26 trees are mostly banyan trees, four of which have lived for over 120 years and are listed in the Register of Old and Valuable Trees.

Blend & Grind

Blend & Grind: a well-deserved coffee break

Need a break after a tour of the Stone Wall Trees? Head over to Blend & Grind in Kennedy Town. Founded by health enthusiast Jonny Rees, this cafe offers specialty coffee and brunch during the day, and western classics like burgers, fries, and cocktails in the evening. Here, you can enjoy high-quality coffee or cocktails while watching trams pass by slowly from their outdoor tables.

Stop 5: 104W Davis Street Station

For Single, a café and whisky bar in one

For Single: a minimalist cafe by day, and a whisky bar by night

Continuing our exploration in Kennedy Town, we arrive at For Single, a minimalist cafe beautifully designed in white. Here, the beverage you can enjoy depends on the time of your visit. During the day, it’s all about single-origin coffee. Each season, they exclusively feature one type of coffee bean, accompanied by an informative card detailing its characteristics, roasting level, brewing method and flavour notes. Sit at the bar for an up-close view of the brewing process or take a seat by the Japanese-style window for a picture-perfect moment and a chat with the barista. After 6pm, the cafe transforms into a whisky bar serving single malt Scotch whisky and dinner, providing another exquisite taste experience.

Slowood in Kennedy Town offers package-free dry goods and cleaning products for purchase by weight

Slowood: a green lifestyle store

Slowood is an eco-friendly lifestyle store promoting green living and zero-waste shopping. Most of their products are package-free, and you can find all your daily essentials here, including clothes, skincare products, home goods, tableware and cooking ingredients. The store is designed in a Nordic minimalist style, with a giant mushroom installation made from recycled materials at the entrance. Slowood adopts a self-service shopping model, and all the eco-friendly products are package-free. So, remember to bring your own containers or paper bags!

Stop 6: Kennedy Town Terminus

The Sai Wan Swimming Shed

Sai Wan Swimming Shed: a bridge to the sea

The final destination on our Hong Kong tram tour brings us to the Sai Wan Swimming Shed. Built in the 1960s and 70s, the swimming shed stands as one of the few remaining in Hong Kong where swimmers can still take a refreshing dip. This natural swimming pool continues to attract elderly swimmers to its tranquil waters. From Victoria Road, descend the stone stairs to discover the quaint wooden bridge of Sai Wan Swimming Shed. Do exercise caution during your visit, as the facilities are rudimentary.

The entrance to the swimming shed’s iron bridge is currently locked, with a sign stating ‘No Entry, Strictly No Trespassing’.  For your safety, do not climb over the fence and be aware of the high winds and heavy waves near the swimming shed. Always watch out for the waves and be careful where you step.

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