Once an industrial centre known for its fabrics, Hong Kong’s working-class neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po is more than just a window to this city’s past. The place has since transformed into a design enclave where some of the city’s greatest creative minds gather, breathing new life into old space. Art galleries, edgy murals on grunge textures and aesthetically pleasing architecture now abound, adding a reinvigorating vibe to Sham Shui Po.
Sham Shui Po’s newfound status adds another layer of cool on top of the district’s reputation as a haven for cheap and authentic dishes. Old legacies exist harmoniously alongside new facades here, and these 5 reasons are why Sham Shui Po is Hong Kong’s hippest place to be!
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1. Cafés with great aesthetic
Any hip place to be has its fair share of eye-catching cafes, and Sham Shui Po is no exception. The district’s aged industrial feel provides a common backdrop for enterprising cafe owners, and while some of the best cafes have added character to original facades, others have instead expressed a sense of furious individuality, creating hole-in-the-wall experiences that transport you to sensually new dimensions.
Each of Sham Shui Po’s many cafes offer unique experiences, and popular joints like Urban Coffee Roaster and Cafe Sausalito truly pack character. Urban Coffee Roaster’s one-room space replete with nostalgic copper facades and glass exterior highlights Sham Shui Po’s identity as a working-class industrial neighbourhood, while Cafe Sausalito takes after its’ breathtaking San Francisco namesake, attracting a constantly changing roster of local indie musicians. Both cafes are compact, providing a space for intimate interactions.
2. Artistic inspiration abound
Being hip is very often about expressing “individuality”, and Sham Shui Po’s nostalgic, industrial facades provides the perfect backdrop for just that. The district’s once plain spaces now sport impressive wall murals, some of which are edgy, others inspiring.
And it’s not just old walls that are getting a facelift. Thanks to local art project Urban Canvas, greying store shutters across Sham Shui Po now host many beautiful works of street art that add to meaning and an edgy touch of nostalgia.
Even more impressive is the Man Fung Building, which provided the canvas for Madrid-based street artist Okuda San Miguel’s creative genius. His mural, “Rainbow Thief”, is a kaleidoscopic masterpiece that features geometric structures and patterns that come together in the form of a fox. Standing tall amidst Sham Shui Po’s other buildings, Man Fung Building is a symbol of Sham Shui Po’s emerging rebelliousness, and the epitome of “hip” in Hong Kong.
3. Explore fashion’s latest trends
Sham Shui Po’s legacy as the centre of Hong Kong’s once-flourishing garment industry has not been forgotten as the district transforms itself, and visitors can still find a wide array of factory outlets and fabric wholesalers in the markets of Sham Shui Po. Anything fashion-related — buttons, lace, ribbons, beads and fabric — can be found and bought here.
Sham Shui Po is set to become a global fashion hub bringing the best fashion designers from around the world together. In the meantime, the district’s many stalls remain a rare haven for folks looking to add a touch of hip to their getup.
4. Old is gold here
As one of Hong Kong’s oldest districts, Sham Shui Po is an overflowing treasure trove of the retro and nostalgic. Heritage shops in this district have it all — from vintage emporiums like Shop Little Two that have a little bit of everything to specialty stores like Vinyl Hero’s well-curated collection of vinyl records, those looking for retro throwback will be spoilt for choice here. Or if scrounging for old electronics catches your fancy, have a go at Golden Computer Centre or the popular Apliu Flea Market.
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For a full on retro “old is gold” experience, be sure to also check out the Heritage of Mei Ho House museum and book a room at retro-themed hostel Wontonmeen. Both places feature unadulterated old Sham Shui Po coupled with the edgy, self-expressive modern Sham Shui Po; guests at Wontonmeen can also enjoy meeting local artists-in-residence for a more immersive Sham Shui Po experience.
5. The most authentic and affordable street eats in HK
Hong Kong’s livelier districts may be home to some of the world’s best food, but it is here in Sham Shui Po that locals and visitors alike can dig in into authentic, home-cooked local dishes. Old ways are alive and well in Sham Shui Po, and that means many dishes continue to bear the same flavour and taste that made them famous in the first place.
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Sham Shui Po’s eating joints keep tradition alive, and their dishes continue to be as hip as ever. Kung Wo Factory’s beancurd puddings have been childhood favourites for generations of Hongkongers, and Kwan Kee Store’s mouthwatering Put Chai Ko abide by traditional preparation methods (which happen to be extremely painstaking). And while everyone is head-over-heels for Tai Cheong Bakery’s egg tarts, Sun Wah Cafe’s version of the popular snack packs a similar punch too.
Once the ageing face of Hong Kong’s industrial past, Sham Shui Po is now the new kid-on-the-block. Creative rebelliousness exists in harmony with old ways here — new facades breathe life into the old, and old ways inform new facades.
For the best ways to enjoy the sights, sounds and eats of Sham Shui Po, be sure to check out Discover Hong Kong’s guide to self-guided walks in Sham Shui Po. QR codes on visitor signage in the district also provide lots of interesting tidbits for visitors to better appreciate Sham Shui Po’s rich heritage and newfound energies, so be sure to have a QR code scanner or download the official Hong Kong Tourism Board mobile app “My Hong Kong Guide” before you go!
Sham Shui Po is home to good food, great finds and awesome sights, so stay a little longer and make the best out of your visit to Hong Kong’s hippest place to be. Even better, make it a 3-day or week-long trip and get more from your Hong Kong escapade with Cathay Pacific’s awesome Extended Stay Offer!
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