Hong Kong isn’t always about Ladies Market, Avenue of Stars, or Hong Kong Disneyland. Its classic neighbourhoods also have so much to offer. One of the neighbourhoods that should be added into your itinerary is Sham Shui Po. Located in Kowloon, this district is one of the most populous and vibrant areas in Hong Kong. It’s also a home to many historical places, quintessential Hong Kong buildings, local restaurants, as well as street markets.
Need to be convinced before flying to Hong Kong? Here we have 8 ultimate reasons why you should visit Sham Shui Po very soon.
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Full of hipster & quirky places
Although Sham Shui Po is dominated by working class, this area is where hidden gems of hipster and quirky places are best kept. Paul Au created one of the gems in the form of an incredible second-hand vinyl shop, Vinyl Hero. Just above Apliu Street, the shop is packed from floor to ceiling with 400,000 vinyl records. If you are so deep into music, this place is an absolute must.
Another cool place to check out is Wontonmeen. This funky living space is a combination of studio, coffee shop and venues. The hostel slash creative hub even received overwhelmed reservation for some period right after its appearance on a music video of famous K-Pop boy group, Seventeen.
Once famous with a lively garment industry, Alri Star Leather Factory is the next place worth popping into. You can pick up some good quality leathers and join a DIY workshop to unleash your inner creative side. Don’t have enough time to attend a workshop? Simply buy their ready-to-wear leather goods.
If leather isn’t your favorite, try foreforehead. It’s an art space and quirky gift shop where you can buy some unique stuff for yourself or souvenir for friend.
Either you’re a fan of coffee or just want to unwind, Cafe Sausalito is a perfect place to stop by. Aside from the delicious coffee and bagel, you can also enjoy live music from local indie band every Sunday.
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Covered mainly by residential buildings, Sham Shui Po offers a lot of budget-friendly foods for both residents and tourists. The signature beancurd pudding from Kung Wo Beancurd Factory is one of the must-try as the store have opened their door since the 1960s. Sun Hang Yuen’s trademark corned beef and egg sandwhiches is also a good idea.
Craving for dumplings? Come to Yuen Fong Dumpling Store that not only offers dumplings, but also noodles, congee and snacks all under HKD 50.
If you need heavier food to fill your tummy, Lau Sum Kee Noodle opens every day to serve lo mein (dry noodles) with a massive portion of dried shrimp roe to conquer your hunger.
Made it to Michelin’s street food stalls list, Kwan Kee Store–famous for its bowl puddings as well as its white sugar cakes and black sesame rolls–is the next place you should grab an authentic Hong Kong snack from.
You can also go to Kedai Kopi Semua Semua that serves delicious Malaysian dishes such as curry, silver needle noodles and fish cakes, or go to Hop Yik Tai for their delicious cheong fun (rice noodle roll) which is also recommended by the Michelin Guide.
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Seeing the different side of Hong Kong
Sham Shui Po is one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong that once had an important role in the 1950s textile industry. Although the industry faced a downturn in 1980s, Sham Shui Po remains popular among designers and craftsmen because of the availability and affordability of materials on sale here. Sham Shui Po residents are a mix of immigrants from China, working class families and the elderly. Unlike the central part of Hong Kong, Sham Shui Po still has strong sense of community and humble vibes. This area is also one of very few places left to in Hong Kong to see the old residential buildings and feel nostalgic about how uber fast modernization happens. Exactly the place where you can demonstrate your street photography skills.
Open-air street markets
Keen to experience more local culture? Nothing screams “local” more than open-air street markets in Sham Shui Po. Head straight to Apliu Street flea market for a true electronics bargain of the latest mobile phone accessories to vintage typewriters and home appliances. If you are looking for children toys, affordable stationery and party accessories, Fuk Wing Street (Toy Street) is the place.
Another way to act local in Sham Shui Po is by paying a visit to Pei Ho Street where all stores and stalls selling fresh produce and daily necessities are situated in a row. You can also grab a quick bite while you browse the street as it’s also houses numerous snack stalls.
Exploring Hong Kong’s center of garment industry feels incomplete without visiting Ki Lung Street that is also known as Button Street. It’s named after the amount of wholesale vendors selling different types of button and garments fasteners. A visit to Ki Lung Street will make you amazed of how many types of buttons exist in Sham Shui Po.
Street arts loved by millenials
Instead of erecting modern structures, the local government, collaborated with art institutions, preferring to revitalize the existing buildings. It’s done by adorning the corners of Sham Shui Po with murals. In 2016, HKwalls, an annual street art festival in Hong Kong, was focused in Sham Shui Po. Cool murals from Cheung Sha Wan Road to Lai Chi Kok Road and Boundary Street to Nam Cheong Street are ready to take over your Instagram feed. One of the art works from the festival in Man Fung Building made it as one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable and most Instagrammable buildings.
Rich in culture and history
Behind the humble facade, buildings in Sham Shui Po hide a rich history. One of the notable buildings is the YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel. It’s the symbol of Hong Kong’s early public housing policies and has been awarded by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The building now serves as a popular youth hostel and Heritage of Mei Ho House Museum.
When the Precious Blood Convent opened its door in 1929, it provided shelter and free medical care to the poor, orphans and abandoned babies. The building is no longer open for public as now it stands as a symbol of charity and commitment to those who are in need.
The next historical building you must visit is 170 Yee Kuk Street. It was built in the 1920s and functioned as a frame maker shop and residency. The business has long ceased but the building’s windows and the calligraphic signs advertising the old framing business remain as local icon.
Next, Sham Shui Po Police Station. Built in 1925, it played an important role to monitor the safety of western side of Victoria Harbour and also to combat rising crime rates during the difficult social and economic periods in Sham Shui Po.
Another building a history lover should not miss is Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum. It features the four-chambered tomb that was discovered in 1955. Visitors can get a glimpse of this Eastern Han dynasty’s remarkable relic from a glass panel and learn more about the tomb’s history by looking at pottery and bronze pieces.
Easily-explored by foot
Sham Shui Po is perfect for a walking tour, even the self-guided ones. Sham Shui Po MTR station would be the ideal starting point for your walking tour. Check out this handy self-guided tour booklet with routes recommended by locals who know the district best.
Featured in Hong Kong & Hollywood movies
If you’re a movie buff, you should’ve been excited about exploring Sham Shui Po. Some of the blockbusters made the districts as the movie set. Rush Hour 2, starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, features scenes of busy Sham Shui Po, with shots of Tai Nan Street and traditional shop houses along Un Chau Street. Internal Affairs’ leads, Andy Lau and Tony Leung, also have a shot at the Audio Space store above Apliu Street. Tai Nan Street also features in Hollywood movies such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and the most recent, Ghost in the Shell.
Exploring Sham Shui Po will not only show you the true soul of Hong Kong, but also give you the opportunity to discover the best kept hidden gems. What are you waiting for? Pack your bag, fly to Hong Kong and roam around Sham Shui Po now!
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