Hong Kong
Where East meets West
Hong Kong Travel, Tours, Sheung Wan, Man Mo Temple

Sheung Wan

"The Chinese heart of old Hong Kong"

Sheung Wan stretches on the west side of Central and is characterized mostly by historic streets with many traditional Chinese shops.  The area, which can be described as "The Chinese heart of old Hong Kong", is one of the territory's oldest urban settlements and was a part of historical Victoria City.  As a matter of fact, the site where British troops first landed on Hong Kong Island during the First Opium War (1841) can be seen here, near Sheung Wan's Possession Street.

  

Mid-levels, one of the metropolis' most expensive residential areas, is located halfway up Mount Victoria, right above Central and Sheung Wan, and is popular with both locals and expatriates (Although in the past, residents were mostly British and Europeans).

 

The lower parts of Mid-levels boast some beautiful historic streets with temples and old colonial buildings and, of course, it is the home of the world's longest escalator and the trendy SoHo area.

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The most obvious spot to start the tour from is, probably, Western Market.  You can get there either by MTR (Sheung Wan Station), or with the tram (get off at Western Market station).

 

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If coming by MTR, take exit C, turn left to Connaught Road Central and walk for a couple of minutes, until you see the market Western Market on your left. (If coming by tram, the stop is right next to the market). Housed in a beautiful Edwardian style structure, highlighted with "bandaged" brickwork on its four corner towers, this is the oldest surviving market building in Hong Kong.  It originally consisted of 2 separate blocks: The South Block on Queen's Road Central was built in 1858 and demolished in 1980 while the North Block, smaller and more compact in design, was built in 1906 and was preserved and renovated by the Land Development Corporation, after being declared a historical monument.

 

The market comprises quite a few traditional Chinese shops that sell everything, from souvenirs and cheap fakes to jade stones, handcrafts, fabrics and more... The restaurant on the 3rd floor (Treasure Inn) is very popular during lunch time. The market is open daily, from 10 am to 7 pm

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From the market, you can take either Morrison Street or Ontai Street : Walk a few steps and turn right to Wing Lok St., also known as the Ginseng and bird's nest street.  Here you can start your "windows shopping safari", exploring traditional shops that sell all sorts of exotic products like shark's fins, birds nests, dried seafoods, Chinese herbal medicines and what have you... 

 

Continue walking along Wing Lok to its end and turn left to Des Voeux Road West, known also as Dried Seafood Street.

 

A small tip from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

while in Sheung Wan, pop into Man Wa Lane, also known as Chop Alley, where there are many stalls of chop-makers.  The chops are traditional Chinese stamps and seals, engraved on various materials like wood, bamboo, stone, bone and the likes...

          

From Des Voeux Road West, you can turn left to Ko Shing Street, which is known as the Herbal Medicine Street. From there, turn right to Queen Street and right again to Queen's Road West, and left, to Hollywood Road.

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Historic Hollywood Road was the first road to be constructed in the crown colony and, contrary to what many people think, it is not named after the Californian film industry mecca, but after the Holly-Wood shrub that used to grow around this area (In fact, the road was put up early in 1844, at least forty years before the more famous Hollywood in California was settled).

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

Contrary to what many people think, Hong Kong's Hollywood Road is not named after California's film industry mecca, but after the Holly-Wood shrub that used to grow around this area... In fact, the road was put up early in 1844, at least forty years before the more famous Hollywood was created... 

 

  

In the old days, before reclamation projects started to flourish, the road was much closer to the coastline and foreign merchants, as well as sailors, used to sell here antiques and artifacts they "collected" from China, on their way back to Europe. This is probably how Hollywood Road began its role as an antiques market...

 

In the early 1960s, the road got its 15 minutes of fame when part of a famous Hollywood movie, called The World of Suzie Wong, was shot here.

 

Today, the road is filled with trinket and antique shops of all sorts: From Chinese furniture to porcelain ware, from Buddha sculptures to Tibetan rugs, from Japanese netsukes to Coromandel screens and from Ming dynasty ceramic horsemen to kitsch Maoist memorabilia...  Visiting some of these shops is truly an authentic experience, so even if you don't really plan to buy anything, you should make a point to visit both Hollywood Road and Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street) underneath it.

 

Other than its exotic shops, the road also houses some points of interest:  On the western end of the road, between Hollywood Centre and Hollywood Road Park, you can enter Possession Street.  The street itself doesn't look much different than other streets around it, but it is well-known for its history:

In January 1841, A British navy official, called Edward Belcher, led a fleet to land on Hong Kong Island.  The fleet's surveyors found an elevated plain, suitable for camping, near the shore in the west side of the island. A road was built from the shore to the camp and it was later named Possession Street.  In 26th January 1841, the commander of the Far East Fleet, James John Gordon Bremer, came to Hong Kong by HMS Calliope.  A flag rise and gun ceremony marked the official possession of Hong Kong and the landing point was officially named Possession Point. The actual point is located in Hollywood Road Park (Few steps from the corner of Queen's Road West) and visiting the place can give you an idea about the size of Hong Kong's reclamation projects (just try to imagine that this is where the island's coastline once passed...).

 

A small tip from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

 

Visiting Possession Point in Hollywood Road Park, as well as neighboring Possession Street is recommended, mostly because it gives you an idea just how much the coastline has been pushed since reclamation started... 

 

Moving eastwards along the road, Man Mo Temple, on 126 Hollywood Rd. (near the corner of Ladder Street) is full of spiritual ambience... This old temple was built in 1847 in order to worship two gods, namely Man, the god of literature and Mo, the god of war. The coils and incense sticks, hanged inside the temple, fill the place with their strong, aromatic smells, and paper-made offerings are burnt to please the spirits of the dead...

 

 

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 Next to the temple is Ladder Street, composed entirely of stone steps.  In the old days there were some funeral homes around this area and when people died, their bodies were rested here for funeral services before they were carried to their home villages, back in China. You can walk down Ladder St. to get to Upper Lascar Row (Cat St.) and the neighboring streets.

 

Climbing up Ladder Street brings you to Bridges Street (turn right from Ladder, when going up) and Tai Ping Shan Street: A historic street, where an interesting 1850s ancestral hall can be visited.  Tai Ping Shan is the continuation of Bridges, which means it is parallel to Hollywood (above it). You can also access it from Po Yan Street, which branches off Hollywood next to Hollywood Road Park.

 

The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is located in a renovated 3-storey Edwardian building that used to house the old pathological institute, just above Hollywood Road.

Opened in 1996, the museum displays materials of historical interest relating to the development of the medical industry in Hong Kong and is one of the first museums in the world to compare traditional Chinese and Western approaches to medicine.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is one of the first museums in the world to compare traditional Chinese and Western approaches to medicine.

 

The museum's address is: 2 Caine Lane. (From Man Mo Temple: walk up Ladder St. to the top and turn right to Caine Lane).

 

Opening Hours : 10 am - 5 pm, Tuesday-Saturday  and  1 - 5 pm on Sunday and public holidays (closed on Mondays)

Admission fees are HK$ 10 for an adult and HK$ 5 for kids, students, disabled and elderly people.

Website                                                                 Tel: 2549 5123

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The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum commemorates the activities and the philosophy of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the renowned Chinese revolutionary and political leader who played a major role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and assisted in transforming China from a monarchy to a republic.

 

Sun, who is often referred to as the "father of modern China", received his education in Hong Kong and his epoch-making career was inseparable from Hong Kong, where he nurtured his revolutionary ideas. From the establishment of the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) in 1894 to the founding of the Chinese Republic in 1912, Dr. Sun kept using Hong Kong as a base of his revolutionary campaign.

 

The museum, which was opened in 2006, is housed in the Kom Tong Hall, a magnificent colonial-era mansion, built in an Edwardian classical style with Greek-style granite columns that surround the curved balconies at the façade.

 

Inside the museum, there is quite an interesting showcase of Dr Sun's activities, including exhibition galleries covering his life history and his close relationship with Hong Kong. The 150 exhibits include clothes and personal manuscripts which bring alive the revolutionary spirit of Dr Sun. Visitors can gain other insights by visiting the reading room, video room and an interactive room.

 

The museum's address is: 7 Castle Road  (from Hollywood Rd.: You can either go up with the escalator and turn right to Caine Rd. or walk up along Aberdeen Street, which brings you right to the museum)

 

Opening Hours: Daily (except Thursdays), 10 am - 6 pm (on Sunday and public holidays the museum stays open until 7 pm)

Closed on Thursdays (unless it falls during a public holiday) and on the first two days of the Chinese New Year.

Admission fees are HK$ 10 for an adult and HK$ 5 for kids, students, disabled and elderly people

Website                                                                         Tel: 2367 6373

  • After visiting the museum, you can also walk along the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail, passing through historic buildings that played a certain role in Sun's life.      

The Former Central Police Station is located at the eastern end of Hollywood Road, not far from the escalator (10 Hollywood Rd.). The oldest structure within the police station was built in 1864 and more buildings were added on at the beginning of the 20th century, due to the large number of people who moved to Hong Kong from mainland China and the corresponding increase in difficulty with maintaining law and order.

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Built in a classical style, the main building (or Headquarters Block), has four storeys and a grey and blue colour scheme, with Doric-style columns. 

The compound comprises of other interesting buildings from Hong Kong's early colonial past, such as the Victoria Prison (on Old Bailey Street) and the Former Central Magistracy (which is facing Arbuthnot Road). Some of those buildings are not open to the public, but that doesn't really matter, cause seeing their impressive exterior is the main thing.

 

Did you know ?  

The Former Central Police Station compound is about to become a shopping and entertainment complex.  The classic buildings will be restored and renovated and brought back to their heydays.

  

From the Police Station you can walk down Pottinger Street, with its historic granite steps and its little shops, turn left to Lyndhurst Terrace and climb up to the corner of Cochrane Street... At this point, you can take a ride on the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system, connecting Central with the upper parts of Mid-levels.  There are some great shopping and entertainment areas along the escalator's route, such as: SoHo, Gage Street Market (below Hollywood), Stanley Street and "The Lanes".

 

Your sightseeing circuit will end, probably, at MTR-Central

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‎The University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery

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Hong Kong's oldest museum spreads across two neighboring buildings, next to the University's main entrance on Bonham Road, in the "Mid Levels", and although it is slightly off the ordinary tourist's route, it is well worth visiting, especially if Chinese arts and antiquities are your thing.

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Occupying the Fung Ping Shan Building (museum) and the lower three stories of the T T Tsui Building (gallery), it displays thousands of antique ceramics, bronzes and paintings, with pieces dating from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty. The bronze collection includes works from the Shang to the Tang dynasties, as well as the world's largest collection of Yuan dynasty Nestorian crosses. There are also some jade, wood and stone carvings, as well as a collection of Chinese oil paintings.

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Opening hours:  Monday – Saturday, 9:30 am - 6 pm, and 1 – 6pm on Sunday (Closed on public holidays and university holidays)

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Entrance is free, and for more information you can simply visit their website.


Getting to ‎the University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery:

If coming from Central, you can take bus No. 40M, or 23 from D'aguillar Street (near Lan Kwai Fong), or 3-b from City Hall, or route nos. 8 and 22 from the car park outside the Star Ferry Terminal.

 

If coming from MTR Admiralty, you can take any of the following routes from outside the station: 23, 40 and 40 M

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You may also want to read about other trips around this area...

Central - "Where modern Hong Kong started from"

Wan Chai & Admiralty - Modern architecture, shopping and sinful streets

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