Hong Kong
Where East meets West
Hong Kong Travel, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wanchai

Wanchai & Admiralty

Girly bars, great shopping and historical landmarks...

Admiralty and Wan Chai lie East of Central and are characterized mostly by modern office buildings, hotels and shopping malls.

   

Admiralty was the former location of "Admiralty Dock" which housed a naval yard. The dock was later destroyed when land was reclaimed and developed northward as the HMS Tamar naval base.

Until the 1970s, the area was exclusively used by the British military, who built Wellington Barracks, Murray Barracks, Victoria Barracks and Admiralty Dock at the site. Later on, the military structures were gradually replaced by commercial buildings, gardens and all sorts of public facilities.

 

Wan Chai is one of Hong Kong's earliest developed areas. Chinese villagers and fishermen already lived along the undisturbed coastline of Wan Chai before British colonisation began, mostly around the area of today's Hung Shing Temple.

 

The area was known, for years, as Hong Kong's red lights district. Its proximity to the port boosted a prosperous sex industry and the streets were packed with sailors, prostitutes and all sorts of "colorful fellows "... Today, however, the scene is somewhat different... The port moved to its new location and the government redeveloped the area, making it slightly more "decent"... Prostitution is still a big business in Wanchai but that shouldn't bother anyone. The main attraction for locals and tourists alike are the numerous bars, discos, cafés and dining venues, especially along Lockhart Road

 

Wanchai can be roughly divided into two parts: The old part of Wanchai, south of Johnston Road, where you can still feel some of the old days atmosphere and the new part which was built entirely on reclaimed lands, north of Johnston Road.

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Points of interest:

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (often abbreviated as HKCEC) is one of the metropolis' most impressive architectural landmarks.

 

The original building was built in 1988 and its glass curtain was the world's largest at the time, overlooking the Victoria Harbour on three sides.  The second phase of the centre, located on an artificial island, was constructed between 1994 and 1997, and features a bird-like rooftop.  It is connected to the old phase with a sky bridge, and to Convention Road with two road bridges.

 

Alongside numerous international exhibitions and conferences, the centre hosts plenty of cultural events, theatre performance and the likes... There are also some good restaurants within the complex.

To check for upcoming events: take a look at their Event Calendar

 

To get here: From MTR-Wanchai, walk along the pedestrian bridge (It's just a few minutes). 

 

 

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You can also come here with the Star Ferry from Tsim sha Tsui (there is a pier right next to the centre), or by tram, from either Central and Sheung Wan (drop off along Johnston Road and walk through Flemming Street), or from Causeway Bay (drop off along Johnston Road and walk through O'Brien Street).

 

The Golden Bauhinia Square is located right next to HKCEC's new wing, on the waterfront Expo Promenade.  A statue of a golden Bauhinia Blakeana flower(Hong Kong's symbol) adorns the centre of the square, where the ceremony for the handover of Hong Kong was held in July 1997.  A flag-raising ceremony is held daily at 8:00am.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

The Golden Bauhinia Square, right next to HKCEC's new wing, is where the ceremony for the handover of Hong Kong was held in July 1997.

 

Still around the waterfront and just a minute away from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre are the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, two of the most popular venues for theatrical and cultural performances in Hong Kong.

 

The Academy is located in an architecturally impressive structure and is considered as one of Hong Kong's most important performance centres. Student opera, drama, dance productions, concerts and recitals are performed throughout the year and are open to the public. In addition, the Academy hosts visiting musicians, dance and drama companies, local and international.

 

The Arts centre has some good galleries, focusing mostly on modern art.

To know more about upcoming events and exhibitions, check their websites:

Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Hong Kong Arts Centre

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If you wish to discover the older, southern part of Wanchai, you'll better start with Tai Yuen Street, where you can experience some local street-stall shopping.  Numerous huckster stalls sell a wide variety of dried goods, Chinese herbal medicine, garments and households at bargain prices. The neighboring streets form an area where old houses and modern mansions mingle, creating an interesting disparity (The entrance to Tai Yuen Street is from the corner of Johnston Road, across the road from Exit A-3 of MTR-Wanchai).

 

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Some excellent rattan and Chinese furniture shops can be found along Queen's Road East. Walk up Tai Yuen Street to the end and you are there...

 

Not far from the corner of Tai Yuen and Queen's Road East, the Blue House, a historic four-storey balcony-type building, well distinguished for its bright blue color, is one of only a few remaining examples of the Tong Lau (唐樓): A late 1800s tenement-building-design, which was unique to Hong Kong and southern China.

To get there: Cross Queen's Road East, turn left and then right, to Stone Nullah Lane. After a few steps you will see the building on your left hand side (72-74A Stone Nullah Lane)

 

A minute or two from the Blue House, on 2 Lung On Street, Pak Tai Temple is an old temple, built in 1863 to honour Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the North.  In the temple, there is a three metre high copper statue of Pak Tai, along with statues of other gods. Articles made more than 130 years ago are also displayed there.

To get there: continue walking up along Stone Nullah Lane, all the way to the top, and you will see Lung On Street on your left.

 

Walk back to the corner, turn left to Queen's Road East and after a few steps you will see the Old Wan Chai Post Office. which was built between 1912 and 1913 and  is the oldest surviving post office in Hong Kong. Nowadays, there is an Environmental Resource Centre here, which is open to the public and boasts a touch-screen environmental information system.

 

Few more steps along Queen's Road East will bring you to the entrance to Hopwell Centre, Wanchai's tallest skyscraper, where Hong Kong's only revolving restaurant can be found (R66

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The Taoist Hung Shing Temple on 129 Queen's Road East was built more than 160 years ago, in the 1840s and used to overlook the seafront, which was just nearby in those days... This simply designed tile-roofed temple was constructed on large boulders against a rugged terrain.  Following a number of reclamations, the shoreline has moved away and the temple is now sandwiched between some ugly concrete blocks.

 

Very little is known about the life of Hung Shing. According to legend, his original name was Hung Hei and he was the governor of Kwong Lee during the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907). Being a virtuous government official, he became very popular among his people.

After his death, the reigning emperor promulgated his virtues to the whole country and bestowed upon him the posthumous title of "Kwong Lee Hung Shing Tai Wong". It is said that Hung Shing still blessed the villagers after his death and had showed his presence to rescue many people during storms.

 

Worshippers of Hung Shing go to pray in the temple on the 1st and the 15th day of every lunar month, as well as on the birthday of Kwun Yum (Guanyin), the Goddess of Mercy.

 

Spring Garden Lane, just across the street from Hopewell Centre, and the section of Johnston Road near it are great places to pick up simple clothes and bags at very competitive prices. The market stalls exclusively sell products originally meant for export, meaning quality and price are very competitive. It also connects to local wet and dry markets, and so offers a multicultural experience, right in the heart of Wanchai. Spring Garden Lane is in between Queen's Road East and Johnston Road.

 

Continue walking along Queen's Road East and turn left to Ship Street. The short flight of stairs will lead you to Nam Koo Terrace, on 55 Ship Street, an early 20th century mansion which is popularly known as "The Wan Chai Haunted House".

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Back to Queen's Road East, cross it and continue straight along Ship street. Turn right to Johnston Road and after a few steps you will reach the Pawn, an imposing colonial building that used to accomodate one of Hong Kong's more successful pawnshops in the old days, and is currently housing a popular (and quite recommended) resto-bar.

 

Wanchai's Tai Fat Hau footbridge makes an absorbing display of art.  Made up of 30,000 citizens' fingerprints, the sticker pictures on the 50 poles of the footbridge, designed by famous artists and lay out "50 landscapes of Wan Chai", are now in line for enclosure in Guinness World Records Primetime. The Footbridge Gallery is located at the junction of Hennessy Road and Queen's Road East.

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

Central - "Where modern Hong Kong started from"

Causeway Bay and Shau Kei Wan - Hong Kong's trendiest shopping district, as well as some historical sites