Although Lan Kwai Fong occupies a very small pocket of Central, the neighbourhood is a magnet for Hong Kong’s party crowd. But there’s so much more to the place than just nighttime shenanigans. Here’s how to spend an entire day in this iconic spot.
Some people love it, some hate it. But regardless of what camp you fall in, most would agree that no trip to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to the infamous Lan Kwai Fong. There are art galleries, historical sites, old-school tea houses and other unique experiences tucked away around the neighbourhood. If you have a day to spare for this corner of Hong Kong, here’s how to spend it.
Feast on a typical Cantonese breakfast at Tsui Wah
Diner, Restaurant, Fusion, $$$
Tsui Wah is a cha chaan teng (tea house) that’s popular among locals for a quick bite to eat at almost every hour of the day. Most branches are open from early till late, but this particular restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong is a 24-hour operation. Its breakfast sets include the sinfully delicious beef satay with instant noodles, ham and macaroni in soup, scrambled eggs on crispy buttered bread and, of course, the famous Hong Kong milk tea. Their dishes are very reasonably priced so if you can’t choose one, order a couple of things to try.
After your late-afternoon tipple, take a walk down the Duddell Street Steps to see the four remaining colonial gas lamps left in Hong Kong. Both the steps and the gas lamps are Declared Monuments of Hong Kong, so while they might not seem like much, they’re kind of a big deal. Duddell Street runs between Queen’s Road Central and Ice House Street, and the set of stone steps at the upper end was actually built way back in 1875 and 1889. The perfect time to visit is after 6pm when the gas lamps are turned on and illuminate the street.
Opera Gallery is a contemporary art gallery with locations around the world, including Seoul, Singapore, Zurich, Beirut and Miami. The Hong Kong outpost is spread across three floors, which allows multiple exhibitions to take place simultaneously. Some of the permanent pieces include works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Takashi Murakami. The venue also supports local up-and-coming contemporary artists. If something catches your eye, the gallery sells prints of some of the works for you to take home or gift as a souvenir.
Skip the overflowing bars on the main strip of Lan Kwai Fong and head to this sophisticated spot instead. From the people behind NYC’s eponymous speakeasy, Employees Only brings a slice of America’s Prohibition era to Hong Kong. Staying true to the EO brand, the venue features retro decor, a well-stocked bar, and romantic candlelit tables at the back for dinner. Their inventive cocktails pack a punch, so make sure you line your stomach thoroughly before you start drinking. The baked macaroni, artichoke pancakes and fried Sichuan chilli chicken bites will do the trick. The venue is intimate, so get there early and keep your eyes out for the well-hidden, inconspicuous entrance.
Grab a bite of classic dim sum at Luk Yu Tea House
Restaurant, Dim Sum, $$$
The experience and atmosphere at Luk Yu Tea House is as authentically Hong Kong as you can get. Yes, that can mean that the waiters can come off a bit terse at times, but it’s all part of the experience. The decor is a fusion of lingnan and colonial styles, and retains the 1930s charm of this historic building. The kitchen serves dim sum that are hard to find in other tea houses, like the traditional honey-egg bomb or the stuffed fish maw. Grab a selection of steamed baskets and pair them with the signature stir-fried beef noodles. This place is popular so don’t expect to sit down for a long leisurely lunch – expect to be ushered out as soon as you’re done eating.
Fringe Club is known not just for its jazz sets, but also its stand-up comedy shows, art exhibitions and other live performances. During the day, there’s normally a range of ongoing exhibitions – but the evening is when this venue comes to life; unique jazz musicians and bands from around the world are invited to jam. You can come every night of the week and be treated to a completely different set. It also has a beautiful rooftop garden bar where you can escape the crowds of the streets below and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat.
Gao’s Foot Massage doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a posh Western spa, but what it’s lacking in fancy decor it makes up for in quality of service. Grab one of its 40 seats, put your feet up on the stool and get ready to enter nirvana for one hour of pure reflexology bliss.
This three-level rooftop bar, restaurant and lounge is the place in Lan Kwai Fong for a drink and a view. Make your way up to the top floor of California Tower to the newly revamped rooftop terrace, Sky Deck – the panoramic view of the Hong Kong skyline from here is breathtaking. It’s a great spot to start the night, but drinks are a bit on the pricey side. Take your selfie snaps here before the night descends into booze-fuelled chaos in one of the livelier drinking holes in Lai Kwai Fong.