Located on the tip of Hong Kong’s peninsula by Victoria Harbour, Tsim Sha Tsui is famous for its iconic view of the city’s harbour. This neighbourhood should be your top priority if you’re a first-time visitor.
Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the busiest districts in Kowloon, and there’s plenty to see and do here. The shopping scene is varied, ranging from designer boutiques to local bric-a-brac stores. It’s also a good place to find a range of museums, galleries and live performances. But perhaps what it’s best known for is its view of Hong Kong’s harbour; here, you can watch the junk boats sail across Victoria Bay against the backdrop of an expansive glittering skyline. Here are the best things to do in the neighbourhood.
Located just five minutes away from the K11 shopping mall, Kowloon Park is the perfect place to escape the city’s frenetic energy or to just be surrounded by plants and greenery. It’s also a surprisingly good place to indulge in some birdwatching – in the centre of the park there’s a pond full of flamingos and an aviary with exotic parrots and cockatoos. A swimming pool and health centre are located on the north side of the park, and if you’re not interested in squats or squash, there’s a McDonald’s in the same building.
The Avenue of Stars is Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but with a much more scenic backdrop. It’s located next to the breathtaking Victoria Harbour, giving way to a waterfront view of the city’s iconic skyline. The walkway is lined with celebrity handprints, movie memorabilia and commemorative plaques. Further along, you’ll find a life-size bronze statue of Bruce Lee.
Housed in a massive six-story building, K11 is more than just a mall. Besides a wide range of shops selling fashion, beauty and lifestyle products, there are also fantastic art exhibitions and events running all year round. It is said that K11 is the world’s first art mall – it tries to integrate elements of art and nature into the building through the placement of paintings, plants and installations on each floor. Local artists often showcase their work here.
For over 120 years, the Star Ferry has been shuttling locals between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Even though the two sides of the city have since been connected through roads and railways, tens of millions of people still choose to climb aboard these historic green and white boats every year.
Kimberley Road is famous for its abundance of Korean restaurants and grocery stores. This area, known locally as Korean Street and Little Korea, has everything you need to cook an authentic japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables meat) at home. And if you’re craving Korean barbecue, you would be hard pressed to find a better place in Hong Kong than Seorae, one of the most popular chain restaurants in South Korea.
The Hong Kong Cultural Centre is the biggest multipurpose performance facility in the city. The venue hosts operas, dances, plays and musical performances throughout the year. The main concert hall is large, with the capacity to hold over 2,000 people. During the Cultural Centre’s off-hours, there are usually free foyer programmes and art exhibitions to take in.
Located on the 30th floor of Peking Road Shopping Arcade, and with incredible floor-to-ceiling windows, Aqua Spirit offers stunning views of Hong Kong’s skyline and Victoria Harbour, with moody lighting and sophisticated decor. An alternative is Eyebar in Isquare, which has outdoor seating as well as the night views.
Hong Kong is known for its wide range of luxury brands and inexpensive gadgets. There are plenty of shopping malls in Tsim Sha Tsui, but Harbour City is the most impressive. It is the largest and most diverse mall in the city, and there are over 450 shops, 50 restaurants, two cinemas, three hotels and a luxurious private club.
While the most famous nightlife spot in Hong Kong is Lan Kwai Fong, there is also a late-night hub across the harbour, on a small side street called Knutsford Terrace. This narrow lane is packed with al fresco bars, pubs, clubs and a wide range of international restaurants. Some bars stay open until six in the morning, so it’s the perfect place to go if you don’t want the night to end.
Chungking Mansions may not stand out, but the buildings are well established in Hong Kong pop culture: the site was the subject of Wong Kar-wai’s romantic drama Chungking Express(1994). Among locals, it’s known as the best place in the city to get affordable Indian and African food. On the floors above there are plenty of hostels and budget hotels to choose from, and it’s a decent place to look for accommodation if you haven’t booked ahead. There are also plenty of currency exchange stores providing a good rate.
Located on the second floor of a building on Chatham Road is a large space devoted entirely to claw machines. There are all sorts of prizes to be won, from stuffed toys to snacks. Each attempt costs just 5 Hong Kong dollars and difficulty levels vary from easy to hard, but if you can’t face the prospect of going home empty-handed, you can pay more to guarantee yourself a prize.
The Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre is one of the most iconic landmarks in Tsim Sha Tsui. The site was established during the British colonial era, when Indian Muslims were serving in the British Army in Hong Kong. At the time, they were based in Whitfield Barracks, the former site of which can still be found in Kowloon Park. Just a short walk from the park on Nathan Road, the mosque mostly serves Sunni Muslims from Pakistan and Indonesia. Visitors are welcome to attend prayers as long as they are covered from neck to ankle.
The curious dome-shape building in Tsim Sha Tsui is the Hong Kong Space Museum. It’s a planetarium, as well as an exhibition centre for astrology. Here, you can experience the disorientation of being upside down in a virtual space station, while the gravity surfing exhibit will simulate a journey in space, whizzing past different celestial objects and planets. The museum makes for a great rainy day activity and it’s family-friendly too, as most of the exhibits are interactive.
Located at the end of Star Avenue near the Arts Museum, Salisbury Garden is an exhibition space and a peaceful patch of green. It’s a nice spot to sit and admire the beautiful harbour view; bring a picnic just before sunset and wait for the buildings and light installations to come to life.
The most loved legacy of the British colonial era in Hong Kong is the decadent afternoon high tea, and the best spot to partake in this elegant tradition is the oldest hotel in the city, The Peninsula. The typical three-tiered set of cakes, scones and sandwiches is accompanied with a performance by a live string quartet. Dress code is smart casual and spaces are given on a first come, first served basis.