Sai Ying Pun is one of the oldest areas in Hong Kong, a place the British military called home when they first arrived and an area of great charm. It retains the feel of a genuine neighborhood with pungent smells and live chicken markets, despite the booming explosion of modern restaurants and shops that now grace the first, second, third and high street.
Situated between the areas of Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan, the Tai Sui Temple is a quirky religious structure dedicated to deities governing the different animals of the Chinese zodiac. There are 12 of these animals in total: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. For a small fee – of around $100 and four red packets of any amount – you can opt to burn incense and offer prayers to bless your animal and, in turn, yourself.
Dim sum in Hong Kong is very much a right of passage and one of the most traditional dining experiences you could ever hope to have while in the city, and if you’re a big fan of those bamboo steamers, you can get yours hands on some from the Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company. Here, you’ll find the Lam family keeping the tradition alive with their handcrafted bamboo steamers and other kitchen utensils – a rare sight these days after the movement of production to factories in China.
Above Second opened in 2010 and is a gallery space determined to help grow the contemporary art scene. They exhibit loud, controversial pop art in a variety of different media: illustration, graphic design, graffiti, comic books, pop culture, and street art. So, if you feel like challenging your conceptions of art and gazing upon some raw creative energy, this is the place to go.
Opening hours: Tues-Sat 1 p.m.-7 p.m.
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Craft Brew & Co, Hong Kong | Courtesy of Craft Brew & Co.
When you’ve spent the whole morning strolling through the hot and humid streets of Hong Kong, sometimes all you can think about is sipping on a nice cold beer. Luckily, Sai Ying Pun is home to Craft Brew & Co., a company on a mission to educate people on beers that you never knew existed ‘because life is too short to drink bad beer.’ This place is a beacon for enthusiasts and junkies alike when looking for that more refined tasting beer; plus there’s food – some of the finest gourmet sausages that are lean, low in fat and naturally encased.
Named after Dr. Sun himself, this used to be the only area (aboard a boat) he could go in Hong Kong to see friends and relatives after being exiled for his leading role in the Chinese revolution. Today, this is the ultimate green space in Sai Ying Pun if you want to take things easy and chill. Here you can enjoy a picnic with friends or loved ones or watch the older generation practicing tai chi early in the morning (like, really early) – all with a fantastic view of our favorite fragrant harbor.
If you’re getting peckish on your adventure through Sai Ying Pun, then a sweet treat may be just what you need to perk up those energy levels. Sweet Classroom is a cozy dessert shop that is loved for its local-style treats. A great place to stop off for a quick bite of traditional food before continuing on your sightseeing and exploration journey.
Hidden behind an inconspicuous, unmarked red door lies Ping Pong 129, a bar that houses a Spanish gin-tonic experience. It’s now considered to be ‘the cool watering hole’ where the coolest of the cool hang out; previously, this had been a former ping pong hall. Inside, you’ll find a spacious interior made up of urban chic décor, more than 50 varieties of gin from across the globe made into both classic and creative cocktails, and some moreish Spanish sharing platters, including tortilla de patatas, croquetas, jamon Iberico, cazuela de huevos and much much more.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sun 6 p.m.-11 p.m.
Also known as CACHe, the Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage is home to numerous exhibitions, thematic talks, cultural tours, workshops and more that promotes the conservation of culture and heritage in Hong Kong. From heritage tours to historical temples to lectures on the Kowloon Walled City, there’s always something on to intrigue you.
Ba Yi is one of those inconspicuous places that you wouldn’t normally look twice at; but, take the time to explore their menu, and you’ll find that they serve cuisine from Xinjiang province – an autonomous province in the northwest of China. Xinjiang cuisine has a heavy focus on lamb, a type of meat that is not commonly used in China or Hong Kong. Though lamb may not be for everyone, and it certainly isn’t cheap, it makes for a delightful experience if you’re looking for something that’s a little different to your typical Chinese cuisine that’s not Spanish, British, Japanese, etc.
Just a short walk from the Tai Sui Temple is the Palace of Moon & Water: Kwun Yum Temple. It’s a dimly lit feature honoring the Goddess of Compassion, Kwum Yum. Legend has it that the Goddess of Compassion was given a thousand arms by the Buddha so that she could help as many people as possible. Again, if you pay a small fee, you’ll be allowed to turn the small wooden windmill in order to try and change your luck.