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You could easily spend days in Causeway Bay, one of the busiest neighbourhoods on Hong Kong Island. It’s jam-packed with restaurants and shops, and also features Hong Kong’s main library and the Island’s largest public park, so there’s something for everyone here.
For those who don’t have days to spare, we’ve come up with the top 10 things that should be on your Causeway Bay to-do list.
It’s not as big as the other Times Square, or as famous, but it’s a sight you should not skip when exploring Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay. The square wasn’t previously part of Causeway Bay, but due to some moving of notional borders, most guidebooks now agree that it’s part of the area, if not one of its prime attractions. Why go at night? Because the glass-walled malls and high-rises filled with shops look so much prettier lit up. Plus, where else are you going to find shops that welcome you until well after midnight?
For many, Causeway Bay represents one thing, and one thing only: shopping. From gigantic shopping malls to local retailers, and from high-end fashion to affordable high-street offerings, Causeway Bay has it all. Visit SOGO, Hong Kong’s largest Japanese-style department store, or check out some local designers at Fashion Walk. It’s not just about clothes either; those on the lookout for electronics or household items are sure to find their fix, too.
A stone’s throw away from Houston Street is one of Hong Kong’s more peculiar tourist attractions. Every day at noon, a small crowd gathers to watch an employee of multinational company Jardine Matheson fire a three-pounder naval gun. Historians can’t quite agree on what started the tradition, but you can still witness it in action. As they only fire the gun once, the whole ceremony doesn’t take up much time, leaving you with plenty of time to take photos of the harbour views. You won’t stumble across the gun by accident, as you have to walk through a tunnel to get there; you can find the entrance underneath the World Trade Centre.
Why not try something truly out of the ordinary? If you are in Causeway Bay and need to get something off your chest, consider visiting the city’s local villain-hitters, who will help dispel any bad vibes or even curse your enemies by beating their shoes – yes, really.
The practice, known locally as da siu yan (‘petty person beating’) is a sorcery that involves local women, mostly retirees, beating away bad vibes; they can even curse your enemies by whacking paper effigies with their shoes. Popular with both locals and tourists, it’s a fascinating practice and one of those local traditions that gives Hong Kong its unique character. Typically, the villain-hitters charge HK$50 (£5) for the service. Clients come to see these hitwomen to help shake all kinds of ill fortune, but most are looking to combat unfaithful partners, love rivals or work troubles.
Causeway Bay is by no means the only place to enjoy a ride on one of Hong Kong’s ancient trams, but the sheer number of pedestrians here can make you feel a little claustrophobic, and the Ding Ding offers some relief. Its slow pace and the many stops will give you plenty of time to admire your surroundings. Make sure to get a seat on the upper deck so you have a good view of the crowds beneath you. It won’t get you to your destination any faster than walking, but it does give you the chance to have a proper look around. So hop on, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Put your map away and just explore. As Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world, you can feel comfortable wandering off into the unknown. Step away from the main roads, head into the side streets and find out what lies around the next corner. Top tip: go up! Take a lift, a set of stairs or an escalator upwards, and you might suddenly find yourself in a fourth-floor nail salon or a Korean barbecue restaurant.
Whether you’re hungry or not, Houston Street – or Food Street – is a great place to check out. Tucked away in the crowded shopping area, it’s a little street with some of the best al fresco dining options in the city. Cuisines range from Italian to Thai, with most places open for both lunch and dinner. If you aren’t quite ready for food, just stroll around and peek into the side streets. You might catch groups of fashionable girls using the brightly painted walls as backgrounds for their Instagram photoshoot.
Lovers of literature should flock to this building. Featuring an innovative overhead book carousel that automatically catalogues hundreds of books and transports them to their rightful sections, the establishment redefines libraries, using technological advancements to appeal to the younger generation. There’s a designated area where children can come to read and enter a fantasy world of castles, faraway lands and mythical creatures.
Named after the former British queen, Victoria Park is the largest public park on Hong Kong Island. It features a fountain, some ponds, large grassy areas and plenty of benches dotted along its winding paths. Depending on the time of day, and of course the weather, you’ll find people having a picnic, practising tai chi or doing a lap on the dedicated jogging trail. It won’t top any lists of the world’s most beautiful parks, but it’s a welcome bit of green in the middle of Hong Kong.
Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay is a fully functional temple and a declared monument. It’s one of more than 100 temples dedicated to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea. The small structure dates back just over 150 years and stands out between the neighbouring skyscrapers. A small garden offers some peace and quiet, making a pleasant contrast with the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong daily life. The Tai family that built the temple still manages it today.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Laura Fransen.