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night market
Photograph: Shutterstock

10 Places in Hong Kong that define the city's culture and identity

See if your favourite spot in the city is on the list

By Time Out Hong Kong
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Amid the changing landscape of the city, there are still a plethora of places in Hong Kong that have withstood the decades and live on as endearing memories or revamped to serve as modern spaces – many of which have come to embody meaningful values of our culture and identity. Read on to find out about these places and see if your favourite spot is on the list. By Elaine Soh   

RECOMMENDED: Keen to explore more? Check out these places you won't believe exist in Hong Kong.

 

Places in Hong Kong that define the city's culture and identity

Lion Rock
Lion Rock
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lion Rock Hill

Sport and fitness Wong Tai Sin

Lion Rock is an icon that carries a special meaning for many Hongkongers. Situated between Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai, Lion Rock has been considered to embody the spirit of Hong Kong people, especially since the airing of local TV series Below the Lion Rock, which depicts the resilience and solidarity of Hongkongers as they struggle to rebuild their city in the post-world War II era. If there's anything that Hongkongers can agree on, it is that the 'lion rock spirit' lives proudly within each and every one of us.

Temple Street
Temple Street
Photograph: Shutterstock

Temple Street Night Market

Shopping Jordan

Temple Street Night Market first began in the 1920s when hawkers and street vendors provided food for the people gathering outside the temple. Widely known as a symbol of old Hong Kong, Temple Street Night Market is a place where many locals and tourists frequent in the evening for its flea markets that offer a great deal of cheap merchandise, knick-knacks, and many local street foods. More than just a bustling old market, Temple street embodies the down-to-earth local culture of Hong Kong. 

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Sai Kung
Sai Kung
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sai Kung

As the second-largest district in Hong Kong, Sai Kung encompasses a wide range of activities for nature, sports, and seafood lovers alike. For Hongkongers living in the city, Sai Kung is a great location for short getaways during the weekend, whether it is for an overnight camping trip, an evening barbeque, or a sunny afternoon on the sun-kissed beaches. For those who enjoy being in nature and the outdoors, Sai Kung is definitely an endearing reminder of Hong Kong's abundant verdant backdrop. 

Chungking Mansions

Attractions Tsim Sha Tsui

Chungking Mansion is a place far too often dismissed for its illegalities and little known for its cultural diversity. Designed in the late 1950s, the 17 storeys-tall building was the first of its kind in Kowloon. Many asylum seekers, immigrants, westerners, or backpackers who had been here were given their first taste of the resilience and tenacity of our dynamic city. A regular spot for South Asians (Pakistanis, Indians, Nepalese, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans), Middle Eastern people to Nigerians and Europeans, Chungking Mansion is definitely a big melting pot of culture. Ever since it was featured in Wong Kar-wai's film, Chungking Express, this building has been a popular spot for many tourists and film buffs. 

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Lin Heung Tea House

Restaurants Sheung Wan

Anyone who grew up here in Hong Kong would have heard of Lin Heung Teahouse. Established in 1926, Lin Heung is one of our city's oldest restaurants, serving up traditional dim sum during the day and classic Cantonese mains in the evening. Hong Kong is known to be the origin of savoury dim sums and Cantonese cuisines, which is why time-honoured restaurants that serve local delicacies like Lin Heung Teahouse is always on the bucket list of many travellers and locals alike. In 2019, the tea house announced its closure and attracted a slew of Hongkongers all keen to make one last visit to enjoy some pushcart dim sum. But the historic dim sum restaurant retracted after managing to renew a three-year contract with landowners, so it looks like the place is here to stay. 

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

Attractions Tai Po

Every Chinese New Year, crowds of Hongkongers would flock to Lam Tsuen in Tai Po to visit the wishing tree. In the past, settlers in Lam Tsuen believed that the wishing tree and temple provided peace for their village. As such, whenever there was a festival, villagers would write their wishes onto a piece of joss paper, tie it to an orange, and throw it onto the trees for peace and prosperity. Today, although the practice of throwing wishing paper is no longer allowed, this place still remains a popular spot for many Hongkongers. As an alternative to throwing papers onto the banyan tree, authorities have provided a new artificial tree for villagers and visitors to continue this celebratory folk tradition during Chinese New Year.  

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Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park_shutterstock_03032020
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park_shutterstock_03032020
Photograph: Shutterstock

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Park

Things to do Kowloon City

For those who have lived in Kowloon City between 1925 to 1998, you'll probably remember the noise and rumbles of planes flying closely overhead to and from Kai Tak airport everyday. The thrilling sight of planes descending almost into the buildings of Kowloon is a rare experience in today's world of skyscrapers and highrise buildings. Ever since its closure in 1998, Kai Tak airport has remained a memory of an era past. The iconic airport has now been transformed into Kai Tak Runway Park and still retains many of its aviation design elements. The park maintains the spirit of old Kai Tak as a communal destination with open green spaces and a beautiful view of Victoria Harbour. It truly shines as a testament to the sentimentality of Hong Kong.

Lan Kwai Fong

Things to do Lan Kwai Fong

Nothing beats Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) when it comes to the city's nightlife. LKF welcomes all expats, locals, or tourists to partake in its night scene of trendy and hip bars, clubs, and restaurants infused with diverse cultural elements. As one of the most iconic places in Hong Kong, LKF is considered as a representation of the diverse culture in our cosmopolitan city. 

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Hong Kong harbour view
Hong Kong harbour view
Photograph: Shutterstock

Victoria Harbour

Things to do Tsim Sha Tsui

For a city that is founded on trade, Victoria Harbour is the equivalent of landmarks like the Big Ben in London or the Statue of Liberty in New York. Without it, Hong Kong wouldn't be the same. A popular spot for Hong Kong's iconic night views and skyline, Victoria Harbour is one of the greatest deep-water harbours that plays a critical role in the economic development of our city. More than just a prominent tourist spot with cruises and tours, this centrepiece is the key to trade with mainland China and many other parts of the world. Today, both tourists and locals come to dine in the host of restaurants and cafes lining Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront and enjoy its pristine views as well as the Symphony of Lights' daily evening light and sound show. 

escalator
escalator
Photograph: Shutterstock

Mid-Levels escalator

Things to do Central

Known for being the longest outdoor roofed escalator system in the world, the Mid-Levels escalator brings pride to all Hongkongers. With 20 single-direction escalators forming a sheltered 800m bridge connecting the Mid-Levels to Central, this world-record walkway was built initially to provide convenience for residents, commuters, and tourists. However, it eventually grew into providing more business opportunities for neighbouring restaurants and vendors in Central, Soho, and the Mid-Levels. Today, these famous escalators have also become one of the coolest movie locations in Hong Kong

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