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Cape D’aguilar Lighthouse
Photograph: Shutterstock

Explore the city: Down the memory lane

Follow these day trip ideas and get familiar with Hong Kong's storied past

Jenny Leung
Written by
Jenny Leung
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This week, take a trip down memory lane and flip the pages of Hong Kong’s history books. Our itineraries will take you through different parts of the city to discover everything from historical buildings and ancient relics to old restaurants and cafes. Get ready for a fascinating history lesson and reconnect with the city’s storied past.

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RECOMMENDED: Enjoy a relaxing day amidst beautiful landscapes and have a stress-free adventure in the city with our Sweet Escape itineraries.

Down the memory lane

  • Attractions
  • Kowloon City

This beautiful Jiangnan garden style oasis was once the site of the notoriously ungoverned enclave that is the Kowloon Walled City. Although it was demolished in 1994, remnants of the Walled City can still be found inside the park.

How to get there: The easiest way to get to the park is via MTR. Stop off at Sun Wong Toi Station and take Exit B3. From there, simply walk down Nam Kok Road towards Carpenter Road and you'll reach the park in no time.

Things to do: Pay a visit to the Yamen Building located in the centre of the park. It is the only building that remains of the Walled City and was declared a monument in 1996. After careful restoration, the building now holds exhibition rooms showcasing the history of the demolished city. Check out several outdoor displays dotted around the park, including the historic plaques and granite pavings of the Walled City’s main entrance at the Old South Gate, and a miniature bronze model of the infamous neighbourhood. 

Photograph: Ann Chiu

What to eat and drink: Kowloon City is dubbed as Hong Kong's little Thailand, so expect a slew of eateries with authentic Thai food. Tucked inside the Kowloon City Market Cooked Food Centre is Amporn Thai Restaurant offering servings of delicious pad thai. Cambo Thai Restaurant is also one of our favourite places to hit up for a genuine Thai meal at a reasonable price. For something a little more casual, Tai Wo Tang cafe – once a famous traditional Chinese medicine shop that opened in the 1930s – offers innovative takes on local bites such as the Tai Wo Tang pineapple bun with foie gras, Chinese sausage risotto, and a fun selection of cookies infused with Hong Kong flavours such as monk fruit and figs, ginseng and red date, and preserved plum candy.

Tips: If you've had enough history for the day, you can always explore other areas of the park such as the Mountain View Pavilion, the Garden of Four Seasons, as well as different Floral Paths lined with luscious flowers and plants.

  • Attractions
  • Shek O

Down at the southern tip of Shek O sits the Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse in Hong Kong and the first of its kind to be put into service in 1875. 

How to get there: To reach Cape D’Aguilar, head to Shau Kei Wan MTR station Exit A3. From the bus terminus, hop onto bus 9. Alight at Cape D’Aguilar Road to start your journey. Before you get on the bus, check if the ride will pass by or stop at Cape D’Aguilar as not all number 9 buses have the same route.

Photograph: Wong Ching

Things to do: Explore the Cape D’Aguilar Marine Reserve! From the bus stop, follow the path down Cape D'Aguilar Road and enjoy the stunning views of Stanley and Tai Tam Bay along the way. The main attraction is of course the historic lighthouse, a declared monument named after Sir George Charles D’Aguilar, a former Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong.

Other attractions nearby include a wartime battery built in the 1930s; the ‘Thunder Cave’, which got its name from the thunderous sound of waves crashing off the narrow cave walls; and the ‘Crab Cave’, a unique rock formation that resembles a giant crab.

Photograph: Wong Ching

What to eat and drink: After your trip, head to Shek O beach and enjoy a relaxing meal with the ocean breeze at Cococabana. Offering a variety of mouth-watering Mediterranean dishes, this beachside restaurant is the perfect place to end your day. If you’re after some local flavours, make your way back to Shau Kei Wan and try Siu Wah Kitchen, a local eatery known for its excellent claypot rice.

What to bring: Cape D’Aguilar is relatively easy to get around as most of the trail is paved, but if you’re planning to explore the caves, make sure you’re wearing suitable footwear as the rocks can be slippery. There aren’t a lot of shaded areas either, so lather up on sunscreen, bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated, and pack some snacks to keep yourself energized throughout the day.

Tips: Don't miss your chance to see the ‘Bones of Miss Willy’, the skeletal remains of a large whale displayed just outside the University of Hong Kong Swire Institute of Marine Science building. 

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  • Museums
  • Tsuen Wan

Formerly a Hakka walled village, Sam Tung Uk was revamped into a public museum where Hongkongers can learn about the city's fascinating cultural heritage.

How to get there: The museum is just a stone's throw away from Tsuen Wan MTR Station. Take Exit B3 and head down to ground level from the pedestrian bridge. From there, simply walk down Sai Lau Kok Road towards the museum.

Things to do: Duck in and out of different dwellings, row houses, and exhibition rooms inside the museum. There are all kinds of multimedia displays and interactive elements for you to experience and learn everything from the making of mahjong tiles and dim sum to traditional performances like Cantonese Opera and the Hakka Unicorn Dance. 

Photograph: Ann Chiu

What to eat and drink: Tsuen Wan offers a plethora of dining options, but Gala Cafe comes highly recommended. This decades-old eatery opened in 1978 and is well-loved for its hearty portions of egg and ham omelette, and corned beef egg sandwiches (it’s literally a stack of scrambled eggs)!

Tips: If you're looking for more fun activities, head over to The Mills, a former cotton mill turned fashion textile art hub, for more shopping and dining options.

More things for you to get nostalgic

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