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Hong Kong neon signs, Blair Sugarman
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

Hong Kong neon signs: A guide to capturing the best neons in Hong Kong

Disappearing neon signs have been the lament of many a street photographer in Hong Kong, but some of the best ones are still up. Here’s where you can find them and how to capture them in their best light.

Jenny Leung
Blair Sugarman
Edited by
Jenny Leung
Written by
Blair Sugarman
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The colourful glow of neon signs was once ubiquitous on the streets of Hong Kong – turn a corner and you would often encounter the lights of large, electric signage illuminating the streets from overhead. It was a veritable paradise for street photographers, many of whom took to the streets in the later hours to document both the signs and the local life that unfolded underneath them. 

In recent years, increased building regulations have resulted in the takedown of many iconic neon signs, casting a (literal) shadow over the streets above which they once stood, and the future of night street photography in Hong Kong. Despite their rapid disappearance, several key neon signs remain, serving as worthy pilgrimages for those who wish to bask in their glow. 

Photographing these signs is definitely an activity worth doing whilst you still can – neon signage not only represents the heritage of the city and the businesses that built it, but they also serve as 'locational identifiers', specific objects that add uniqueness to your images by providing geographical context and narrative for the scene shown in your photos or videos. The unnatural colours look incredible on a visual medium, providing the beloved 'cyberpunk' effect that many creatives desire in their images.

With this in mind, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Rather than digging through Instagram to find a location, only to turn up to discover that the neon you wanted has been removed, take a look at the guide below for which neons you can still capture as of the time of writing. To help you get the best out of your images, I’ve also included which equipment you should take and what subjects you might be able to capture when there. Hopefully, you’ll find the suggestions illuminating!

RECOMMENDED: Discover the best street art in Hong Kong or check out these hidden art spaces dotted around town.

This article was written by Blair Sugarman, a multi-disciplinary photographer based in Hong Kong. At Time Out, all of our guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

A guide to capturing the best neons in Hong Kong

Chang Sha Street, Mongkok
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

1. Chang Sha Street, Mongkok

In my humble opinion, this corner of neon signs is some of the best remaining signage still standing in Hong Kong. The sheer size and brightness of the Gam Lai Gung Karaoke Night Club signs that overhang the street corner mean that the entire corner is cast in a bright purple, reddish glow, with any subjects walking underneath it illuminated perfectly. For optimal results, wait until after the rain has settled to capture some beautiful reflections and maximize the effect of the glow from the signs overhead. I’d suggest a wide-angle lens (16mm or 24mm) to capture the entirety of the signage but if you don’t have a professional camera with an interchangeable lens, the wide-angle setting on your mobile phone should be sufficient.

Man Nin Street, Sai Kung
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

2. Man Nin Street, Sai Kung

Despite being a bit further off the beaten track, Sai Kung has two or three large neons that are still up and most definitely worth visiting. The largest of these is a neon sign outside Chuen Kee Seafood restaurant, one that depicts a giant fish splashing in the water. I’d recommend visiting here after a seafood dinner on the promenade, using the reflections of cars parked on the street to capture an extra dimension in your images. Once you’ve done that, you can walk around Sai Kung and discover the other neons hidden in the back alleys. A 24-70mm lens is recommended to allow you some freedom with your compositions. 

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385 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

3. 385 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei

Some of the most famous signs in Yau Ma Tei are now long gone – the once resplendent Koon Nam Wah Bridal neon that hung across the road was removed in 2022 and replaced with a smaller, less ostentatious neon. Just around the corner from it though, you can find the colourful signage of Wo Hing Victory Mahjong, a gaming centre catered for those who’d like to gather with friends to play mahjong. During the pandemic, the neon facade remained off for sometimes days on end due to regulations on opening hours, but the centre now appears to have returned to usual hours with the signage illuminating every evening. You can get a variety of results using different lenses, but I’d suggest a 24-70mm lens or just using your mobile phone to have a certain amount of flexibility with composition. 

Tsuen Wan, Market Street & Chuen Lung Street
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

4. Tsuen Wan, Market Street & Chuen Lung Street

This location has everything you’d want from a nightly neon location in Hong Kong – buses, taxis, and neons of all shapes and sizes. If you walk around the area, you’ll be able to find a variety of neons and subjects to photograph, and, if you want more unique angles, head up to the top of the buildings next to the signs to get some top-down shots. 

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Castle Peak Road, Yuen Long
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

5. Castle Peak Road, Yuen Long

Although Wing Wah has expanded to operate various branches throughout Hong Kong, the original branch in Yuen Long remains a special and significant part of their history. The business is located in a three-story building, adorned with a large neon sign – a distinctive rectangular, red and yellow signboard. If you get here during the right time of day, you can capture the light rail and passersby to give further context to your photos. Try either a 70-200mm lens for some compression, or a wider angle lens (a 24-70mm should do) to incorporate both the signage and the surrounding environment. 

Lei Yue Mun
Photograph: Blair Sugarman

6. Lei Yue Mun

This fishing village is home to many seafood stalls and restaurants, some of which have beautiful neon signs serving as eye-catching advertisements to passersby. When you arrive in Lei Yue Mun, don’t forget to take out your camera and capture the neons that illuminate the roofs of the surrounding restaurants.

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