Get us in your inbox

Search
Old Central Market
Photograph: Mr Cheng Po-hung 鄭寶鴻先生

Rediscover Central’s living heritage

Travel back in time and visit places that are living testaments to the history and heritage of the district

Time Out Hong Kong in partnership with Chinachem Group
Advertising

If you look at the busy and cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Central and Sheung Wan, it's easy to dismiss that the area is one of the oldest parts of Hong Kong and serves as a time capsule to the city's storied past. While most colonial or historical buildings did not survive our city's race into modernity, many temples and landmarks remain in the district. And thanks to the city's revitalisation projects, a lot of these iconic spots are now thriving with new life and purpose.

The latest development in the district is the revitalisation of Hong Kong's historic 82-year-old Central Market by Chinachem Group. The three-storey structure that first opened for business in 1842 as a local bazaar before reopening with a new building in 1939, is now a Grade III historic building located between Queen's Road Central and Des Voeux Road. This year, the space will open as a 'Playground for All', offering experiences and venues for dining and retail aimed at connecting the local community to the neighbourhood's history, tradition, and contemporary culture.

Central Market is a new hub that will offer workshops, tours, and other activities, bridging different heritage spots in the area such as PMQ and Tai Kwun, as well as nearby attractions to encourage people to venture and rediscover the district. You can take a trip down memory lane and start the journey from Central Market and walk a few steps to stroll along the iconic cobblestone-covered Pottinger Street, dine at long-standing local favourites and dai pai dongs, and experience and taste old Hong Kong through venues that have stood the test of time.

Here’s a walk-through guide that will let you rediscover the city’s living heritage:

Covering over 12,000sq m floor area that will be taken up by retail and public spaces, the revitalised Central Market will have a new facade facing Des Voeux Road Central and a Legacy Hall located at the entrance facing the Queen's Road Central. The Legacy Hall will serve as a welcome venue for visitors and will showcase an educational area featuring the story of the Central Market from its architecture to its community. As a new hub in the heart of Central, visitors can explore a plethora of venues from its dining and drinking offerings, as well as its entertainment and shopping spaces. Workshops, tours, and various events will be available, and activities will connect visitors to H6 CONET, H18 CONET, Pak Tsz Lane Park, as well as its neighbouring heritage sites PMQ and Tai Kwun.  

  • Shopping
  • Central

A couple of minutes walk away from the revitalised Central Market is the century-old 'stone slab' street, Pottinger Street. Named in 1858 after the first Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Pottinger, the street used to mark the boundary that separated where the British lived and the locals lived. Today the steep slope is one of the most photographed streets in the Central business district, lined with various stalls and stores offering costumes, hats, wigs, party favours, and numerous knick-knacks for Halloween and other occasions. Browse the quirky shops and have fun taking pictures along the granite-paved steps. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Central

Located right by the escalator in Central is one of the last remaining dai pai dongs in Hong Kong. A long-standing local favourite, Sing Kee represents the essence of the city's street-food culture. It's always teeming with patrons enjoying signature fares while knocking down a few cans of iced cold beer. Tuck into their must-try dishes that include spare ribs, salt and pepper squid, and garlic prawns. 

  • Restaurants
  • Central

Tai Ping Koon is a long-standing restaurant that originally opened in 1860 in Guangzhou, China. Today the restaurant has four branches in the city and has attracted famous personalities as its patrons for generations. Popular for their East-Meets-West culinary style, they serve Western dishes tailored for the Chinese palate. Head here and enjoy a feast of Swiss chicken wings, oven-baked pigeon, stir-fried beef noodles with Swiss sauce, and finish off with a serving of their giant baked souffle. 

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Central

Luk Yu Tea House is an institution in the Central District operating in the city since the 1930s. The restaurant stretches across three floors – that quickly fills up with customers – and has served various Hong Kong celebrities, VIPs, business tycoons, and government officials over the years. Head here to get your fix of old Hong Kong and enjoy quality Cantonese cuisine that includes must-try signature dishes like steamed chicken buns, shrimp toast, pork shumai, beef cutlet, braised rolled pork belly, Xiao long bao, and other dim sum that varies weekly. 

  • Art
  • Central

Tai Kwun is one of the earliest low-rise structures in the city built under British colonial rule, now transformed into one of the biggest creative hubs in the city that brings art and culture to the public. This revitalised compound houses three declared Hong Kong monuments – the former Central Police Station, Victoria Prison, and Central Magistracy. Drop by for lunch or dinner to enjoy bites and drinks in its impressive array of bar and dining spots and browse the art galleries that host regular art exhibitions.   

Advertising
  • Attractions
  • Central

For a quiet escape from the bustling district, make your way to Pak Tsz Lane Park to relax in the sitting area while learning a thing or two about its storied past. Located in a tranquil spot in Central behind Aberdeen Street, Hollywood Road, Gage Street, and Peel Street, the park officially opened to the public in 2012 to commemorate the 1911 revolution – led by Dr Sun Yat-sen – that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. The park is surrounded by modern structures consisting of a pavilion space, a corridor featuring exhibition panels, and a themed play area that showcases the history of the revolution. 

  • Attractions
  • Sheung Wan

PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters, has been listed as a Grade III historic building since 2010 and is one of the biggest revitalisation projects in the city. Currently a centre for arts and design, the historical site PMQ holds regular creative pop-ups and night markets and is home to an array of creative enterprises composed of cafes, restaurants, bars, small boutiques, and design studios selling handmade products from jewellery to homeware goods. Drop by to wine and dine from the array of culinary options or shop for unique finds from local designers, artists, and fashion brands.  

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Sheung Wan

Man Mo Temple is a mid-19th century Grade I historic building and a declared national monument comprising three blocks, the Man Mo Temple, Lit Shing Kung, and Kung Sor, which were built between 1847 and 1862. Worshippers come here for the God of Literature and the God of Martial Arts, and to resolve conflicts. The architecture and design of the temple adorned with ceramic figurines, granite and wood carvings, and murals, its atmosphere, and the smell of burning incense will transport you back to old Hong Kong, which is a world away from the busy Hollywood Road. 

  • Attractions
  • Sheung Wan

Just a stone’s throw away from Man Mo Temple is a popular tourist spot in Sheung Wan. Upper Lascar Row, also known as Cat Street, has more than 100 years of history and is notable for its rows of antique stalls. The shops here sell everything from contemporary handcrafted items, Bruce Lee posters, Mao memorabilia, vintage furniture, old coins, Buddha heads, antique jade pendants, calligraphy brushes, and figurines of all shapes and sizes. Head here to browse on eclectic souvenirs or sit down for coffee or snacks in one of the many bars and restaurants in the area. 

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising