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San Po Kong: Ultimate Guide

Enjoy the rich history and vintage delights in San Po Kong

San Po Kong
By Time Out Hong Kong |
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In the past eighty-some years, the kidney-shaped parcel of land that is San Po Kong has developed a rich history, and boasts a plethora of old-timey sights and vintage delights. Though San Po Kong was originally a barren plot that was later adapted as one of the runways for the former Kai Tak Airport.  After two short decades, it was transformed into an industrial sector when the ‘50s and ‘60s saw Hong Kong’s shift from a mere entrepôt to a rapidly-growing industrial city with a booming, manufacturing-based economy. Nestled comfortably between Wong Tai Sin and Diamond Hill and situated right above the now-residential acreage that used to be the Kai Tak Airport, this compact grid of industrial and residential buildings has become a goldmine for great eateries and many more hidden gems. If you’re looking for new, recherché spots to hit in one of the most overlooked parts of Hong Kong, look no further and take a look at our ultimate neighbourhood guide for the best places to visit in San Po Kong. By Angel Hong, translated by Andrea Hui

Sport and fitness

Just Climb

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Although Hong Kong offers a versatile range of activities, rock-climbing has never been one of the more popular choices. Nevertheless, those looking for a challenge to test their nerves (that won’t be as terrifying as a haunted house or as perplexing as an escape room) should try rock-climbing, which may very well be the quick fix needed. Just Climb, a 5000 square-foot mountaineering facility located in San Po Kong, is the perfect spot for all ages and groups: it doesn’t matter whether you’re a fresh-faced newcomer or a seasoned pro, Just Climb provides programs and walls dedicated to your specific level of expertise with experienced instructors climbing with you every step of the way. If you’re worried, don’t overthink it – just climb!

Restaurants, Cafés

Green Impression Tea Bar

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Erected beside the bustling roads of San Po Kong, the Green Impression Tea Bar is a trendy, relaxing hang-out decorated with sleek wooden furniture, aesthetic highlights in black, white, cream, and tall floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the café with sunlight. Besides serving full-day breakfasts, light meals and a wide selection of teas and tea-based beverages, the charming tea shop also serves vegetarian options. With an extensive array of food and teas, this peaceful getaway is a must-visit for anyone looking to spend an afternoon chatting with friends or a holiday just to enjoy the slow life.

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Chi Lin Nunnery. Image: Annette Chan
Annette Chan
Things to do

Chi Lin Nunnery

icon-location-pin Wong Tai Sin

Up the stonewalled stairs, through the tree-lined entryway, and the splendid Chi Lin Nunnery comes into full view in all its amalgamative glory. Combining heavy influences from the Tang dynasty and trace elements of Japanese aesthetics in its design, this elegant, tranquil, cypress-enforced Buddhist complex is the only architecture in modern-day Hong Kong to be entirely constructed according to traditional Chinese, Tang era architectural techniques. Within the vast nunnery, you will also find rows upon rows of exquisite bonsai trees, serene lotus ponds, and the beautiful, scenic Nan Lian Garden with its meticulous landscape and intricate, Tang-consistent style (and if you’re feeling hungry, there’s also a tearoom and a vegetarian restaurant). The soul-soothing establishment that lies on the edge of San Po Kong and Diamond Hill cuts through Hong Kong’s mayhem and a myriad of skyscrapers and high-rises, serving as a public oasis for the worn and weary to centre themselves and find their inner peace.

Restaurants, Chinese

Sing Kee Beef Noodles

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If Sheung Wan’s Kau Kee Restaurant is the epitome of a small, no-frills noodle shop that has rightfully earned its around-the-corner queues, then the San Po Kong equivalent is definitely Sing Kee Beef Noodles. With 50 years of history under its belt, the restaurant has shown no signs of slowing down, remaining untouched by the curse of quality decline that many restaurants seem to go through. The soft and savoury beef offal is still cooked fresh daily, the signature handmade meatballs ever-chewy and delicious, the beef brisket always trimmed to just the right ratio of fat-to-meat and braised to perfection. And of course, there’s the beefy broth and hearty serving of noodles. For just $30, this unforgettably comforting bowl of noodles will definitely keep you coming back for more.

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Restaurants

Wah Yuen Dessert

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This neighbourhood dessert store offers more than 20 varieties of traditional Chinese sweets, including Hong Kong-style sago pudding, grass jelly and shaved ice. But the crowd favourite is clearly the steamed ginger milk pudding. You can enjoy it both hot and cold. In either version, the incredibly smooth texture of the pudding delivers a powerful punch.

Shopping, Bookshops

Bleak House Books

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Named after the Dickens-penned Bleak House, Bleak House Books is an independent bookstore established by an ex-lawyer who sought to curate a comfortable and cosy reading environment. The brightly-lit, uncluttered book shop located on the outskirts of Kowloon is rather tiny, but the space is cleverly utilised to display the store’s somewhat limited yet fantastic collection of classics, second-hands, paperbacks, hardbacks and more, leaving just enough room to comfortably fit in a few chairs for those who really want to fully immerse themselves in a good novel or two. From children’s books, popular comics and dystopian fictions to vintage originals, books by Chinese and Japanese authors, and even sheet music, Bleak House has something for everyone, making it a serendipitous paradise for all those who step foot in this little store that is decidedly anything but bleak.

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Restaurants, Barbecue

Open Fire

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So you want to barbecue with your friends or family, but your surroundings are less-than-ideal, and you don’t really have space or the amenities to feasibly host a barbecue party with ten or twenty-some guests – what do you do? Going all the way to somewhere like Tai Mei Tuk in New Territories is obviously not the answer, but it’s looking like the only option, isn’t it? Maybe that was the case a decade ago, but in recent years, many urban parts of Hong Kong have created sky gardens dedicated to providing accessible rooftop barbecues for everyone, San Po Kong being no exception. With a 4,000 square-foot expanse of green grass, a ball pit, swinging benches, a karaoke room, and more facilities for leisure and entertainment, the DIY barbecue spot is perfect for large parties looking for a hearty meal and a fun-filled night.

Restaurants, Chinese

Master Chan Dim Sum Specialist

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In recent years, Hong Kong has displayed no shortage of restaurants that specialise in making dim sum. While many dim sum specialist joints use fresh ingredients, are efficient enough to avoid creating long lines like typical Chinese restaurants do, and are generally quite popular amongst men and women of all ages, no other dim sum specialist does it better than Master Chan Dim Sum Specialist. Founder Master Chan has been making dim sum for years – having previously served in a five-star hotel as head chef, he’s had years of experience and has deservedly earned his name and reputation as the master of this delicate, difficult cuisine. Though all their high-quality dim sum is made and steamed to-order, Master Chan Dim Sum Specialist’s best items are definitely their fish roe siu mai, honey-glazed char siu buns, jumbo spring rolls and crispy cheung fun. Even if you do nothing else on this list, don’t miss out on this cheap, top-notch eatery!

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Things to do

Impact Force

icon-location-pin Hung Hom

This airsoft business in the heart of San Po Kong has been hailed as Hong Kong’s largest and most luxurious indoor war game battlefield. Impact Force CQB offers a choice of four themes, each with its own intricately designed layouts for all types of combat: be it long-range sniping in a larger zone or a battle between assault rifles in close quarters, players will most definitely be able to experience an adrenaline rush in the way that best suits them. Complete with realistic props, authentically-styled replicas of real-world military weaponry, atmospheric background music, extraordinary special lighting effects and fine details to every aspect of their interior design and provisions, these thoughtfully adapted kill houses in the spacious 30,000 square-foot arena are fully equipped to facilitate some good times and hot action. So if you’re looking for something to do with your friends that doesn't involve a tediously long film or boring karaoke songs, or if you’re organising a corporate team-building activity and you’re running out of ideas, try this mock combat warfare simulation to test out your teamwork and get the blood pumping!  

Eager to check out more Hong Kong 'hoods?

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