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Sham Shui Po
Photograph: TA

Sham Shui Po: Ultimate guide

Explore the district's reinvigorated neighbourhood

Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Tatum Ancheta

Sham Shui Po, one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong known for its textiles industry, has recently gained a newfound 'cool' status, reinvigorated by its young and creative residents. The district has transformed as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city but still kept its traditional street-vendors, historical buildings, and over half a century-old Michelin-recommended eateries like Kung Wo Tofu Factory and Lau Sum Kee Noodle. Walk a few blocks, and you'll be greeted by contemporary cafes and creative hubs where patrons can enjoy a good cup of coffee while immersing in artworks by up-and-coming local artists.  

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EAT      DRINK      SHOP      THINGS TO DO      STAY

What's Sham Shui Po known for?

SSP is one of Hong Kong's best-kept fashion secrets. The neighbourhood's fabric shops are famous for local designers – and even international designers like Versace and Calvin Klein – who frequent the place looking for textile and design inspiration. The district is also known for its treasure trove of eateries offering anything from affordable street eats to Michelin-recommended bites. 

Why do the locals love it?

Aside from fashion finds, the neighbourhood is a shopping mecca to bargain hunt for electronics, vintage accessories, and nostalgic toys. And though it's currently attracting a hip, young crowd, its newer residents have fostered a sense of community which not only injects new energy to the neighbourhood but also promotes the district's historical legacy. 

How do I get to Sham Shui Po? 

It is easy to get to and from Sham Shui Po via public buses and taxis that run through the district, but the best way is by MTR as the Sham Shui Po MTR station is right in the centre of the neighbourhood.

Map of Sham Shui Po

If you only do one thing 
Eat! Whether you're after authentic local food, looking for a caffeine fix, or craving for new bites, the neighbourhood has everything from third-generation family-run noodle shops to contemporary cafes.

Where to eat
The Park by Years I Photograph: TA

Where to eat

Sham Shui Po is home to many Michelin-recommended eateries, leaving you spoilt for choice when looking for authentic local food. Head to Pei Ho Street and get a seat at Kung Wo Tofu Factory, a 60-year old eatery serving all kinds of sweet and savoury tofu treats like tofu puffs, deep-fried tofu with fish paste, and must-try items like tofu pudding and soya milk. If you're looking for noodles, third-generation family-run Lau Sum Kee still serves its noodles made with a traditional bamboo pole kneading method, while Hon Fat Noodle’s offerings like their popular thick-cut pork liver noodle pull in massive crowds almost every day. And of course, for dim sum, dine at Tim Ho Wan's SSP branch, one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. 

Photograph: Courtesy Tim Ho Wan

If you’re looking for a special spot for dinner, Oi Man Sang, a dai pai dong, offers an al fresco dining experience, serving dishes such as razor clams in black bean sauce and garlic steamed prawns, all prepared on the street. For a taste of old-school Chinese-style steaks, don't miss Flying Eagle, a family-run restaurant that has been operating since 1977. For hearty warming soups, Tomato C Hing is a must-try, they specialise in flavourful tomato soup bases for anything from scallop udon to ox tongue noodles to egg and beef macaroni. You can even order a large portion of it designed for hotpot occasions. 

Try popular street snacks at Block 18 Doggie's Noodle – don't worry, there's no dog meat in their dishes, their glutinous rice noodles got its name for being fat and tail-like – Hop Yik Tai for their cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), and Kwan Kee Store for their homemade put chai ko (steamed rice pudding). Another local delicacy is the beef and egg sandwich, which locals queue up for daily at Sun Heung Yuen. For traditional Chinese sweets, drop by at San Lung Cake Shop and get some black sesame cakes and pastries filled with whole century eggs. 

There's also a good number of Japanese establishments in the area, and one of the must-tries is Munakatayahead here for their towering sashimi bowls and picture-worthy takeout boxes that look so good you almost feel bad for eating it.

The Park by Years’ Tom Yum spaghetti I Photograph: TA

If you're vegan, line up at the long queues outside The Park by Years, a cafe serving spicy Thai Tom Yum spaghetti, avocado orange pumpkin salmon salad, double deck cilantro Impossible burger, Japanese style kushiyaki set, and more.

For eateries that don't only serve food but also help the community – drop by at Pei Ho Counterparts for cha chaan teng staples like fried noodles with beef or fish and rice. You will not only leave with a full stomach, but you’ll also get to support Ming Gor, the cafe's owner, and his team to continue their efforts in giving out free lunchboxes for the elderly and those in need, especially during the pandemic.

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Where to drink 
Photograph: Ann Chiu

Where to drink 

In recent years, there's been an influx of contemporary cafes in the area where locals from different parts of the city flock to for a quick caffeine fix. Enjoy a cup of joe while reading a magazine at Toolss, a little coffee shop that doubles up as a stationery store. Or, if you're in search for cafes that will not only fulfil your caffeine hit but also satiate your Instagram fix, head to: Sapsan 89, a pet-friendly Japanese-style cafe with aesthetically-pleasing interiors complete with tatami seatings; Colour Brown x PHVLO HATCH, a coffee shop focused on sustainably sourcing its ingredients; and Café Sausalito, a coffee shop that not only brings speciality coffee to the area, but is also a community hub hosting live music, indie markets, and art shows. For a late-night caffeine fix, head to Dog99 Coffee, a 24/7 coffee shop that gets more packed as the night goes on.

When you’re done with coffee, there are also venues where you can wind down at the end of a long day with a craft beer or Hong Kong’s very own Two Moons gin. At Sō Coffee and Gin, you’ll find Belgian and local craft beers as well as a gin selection from Hong Kong, Italy, France, Japan, and even Finland.Colour Brown I Photograph: TA

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Where to shop
Photograph: Courtesy Max Power

Where to shop

Sham Shui Po in the 1950s and 60s is known as the heart of Hong Kong's textiles manufacturing industry and to this day, the district remains a popular haunt for designers and artisans. If you're looking for vendors specialising in different types of accessories or fabrics, or just venturing to see the historical textile areas of the district, the district's famous fabric market, also known as Pang Jai, moved to its new location at Tung Chau Street– it is a designer's fabric haven selling all kinds of textile and fashion accessories; Ki Lung Street – also known as Button Street – featuring shops selling an array of sewing and beading items like buttons, zippers, clasps, fabrics, and various embroidery accessories, and Yu Chau Street (Bead Street), which is home to a wide selection of beads and sewing supplies. For ribbons and trimmings, Nam Cheong Street (Ribbon Street) has it covered; here you will find lace and ribbon in all shapes and sizes.

Ki Lung Street I Photograph: TA

Apliu Street, probably the busiest street in the district, is a pedestrian zone that features everything from hardware tools for DIY projects, fishing gear and all kinds of outdoor gadgets, professional photography equipment that includes vintage home decor and trinkets.

As for leather goods and tools, head to Tai Nan Street (aka Leather Street) and check out various leather crafts from old shops like Luen Cheong Leather Hong Kong – established since 1948 and specialising in locally-made lamb and cowhides – to new-generation leather stores like Alri Star Leather Factory that offer leathers and crafting tools and even hosts workshops for beginners. One of our favourites is The Lederer, which provides quality hides from Europe and America alongside a myriad of tools, threads, dyes, and leather conditioners. It’s really your one-stop shop for anything leathercrafting. 

The Lederer | Photograph: Jeff Yeung

Also check out Savon Workshop, a store dedicated to helping you create artisan soaps at home. The shop stocks a range of essential oils and tools for you to mix and match scents and textures, giving you plenty of room for creativity. It also regularly hosts workshops too, so make sure to look out for their announcements online.

If you're looking to score ready-to-wear garments at bargain deals, make sure to drop by Cheung Sha Wan Fashion Road where you can peruse over 200 shops selling wholesale deals.  

For all kinds of party favours and toys, head to Fuk Wing Street, also known as Toy Street. The area boasts all kinds of fun and playful accessories and toys from LEGO sets and action figures to seasonal decorations and costumes for Halloween, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.

Shop for everyday home staples at Pei Ho Street, a bustling wet market lined with stalls that sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats where locals get their daily produce. Here, you can also stop to refuel as Michelin-recommended snack spots are lined in this area. 

If you’re looking to build your own computer or purchase the latest gaming accessories and peripherals, Golden Computer Centre and Arcade is one of the best tech hubs you’ll find not only in Hong Kong, but arguably the world. And Dragon Centre – one of the few malls in Sham Shui Po – hosts plenty of small shops selling fun and quirky things.

Foreforehead I Photograph: Jack Wong

Once you're done with gadgets and garments, you can dig into a treasure trove of knick-knacks from various specialty stores in the neighbourhood. Siugreat Stationery is a go-to spot for Japanese stationery where they have multiple kinds of fountain pens and more than 100 types of ink imaginable. 

Zapjok is a quirky shop that sells everything from pottery items, incense, Palo Santo sticks, jewellery, shoes, and watches, along with items crafted by local designers. Another spot is Storerooms, a lifestyle shop that sells everything from garments, designer vases, clocks and watches, umbrellas, shoes, and a lot more. Foreforehead sells various cutesy and eccentric oddities, from clothing, accessories, homeware, and various decorations. The shop also doubles as an exhibition space for young local artists and brand pop-ups.   

If you're looking for quirky Japanese finds that don’t come from Don Don Donki, head to Midway Shop to buy kitchenware, sakura-scented soaps, hats, and printed tote bags by artisanal Japanese brands.

Sun Nga Shing Umbrella Store I Photograph: Calvin Sit

A trip to SSP wouldn't be complete without meeting some local fixtures like Hong Kong's most famous vinyl collector Paul Au at his shop, Vinyl Hero that sells vinyl records from the 1960s to 1980s, and fifth-generation umbrella maker Yau Yiu-wai in Sun Nga Shing Umbrella Store – standing since 1842 – one of the last stores in Hong Kong that still offers umbrella repair services.  

For people with interests in independent records, drop by at White Noise Records, and browse through a selection of tunes ranging from old soul to heavy metal and electro-pop.

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Things to do and places to see
Photograph: Shutterstock

Things to do and places to see

A day's visit will not be enough to explore all the wonders that Sham Shui Po has to offer. Aside from the shops and eateries in the area, it's also one of the best places in Hong Kong that showcases the city's East-meets-West character, making it a favourite spot for snap-happy photographers and Instagrammers. 

For some historical exploration, visit old buildings like 170 Yee Kuk Street – one of the very few remaining verandah-type Chinese tenement buildings in Hong Kong that was built in the 1920s, and Nam Cheong Pawn Shop, a Grade II historic building that still carries the symbol of an upside-down bat holding a coin – an emblem that pawnshops have used for hundreds of years, symbolising that good fortune has arrived. Another interesting spot is Lung Hing Tong, a building established in 1931, replete with an eye-catching green and red design featuring a protruding dragon head on top, cranes, and deer emerging out of the roof. A contrast to all the traditional building fixtures is the Man Fung Building at Tai Nan Street, head here to see the old residential building covered with a multicoloured geometric patterned mural called the Rainbow Thief, created by Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel in 2016 as part of HK Walls' city-wide street art festival. One of the latest attractions in the area is the Ex-Sham Shui Po Service Reservoir, which was rediscovered just two years ago on Mission Hill and is now open to the public. The structure is now deemed  a Grade I historic structure by the government and its large granite piers and red brick arches are reminiscent of European and Roman civil engineering works. The overall vibe even reminds us of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

If you want to soak in art and culture, outside of the many hip cafe shops that double as art hubs, there are also several art centres to peruse in the area. Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, for example, provides an exhibition space for up and coming and established artists. The centre also houses a theatre, craft shop, and tea house.

Form Society I Photograph: Calvin Sit

Form Society, a community space founded by local sculptor Wong Tin-yan attracts artists, hipsters, and various social groups. It's a great space to catch exhibitions from emerging local talent, intimate artist talks, workshops, and other pop-up events. Catch cultural classes and artist talks at independent art gallery Parallel Space.  

The neighbourhood is also home to various temples built by early immigrants from Mainland China. Visit Kwan Tai Temple, a Grade II historic building built in 1891, and the only place of worship in Kowloon dedicated to the god of war and righteousness. It gets filled with local visitors during the 24th day of the sixth lunar month for the celebration of Kwan Tai's birthday. Another Grade II historic building is Sam Tai Tsz Temple built by Hakka immigrants to honour their patron deity after a deadly plague hit Sham Shui Po in 1898. Within the same complex is the Pak Tai Temple, a Grade III historic building built in 1920 by local fishermen to honour the Emperor of the North.

Another historical spot is the monument Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, a tomb built in the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25-220). Learn about the history behind the monument at the exhibition hall next door and see a display of pottery and bronze wares excavated from the tomb.

Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum I Photograph: Calvin Sit

End your trip with a short hike towards the Garden Hill and catch a different perspective of Sham Shui Po from its peak. Hikers can go up after dark and take an illuminated picturesque view of Kowloon.

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Where to stay  
Photograph: Courtesy Wontonmeen I Akif Hakan Celebi

Where to stay  

If you're planning to stay for more than a day – which is advisable if you want to take in all the things this neighbourhood has to offer – then book into the nearest hostels in the area. Though not your typical five-star accommodation – it is a district of simple pleasures, after all – instead you'll get to meet a lot of creative minds and interesting folk touring and visiting the area. Book at YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel, a complex built in 1954 which is the only surviving Mark I H-shaped resettlement block in Hong Kong and has been listed as a Grade II historic building. Here you can find a good night's stay at any of its 129 rooms and drop by for a historical experience at its heritage museum which frequently conducts tours for both guests and the public. 

If you want to rub elbows with some of the burgeoning artists and musicians in the city, then Wontonmeen is the perfect place to get a room. The hostel is frequented by tourists and artists exhibiting or performing in the area. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they converted the dormitory into a temporary studio allowing musicians to record videos, activate online gigs and workshops. Parts of the hostel opened as a shelter for homeless Hongkongers gravely affected by the outbreak and its downstairs cafe, Runners' Foods, regularly cooks for the homeless too.

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