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JC Contemporary spiral staircase

The 10 best spots to Instagram in Tai Kwun

Because the art isn’t the only thing worth photographing

Written by
Olivia Lai
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Let’s admit it. We all have a side to us that’s basic and loves a good selfie to share on Instagram that’ll (fingers crossed) get the likes rolling in. With the recent opening of Central’s stunning new arts and heritage hub Tai Kwun, there are new opportunities and cool backdrops to help you add more memorable images to your IG feed. Here’s our pick of the most photogenic spots in Tai Kwun. Photography by Freddie Rodgers

RECOMMENDED: If you’re snap-happy, why not try Hong Kong’s most photogenic housing estatesrestaurants or simply coolest spots for photography.

The best spots to Instagram in Tai Kwun

The exterior of JC Contemporary

The exterior of JC Contemporary

One of the most striking features of the revitalised complex is JC Contemporary, a new construction and the centre’s designated art exhibition space. Aiming to be a world-class art venue not only in Hong Kong but in all Asia, the facade of the building is akin to the exceptional works of art it houses. With its dark, tightly compact, grid-like ridges, the exterior of the building makes for an artistic close-up or a stunning backdrop for a selfie. 

The spiral staircase

The spiral staircase

Quite possibly the pièce de résistance of Tai Kwun – or at least the most Instagrammable feature – is this spiral staircase inside JC Contemporary. The ideal shot is to capture a photo of yourself walking downstairs in candid but thoughtful fashion, but an abstract pic of the stairs by itself works wonders too.

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Alternatively, the view from the bottom

Alternatively, the view from the bottom

Is there too big of a crowd at the top of the staircase and you just can’t get the shot you’re craving? The view from the bottom looking up is just as good, if not better, in terms of looking more abstract. 

Behind Bars

Behind Bars

Tai Kwun’s hip drinking den, with arguably the most puntastic name ever – because you know, it’s a bar and this place is a former prison – Behind Bars is a photoshoot just waiting to happen. With neon flashing onto every column, you can achieve epic shots while enjoying a tipple at the same time. You’ll find it in a corner of the Prison Yard and open from 4pm. 

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The entrance via Mid-Levels escalators

The entrance via Mid-Levels escalators

Let’s back up a sec. Even before you step foot into the historic compound, there’s a photo-op not to be missed. The footbridge that links the Mid-Level Escalators to Tai Kwun, ticks all the boxes for a good picture. Colonial red and white bricks? Check. Ample space to do a pose against the railings? Check. Steps to do a pensive sit-down shot? Check. 

The Laundry Steps

The Laundry Steps

The brilliant semi-outdoor venue that is the Laundry Steps is not only great for catching film screenings and musical performances, it’s also a fantastic backdrop for an IG shot too. Whether it’s against the clean white walls as you walk up or down the steps (complete with contrasting black railings), or a visual shot pointing straight down to the stage, this is an essential stop for a snapshot.

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The brick walls

The brick walls

As evident by this photo, it’s clear that the vast stretch of original brick walls within Tai Kwun makes for a great backdrop. Head over to the Prison Yard for the best open space. Interesting fact: the bricks are a mix of Victorian architecture and 19th-century bricks sourced from Leicester, England, for the conservation project. 

Measuring the Universe by Roman Ondak

Measuring the Universe by Roman Ondak

One of the most eye-catching pieces in Tai Kwun’s inaugural group exhibition Dismantling the Scaffold is the site-specific installation by Slovakian artist Roman Ondak. It’s an empty room with white walls covered in markings documenting the height of every visitor. The more it accumulates, the bigger it becomes as an artwork. It’s a cool interactive piece to see where you stand in the crowd and makes for a neat minimalist shot. Until Aug 19.

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Nucleus by PolyLester

Nucleus by PolyLester

Another Insta-worthy installation is a colourful structure also found in the Dismantling the Scaffold exhibition. Created by Amsterdam-based duo PolyLester, the art is essentially a two-level steel frame with multicoloured transparent curtains that you can walk through and grab for rainbow-esque selfies from various angles. Alternatively, walk on the platform to get a shot from above. Until Aug 19.

Part Four: Suspension by So Wing-po

Part Four: Suspension by So Wing-po

Local artist So Wing-po makes her solo debut at Tai Kwun with an exhibition inspired by her past and connection to Soho and her family’s Chinese apothecary store. Using Chinese medicinal herbs and minerals to create immersive sculptures and installations, these dangling rocks are mesmerising and particularly good for a Boomerang. Until Aug 19.

In case you get hungry at Tai Kwun

The best restaurants to try in Tai Kwun
  • Restaurants

Aside from getting history buffs and culture vultures excited, Tai Kwun has also garnered a lot of attention from foodie circles, thanks to its exciting line-up of F&B options. From a down-to-earth tea house to a swanky grand salon, here are the best restaurants and bars in Tai Kwun.

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