Wan Chai
Pic: iStock.com/Boogich

Wan Chai

The after-party is always happening here in Wan Chai, with a high concentration of bars, restaurants, and live music joints

If Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo are where the city’s workers head for happy hour after work, Wan Chai is where they go next when they’re ready to kick it up a bit.

Known as the nightlife district of Hong Kong, this is a great place to explore when the sun goes down. The action congregates around Lockhart Road with dozens of bars to choose from, plus bands belting out live music all night.

But it’s not all about the party in Wan Chai – during the day there are a lot of attractions to visit, and great shopping too.

What to see and do in Wan Chai

Wan Chai has many lively, bustling wet markets and shopping streets that are fun to wander through. Tai Yuen Street, also known as Toy Street, is both popular and historic, as for decades it has been the go-to place for toys and games. You can find some unique Hong Kong souvenirs too, like a beach towel printed with the $1000 banknote, or a DIY cardboard model of a Chinese temple.

Nearby to Toy Street is the Blue House, one of the last wooden tenements still standing in Wan Chai, known for its distinctive balconies and, of course, its blue walls. This historic landmark was once a hospital, a temple, and a martial arts school, and is now part of the Hong Kong Heritage Trail.

Wan Chai Blue House
Photo by Gregory Lane

At the waterfront you’ll find Golden Bauhinia Square, in front of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The six-foot tall golden bauhinia flower faces the always lovely Victoria Harbour, and was erected following the Hong Kong Handover in 1997.

Need electronics? The Wan Chai Computer Centre is the biggest electronics mall in all of Hong Kong, selling everything from SD cards to laptops. It’s a claustrophobes’ nightmare, with lots of small shops packed in, and space is tight, but whatever you’re looking for you’ll find here.

Next to the Hong Kong Convention Centre is the Wan Chai Ferry Pier, where the Star Ferry makes a direct route from Wan Chai over to Tsim Sha Tsui. The Aqua Luna also makes trips over to the Wan Chai Pier, during certain cruises.

To access a free observation deck facing Victoria Harbour, visit the 46th floor of the Central Plaza Sky Lobby, which is open to the public Monday to Saturday. Central Plaza is also home to the highest church in the world, the Sky City Church, which holds worship services with a million dollar view.

You can do a great hike in Wan Chai to the protruding Lover’s Rock, where locals come to pray for increased fertility and good relationships.

What to eat and drink in Wan Chai

You can find it all in Wan Chai, from tiny noodle shops and tea houses to Mexican restaurants selling overpriced margaritas.

One of the best bars with a view in Wan Chai is Wooloomooloo Steakhouse with an open-air rooftop terrace providing gorgeous views of Victoria Harbour.

Down on ground level, get cosy in what must be the narrowest bar in Hong Kong, aptly named Slims, with a huge beer menu and baskets of peanuts which you can shell and chuck on the floor.

Dig a bit deeper in your wallets if you visit The Pawn, a beautifully restored heritage building which was once a well-known pawn shop. Get a seat at the balcony area and watch the Tram go ‘ding-ding!’ as it passes by below.

Live music can be found at many bars, most notably The Wanch, which has something on every night and is known for its acoustic jams. Dusk Till Dawn is an institution in the area, and is loud, hot and crowded until all hours of the morning.

To recover from the hangover, enjoy a massive breakfast at The Flying Pan, a long-time favorite amongst Hong Kong’s expat population, with generous portions and good prices.

Wan Chai has many South East Asian restaurants, including Thai, Vietnamese, and Filipino. Cinta-J serves all of the above, with a bit of Malaysian thrown in for good measure, and is a stone’s throw from the nightlife.

Where to stay in Wan Chai

To be right in the thick of things, The Wharney has a great location right by Lockhart Road, and an outdoor pool to cool off in those hot, sticky summer months. Nearby is the Burlington Hotel, which has some harbour view rooms as a bonus.

If you’d like a bit more space, or are staying more than just a few days, the Y Serviced Apartment has large rooms and a kitchenette, and is an easy walk to Wan Chai MTR Station.

WiFi Boutique Hotel is recently renovated and has affordable rooms, and Charterhouse Causeway Bay offers gym facilities.

By Emily Dickson

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