WAN CHAI

Perhaps best known to international audiences as the world of Suzie Wong, Wan Chai may be a former red light district, but it’s so much more than that. Situated on the northwestern tip of Hong Kong Island, Wan Chai is sprawling and diverse, serving not only as a major commercial area, but also a hub for the arts – which is only fitting, seeing as it’s home to the Academy of Performing Arts! The neighbouring Lyric Theatre boasts the city’s biggest stage for both local and international productions, while the nearby Convention and Exhibition Centre plays host to the massive annual book fair, anime convention, and food expo. Steeped in history, Wan Chai houses some of the most prominent protected buildings in the city. The district has undergone something of a facelift in recent years as urban renewal projects seek to inject architecturally significant old tenement buildings – such as the classic old Blue House on Stone Nullah Lane – with new purpose. In Wan Chai, you’ll find comic artists’ studios nestled in carefully renovated pre-war buildings, an apartment block perched on top of a preserved market building, a 19th century pawn shop-turned restaurant, and more. Speaking of food, the district’s dining scene offers a rather literal smorgasbord ranging from traditional Cantonese roast meats, streetside dimsum and criminally underrated curries, to modern tapas bars, French bistros, and Italian trattorias. To get a feel for the daily life in Wan Chai, grab an egg tart or pineapple bun at a local cha chaan teng and wander around Tai Yuen Street, where the open-air market is heavy with local flavour. Vendors peddle everything from traditional Chinese sweets to fresh produce, clothes, flowers, knick-knacks and more. Just a short walk away is the Star Street Precinct, where artists’ galleries, carefully curated lifestyle stores, restaurants and coffee shops line some of the oldest streets in the city. At night, Wan Chai lives up to its reputation as a place for unpretentious fun as Lockhart Road and its surrounding streets are filled with merriment. If you’re averse to dress codes and bottle service, and prefer your nights out to end quality late-night snacking, this is the place for you.
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