Best 16 Things to Do in Wan Chai: Culture, Food, & Heritage

Uncategorized

Jonathan

There are plenty of things you can do in Wan Chai, whether with your family, significant other, or alone. You can relax at the harbour, go up the city's 3rd tallest building, hunt local foods, and explore historic trails. Furthermore, the area is easily accessible by ferry, MTR, and the historical Ding Ding Tram, making…

Wan Chai is home to iconic buildings like HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre) and Central Plaza that you can visit.
Wan Chai is home to iconic buildings like HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre) and Central Plaza that you can visit. Photo credit © Serjio74

There are plenty of things you can do in Wan Chai, whether with your family, significant other, or alone. You can relax at the harbour, go up the city’s 3rd tallest building, hunt local foods, and explore historic trails. Furthermore, the area is easily accessible by ferry, MTR, and the historical Ding Ding Tram, making it easy to explore the area.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best 16 things to do in Wan Chai, a vibrant district where the past meets the present. Let’s dive in!

Harbour Activities

If you’re planning to travel from Tsim Sha Tsui via the Star Ferry, you’ll arrive at Wan Chai Ferry Pier. Just outside the pier is a bustling promenade, where you can enjoy the harbour view, rent a cute pedal boat, or attend events at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

1. HarbourChill

There are pop-up installations and chairs in HarbourChill where you can relax and enjoy the harbour view.
There are pop-up installations and chairs in HarbourChill where you can relax and enjoy the harbour view. Photo credit © LN9267 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

Just after you stepped out of the ferry pier, you’ll see a themed harbourfront space called HarbourChill. The attractive open space features ever-changing and happening decorations that make for a good photo spot. It’s also a fantastic spot to enjoy the harbour view and spend some time with your kids or loved ones.

2. Harbour FUN Pedal Boat

You can rent and ride a pedal boat for 45 minutes in Wan Chai Water Sports and Recreation Precinct.
You can rent and ride a pedal boat for 45 minutes in Wan Chai Water Sports and Recreation Precinct. Photo credit © LN9267 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

A short walk west of HarbourChill will take you to the Water Sports and Recreation Precinct. Here, you can rent a cute pedal boat to have a fun time while enjoying Victoria Harbour view from a different perspective. You can rent a two-seater or four-seater pedal boat for a 45 minutes ride. Prices start from HK$200 for a 2-person paddle boat and HK$280 for a four-person paddle boat. You can book on the spot or book in advance. The latter is recommended so you can secure your boat and you may get special discounts.

3. Golden Bauhinia Square

The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture in Golden Bauhinia Square, which is just outside of HKCEC.
The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture in Golden Bauhinia Square, which is just outside of HKCEC. Photo credit © Jackimage520429

Heading back towards the Wan Chai Ferry Pier and further east, you’ll come upon the historic Golden Bauhinia Square. Home to The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture, which is modeled after the bauhinia flower seen on Hong Kong’s flag and regional emblem, this square offers excellent photo opportunities with the city’s skyline as a backdrop. Don’t miss the daily flag-raising ceremony at 8:00 a.m. The promenade here offers a perfect vantage point to witness the skyline and Symphony of Lights on the Kowloon side.

4. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

HKCEC is situated along Wan Chai promenade, giving you a prime view of Victoria Harbour.
HKCEC is situated along Wan Chai promenade, giving you a prime view of Victoria Harbour. Photo credit © Leung Cho Pan

Located next to the Golden Bauhinia Square is the HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre). The convention center hosts various events each year, such as cat expos, tea fair, fine art exhibitions, and more. If you’re a food junkie and will be in Hong Kong around end of December, you may be in luck as there’s typically a food expo. If you don’t attend any event, you can still take a moment to feel the spacious and clean interior. Check the latest expo schedule here.

Culture & Sightseeing

Moving deeper into the urban section of Wan Chai, you will be able to experience more of the city’s culture and history.

5. Central Plaza

Central Plaza, Hong Kong's third tallest building, stands out among the surrounding skyscrapers in Wan Chai.
Central Plaza, Hong Kong’s third tallest building, stands out among the surrounding skyscrapers in Wan Chai. Photo credit © james jiao

Heading south from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, you’ll find Central Plaza — the third tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong. You can go to the Sky Lobby on the 46th floor to get a panoramic view of the harbour for free. Or, you can go to the 75th floor to find the world’s highest church inside a skyscraper during Sunday Service.

6. Hong Kong Arts Centre

If you’re into arts, head west from Central Plaza to find Hong Kong Arts Centre. There are a range of exhibits, including theatre, dance, film, photography, and fine art. Depending on the day, you may be able to see various performances in performances in English or Cantonese. Check their website for a full schedule of events.

7. Ding Ding Tram

You can ride the Ding Ding Tram from several stations along Johnston Rd in Wan Chai.
You can ride the Ding Ding Tram from several stations along Johnston Rd in Wan Chai. Photo credit © Yl Law

A unique transport system that you can only find on Hong Kong Island is the Ding Ding Tram. These historical, double-deck trams offer affordable fares of HK$3.00 for adults. To get a better view of the streets, you may want to sit at the top deck.

Riding the tram is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the city and take some photos as it doesn’t move fast. The tram runs all the way from the western to eastern part of Hong Kong Island. In Wan Chai, look for the stations on O’Brien Road, Luard Road, Arsenal Street, Swatow Street, and more. You can see the full list on the HK Tramways interactive map.

Food & Shopping

Just like other districts of Hong Kong, Wan Chai is a paradise for foodies and shopaholics alike. Let’s explore some of the culinary delights and shopping experiences that this vibrant district has to offer.

8. Woo Cheong Tea House

If you hop off the Ding Ding tram at Luard or Swatow Street, you should be able to immediately spot Woo Cheong Tea House. It is a high-end Cantonese restaurant transformed from a pawn shop and is listed as a historical building. Here, you can enjoy fantastic Cantonese cuisine and dim sum while admiring the blend of Chinese and Western architectural features of the interior.

9. Bakehouse

Just a quick stroll south from Woo Cheong Tea House and you’ll find Bakehouse. It’s a bakery opened by Grégoire Michaud, the former Executive Pastry Chef of the Four Seasons. They’ve got it all – fresh sourdough, buttery croissants, quiches, cookies, and a daily specials menu that changes all the time. Oh, and don’t forget to try their famous Sourdough Egg Tarts.

10. Lee Tung Avenue

During festivals and events, such as the Chinese New Year, Lee Tung Avenue sparkles with vibrant decorations.
During festivals and events, such as the Chinese New Year, Lee Tung Avenue sparkles with vibrant decorations. Photo credit © Hongshoum Doiar Kingz (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

Lee Tung Avenue, which may be one of the most beautiful pedestrian streets in Wan Chai, is great for outdoor luxury shopping. You can also find modern restaurants there. The street is usually decorated during festivals and events, making it a picturesque spot for taking photos. Plus, it’s conveniently located near the Wan Chai MTR station.

11. Wan Chai Computer Centre

If you’re hunting for SD cards, SSD, or any other computer-related stuff, consider going to Wan Chai Computer Centre. The place offers a wide range of every kind of tech you can imagine – from phones and drones to computers and webcams. It is recommended to first explore both floors of the center so you can get the best price and even discounts.

12. Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre

For a more local and modest dining experience, head to the Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre. The food court is located inside a wet market, so it may not be as fancy and comfortable as eating in modern restaurants. However, you can savor authentic Hong Kong cuisine in a more authentic way at affordable prices and generous servings.

If you’re looking for halal Chinese food, there’s a restaurant called Wai Kee that serves one. You can also go to the nearby Ammar Mosque and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre to find more halal food.

Wan Chai Heritage Trail

As one of the first districts to be settled by the British, Wan Chai has fascinating colonial architecture and historical points of interest. The Wan Chai Heritage Trail offers a glimpse into this rich history.

The trail, which takes approximately two hours to complete, is divided into 10 architecture trails and 5 cultural trails. Each showcases a variety of sites, including temples, markets, civil buildings, and preserved old housing with distinctive architectural character. You can download the trail leaflet on the Urban Renewal Authority’s site.

Let’s explore some highlights of the Wan Chai Heritage Trail.

13. Tai Yuen Street

Just south of the Wan Chai Computer Centre, you will find the bustling Tai Yuen Street, or known as Toy Street. Dubbed “Toy Street” because there’s a wide range of toy collections there. You may find your favorite childhood toys like Transformers, Masked Rider, Saint Seiya, etc., at bargain prices. There are also clothes and accessories being sold there.

14. Wan Chai Market

Wan Chai Market is a traditional wet market that is established in 1937. Though the market has moved into the lower levels of a residential apartment, you can still see the old building by walking towards Queen’s Road East. The original building is now occupied by OVO, a furniture store. However, you can still see its preserved and unique curved facade and slim canopies.

15. Blue House

Blue House and other colorful buildings in Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai.
Blue House and other colorful buildings in Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai. Photo credit © Wpcpey (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

The Blue House is one of the few remaining balcony-type “tong lau”, a style of balconies that was built in the late 19th century in Hong Kong. The area also features Green, Yellow, and Orange buildings that house residential flats, restaurants, and a community service centre.

16. Yuk Hui (Pak Tai) Temple

Pak Tai Temple in Wan Chai
Pak Tai Temple in Wan Chai. Photo credit © Jnzl’s Photos (CC BY 2.0 modified

Pak Tai Temple is built in 1863 by locals and is now a historic monument as well. The main hall houses a three-meter statue of Pak Tai, known as the Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven. The statue is more than 400 years old, even older than the temple itself.

If you want to extend your journey and have been having difficulties finding a partner, you can hike to the nearby Lover’s Rock. Locals frequent this site on Bowen Road to pray for finding a good partner, happy marriage, or fertility. Be prepared for a short and zig-zag hike.