Downtown Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a rich and storied history that can be traced to the prehistoric era. Archaeological research in Hong Kong has discovered human activity in the region during the Old Stone Age, over 30,000 years ago. However, much of what we associate with Hong Kong is much more recent in nature.

Though the origins of the city of Hong Kong began with Imperial China, much of today's influence began when the Qing Dynasty ceded control of the region to the British at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. British colonizers built businesses, roads, schools and churches in order to westernize Hong Kong. The region became a center of finance and trade with the advent of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. Financial success of the area grew throughout the 155 years of British rule.

In 1997, the British returned control of Hong Kong to China. However, along with the island of Macau, Hong Kong is designated as a special administrative region, or SAR. These regions are mostly autonomous. They have their own governments, legal systems, education and money. As such, Hong Kong has greater control than a typical city, but less autonomy than a sovereign nation.

Most of what tourists experience as they visit Hong Kong is a blend of two cultures. The East meets the West in the cuisine, buildings, fashion and favorite tourist sites. Visitors will see this blend when they explore St. John's Cathedral, Man Mo Temple the Graham Street Wet Market and more.

Follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the top attractions in the central district of Hong Kong.
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Downtown Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Downtown Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Hong Kong » Hong Kong (See other walking tours in Hong Kong)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hong Kong Park
  • St. John's Cathedral
  • Chater Garden
  • Statue Square
  • Li Yuen Street East
  • Lan Kwai Fong
  • Graham Street Wet Market
  • Central Mid-Levels Escalators
  • Man Mo Temple
  • Ladder Street
  • Cat Street Market
  • Possession Street
  • Western Market
1
Hong Kong Park

1) Hong Kong Park (must see)

Hong Kong Park is a public park taking up 8.16 hectares in central Hong Kong. Prior to its usage as a park, the area belonged to Glenealy Junior School. The land was gifted to the school by the government as this was the former site of the Victoria Barracks.

Hong Kong Park continues to pay homage to the area's history with a number of historic buildings onsite. Flagstaff House was built in 1846 as the home for the commander of the British forces in Hong Kong. It is the oldest Greek Revival Style building in the region. Visitors are welcome in Flagstaff House, which now houses the Museum of Teaware.

Other buildings on the premises include Rawlinson House, Wavell House and Cassels Block, a former barracks that is now home to the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre.

The park includes a multi-level children's playground, the Olympic Square and a clock tower. There are multiple gardens, including the Central Garden with its dancing fountain, and an aviary.

The aviary has birds like the long-tailed broadbill, the wompoo fruit dove, the Victoria crowned pigeon and the great white pelican. Visitors are welcome to walk through the aviary as they gaze at the birds and trees.
2
St. John's Cathedral

2) St. John's Cathedral

There are only five cathedrals in all of Hong Kong. The oldest is the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist, otherwise known as St. John's Cathedral. Like Holy Trinity Cathedral and All Saints' Cathedral, St. John's is Anglican. The other two Hong Kong cathedrals are the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Luke's Orthodox Cathederal, which are Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, respectively.

St. John's Cathedral was completed in 1849 and consecrated in 1852. It is not just the oldest cathedral in Hong Kong but the oldest Anglican church in the Far East. The architectural style is English Gothic Revival. The cathedral is fashioned from stucco and wood.

Visitors to Hong Kong are welcome to attend services at St. John's Cathedral. It is open for regular services on Saturdays and Sundays. On Mondays, the cathedral hosts a meditation service from 12:30 to 1 PM.

The cathedral grounds have ample seating for those who want to enjoy some peace and relaxation in the midst of the bustling Garden Road. Adjacent to St. John's Cathedral is Cheung Kong Park, which offers excellent views of the cathedral's clock tower while providing a quiet walking path lined with greenery.

Why You Should Visit:
Exquisite church in the heart of the city jungle with peaceful and pretty courtyard seating.

Tip:
Very often, you will find Wednesday lunchtime performances. There's even a cafe on the grounds called The Nest with a lovely selection of hot & cold drinks, biscuits, pies, etc.

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 7am-7:30pm
3
Chater Garden

3) Chater Garden

Surrounded by famous structures and places such as the Bank of China Tower, the Legislative Council Building and situated to the south of the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Gallery, Chater Garden is one of the easiest sites to find in the Central area.

It is named after Sir Paul Chater, a prominent British-Indian businessman of Armenian descent, and on one side of the garden is Chater Road which is also named after him. It is the perfect choice to rest and admire its arranged pools, waterfalls and fountains, as well as well-maintained and manicured bushes.

The garden is often used for holding political rallies and demonstrations due to its proximity to the seat of government. Chater Garden took up space left by the Hong Kong Cricket Club, which was located there from 1851 to 1975. The garden was re-developed and was formally opened to public in 1978.
4
Statue Square

4) Statue Square

Statue Square is a pedestrian square located in the center of Hong Kong. It is located between Chater Road and Des Voeox Road Central. Statue Square is in a busy shopping area that is a short, one minute walk from Chater Park. It is also near the Centopah, a monument that memorializes those killed in wars.

The name of Statue Square may be confusing to a new tourist to the city. Visitors may think it is named after the only statue in the square, which is that of Sir Thomas Jackson. In reality, the square is so-named because it was once home to a number of statues of British royalty, the first of which was Queen Victoria. During World War II, occupying forces from Japan removed the statues.

Other statues that were once in the square included Prince Albert, the Duke of Connaught, King Edward VII, King George V, Queen Alexandra, Mary of Teck, Henry May and a statue commemorating World War I titled "Fame."
5
Li Yuen Street East

5) Li Yuen Street East

Li Yuen Street East is a lane situated in Central on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. It is the first street which is named after a Chinese member of the society in colonial Hong Kong. Li Yuen Street East is now a popular tourist spot with numerous stalls selling a wide variety of daily goods and souvenirs.

At the end of the 18th century, large-scale reclamation projects were carried out in an attempt to increase land supply for further development in the downtown area. After the complete of the projects, large pieces of newly reclaimed land were available for sale. It was during this period that Kim Li Yuen, a rich businessman from China's Guangdong Province, bought part of the newly reclaimed land for property development. Li Yuen Street East named after Kim Li Yuen was formally founded in 1894.

During that time, houses on the two sides of the streets were a hybrid of residential units and commercial outlets with the ground floor as shops and the upper floors as apartments. Street stalls that abound nowadays had not yet emerged.

After World War II, most of Hong Kong's newspaper offices were set up on the Li Yuen Street East. Accompanied with the newspaper offices were also a number of printing workshops. Thus, during that period, Li Yuen Street East was dubbed as the "Newspaper Street". Every early morning, newly printed newspapers were delivered manually from the street to the rest of Hong Kong.

The newspaper offices did not last long on Li Yuen East Street. Gradually, they relocated to other places. It was during that time street stalls selling clothes succeeded the previous newspaper offices as the familiar scene of the street. As the number of foreign tourists increased, the street stalls diversified the goods they sold. As a result, a wide variety of goods can now be found on the street including clothes, drapery, accessories, and souvenirs.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Lan Kwai Fong

6) Lan Kwai Fong

Lan Kwai Fong is a small square of streets and a popular tourist area in Hong Kong for dining, drinking and clubbing. Originally this area had been dedicated to hawkers before World War II but during the mid-1980s, it underwent a renaissance.

During the early days, Lan Kwai Fong square had housed many marriage arrangers, a role exclusively held by women. Back then the area was also called Medium Person Lane.

In 1983 a Canadian businessman Allan Zeman opened a California restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong. After the success of his restaurant, Allan Zeman purchased an entire block in the area and transformed it to a entertainment destination for tourists as well as expatriates. The street became well known after Zeman's involvement and today he is referred to as “The Father of Lan Kwai Fong”.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the best places in the world for bar hopping, club hopping all night, every day. Locals and tourists flock here for the nightlife.

Tip:
Go before 9 pm and you can enjoy food & drinks at very reasonable prices.
7
Graham Street Wet Market

7) Graham Street Wet Market

Graham Street Wet Market is one of Hong Kong's oldest street markets. It has been in operation for about 160 years, though this may be short-lived. Plans to demolish the market are regularly proposed. Though none have been successful, tourists should make sure to visit the Graham Street Wet Market before it's too late.

Don't let the name of the market fool you. Graham Street Market does not solely belong to its namesake street. There are plenty of market stalls on Gage, Peel and Stanley streets. The open-air market stalls line the narrow streets with offerings like fresh fruit, herbs and flowers.

Graham Street Market is an excellent place to stop for lunch. Noodle stands, bakeries and other ready-made street food is available. Those who have access to kitchens may want to buy some fresh meat or seafood. Tourists shop alongside locals at the Graham Street Market, which makes for a memorable and authentic experience.
8
Central Mid-Levels Escalators

8) Central Mid-Levels Escalators

The Central-Mid-levels escalators are the longest, covered outdoor escalator system in the world. They cover over eight hundred meters in distance and elevate over one hundred and thirty five meters from bottom to top. The system was constructed in 1993 in order to provide an easier commute by linking the Western and Central Districts on Hong Kong Island.

The Island of Hong King consists of steep and hilly terrain, which makes it difficult for residents and tourists’ alike to commute up and down the slopes. Due to this reason, Hong Kong has many unusual and unique systems of transport in order to facilitate its citizens and tourists as well.

The elevator system was officially opened on the 15th of October in 1993. Ever since then, it has played a key role in making the Western District pedestrian friendly. Passing through narrow streets, the system links Des Voeux Road in the Central district of Hong Kong with Conduit Road in the Mid-levels. It usually has a daily traffic of over 50,000 people. Although the total travel time is twenty minutes from one end of the system to the other, most people walk while the escalators are moving in order to shorten their trip.
9
Man Mo Temple

9) Man Mo Temple

Man Mo Temple is a temple to two gods: Man Tai and Mo Tai. Man Tai is the Taoist God of Culture and Literature. Mo Tai is the God of War. There are numerous temples to these two gods located throughout Hong Kong. This one is the most famous among them.

Located on Hollywood Road, it is the largest and oldest Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong. The temple was built in 1847 and represents Qing Dynasty architecture with a distinctive green tiled roof and ornate carvings.

The temple remains in use, and therefore visitors are welcome to enter at no charge. Inside, tourists will see incense coils, wooden carvings, golden statues, hanging lanterns and a traditional Taoist fortune teller.

The Man Mo Temple complex includes Litt Shing Kung, a temple dedicated to all gods, and Kung Sor, a meeting space. Other Man Mo Temples around the city that may be worth a visit are Tai Po on Fu Shin Street and Lantau in the Pak Nguan Heung neighborhood of Hong Kong's Lantau Island.
10
Ladder Street

10) Ladder Street

Ladder Street is a street consisting entirely of stone steps located in Sheung Wan in Hong Kong. The street is also called Lau Tai Gai (which translates to ‘ladder’). This is a popular tourist spot due to its historic significance in Hong Kong. Negotiating the many steps up the street is a difficult task, but one that can be enjoyed greatly due to the sights and sounds that the street has to offer.

The Man Mo Temple located at the corner of Ladder Street on Hollywood Road is one of the most visited temples by both tourists and locals in Hong Kong. The Tung Wah Hospital, which is the oldest western hospital in Hong Kong, is also located on the street. Many funeral homes, which are more than a century old, are located on this street. The shops that housed the funeral homes were called "long-living shops" and “four-and-a-half-piece” shops by local people.

The ladder street begins on Queens Road and continues up to Sheung Wan mid-levels. The street is full of color and history and apart from the much visited Man Mo Temple; the Museum of Medical Science is also located on the street. The street has remained unchanged since the middle of the 20h century, but the buildings surrounding the street have been demolished and rebuilt extensively.
11
Cat Street Market

11) Cat Street Market

The Cat Street Market is located on Upper Lascar Row and is a popular tourist spot.

The market sells antiques, beautiful paintings, and even replicas of antiques and original paintings (Tourists should watch out for duplicate pieces). Usually the antiques include jade carvings, expensive Ming vases and snuff bottles, as well as Mao memorabilia. The market has an overall a flea-market like atmosphere. One can also find Chinese souvenirs like old Hong Kong post cards, posters and also fake, antique watches.

Carpet shops and ceramic shops abound on Cat Street, with carpets imported from India and The Middle East. Furniture can also be found on the market. Many stalls, full of “Red” themed Mao memorabilia line the street, and most tourists can find unusual and unique books, pictures and even relics from the 1950s era when the Peoples Republic of China had recently come to power. Unlike the expensive shops in Kowloon, the Cat Street Market is a place to purchase bargain goods. Most imported goods that are found here are tax free, and bargaining can save buyers even more money.
12
Possession Street

12) Possession Street

Possession Street may not look that different from the other streets of Hong Kong, but appearances are deceiving. This street holds an important place in the history of Hong Kong and its 156 years of British rule.

Possession Street is the location of the road that was built by the encampment of the British Navy when they arrived in the area in 1841. In a ceremony observing British rule, the area where the fleet landed was named Possession Point, locally referred to as Tai Tet Tei, is now located within the lovely Hollywood Road Park.

The street now runs between Queen's Road Central and Hollywood Road. Whereas once it was a utilitarian road for the British Navy, it is now a place to shop for souvenirs or stop for a meal. The many restaurants on Possession Street vary from traditional cuisine to more modern offerings.

Possession Point is easy to reach from Possession Street and is a good spot to stop and rest while exploring Hong Kong by foot. The bustle of the city is forgotten while relaxing on a stone bench near one of the traditional pavilions.
13
Western Market

13) Western Market

Western Market is the oldest market building in the city. Built in 1906, Western Market occupies a city block on Des Voeux Road Central. The market has a long history of offering goods to the people of Hong Kong, which has been denoted by designation as a Declared Monument.

The origins of the Western Market date to 1844 when two separate blocks were occupied. However, demolition and reconstruction led to the Queen Anne style building that stands today. It was closed in 1989 and scheduled for demolition until its declaration as a historic monument the following year.

Western Market is open daily from 10 AM through midnight. Though originally it was a food market, today the Western Market offers a large fabric store, curio shops, bakeries and a ballroom dance-themed restaurant.

Located between Connaught Road and New Market Street, Western Market is easily reached by foot.

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