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Western - Central Hong Kong Walking Tour (Self Guided), Hong Kong

The Central and Western areas of Hong Kong are often referred to as one large district. It has the second highest household income in the territory, being famous for housing the majority of Hong Kong's skyscrapers, office towers and historic sites. This tour features some of the area's most notable attractions. To find out more about Western-Central District of Hong Kong, follow this walk.
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Western - Central Hong Kong Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Western - Central Hong Kong 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: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Government House
  • Hong Kong Visual Arts Center
  • St. John's Cathedral
  • Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
  • Chater Garden
  • Exchange Square
  • Li Yuen Street East and West
  • Lan Kwai Fong
  • Central Mid-Levels Escalators
  • Man Mo Temple
  • Ladder Street
  • Cat Street Market
  • Western Market
Government House

1) Government House

The Government House is located on the Government Hill in the Central district of Hong Kong. This house is the official residence of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The structure was built in 1855 as a Colonial Renaissance style home, but during the Japanese occupation, it was significantly remodeled. Today the building has a hybrid Japanese-Neoclassical structure with a tower and roof elements, added by Japanese architect Seichi Fujimura in 1944.

In the past, when Hong Kong was under British rule, it was the official residence of the Governors of Hong Kong from 1855 to 1997. Out of the 27 British Governors’ of Hong Kong, 25 used the Government House as their official residence.

The House was designed by Charles St George Cleverly and its construction started eight years after Hong Kong was declared a British colony in 1851. The first Governor to reside in the Government House was Sir John Bowring. In 1891, a Ballroom was added to the original house for social functions. Even during the Japanese occupation, during World War II, the Government House was occupied by the official Japanese Military Governor.

Today, the Government House is home for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The current structure has been extensively renovated, and an elaborately expensive fish pond has also been added.
Hong Kong Visual Arts Center

2) Hong Kong Visual Arts Center

The Visual Arts Center is a branch of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The main aim of the center is to support the local art creation. It offers a modernized space for artists to create and exhibit their works. The Museum houses nine working studios, an exhibition hall, a lecture theater and two seminar rooms. A lot of modern artifacts and sculptures can be enjoyed in this center.
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9:00am – 5:30pm
St. John's Cathedral

3) St. John's Cathedral (must see)

St John’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist is a beautiful cathedral, built in the shape of a cross. It is located in the Central district of Hong Kong, on Garden Road, a short distance away from the Peak Tram station. Their operating hours are from 7:00am to 6:00pm daily, and they allow visitors for quiet prayer and meditation during these hours.

Visitors can get any information that they require at the Welcome Table in the Porch after the Sunday morning service if they desire to do so. The Cathedral Office is also open weekdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and from 9:00am to 12 noon during weekends.

St John’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral and it is also the Diocesan cathedral of the Diocese of Hong Kong. The cathedral also houses the Archbishop of Hong Kong. St John’s is one of the five Anglican cathedrals in HK, and it is one of the oldest Western ecclesiastical buildings in the city. It was opened for service on the 11th of March in the year 1847, and in 1996 it was declared a monument. During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese converted the cathedral into a club. Today, the cathedral has been restored and is open for service.

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

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

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 7am-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

4) Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Flagstaff House is the oldest example of British-style architecture remaining in Hong Kong. It is located in 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central - within the Hong Kong Park.

It has been a longtime residence of the Commander of the British forces in Hong Kong during colonial times. In 1984, the Flagstaff House was converted into the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, a branch museum of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. The museum specializes in the collection, study and display of tea-ware, including many samples of the Yixing teapot, from Jiangsu Province of China, as well as the world's oldest known extant teapot.

Opening hours: Daily 10:00am – 6:00pm; Closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chater Garden

5) 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, and one side of the garden is on 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. It is often used for holding political rallies and demonstrations by several community groups. Chater Garden took up space left by the Hong Kong Cricket Club, which was located there from 1851 to 1975, and which moved to Wong Nai Chung Gap. The garden was developed in the 1970s, and was formally opened on October 10, 1978.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Exchange Square

6) Exchange Square

One of the most famous skyscrapers of Hong Kong, the Exchange Square is certainly a prominent landmark in the Central district's skyline. The structure is presented as an office tower, being home to many of the leading international investment banks and financial institutions. It also houses the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Not open to the public but visitors will agree that it is the exterior that is attractive. Most part of the Exchange Square is owned by Hong Kong Land, with the remaining portions owned by the American Club of Hong Kong and the Government. The building has three blocks, namely, One Exchange Square, Two Exchange Square and Three Exchange Square. A shopping block known as The Forum has been under redevelopment since December 2011 and the former building will be replaced by a seven story complex scheduled for completion in 2014. The ground level also houses a large-scale bus terminus, named Central (Exchange Square) Bus Terminus, which have a large number of bus routes bound for different area within Hong Kong.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Li Yuen Street East and West

7) Li Yuen Street East and West (must see)

Li Yuen Street East and West are two parallel alleys packed with shops and stalls. Here, visitors can find plenty of items, such as souvenirs, clothing, watches or shoes. The market is mostly known for fine silk clothing and traditional dresses.
Lan Kwai Fong

8) Lan Kwai Fong (must see)

Lan Kwai Fong is located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island. This is a small square of streets which is 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. The street is L-shaped, and its 2 ends join D'Aguilar Street.

During the early days, Lan Kwai Fong square had housed many mui yan or marriage arrangers. This was a role that was exclusively held by women. This is the reason it was called Mui Yan Hong or Hong Leung Hong (medium person lane).

During the 1970s Allan Zeman moved to Hong Kong. He was a German-Canadian businessman, and he felt that the area needed a more western style restaurant. This is why in 1983 he opened “California” in Lan Kwai Fong. After the success of his restaurant, Allan Zeman invested 32 million Dollars (HK Dollars) to purchase an entire block in the area and made many entertainment destinations for tourists as well as expatriates. The street became so well known after this that he is actually 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. Hongkongers and tourists flock here for the nightlife, and bouncers will be inviting you into their bar.

Go early (before 9 pm) and you can enjoy food & drinks at very reasonable prices.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Central Mid-Levels Escalators

9) 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.
Man Mo Temple

10) Man Mo Temple

Man Mo Temple or Man Mo Miu is a Cantonese transliteration of Wen Wu temple, a temple for the worship of the civil or literature god Man Tai / Man Cheong and the martial god Mo Tai. The two gods were popularly patronized by scholars and students seeking progress in their study or ranking in the civil examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Man Mo Temple is to be found at the corner of Hollywood Road and Ladder Street, in the Sheung Wan area of Central district. It is a very popular religious site and is recognized for being one of the oldest and most visited temples in Hong Kong. The temple is especially revered for its traditions and beliefs about burning incense sticks and fortune telling. There are several Man Mo Temples in Hong Kong, the best known of which is the temple in Sheung Wan.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ladder Street

11) 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.
Cat Street Market

12) Cat Street Market

The Cat Street Market is located on Upper Lascar Row, in Hong Kong. The market is a popular tourist spot and is literally a walking distance from Central. The Cat Street Market can also be reached through the Sheung Wan MTR station.

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.
Western Market

13) Western Market

The Western Market is located on Des Voeux Road, in Sheung Wan district, in Hong Kong. The market was completed in the year 1906. Today, the Western Market is one of the Declared Monuments of Hong Kong. The building of the Western Market is the oldest surviving market building in Hong Kong.

In 1989, the market building became vacant, and in 1991, it was converted into a center of traditional traders. In 2003, refurbishment of the market building took place and the market was converted into a popular spot, for life style shopping and leisure activities. Restaurants and boutiques were opened in the building and it became an attractive site for tourists.

The building is constructed in the Edwardian style that was popular in England during the early Twentieth Century. Red brick and granite has been liberally used to create a poly chromatic effect. It is a combination of classical and modern design, as the refurbishment left the classical façade but added modern elements to the structure to add more space. The original building had consisted of two floors, with a soaring high ceiling. Another floor was recently added to make use of its high ceiling and provide more room for shops and restaurants.

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