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Originally published by Sam the Local. Last updated by Jen Paolini and Jianne Soriano.
Hong Kong’s hefty museum collection may come as a bit of a surprise, even to those who regularly visit established landmarks like the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of History, or the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Even if you were to visit one museum per day, it would take seven-and-a-half weeks to tick off all 53.
If you have trawled through most of the major ones, you might be interested to know that our city has some pretty specialised exhibits as well. Here are niche museums in Hong Kong to visit—and with the majority of them offering free admission, there’s no excuse!
Looking to dive into a little bit of Hong Kong anthropological history? Look no further than Sam Tung Uk, a 200-year-old Hakka walled village that was revitalised as the Sam Tung Uk Museum and opened to the public in 1987.
Operating as a display and resource centre to tell stories of how Hakka villagers used to live in the past, the beautifully restored architectural structure features a symmetrical, chessboard-like layout, an ancestral hall, and individual houses.
Have a nosey around the exhibition area and marvel at the everyday objects, furniture, and agricultural implements that the old residents of Sam Tung Uk would have used in their day.
Sam Tung Uk Museum, 2 Kwu Uk Lane, Tsuen Wan | (+852) 2411 2001
Step inside the Hong Kong Railway Museum and you will instantly be transported back to 1910 to see the old Tai Po Train Station as it once stood. Those interested in history will be keen to visit the restored ticketing station as well as a number of old traincars.
Want to relax? Grab a date (or a good book) and spend the afternoon hopping between six vintage trains from five different time periods across the twentieth century. Aside from the carriages, you can also appreciate the two gorgeous restored period locomotives on display. There’s something for everyone in the Hong Kong Railway Museum.
Hong Kong Railway Museum, 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po Market, Tai Po | (+852) 2653 3455
Experience a day in the life of an actual firefighter at sea by stepping aboard the once flagship fireboat of Hong Kong: the Alexander Grantham. Decommissioned in 2002, the Fireboat Alexander Grantham served and protected Hong Kong for 49 years before being converted into a public museum. It boasts a distinguished history, including battling the famous (and controversial) fire of Seawise University in 1972.
Take an hour to tour the firefighter’s quarters, appreciate the ship’s bridge, and pose for pictures on the deck with the water cannons. Come say hello to an old Hong Kong icon as it stands hoisted, overlooking the water that it once protected.
Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery, Quarry Bay Park, Hoi Tai Street, Quarry Bay
Money is something everyone uses, but very few actually understand its role in society. The HKMA Information Centre celebrates Hong Kong from the point of view of finance and currency. At this unlikely museum, you will come across everything from old currencies to a historical timeline detailing Hong Kong’s relationship with money.
The HKMA Information Centre is located on a high floor of Two IFC, with large floor-to-ceiling windows offering a gorgeous panoramic view of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbor. Take an hour-long break from your shopping in Central and treat yourself to a breath-taking view and a valuable lesson about money’s role in society.
HKMA Information Centre, 55/F, Two IFC, 8 Finance Street, Central | (+852) 2878 1111
We highly recommend this mind-opening experience. At over an hour long, the flagship tour introduces you to the world of blindness. A guide will hand you a walking cane and take you into the dark to experience first-hand what it’s like to live as a blind person. You’ll be taught to use your hands and ears to paint a vivid mental picture of the world around you.
As your senses sharpen, the feeling of helplessness will be replaced by a child-like sense of wonder. What we can say is that you’ll conquer darkness while also developing a new, profound sense of appreciation for humanity—it’s the ultimate museum experience.
Dialogue in the Dark, Unit B, 7/F, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Cheung Sha Wan
Managed by the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum is an Eastern Han brick tomb—the only one to have been excavated in Hong Kong. It was accidentally discovered in 1955 during the construction of a nearby housing estate, and the tomb is now on display to showcase the cross-shaped burial chamber, its barrel-vaulted structure, an array of burial objects, and the geometric decorations of the bricks.
Although visitors cannot go inside the chamber itself, the tomb can be seen through a glass panel, and the adjacent exhibition hall explains the history of the tomb and an exploration of trade in the Han dynasty. It’s certainly one of the smallest museums in Hong Kong’s culture catalogue, but that by no means diminishes its importance or intriguing subject matter.
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2386 2863
Japan’s beloved CupNoodles Museum is one of its most popular destinations, but did you know that Hong Kong has its own version of this appetising attraction?
In a space of close to 10,000 square feet, the CupNoodles Museum Hong Kong boasts three exhibition zones under the theme of “The Innovation Journey of Momofuku Ando,” as well as three hands-on workshops to complete the visitor experience.
Learn about the history of founder Momofuku Ando and what inspired him to invent instant ramen, take in an expansive display of cup noodle packages, and design your own original Nissin cup noodle flavour—there are 5,460 possible combinations to choose from!
CupNoodles Museum, 2/F, China Hong Kong City, 33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Previously known as the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery (not the most audience-friendly moniker), City Gallery acts as an exhibition centre to inform the public about the planning of Hong Kong’s urban areas, as well as its development history.
It’s not as dry as it might sound—following a facelift in 2021, the building’s four floors are now dedicated to interactive exhibits, common spaces, workshop rooms, and rotating galleries, showcasing heritage protection, underground infrastructure design, unique Hong Kong urban elements, the transformation of Hong Kong’s coastlines, and more!
City Gallery, 3 Edinburgh Place, Central | (+852) 3102 1242
The Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is not easy to miss—after all, the cultural destination is housed in the Old Pathological Institute, one of Hong Kong’s declared monuments. Before its establishment in 1996 as a museum, the Old Pathological Institute worked on studying, testing, and producing vaccines against infectious diseases.
Today, much of the museum retains its original external and internal features. It educates the public on health and medical sciences, including traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Through the exhibitions, you will learn more about the human body, the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, the production of vaccines against smallpox, and more.
Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan