Header image courtesy of @rambler15
As one of Hong Kong’s most quintessential and iconic neighbourhoods, Sham Shui Po’s identity is as diverse as the eclectic knick-knacks sold in the stalls on Ap Liu Street. If the sheer amount of things to do, see, and eat confuses and confounds you, let our ultimate neighbourhood guide take you through some of the must-visit spots of the Sham Shui Po area.
It should come as no surprise that the multi-faceted and culturally diverse neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po has its fair share of arts and history—sometimes even in one neat package. Take, for example, the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC), a multi-disciplinary centre housed in a converted factory, with artist studios, exhibition spaces, and a theatre. Perfect for culture vultures who wish to get away from the crowds, this sanctuary boasts over 100 studios, giving you an opportunity to explore how local artists revel in their craft, as well as catch screenings at film festivals, browse through handicraft markets, and take in large-scale art exhibitions. From its humble beginnings as a facility for housing cottage and local light industries to a creative arts complex that preserves Hong Kong’s past, see first-hand how JCCAC has transformed into a leading creative hub in our vibrant city.
To experience a day in the life of Sham Shui Po’s artistic community, head to Form Society, where you can revel in their 1,300-square-foot space that plays host to a collaborative space and a multipurpose exhibition area for illustrations, multimedia, and animated works, and more. Form Society regularly entertains pop-up events, speaker sessions, and workshops that are open to the public. While it’s not an art gallery in the strictest sense, this free-flow artistic space is worth checking out nonetheless.
JCCAC, 30 Pak Tin Street, Shek Kip Mei | (+852) 2353 1311
Form Society, 186 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 9751 7157
For a touch of history, visit Mei Ho House, formerly part of Shek Kip Mei Estate and the last remaining example of a Mark I building in a single-block configuration. While the other buildings of the estate dating from the 1950s have since been demolished and replaced by new ones, this particular estate was chosen to be preserved. The construction of Mei Ho House marked the beginning of Hong Kong’s public housing policies, its origins arising from a devastating blaze that broke out in 1953 (later known as the Shek Kip Mei Fire), which destroyed the Shek Kip Mei shantytown of immigrants. The fire robbed almost 58,000 residents of their homes. In order to provide long-term housing to the victims, the government built the first batch of resettlement blocks on the site of the fire. The museum at Mei Ho House now focuses on the history of the local community and the evolution of public housing.
Take in the architectural wonders of Sam Tai Tsz Temple and Pak Tai Temple, a complex of two temples ranked as Grade II and Grade III historic buildings. Sam Tai Tsz Temple came first, constructed in 1898 for the god Sam Tai Tsz (better known by his real name, Na Cha) to honour his miracle in dissipating an outbreak of plague in 1894 in the area. According to lore, the Hakka people brought the image of the patron deity from their native temple in Huizhou to help suppress the epidemic, and after they carried his image in a parade through the district, the epidemic subsided. To this day, it is still the only temple worshipping Sam Tai Tsz in Hong Kong. The temple presently houses some artefacts of the late Qing Dynasty, such as bells and drums dating back to a hundred years ago. The neighbouring Pak Tai Temple was built in 1920 by the fishermen living in Sham Shui Po for worshipping Pak Tai, the God of the North.
Learn more about the Han dynasty and the explosion of trade at the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb. Accidentally discovered in 1955 when the Hong Kong government was levelling a hill slope at the Lei Cheng Uk village settlement, the tomb was then excavated by members of Hong Kong University and workers of the Public Works Department. After excavation, the tomb itself and an exhibition hall were formally opened to the public. While visitors have not been able to enter the tomb itself since the mid-1980s for conservation reasons, you can still view it through a glass panel at the entrance passage and there are exhibitions introducing the landmark and the development of trade passages in the Han dynasty. Right next to the museum, you can take a stroll through the Han Garden, a Chinese garden built following the style of the Han dynasty to include pavilions, terraces, towers, fishponds, and rock sculptures.
Mei Ho House, G/F, Block 41, Shek Kip Mei Estate, 70 Berwick Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 3728 3544
Sam Tai Tsz & Pak Tai Temple, 196–198 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb, 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2386 2863
Dig for gold in the treasure troves of Vinyl Hero, local music enthusiast Paul Au’s flat-cum-record shop. Stocking over 400,000 records in a minuscule 300-square-foot room, vinyl aficionados from across the world rate this destination as a must-visit. You can find anything from Mozart and Beethoven to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Duran Duran, and even the soundtrack to The Sound of Music in this hobbit hole of vinyl, but be warned that a trip here has a tendency to swallow up several hours of your day—at least you’ll leave with stacks of hard-won riches to feed your love for wax. Prices range from $60 for popular music to $200 for harder-to-find collectables. But it’s not only records that deserve love and attention here: Paul Au’s unique story of how he came to fuel his love for vinyl into an everlasting flame is a discovery in itself. Interested shoppers should call ahead before visiting to make sure the man himself is home to welcome you in.
Vinyl Hero, Flat D, 5/F, Wai Hong Building, 239 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 9841 7136
We’ll be honest: Dragon Centre has seen better days. The site of a now-defunct iconic indoor rollercoaster which brought joy to many who couldn’t afford Ocean Park, its retro fittings, dismal lighting, and cramped shops don’t rival the more high-end shopping malls found across Hong Kong, but it retains a nostalgic charm that’s impossible to replicate. Aside from exploring its nine floors packed with stalls selling anything from clothing and knitting accessories to stationery and Sanrio-themed collectables, did you know there’s also an opportunity to go ice-skating? You’ll find the Sky Rink on the eighth floor of the building, where you can practice your toe jumps and glide around all day for just $65—there’s no time limit to your visit. Skate rentals are included in the price. Don’t expect anything fancy—it’s an old rink but it’ll get the job done. If you look up while you’re skating, your eyes can follow the old rollercoaster tracks and wonder if the ride would have felt as dangerous as it looks. After you’ve exhausted yourself, poke around the food court just opposite the rink for a snack.
Dragon Centre, 37K Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po
Full disclosure: We could dedicate a whole article to the veritable smorgasbord that is Sham Shui Po’s dining scene, but that would take all day (and too much space). Instead, we’ve lifted a few highlights and must-try eateries that are worth a trip to the neighbourhood for a full-blown foodie adventure.
Anyone who has spent at least a part of their childhood in Hong Kong will have the Garden Bakery logo seared into their minds, so why not take a look at where this iconic homegrown brand had its humble beginnings? While the Garden Bakery building looks inaccessible, the lobby is reserved for a public café space-cum-exhibition hall. Take a look through the display of historic products that Garden has sold in the past 90 years before moving on to the café, where you can indulge in pastries and confectionaries of all sorts, like muffins, sandwiches, coconut tarts, raisin scones, and more. Baked goods are sold here with a daily limit, so if you have your heart set on a certain item, it’s best to get there early to avoid disappointment.
Garden Bakery, G/F, Garden Company, 58 Castle Peak Road, Sham Shui Po
It appears that quite a number of businesses in Sham Shui Po pull double-duty and Toolss is no different. A stationery shop-cum-café-cum-florist, this minute boutique serves up a well-curated selection of hot and iced coffees as well as fruit sodas and creative teas and lattes, like Lychee Latte ($42) and Sweet Potato Latte ($42). Browse their collection of pens, highlighters, notebooks, calendars, postcards, and other desk accoutrements before sitting down to enjoy some Western-inspired bites, such as Grilled Honey Chicken Wings ($45) and Cheese Hotdog ($58). Their street-side stools are perfect for feet-resting and people-watching with some much-needed coffee.
Toolss, G/F, Fook Tin Building, 38 Wai Chi Street, Shek Kip Mei | (+852)
This Michelin-recognised food stall is said to steam up to 5,000 rice rolls per day—an incredible feat by any standard. Seasoned with sweet sauce, sesame seeds, and peanut butter sauce, the quintessential Hong Kong snack that Hop Yik Tai churns out is silky, smooth, and flavoursome, often lauded as one of the best in the city. You can find steamed rice rolls almost anywhere, from no-frills dai pai dongs to cha chaan tengs and even in modernised versions in fusion restaurants, but you can’t find them done like the signature ones at Hop Yik Tai. Just don’t expect a polished environment or friendly service—the tiny and narrow establishment is built for efficiency first and foremost.
Hop Yik Tai, 121 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2720 0239
Hidden in the depths of Dragon Centre is a nondescript ramen shack, founded by the same proprietor as Butao King. Blink and you might miss Kakurega Ramen Factory, a small 16-seat restaurant specialising in tsukemen (Japanese dipping ramen). The only thing that alerts you to the fact that you are standing before a local favourite is the snaking queue that forms even before Kakurega has opened.
Just like in Japan, diners make their selection at the vending machine by the entrance, upon which your order will be presented to the ramen chefs and prepared. Kakurega only serves 100 bowls of their hand-pulled noodles every day, so it’s best to come for a taste of Sham Shui Po’s best-kept foodie secret.
We recommend a classic tonkatsu-based Kakurega White ($78) and the potent, black-garlic-based Kakurega Black ($88) for your initial experience. Like it hot and spicy? Order a Fireball ($18) as an add-on to your soup base—this fiery lump will spice up your noodles in no time.
Kakurega Ramen House, Room 7083, 7/F, Dragon Centre, 37 Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 3487 0989
You haven’t had tofu pudding until you‘ve had at it Kung Wo Beancurd Factory. Established in 1893, this humble eatery is beloved by locals and tourists alike, and diners flock to this historic shop for a taste of fresh soy milk and sweet tofu pudding at bargain prices. The shop is one of few (if not the only) who still makes its products the traditional way, using hand-operated millstones to grind soybeans and churning out over a thousand bowls of tofu puddings on weekends. Kung Wo recently underwent a facelift and now channels a retro-inspired interior, complete with themed illustrations lining the walls, though we personally much prefer the archetypal Formica-laminated tables and the tiled, traditional look it had sported for over 50 years.
Kung Wo Beancurd Factory, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2386 6871
Award-winning Man Kee Cart Noodles comes highly recommended for their beef brisket noodles and Swiss-style chicken wings. Like many traditional cart noodle shops, you get to customise your bowl of noodles with your choice of protein, noodles, and toppings. While the furnishings and lack of comfort are nothing to write home about (it‘s all about quick turnovers here), Man Kee continuously draws in the crowds for their unparalleled flavours and ingredients. In fact, the restaurant has become so popular that they have had to open a second location just down the street to accommodate the volume of hungry diners. Spice lovers will appreciate the row of different hot sauces and pepper powders lining the tables.
Man Kee Cart Noodles, G/F, 121 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 9059 5104
Love tomatoes? So do the proprietors of Tomato C Hing—or Tomato Brother, as it’s known in Cantonese. Decked out in a bright red-and-yellow colour palette, Tomato C Hing makes all of their soup bases with—you guessed it—tomatoes, so expect this nest to be ruled by sweet and sour notes. Super Smooth ($49) is their signature dish and much loved by the diehard foodies who queue up for a taste of this bowl of sliced beef, buttery scrambled eggs, and fragrant, thick broth that envelops your taste buds. Beef lovers will want to try Real Gentlemen ($78), a trio of beef cheek and two different cuts of brisket, and you can add on cheese as well for an extra flavour boost. A meal can be had for under $100 per person, so be sure to add this to your budget eats list.
Tomato C Hing, G/F, 255 Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 9462 1567
Sham Shui Po can feel like an endless maze of shops and stalls, but we like to look at it as an Aladdin’s den of things you never knew you needed. From knick-knacks and computer accessories to fabrics, beads, leather goods, and more, you can find almost anything in this neighbourhood—if you know where to look. We highlight a few of our shopping destinations.
You can’t go to Sham Shui Po without peeking into the rabbit hole that is Golden Computer Centre—and end up spending way more time (and money) there than you wanted to. A haven for computer geeks and gamers alike, the endless rows and rows of shops offer everything from computer parts and accessories, video games and consoles, software engineering books and computer programme manuals, computer repair services, and hard-to-find tools and hardware. It feels a little claustrophobic navigating these narrow halls, but the rewards are high for the intrepid adventurer in search of retro games and sleek new tech.
Golden Computer Centre & Arcade, Golden Building, Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po
Looking for more electronics? Apliu Street might be your best bet. From second-hand phones, vintage cameras (most of which still work!), audio-visual equipment, watches, carabiners of all shapes and sizes, and just random “trash” that could become your treasure, this lane of flea markets has them all if you’re willing to do the dirty work of sifting through them. Be sure to keep an eye out for counterfeits and get into the habit of haggling to get a cheaper offer. Few of these stalls (if any) offer refunds or exchanges, so it’s best to quality-control before your purchase.
Another must-visit destination in Sham Shui Po is Fuk Wing Street, also referred to as Toy Street. Whether you’re looking to purchase for gifts for children, stationery sets, recreational accessories like jump ropes and badminton rackets, themed party décor, table tennis sets, children’s costumes, and more, this avenue of shops stock an insane variety and offer great bargains and discounts for shoppers with keen eagle eyes. Brand-name goods can be found listed at a fraction of the recommended retail price, and adults and kids alike will come across items to delight, as some shops on Fuk Wing Street also specialise in collectable figurines, expert jigsaw puzzles, and advanced Lego sets for mega fans. Looking for baskets of fake flowers and fruits? Fuk Wing Street will have it. What about wrapping paper? Yep. The selection is seemingly endless and you’ll have a ball browsing the maze of products aisles.