Header image courtesy of @jessicalkw (Shutterstock)
With all the hustle and bustle in the city, it can be hard sometimes to find some sense of peace and solitude. Just 20 minutes away from the city centre, however, is the perfect weekend getaway from the overwhelming city life.
Tucked away on a peninsula in the southside of Hong Kong Island, Stanley—also known as Chek Chue—was once known for its industry in fishing. In fact, Stanley was one of the oldest villages ever established in Hong Kong Island, and there are records that the village dated back to the Ming dynasty!
The English name Stanley was derived from Lord Stanley, who was a prominent colonial politician in the nineteenth century. When the British took possession of Hong Kong in 1842, Stanley was turned into a military base for the British garrison. Soon after, the government started to demarcate land for sale which allowed for development to happen. By the 1970s, Stanley developed more into a tourist attraction with shops, restaurants, and bars right situated right along the waterfront.
With the most famous attraction being Stanley Market, of course, it’s hard to miss the dozens of stalls filled with antique shops, ceramics, and souvenirs of sorts as they fill a narrow walkway. Today, Stanley is regarded not only as a tourist attraction but a place where people come and unwind on the weekends. With its access next to the sea and countless places to wine and dine, this humble fishing village has risen to become a popular holiday destination. Here are our top picks for things to do, see, and eat in Stanley.
A quintessential spot to check out when in Stanley is the Stanley Promenade. It’s not a hard miss as it is in the centre of Stanley, and it offers stunning vistas to boot. Situated right by the waterfront, there are a variety of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops to check out. This is by far the ideal place to grab an ice-cold beer and soak up the sun on a lazy weekend. Plus, did you ever really go to Stanley if you didn’t snap a picture of the sunset over the Promenade?
Stanley Promenade, 13 Stanley Main Street, Stanley
Challenge yourself this summer by conquering one of Hong Kong’s most burdensome peaks. It may sound like an easy five kilometres but it is one of the most difficult hikes on Hong Kong Island. The trail is from Parkview to Stanley, but starting on either end of the trail would not be a problem. In essence, the hike consists of ascending and descending two hills (Violet Hill and the Twins).
While this is somewhat of a short hike, it will give your lower body an intense workout. The hike may be physically strenuous, but the lush green mountains and the aquamarine tint that the ocean reflects will definitely make the hike a worthwhile reward. Click here for our detailed guide to hiking Violet Hill and Twin Peaks.
Take a step back in time by visiting the historical Murray House. This grand and imposing structure was built in 1846 and is one of Hong Kong’s oldest colonial-style buildings. It originally stood in Central but was dismantled in 1982 due to the ever-growing demand for land. However, in 2001, the Murray House was restored to its former glory and the building now mainly consists of shops and restaurants that overlook the entire peninsula of Stanley.
The Murray House, 96 Stanley Main Street, Stanley
This hole-in-the-wall cha chaan teng (茶餐廳; Hong Kong-style tea restaurant) may have one of the most delicious Hong Kong-style French toast ($30) on this side of the island. It’s deep-fried to golden perfection while retaining a soft and fluffy inside, and no one can resist the texture and taste of it. Their Hong Kong milk tea ($17) is another must-try, whether hot or cold. The smoothness of the evaporated milk contrasted with the strong tea aroma makes this a dangerous combo. Si Yik is perfectly hidden in plain sight as it sits next to the taxi drop-off area in Stanley Market—be sure not to miss it!
Si Yik, 2 Stanley Market Street, Stanley
Another Hong Kong staple, Beef & Liberty has become a well-known restaurant that specialises in (you guessed it) burgers. With over 10 burgers to choose from (that you can substitute with Impossible meat patties well), their selection ranges from simple cheeseburgers ($119) all the way to some unconventional creations, such as the Sichuan chicken burger ($99), which is flavoured with a piquant Sichuan marinade and ginger mayonnaise.
Beef & Liberty has got you spoiled with all sorts of delicious burgers but there are, of course, other unforgettable dishes, such as deep-fried mac n’ cheese bites ($52), chilli cheese fries ($62), cherry tomato salad ($49), and much more. Be sure to finish it all up with their divine desserts; their banoffee pie ($69), which consists of a crispy oat base, banana, caramel, cream, and chocolate chips, is our top pick.
Beef & Liberty, G04, G/F, 23 Carmel Road, The Piazza, Stanley
This rustic restaurant only has two items on the menu: crêpes and pizza. Located in an alleyway in the heart of Stanley Market, Mamie Yvonne is truly a hidden neighbourhood gem, though it is already well-known and popular amongst the locals who live in the area.
The pizza here is both crispy and cheesy, loaded with many mouthwatering toppings, and though it might sound like an outlandish duo, you cannot miss out on their freshly-made savoury crêpes. With over a dozen possible flavour combinations, their most popular one being the ham, egg, crème fraîche, and chive crêpe ($78), be sure to save some space for their sweet crêpes as well as they will truly hit the spot. Make sure to try their signature La Tatin ($88), topped with apple, salted butter, toasted almond, vanilla ice cream, and Chantilly cream.
Mamie Yvonne, G/F, Princeton Court, 118 Stanley Main Street, Stanley
This neighbourhood boulangerie-pâtisserie-delicatessen serves up charming French fare. Although prices here are high compared to other establishments in the area—the result of premium ingredients directly imported from France—the quality of the food does speak for itself. Much of the menu changes from month to month due to the availability of seasonal produce, but you can always expect to indulge in the classics year-round, such as duck confit ($238) and steak tartare with fries ($298).
Be sure to try their large selection of charcuterie and cheeses, and don’t hesitate to indulge in their decadent desserts, such as the chocolate éclair ($55). But one cannot leave without sampling their incredible limited-batch baguettes ($30). Freshly baked on a daily basis, they are arguably the best in Hong Kong.
Stan Café, Shop 505, 5/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley
Whether you are a tourist or a long-time resident, there are always interesting little items to uncover in Stanley Market. Arguably one of the most famous street markets in Hong Kong, Stanley Market offers a wide array of keepsakes, ranging from traditional Chinese attires and local paintings to antiques and holiday tokens. One of the most popular things to procure in Stanley Market is the Chinese calligraphy set, as some shops offer services to personally engrave your surname onto the seals. The narrow market lanes draw instant similarities as if you are at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Stanley Market, Stanley Municipal Services Building, 6 Stanley Market Road, Stanley
Towards the afternoon, make your way to Stanley Plaza, an open-air mall with many outlets and restaurants for you to shop your heart out. A notable fixture in Stanley Plaza is Goods of Desire (G.O.D), one of Hong Kong’s most unique lifestyle and retail brands. Founded in 1996 by Douglas Young and Benjamin Lau, the brand is known for its quirky and nostalgic interpretations of Hong Kong design and culture—perfect for statement pieces inside your home or souvenirs for friends and family. This small company quickly grew and now there are eight shops all over Hong Kong!
Goods of Desire, Shop 105, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley