Header image courtesy of Red John (via Unsplash)
Originally published by Nicole Hurip. Last updated by Celia Lee.
Hong Kong Island gets a lot of attention for being at the centre of things, but the mirroring skyline across the harbour deserves a bit of the limelight as well. A six-minute ride away from Central Pier is Tsim Sha Tsui, home to some of the biggest and most unique malls in the city. The streets are always swarming with tourists and salarymen, scurrying between the skyscrapers that hold a thousand different stories. Restaurants and drinking dens come in clusters, in-between high-end hotels and an extraordinary number of tailor shops. The recent additions of K11 Musea mall and the West Kowloon Cultural District have given the neighbourhood a new perspective, oscillating between traditional luxury and artistic modernity.
At a glance, the harbourfront district is a seemingly disjunct maze of streets and sights, somewhat disconnected from the neighbouring Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, and Mong Kok, even though they occupy different sections along the same road, but upon closer inspection presents a glimpse into the city’s cultural identity. Join us as we shine a light on the best things to see and do, and the best places to eat, drink, and shop along the paved streets and marbled hallways of the dark side.
A hidden oasis in the middle of a busy shopping district, Kowloon Park is a great place to get a break from all the noise, figuratively and literally. Once you enter the perimeters of the park, the scene is almost unrecognisable. A vision of lush green growth and idyllic ponds, tranquil pavilions, and an oft-photographed flamboyance of flamingoes, the park is a popular spot for a weekend picnic or simply a quiet lunch.
Kowloon Park, 22 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2724 3344
A heady system of restaurants and bars stacked in stories and crammed into alleys, this is the LKF of Kowloon. Restaurants and bars along Knutsford Terrace changes frequently, but you can always keep up to date with what’s available here. Where LKF draws an expat crowd, Knutsford Terrace welcomes a more local following. Shisha bars perfume the air that is already thick with chatter, enveloping patrons with the expectation of a good time and a late night.
Knutsford Terrace, entrance near Miramar Shopping Centre behind Kimberley Road
An iconic strip along the promenade that can be found in multiple guidebooks and itineraries, the Avenue of Stars features a Hollywood Walk of Fame-esque walkway of celebrity handprints. It is also one of the most popular spots to admire the city’s famous skyline as well as the daily, dazzling show of lights and lasers, elegantly named the Symphony of Lights.
Avenue of Stars, 3 Hoi Bun Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2918 1722
In TST, you will find clusters of the city’s best museums. Along the coast in East TST, we have the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Space Museum. HKMOA is the city’s first public art museum. Large scale installations and interactive exhibits are part of the museum’s program, with works that span across four main areas of Chinese art: painting and calligraphy, antiquities, trade art, and modern and Hong Kong art.
Hop next door to the Hong Kong Space Museum, the only planetarium in Hong Kong filled with interactive exhibitions all about the great unknown as well as the efforts of Chinese space programmes over the years. Fun fact: the Space Museum is dubbed the “pineapple bun” for its dome-like and cross-hatched exterior.
Adjacent to the TST Promenade, you will find the Hong Kong Science Museum and the Hong Kong Museum of History nestled side by side. The Science Museum has 500 permanent exhibits, ranging from interactive stimulations to static displays, all showcasing different topics in science and technology, including light and sound, life sciences, transportation. The History Museum next door offers visitors a completely different experience by showing a glimpse of humanity’s past and old Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Story permanent exhibition.
On the other side of TST, you will find M+ Museum and the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District. You read more about the west side of TST here in our bespoke guide to the district. Finally, if you’re planning on visiting Kowloon Park, don’t forget to stop by the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre. Formerly the Whitfield Barracks that housed colonial troops, its historic military buildings are reserved, and its interiors transformed into a permanent exhibition on Hong Kong’s heritage, local histories, and other archaeological efforts.
If you’re interested in learning more about museums in the city, check out our guide here.
Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Haiphong Road, Kowloon Park, Tsim Sha Tsui
This Indonesian café has been around since 1975, and the food quality continues to be show-stopping. Recommended dishes include the stir-fried satay pork with rice, ribs bagel, and beef rendang AOP croissant.
BaliTown, 3/F, The Nate, 176 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Vego not only serves healthy and mouth-watering sweets and savouries, but this café also scores high on the Instagrammable scale with its wooden, minimalist décor. From protein-packed bowls to filling pizzas and bagels, to mouth-watering cakes, you’re in for a treat.
Vego Coffee, Shop 7B, G/F, Garden Mansion, 154–156 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Located in the basement level of The Langham, Main St Deli is famous for its no-fuss, all-American subs, sandwiches, burger, and shakes. Be sure to arrive on an empty stomach, because the portions here are larger than what you would usually find in Hong Kong eateries. Make sure to leave room for the cakes! Not only do they come in massive slices but these sweet treats are also irresistibly delicious.
Main St Deli, Lower Lobby Level, The Langham Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
TST is home to Hong Kong’s Koreatown, and most restaurants can be found along and scattered around Kimberly Street and Kimberly Road just one street over. For KBBQs, try out Hancham Korean Meathouse. For authentic Korean cuisine, Hanook is your best bet. For Korean fried chicken, try Outdark. For a quick bite and some Korean café desserts, head over to Oppa Coffee Bar and Restaurant.
Hancham Korean Meathouse, 1/F, Winfield Commercial Building, 6–8A Prat Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hanook Korean Restaurant, G/F, Beauty Mansion, 69–71A Kimberly Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Outdark, 17/F, 8 Hau Fook Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
Oppa Coffee Bar and Restaurant, G/F, 1F Kimberly Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
This is a popular izakaya that serves impressive platters of sashimi, sushi, and other offerings of the sea in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. If raw plates aren’t your thing, try out their seafood fried rice, tempura, and oyster pot rice.
Flame Japanese Cuisine, Shop 5 & 6, G/F, Wah Fung Building, 23 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Shui
A vintage café that serves Japanese and fusion cuisine, Grandmama Café is another on our list of Instagrammable cafés in the city. This TST oasis offers a selection of sets, desserts, and drinks. Do be warned, these portions come in sizes smaller than what you would find elsewhere, but this petit quality does add to the overall aesthetic of the café.
Grandmama Café, 1/F, The Nate, 176 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
A Hong Kong-Japanese fusion restaurant, Wulu uses alcohol as its theme to create a unique cross between an izakaya, yakitori joint, and your classic Hong Kong hotpot store. Famed for its specialised soup bases, Wulu fuses the traditional with the new in all of its delicious offerings.
Wulu Restaurant, G/F, Perfect Commercial Building, 20 Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui
If you’re looking to try some of Hong Kong’s authentic Shelter Bay crab, head to Greenland Spicy Crab! Its crabs also come in four other flavours: salted egg, black and white pepper, mala, and spicy crab paste. Other Cantonese dishes are also available, some with a seafood or distinct crabby twist.
Greenland Spicy Crab, Shop A, 1/F, Astoria Building, 24–38 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Inside the Ritz-Carlton is the highest bar in the city, Ozone, sitting at a lofty 480 metres above ground on the hundredth-and-eighteenth floor. Aside from the view, the drinks offerings are also worth the hike. The cocktail menu is inspired by the five elements: earth, fire, water, metal, and air. In addition to a long list of spirits and wines, seasonal collaborations also add to the intrigue.
Ozone, The Ritz-Carlton, Level 118, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
Live jazz enjoyed with some smooth dark liquid in crystalline glasses—that’s what life should be all about. Named after the nickname of the Kowloon side, this hotel bar is sophisticated but not cliché. Design touches permeate the space, from the hourglasses that lazily tumble overhead to the leather-bound tables. This is the place for those who like to dress up for a good time.
Darkside, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Located in the newly reopened Regent, Harbourside lets you travel around the world through its buffet stations. From delicious hot plates to the ever-popular seafood selection, you’ll never leave hungry, but we strongly recommend you to save room for Harbourside’s impressive dessert stall. Buffet items changes with seasonality—all the more reason to revisit next time you’re in Hong Kong.
Harbourside, G/F, Regent Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Branded as a “cultural-retail destination,” K11 Musea wants to be more than just a mall. The K11 brand is almost synonymous with art and design, so it’s no surprise that the newest member of its family has a heavy focus on these aspects, from the design of the space to the retail and F&B offerings within. Shop for lifestyle goods and other luxury clothing and accessories. The complex also has outposts for hard-to-find brands, such as Italian streetwear label GCDS and avant-garde Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto’s namesake label.
K11 Musea, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3892 3890
A few blocks down on Hanoi Road is the K11 Art Mall, which melds art and commerce into a new form for the masses. The result is a seven-storey retail complex that plays host to artworks by young local artists as well as brands like JNBY, Agnes B, and Miss Sixty. In its K11 Select store, new design talent is spotlighted, while other specified areas showcase wares from relevant brands. Other stores of interest include Harrison Wong, a Hong Kong menswear brand with an edge, and L’Carene, a multi-brand womenswear store with a collection of contemporary labels from all over the world.
K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3118 8070
This shopping complex is actually made up of three malls in one: Harbour City (for your average mall offerings), Ocean Terminal (for more youth-centric brands), and The Gateway (for ultra-high-end designer goods). With over 450 stores and 70 restaurants inside, you can easily spend a whole day inside. The mall occupies a good chunk of Canton Road, ending at the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier. Luxury brands from far and wide find a home here, as well as a couple of adjoining hotels.
Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2118 8666
Frocks, headpieces, and beaded purses line the shelves and racks of this vintage store on Granville Road. An explosion of colour and print, Little Dot Vintage specialises in vintage womenswear from the 1950s to the 1980s, sourced from Japan and the US.
Little Dot Vintage, 1/F, 47 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 6356 3049