Mon - Sun 9:00AM - 7PM
Best known for it’s glossy skyscrapers and world class attractions, awash with neon signs lighting up the harbour, Hong Kong has captivated tourists and residents for decades, as one of the great cities of the world. A city that doesn’t sleep, a city that gives you variety in abundance, a city that is known for it’s culinary excellence, and shopping delights.
To understand how Hong Kong came to be as we know it today, one only needs to pay a visit to Old Town Central where it all began. This is one of the oldest yet most dynamic districts in the city, and encompasses the sloping streets and myriad of small alleyways of Central and Sheung Wan. To walk around these areas, what you see encapsulates the richness and spirit of Hong Kong. This is a place where ancient temples share the same streets as fashion forward concept stores, or where authentic tea houses coexist with modern art galleries. There’s plenty to discover here, on foot from heritage buildings and art institutions to super cool café’s and restaurants, local and imported wares.
The British landed at Possession Point in Sheung Wan in 1841. They soon decided to build a city on this north coast of Hong Kong Island, and the present-day Central (Victoria City) was chosen to house major military facilities and an administrative centre. The area soon attracted both Westerners and Chinese to trade and live in the area, and a Canton Bazaar (the precursor of Central Market) was built between Cochrane Street and Graham Street in 1842. The area was soon zoned for Westerners only, and the Chinese residents were restricted to Sheung Wan. These areas housed the famous opium dens and red light districts. The area became known as Victoria City. The popularity of this area would also boost the population of Hong Kong from 5,000 in 1841 to 24,000 in 1848. Various barracks, naval base and the residence of the Commander, Flagstaff House were built on the east end of the district. Between 1860 and 1880 the construction of City Hall, Theatre Royal and other financial structures made Central the heart of Hong Kong.
In 1904 the Praya Reclamation Scheme added 59 acres (24 ha) of land to Central's waterfront. The military structures survived until the 1980s. Only Flagstaff House remains as the Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong Park. City Hall sat on the present premises of the HSBC Hong Kong headquarters and Hong Kong's first road, Queen's Road, passes through the area. The name Victoria City faded out with time and the area became what we know today as Central.
Due to the rich history of the area, this is a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood in which to live. The CBD area of Central has the magnificent banking, financial and retail towers in a number of concentrated city blocks. However you can go back one street from these blocks and find new residential apartments springing up and older building conversions mixed in with commercial, trading and retail stores.
Sheung Wan in particular is a neighbourhood where you may have a dried seafood shop below your apartment or a Laundromat or tea shop or merchant in your building. Walking around these streets, you may be unaware that this area has a growing population of residents living here amongst the commercial trade, mostly with only a grated door at street level and an intercom or door code box at the front that might give you a hint. There can also be a number of floors that are mixed commercial operations and then one or two that have been converted to residential apartments.
Mostly walk ups (no lift) the older building apartments generally are very spacious if well renovated and have high ceilings, open plan living, some have additional levels with terraces and often a rooftop area for the upper floors. The newer developments have all the modern conveniences you would expect with hi-tech appliances, comfortable interiors with balconies and views from upper levels, clubhouse facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and concierge services.
Bustling during the weekdays, Old Town Central takes on a whole different atmosphere over the weekend with a casual vibe, very little traffic (away from Queens Street to Connaught Road) and a relaxed pace. Small cafes have tables outside, restaurants are easier to get a table at, serving up brunch with an amazing selection of food styles. Streets such as Cat Street are famous for Hong Kong souvenirs and brick-a-brack, furniture and jewellery. Art galleries take up position in funky locations and antique stores abound to browse through.
Old Town Central offers residents the best of all worlds, with a choice of MTR stations for further journeys, supermarkets and shopping at the doorstep and restaurants and bars galore. Hair salons, massage, beauty clinics, medical services and banking facilities are all available and all within very easy walking distance.
Mon - Sun 9:00AM - 7PM