Sai Ying Pun Neighbourhood
When you want to be close to the CBD and spend no more than 15 minutes commute by train or by your own legs, you like urban living but want a bit more space, need to get away from loud traffic and blasting horns but still want to be in a bit of hustle and bustle, you love to hang out in cute cafes, enjoy being part of a community that loves thy neighbour, when you consider street art as a fantastic form of expression, you prefer high ceilings and don’t mind a walk up, then there is one suburb that you should consider. Sai Ying Pun.
From the food markets to the noodle shops, Sai Ying Pun has always been considered a bohemian, artistic and hip urban neighbourhood to live, and is often referred to as Hong Kong’s Notting Hill. Artists and craftsmen have long lived and built businesses in SYP, and that spirit can still be felt in the neighbourhood today. The only surviving wood factory in HK is on Queen’s Road West, a family run bamboo steamer business from the 1950s still thrives, glass blowers and ceramicists can be found on First and Third Streets, sauce brewers make legendary chilli and soy sauce at Yu Kwen Yick and one of the few remaining traditional printing shops still exists on High street.
Over the past years SYP has become home to a number of the cities ex-pat singles and couples, drawn to the area with the ability to walk to and from work in Central, being close to the entertainment hotspots of Soho and Central LKF, it’s never a problem to find a cab when you need it, and now the MTR has an SYP station with multiple entrances.
There are plenty of small parks and many large trees in this green district, and you can easily access the Morning Trail to the Peak. For hikers and joggers there are endless ways to stay fit and for those of us who prefer a more sedate lifestyle, the open and green spaces and many beautiful gardens in easy walking distance offer plenty of ways to feel close to nature. The installation of the escalators has brought First Street to Bonham Road and above that much closer.
Shopping is a breeze with a number of well stocked supermarkets, some which carry specially imported goods from Australia, America, France etc that are liked by ex-pats. Every type of business operates in the area including local fashion, hardware, supplies, pharmacy, pet shops, medical, beauty and more.
Bordering Sheung Wan and up into the Mid Levels, Sai Ying Pun suburb offers a very convenient lifestyle with access to everything you could possibly want in Hong Kong. Hospitals and Schools are close commutes, and it’s one of the easiest districts to get about with MTR, busses and taxis.
What’s Your Style?
Apartments come in all shapes and sizes. Sai Ying Pun being an older central district is more about apartments and less about houses. There are the ultra modern new residential developments such as Island Crest on First Street, a twin tower high rise with 1 to 3 bedroom apartments, balconies and great views, with multiple facilities such as resort style swimming pool, fitness centre, clubhouse, and a Marketplace Supermarket underneath. The complex is quite suitable for singles, couples and small families. Another is the Nova on Third Street which was completed in 2016 and again offers luxury accommodation to residents with excellent resort style facilities and wonderful open harbour or green views from mid to higher levels. The high rise buildings in the area are mostly all of recent build, so you can expect a very high standard of interiors and layouts.
To really appreciate the area and feel like you are definitely living in the Orient, you may decide you prefer the older Chinese buildings with high ceilings and character, some which have been renovated and converted into incredible luxury homes, with outdoor terraces, rooftops, open plan living and spacious bedrooms. You can also still snag a bargain by finding a place that has been left in quite original condition that has good solid bones with amazing potential to renovate.
Streets such as High Street are lined with these lovely older buildings that typically have a shop front at street level and then apartments above. Stacked side by side, you can find interesting character features both colonial and older Hong Kong style which have become very sought after and more recently protected due to the over development of some areas and the ripping down of much of the cities character buildings. If you wait out the opportunity and can (afford to) acquire two or more apartments, or a whole building the opportunities are endless to combine and create a dream dwelling. Some of these buildings have incredible views out over the harbour from the higher levels.
Eat and Drink
Fitting with this colourful, creative and chic neighbourhood, you would expect to find vibrant, hip and multicultural cafes bars and restaurants. The past few years has seen Sai Ying Pun change from a local area with mostly street food stalls and wet markets, to café society, and urban cool restaurants with open dining at street level. Mixed in together, the local and new blend so well together which is what really makes this neighbourhood so good. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, creates SYP’s own unique style but still definitely Hong Kong.
Metropolitan or St Barts restaurants are the popular kids on the block, and bookings are essential for Saturday and Sunday brunch. However venture off High Street and onto first second and third streets you will find so many small delicious casual dining and cafes, such as Bao Dim Gui Yan, Granville Island (where you can also just grab a drink and people watch) Detour Café and El Macho Mexican on Third.
For years local residents claimed that SYP closed down before midnight and for a night out they would head to Soho, LKF or Wanchai. Then the famous international brands Ping Pong opened, and more recently Potatohead with their music room. Running late, these restaurant/clubs are well patronised, yet have done little to change the quieter night time nature of the district.