Wan Chai is famous as the very lively nightlife district with bars, pubs, clubs and dining options as well as the home of important fairs throughout the year where the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is situated.
As one of Hong Kong’s oldest districts, Wan Chai once was a famous bar area where generations of GIs and Jack Tars have sought out entertainment and relaxation. Nowadays, the old complex red-light district with sailors, girlie bars, triads have been replaced by businessmen, upscale pubs, the Academy for Performing Arts as well as the glass-shiny Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Btw: there are still mamasans and dodgy nightclubs on Lockhart and Jaffe Roads).
For your reference Wan Chai was originally called Ha Wan (literally means “Lower Ring” in Cantonese) while Central in Cantonese means “Center of Ring” and Sheung Wan means “Upper Ring”.
What to SEE ?
Designed as bird soaring high in the sky, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) reminds many visitors of the Sydney Opera. As the best Asian convention centre, HKCEC will be overcrowded when fairs, conventions, conferences or exhibitions are hosted in this area. Many Hong Kong’s annual events are held in HKCEC, such as the “Food Expo“, the “Animation and Game Exhibition” as well as the “Computer Festival“.
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is also a popular tourist spot especially for Mainland tourists, because it is where the handover of Hong Kong and the ceremony of establishment of Hong Kong SAR were held in 1997. The Golden Bauhinia Square situated in front of HKCEC represents an important symbol for the Hong Kong people after the handover. If you are an early bird, you can consider to enjoy the daily official flag-raising ceremony around 8:00 am here.
Aside from business and entertainment, Wan Chai is well-known for its wide variety of culture, heritage and history. Several famous galleries and studios can be found in Wan Chai including the Goethe Gallery, Pao Galleries, Hong Kong Arts Centre as well as Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The vicinity of Sun Street, St.Francis Yard and Wing Fung Street are packed with a mix of galleries, contemporary art and design shops, studios and fashionable art places worthwhile exploring. Many international and famous artists and creative designers found a new home in this Wan Chai area.
Wan Chai is also a good place for a uniquely local culture experience and to be explored on foot. Be it to stroll around the many streets and experience local street markets or to sample some local Hong Kong food in one of the many small eateries, Cha Chaan Teng and Dim Sum places. Wan Chai can be easily reached by Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui, but why not take the iconic Ding Ding Tram for a ride and explore Hong Kong Island starting from Wan Chai? Visitors easily can take the Ding Ding Tram to Happy Valley to experience a true culture phenomenon: horse racing, stop in Causeway Bay for fine dining and shopping or head to the financial district Central.
More Attractions in Wan Chai
Where to SHOP ?
Wan Chai does not have as many shopping opportunities as Causeway Bay, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui or Mongkok. However, you still can take a look at the “Wan Chai Computer City” where you have the opportunity to shop almost everything related to computer, mobile computing and accessories on two floors.
Where to RELAX ?
Similar to other districts in Hong Kong, tourists can either enjoy a glass of cocktail in a rooftop bar (such as Wooloomooloo Bar, Habitat Lounge or Penthouse Sky Lounge) or relax themselves in a spa (e.g. Plateau Spa at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dragonfly Spa, Happy Foot) in Wan Chai (for more spas in Wan Chai district please refer to the article “Top Spa in Hong Kong“).
Much like SoHo in Central, the development of Wan Chai has expended to small streets and turned this area a heaven of eating and relaxing destination. Sitting in one small coffee bar or café on Sun Street and enjoying people-watching is one-of-a-kind experience after a long-day walking and traveling.
Other Popular Districts in Hong Kong