7 Best Sights in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Blue House

Wan Chai
An excellent example of a traditional tong lau (20th-century tenement building), the Blue House in Wan Chai sits in the center of a color-coded complex that also includes the aptly named Yellow and Orange houses. As the story goes, the original owners only had blue paint on hand, thus the high-voltage shade of cyan. Thanks to a preservation campaign by city conservationists, the cluster of distinctive buildings has been gracefully restored, winning an Award of Excellence in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2017. Inside the 1920s buildings, you can get a good sense of the neighborhood's roots. There's a community center, restaurants, cultural tours, movie screenings, craft workshops, and architectural exhibits.

Central Plaza

Wan Chai

Clad in reflective gold, silver, and copper-colored glass, this triangular building is glitzy to the point of tastelessness. In 1992 it was briefly the city's tallest building, but Two IFC soon beat it by 130 feet. Note the colorful fluorescent lights atop the building; they actually are a clock so complicated that no one knows how to tell time using it.

Comix Home Base

Wan Chai

Devoted to the creative and quirky world of comics and animation, this center celebrates local artists by offering up ample space to create, exhibit, and sell their work. The complex is also a great example of Hong Kong’s historic East-meets-West architecture, as it’s housed in a cluster of revitalized prewar tenement-style buildings with cantilevered balconies, high ceilings, and staircases made of China fir wood.

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Hong Kong Arts Centre

Wan Chai

The 19-story Hong Kong Arts Centre houses a branch of the Hong Kong Art School, several contemporary art galleries, interactive workshops, multimedia installations, art studios, a cinema, and performing arts venues. There are also a handful of eateries. The art hub has long been a longtime champion of up-and-coming artists, and its latest project is Comix Home Base on nearby Mallory Street. There are free guided tours every Wednesday and Saturday at 3 pm, lasting about 45 minutes.

2 Harbour Rd., Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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Rate Includes: Free, Daily 8 am–11 pm

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Wan Chai

Land is so scarce in Hong Kong that developers usually only build skyward, but the HKCEC juts into the harbor instead. Curved-glass walls and a swooping roof make it look like a tortoise lumbering into the sea or a gull taking flight, depending on who you ask. Of all the international trade fairs, regional conferences, and other events held here, by far the most famous was the 1997 Handover Ceremony. An obelisk commemorates it on the waterfront promenade, which also affords great views of Kowloon.

Outside the center stands the Golden Bauhinia. This gleaming sculpture of the bauhinia flower, Hong Kong's symbol, was a gift from China. The police hoist the flag daily at 7:50 am; on the first of every month, there is an enhanced flag-raising ceremony with musical accompaniment at 7:45 am.

Johnston Road

Wan Chai

Trams clatter along this busy road, which is choked with traffic day and night. It's also packed with shops selling food, cell phones, herbal tonics, and bargain-basement clothes. Rattan furniture, picture frames, paper lanterns, and Chinese calligraphic materials make up the more traditional assortment at Queen's Road East, which runs parallel to Johnston Road. The lanes that stretch between the two roads are also lined with stalls, forming a mini-market of clothing and accessories.

Johnston Rd., Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Lovers' Rock

Wan Chai

High above Wan Chai sits the suggestively shaped monolith known as Lovers' Rock, or Yan Yuen Shek. It's a frequent destination among local single women, who burn joss sticks and make offerings in hope of finding a husband. Not in the market? The walk along Bowen Road offers excellent views over the city, particularly at dusk. The easiest way up is on Minibus 24A from the Admiralty MTR station.