Central District, Hong Kong
This expansive parkland in the heart of Causeway Bay contains many facilities such as swimming pools, jogging tracks and tennis courts. Early risers gather here to practise tai chi. You can even massage your feet on a special pebble path. And thousands of people gather on special occasions such as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. During weekends, the park is full of people exercising, relaxing and simply enjoying the sunshine.
Central is one of the most diverse districts on Hong Kong Island. It is the business and financial heart of Hong Kong and encompasses a large area between Sheung Wan to the west and including part of Admiralty to the east and almost everyone visiting Hong Kong Island will pass through it more than once.
Central and Victoria Peak are divided by the Mid Levels. The hills behind Central afford beautiful views of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon and its no surprise that this area contains some of the most prestigious privately owned real estate in the city.
The Central Mid levels escalator which opened in 1993 was built to allow pedestrians much easier access to the streets which wind up the hillside. Since its completion restaurants, bars and shops have sprung up in the streets and buildings next to its lower sections.
The escalator links Queens Road Central with Conduit Road crossing a dozen streets. Approximately 50,000 people use the escalator each day. The 800 metre covered walkway takes 20 minutes to traverse in its entirety but many people join the escalator for smaller sections of the route. Hollywood Road and Staunton and Elgin Streets are popular entry and exit points.
The escalator runs both up and down hill but obviously not at the same time. It runs downhill from 6am to 10am to cater for the morning commuters, then runs uphill from 10.30am to midnight. There are stairs and footpaths alongside for those needing to travel in the opposite direction.
Aside from being a quirky way to help solve traffic congestion problems, the Mid Levels Escalator has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. The first time I used it I was wandering around Central and stumbled upon it. As a tourist attraction its nothing extraordinary but it does give a different perspective into the more residential parts of Central at its upper end.
I recommend it as a lazy way to get up to Hollywood Road where Man Mo Temple is situated or relax until you reach Caine Road and then walk the short distance west to the Sun Yat Sen Museum (which I have reviewed in my off the beaten path tips).
If you are interested in the colonial history of this amazing city then a stroll along the Battery Path area of Central on Hong Kong Island is a good place to see a couple of examples of Colonial architecture. Central MTR Exit K will bring you out onto Statue Square. I have reviewed the Square in my "things to do" tips.
At the eastern edge of the square is is the Legislative Council Building. This beautiful two storey neo classical building is a declared monument. Continue walking towards the Lower Peak Tram Terminus. As you head up Garden Road, St Johns Cathedral will be on your right hand side. I have reviewed the cathedral in my "off the beaten path" tips. The grounds behind the Cathedral lead onto Battery Path.
As you walk down Battery Path towards Queens Road Central you will pass by the former French Mission building which was built in the Edwardian period. Higher up the Mid Levels, but not so easily accessible is the former Government House. This beautiful colonial heritage listed building surrounded by english style gardens is now the home and office of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and is therefore not open to the public.
Located in the Central district, this red-brick French Mission Building, has green shutters, black wrought-iron details and a chapel added by French Catholic missionaries who gave the building its name. It is reputedly the location of the colony's first government house. It houses the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.
The Mid Levels escalator is a sight to be seen. It stretches almost 2600 ft ( 800 meters) and links Central to the Mid-Levels and So Ho. If you go, take the time to explore the side street shops, cafes and restaurants. Be warned the escalators only go in one direction. The escalators go uphill 10:30 a.m. to midnight and go downhill during the morning rush 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Be prepared to walk down all the stairs unless you opt for public transportation or a taxi ride back to Central. Best time to go is after the morning rush.
Man Mo Temple is a little, blink-and-you'll-miss-it establishment tucked away amongst the concrete jungle in the Sheung Wan District. This temple was built to honour the God of Literature and the God of War (yes, interesting combo). The temple is unique in that coils of incense are hung from the ceiling which makes for quite an unusual sight. Watch for falling ash!
Also, there are two relatively famous and accurate fortune-tellers here who seem to have a large following amongst Asian celebrities stationed at the entrance to the temple, so check them out if you are so inclined!
Nearest MTR station is Sheung Wan (take Exit A2). You'll have to walk an additional 10 minutes from there.
Located in the heart of Hong Kong's CBD, The Centre is one of Hong Kong's most famous landmarks, ranking as one of the top ten tallest skyscrapers in the city. It stands at a height of 350m with 80 floors.
One IFC was completed in 1998 and has 784,000 sq ft set over 38 floors. It is very interesting building, & a wonderful addition to Hong Kong's skyline. I particulary like the inside, for it features a bright high ceiling lobby & contemporary design at its best. Located at ground level is IFC mall, which has a dynamic mix of retailers & 140,000 sq ft of landscaped garden.
Currently, they are building a Four Seasons Hotel beside IFC Mall, & surely it will be one of most sought after accomodations in Hong Kong.
Cat Street (Upper Lascar Road) can easily be a shopping tip, but because it is such a fascinatiing street to walk down, even if you arent shopping, i feel its a must see while in Hong Kong.
Located in the Central District on Hong Kong Island, Cat Street is known for its Antiques (fake and real) collectables, and just some bizarre things. We wish we had the time to re-visit the street, because its a great place to bargain, and you can find some very different gift adeas there.
In its early history, the street was known for seamen's lodging, brothels, and a hangout for criminals and low-lifes. Ofcourse these days it's much different but still stands out on it's own among other markets in Hong Kong.
Soho is located in the Mid-levels district and is a steep hilly area of narrow streets which are best accessed via the Mid-levels Escalators. The area was only called Soho from the mid-1990s and some want the name changed as it associates the area as being one of disrepute with red-light connotations. The area, in fact, is the main entertainment zone of the Central district with countless bars, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries and antique stores gathered around the streets of Staunton Street, Elgin Street and Caine Road. It's good to visit the area at different times of day to witness the life that goes on here and the entertainment on display.
Central is HK's main business district and accomodates many of the high class hotels and high-rise buildings, including the new International Finance Centre (IFC) 2, which currently is HK's tallest building (416m) and the fifth tallest building in the world overlooking the whole city like a giant toothpick.
The pier of the famous Star Ferry is also located in Central as well as the piers of the various outlying islands ferries.
Statue square was once home to Hong Kong's City Hall that was demolished in 1933. Today, the Legislative Council Building sits on the east side of the square. In the center of the square stands a statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, who was the manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank from 1876 and 1902. Previously, the square also contained statues of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Edward VII, until they were taken by the Japanese during WWII and later returned.
Today this park is a peaceful place, though packed shoulder to shoulder with citizens enjoying each others' company. I have never seen more people in such a small area!
Soaring at 369 metres high, it is one of the defining landmarks of Hong Kong. Again & again, many critics have called I.M. Pei's creation a masterpiece. It was meant to bring aspirations to the Chinese people, but at the same time bring goodwill to the people of the former British Colony. The building itself was inspired by the patterns of bamboo. The tower itself actually uses less steel than conventional towers of that magnitude.
Organic market takes place in Central - Star ferry terminal building once a week. It's interesting place to see and watch how things are sold there: mostly vegetables, mushrooms, fruits, some fish and oils. These are certified organic and it seems that it is popular to buy such foods there - good thing - as they're quite many buyers.
I bought myself delicious tea seed oil and took it home with me. Would love to try those mushrooms there as they looked nice.
Market is open on Sundays between 11 00 to 17 00.
The Mid-Levels escalators run between Des Voeux Road in Central with Conduit Road in the district known as the Mid-levels and are the longest series of outdoor covered escalators in the world, running for 800 meters. It was opened in October 1994 in order to cut down excessive traffic that was building up due to the steepness and narrow streets in the area. There are a total of 20 separate escalators with streets that bi-sect the system running all over the district of Soho, which is a very fashionable district with many bars, cafe and restaurants. The escalators are free of charge and run downhill between 6am and 10am and uphill from 10:30am to midnight and, of course, are great fun!
Pottinger Street, better known as Stone Step Street locally (in Chinese), is one of the oldest streets in Hong Kong. The whole street, built on a hill, is made of large pieces of stones. Some of the stones have been replaced with flatter ones for easier walking. But I think the original one looks better, as it shows the history of the area.
Many stalls on both side of the street sell ribbons, hair accessories, and traditional clothing.