Whether you’re a budding creative or proud art aficionado, here’s our guide to the perfect day in Hong Kong’s most artsy neighbourhood.
As Bangkok regains a relative degree of normalcy (cheers to the end of lockdowns!), most of us are turning our attention to the tantalising prospect of — you know it — international travel. With borders opening and the long-awaited easing of travel restrictions, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon neighbourhood has become somewhat of a top contender on our post-pandemic bucket list.
With a vibrant art scene, iconic restaurants, and some of Hong Kong’s most storied shopfronts, the buzzing neighbourhood has become somewhat of a ground zero for the city’s most discerning creatives, and it isn’t hard to see why. As we look forward to the happy possibility of cross-border travel, we’ve put together a list of the best museums, cafes, and cultural destinations the neighbourhood has to offer. Check out our definitive guide to the perfect art lovers’ day trip in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon.
[Featured Image Credit: Xiqu Centre/Hong Kong Tourism Board]
Morning: Get your morning cuppa at CURATOR Creative Café
But first, coffee. Start your day at CURATOR Creative Café, which you’ll find tucked inside the newly-opened M+ Museum; Hong Kong’s snazziest architectural icon. With front-row views of Victoria Harbour, their menu reminds you that you’re at an art museum, offering a fun selection of speciality brews, fusion bites and classic local snacks. They’ve even got a latte printing machine, so you can design your coffee before drinking it, too.
CURATOR Creative Café at M+, Cultural District, Unit C, B1/F at M+, West Kowloon, 38 Museum Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Immerse yourself in visual design at M+ Museum
Now that you’re here, take the time to explore the actual museum itself. All about gleaming exteriors and sleek, glossy planes, M+ rises from its surroundings like an inverted T and is Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual design. Keep your eyes peeled for the LED facade, which presents a moving display of artwork. Inside you’ll find a variety of facilities — cue cinemas, a learning hub, performance spaces, along with many other exciting features.
M+ Museum, West Kowloon Cultural District, 38 Museum Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 2200 0217.
Lunch: Dim sum and tea break at Xiqu Centre
For a truly unique way to spend the afternoon, head over to Xiqu Centre to check out their Tea House Theatre Experience – a contemporary twist on traditional Cantonese opera. The centre is revered for its take on performing arts, and a striking, undulating facade that almost resembles stage curtains. Treat yourself to delightful servings of dim sum and tea while you watch a 90-minute showcase of traditional opera performances. The vocal and musical renditions are also narrated by expert moderators to help audiences gain insight into the fascinating art form.
Xiqu Centre, 88 Austin Rd W, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 2200 0217.
Bring back a fun memento from Biu Kee Mahjong
Nothing beats hand-carved mahjong tiles for a unique souvenir to take home. Whether or not you know how to play mahjong, the age-old board game is a big part of local culture. Today, Uncle King at Biu Kee Mahjong stands as one of the few remaining artisan carvers left in the city who still hand-makes his mahjong tiles and specialises in high-quality, traditional sets. But if you’re into personalising your tiles with your favourite Cantonese slangs, festival-themed blessings, or even your names, he’ll fully customise them just for you.
Biu Kee Mahjong, G/F., 26F, Jordan Rd, Hong Kong; +852 2730 4028.
… and some healing jelly from Kung Wo Tong
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices, there’s a special type of jelly. Guilinggao, loosely translated to tortoise jelly (worry not, no tortoises are actually used in the making. It’s all herbal), has long been revered for its detoxing properties, and what the locals refer to as “removing heatiness in the body” — aka, cleansing your body after you’ve had a little too much junk food. On top of all that, it’s also pretty delicious and is often enjoyed as a jelly with syrup, or as a tea-like drink. A renowned specialist in guilinggao, Kung Wo Tong has been around for over a century and serves up a quality selection of the herbal jelly. You’ll also find a range of drinks, including jujube tea and chrysanthemum.
Kung Wo Tong, 87 Percival St, Bowrington, Hong Kong; +852 2576 1001.
Get your fortune told at Tin Hau Temple
Give your trip an auspicious note by paying your respects to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea. While exploring the temple, you might even get the chance to try kau chim — a fortune-telling practice that lets you request heavenly guidance from sacred fortune sticks. Tucked into the temple’s southern chambers is a hidden bookstore, where you’ll also find a fascinating selection of books and cultural artefacts.
Tin Hau Temple, 56-58 Temple Street, Temple St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong; +852 2915 3488.
Evening: Stop for food (and Instagram content) at Mido Cafe
Decked with retro wooden tables, coloured blinds, and whimsical mosaic flooring, Mido Cafe is all about great eats and old-world glamour. On the wall just outside the entrance is a mural depicting the dining scene in the café – perfect for an Instagram post! Head up to the second floor and indulge in some classic cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style cafe) dishes. We highly recommend the pork chop rice and be sure not to miss out on their decadently creamy milk tea.
Mido Cafe, 63 Temple St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong; +852 2384 6402.
End your day with a trip to Yau Ma Tei Theatre
… Because, really, what travel itinerary is truly complete without a visit to the theatre? Built back in the 1930s, Yau Ma Tei Theatre is currently the only one in Kowloon to have survived from pre-World War II times. There’s something charmingly nostalgic about its design; think Art Deco meets Chinese-style classicism. Today, the building has been revitalised as a spot for local opera; the perfect conclusion to your artful escapades.
Yau Ma Tei Theatre, 6 Waterloo Rd, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong; +852 2264 8108.
For more West Kowloon neighbourhood itineraries or information on must-visit places in Hong Kong, visit Discover Hong Kong.