A Walking Tour of Sham Shui Po: Old and Local yet Up and Coming
- Norma Vergara
Feb 16, 2019
Hong Kong is THE paradise for food and shopping. From flea markets to the most high-end of clothing and fashion brands, and from hawker eats to Michelin-starred restaurants, the options here are endless. Because it is such a compact city, visitors only need a few days to enjoy most that it offers. When it comes to shopping for souvenirs, knock-off versions of all brands imaginable, and discovering new street food to conquer, Mong Kok easily comes to mind, and rightly so. Blocks upon blocks of night markets come alive daily, selling to eager tourists who are well-armed in the art of haggling (or so they think).
However, did you know that just two MTR station from bustling Mong Kok is its less popular, but equally appealing sister, Sham Shui Po? I’ve been seeing a lot of features of it on TV lately and the other weekend, while touring my friend Karl in The Peak, a tourist information guide gave us this map of Sham Shui Po, which he thinks we should visit next. That was totally the sign to go and explore it myself. So I went.
And it was great! It had the working-class neighborhood charm, with lots of nooks and crannies for specialty-items shopping and food hopping, and even pockets of small temples where locals keep their religious traditions alive. It wasn’t at all touristy (at least not yet).
I followed the walking tour itinerary suggested by the brochure so I can tell you exactly what’s good and what’s not-
Start by riding the Red Line of the MTR (toward Tsuen Wan) and get off at Exit B1.
Stop 1: Kung Wo Beancurd Factory
This 60-year-old establishment has remained popular over the years by selling soy products. I tried their classic, best-seller soybean pudding for only HKD 10.
It tasted very much like our local taho, except that this has a clear syrup and and the sweetness is subtler. I did as the others did, which was put some powdered colored sugar on top for added sweetness and texture. It was great; warmed my tummy for the rest of the walk.
The beancurd pudding was just one of the plethora of soy snack products that are available in this store. I actually noticed eventually that a lot of food stalls in Sham Shui Po sold soy products, but this store was particularly teeming with customers.
Stop 2: Fuk Wing Street (Toy Street)
This area is interestesting to wander in, even for adults. In here you will find over thirty stalls selling various types of children’s toys, party needs, accessories and stationery. These stores may have every toy in the world imaginable.
So when your niece tells you that she wants a fairy princess that rides a race car but then transforms into a cat for Christmas, you know where to go.
Stop 3: Doughnut
Nope, not that sugary treat. Doughnut is a designer backpack label making its name in HK over the last couple of years. It may remind you of fellow backpack brands that has crossed the mainstream of fashion such as Anello of Japan and Herschel of Canada. The colors and designs are great!
Stop 4: Apliu Street
This busy street is where you can find all sorts of electronic gadgets for sale, as well as the accessories and spare parts for them. Interesting, right? It becomes even more interesting as you dig deep into the street and find that this area is a haven not only for the latest gadgets in the market, but even for old but good items such as vintage typewriters and the like.
Stop 5: Sam Tai Tsz and Pak Kai Temple
These are two temples adjacent to each other. Sam Tai Tsz is a historic building built in the late 19th Century by the Hakka immigrants to honor their patron deity, Sam Tai Tsz. This fascinating temple houses cultural relics that date back to the late Qing Dynasty. Then, head to the Pak Tai Temple next door, another historic building built by local fishermen in the early 20th Century to honor the Emperor of the North, Pak Tai.
Stop 6: Yu Chau Street (Bead Street)
This is supposedly a wh dedicated to the sale of beads, strings, costume jewelry, accessories and all types of sewing materials. I found this to be not very accurate as only a few shops that sell them. But still, a worthy find for the crafty who want to find unique pieces that are available nowhere else.
Stop 7: Pei Ho Street
Probably the most representative of Sham Shui Po’s local neighborhood scene, Pei Ho Street is a bustling wet market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables and other daily goods that populate the fridge and cupboard of the locals. The street is peppered with snack stalls that can very well satiate your cravings for a quick bite.
Stop 8: Hop Yik Tai
You may end the walking tour at Hop Yik Tai, a local favorite sells a Hong Kong classic- cheong fun, a type of rice noodle roll that is best accompanied by a combination of sweet sauce, sesame sauce and soy sauce. It’s substantial, cheap and Michelin Guide-recommended. I had to get in a queue to sample this snack.
Have fun strolling around Sham Shui Po! Here is a map and directory of finds in the area:
Do you have any questions about visiting this district? I would love to share with you what I know :D Send me a message at email@example.com