Step back in time as you dine, drink, shop and tour these historic revitalised buildings and sites in Hong Kong, from the Central Market to The Mills and more!
Tick these off your Hong Kong bucket list! Our city is home to beautiful old structures that are a real part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage and history. Over the last few years, we’ve seen some of them come back to life — revitalised by the government and other community projects to become host to fine dining establishments, exhibition spaces, shopping destinations, cultural hubs and more. Ahead, we’ve highlighted eight historic revitalised buildings in Hong Kong to visit now.
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Revitalised Historic Buildings In Hong Kong
A truly historic site, this four-storey building stands on what used to be a hospital, then a temple and finally four tenement blocks. One of the remaining “tong lau” style residential balcony-type tenement buildings in Hong Kong, the Blue House got its name (and colour!) in the 1990s when it was painted by the government. It’s now a Grade I historic building.
Where to eat: Samsen Wan Chai, located right next to Blue House on 68 Stone Nullah Lane, for boat noodle soup and other Thai favourites.
What to do: Visit the Hong Kong House Of Stories (G/F), a museum aiming to bring the city’s culture and community to the forefront. It’s made of two parts: a space dedicated to exhibitions and an area for handicrafts, where you can make your own souvenirs to take home.
Blue House, 72-74A Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
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Formerly a fresh food market and the very first wet market in the city, this Bauhaus-style Grade III historic building was reopened to the public just over a year ago as a special new centre. The revitalised Central Market boasts pop-ups and stalls, exhibition spaces, a food hall and more — all right in the heart of Hong Kong Island.
Where to eat: Anywhere in Street Food Central and the Dining Ground, which serves as a food court-hall of sorts across two floors. Pick from Cantonese classics at Lottajoy (G11), Italian delights at CITTÁ (G18), Singapore cuisine at Pulau (G19) and more!
Where to drink: It’s worth having a little tour around but we’d steer you towards Winelog (G14) and Mak’s Beer (G13).
What to do: Browse the market-like stalls and stop by the exhibition space to see what’s on! We’re big fans of the farmer’s market-style Chef’s Market Fresh Grocer & Deli (G04-G09) and the large SLOWOOD (231-233).
Central Market, 93 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, www.centralmarket.hk
Mei Ho House
This Grade II historic building has a tragic backstory — a devastating fire in December 1953 that left thousands homeless. To house the victims, the Colonial government built a 29-block resettlement estate on the site of the burnt-down shanties: Mei Ho House. After being revitalised in the 2000s, the building was transformed into a city youth hostel by the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association.
Where to eat: Garden at Mei Ho Cafe, serving cafe-style eats (like pasta, burgers and salads) and plenty of coffee and drinks.
What to do: Visit the Heritage of Mei Ho House (HMHH) Museum! Its permanent exhibition “Memories of Our Days” is a beautiful look at Hong Kong’s history, starting in the 1950s up to the modern day, with installations and interactive experiences that’ll teach you about the history of Shek Kip Mei, the city’s housing policies and everyday life in the past.
Mei Ho House, Shek Kip Mei Estate, 70 Berwick Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The beautiful Murray House is more than a seaside destination! This 175-year-old restored Victorian-era building was originally located in Central, before being dismantled and moved to Stanley. Its history includes being an officers’ quarters of the Murray Barracks, being occupied by the Japanese during WW2 and, due to being believed to be haunted, the site of two public exorcism ceremonies!
Murray House, 96 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong
The historic site of the old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, PMQ was refurbished and renovated in 2014 — turning its residential units into small exhibition spaces, studios, shops and offices. This revitalised Grade III historic building is situated between Aberdeen Street, Staunton Street and Hollywood Road, and is the place to go for locally-produced goods, trinkets and knick-knacks. It also regularly hosts happenings and exhibitions, so make sure to keep up with its programmes.
Where to eat: Gustaci Pizzalounge (HG01-05, G/F, Block B), for freshly baked authentic Neapolitan pizza and more Italian flavours.
Where to drink: Sake Central (S109-113, 1/F, Block A) boasts the city’s “largest sake selection” with a knowledgeable team to match.
What to do: Tour the studios and shops! Choose a block and go floor by floor, door by door and you’ll find everything from delicate jewellery to neon room decor, ceramics, sustainable home products, cool apparel and more. Stop by gallery Odds and Ends (H307, 3/F, Block B) and see more of our picks here.
PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Sheung Wan/ Central, Hong Kong, www.pmq.org.hk
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With over 150 years of history, it’s easy to step back in time as you explore the former Central Police Station and prison. Revitalised into a cultural and shopping destination, Tai Kwun is very much a centre for heritage and arts with plenty of historical exhibits, immersive art installations, audiovisual experiences and contemporary showcases.
Where to eat: It’s hard to pick just one! We’d steer you towards one Michelin star Aaharn (Shop 02, 1/F, Armoury Building) for an elevated Thai dining experience and The Chinese Library (Shop 01, 1/F, Police Headquarters Block 01) for dishes from the diverse culinary regions of China.
Where to drink: Dragonfly (G01 & G03, G/F, 10 & 13 Superintendent’s House & C Hall), a boutique bespoke cocktail lounge and eatery designed by masterful artist Ashley Sutton.
What to do: Come prepared! Check the website for the latest exhibitions and events and then head on over for free tours and interactive displays, special showcases and screenings, and even a peek inside the old jail cells.
Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, www.taikwun.hk
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A landmark revitalisation project, The Mills in Tsuen Wan is the result of transforming Nan Fung Textiles’ former cotton spinning mills into a beautiful space dedicated to sustainability and artistry. Here you’ll find heritage projects and conservation spaces, crafts, eateries and, of course, plenty of shops. It’s a little far out for those of us on the Island and south, but it’s worth a trek to see this part of Hong Kong’s history!
Where to eat: There are tons of fun eateries at The Mills, but we love the look of Fleur (G08), a flower-themed brunch diner with dishes covered in fresh, edible petals.
Where to drink: All the bars here are standouts, including Young Master Brewery’s The Ale Project (TAP) (302), Perfume Trees Gin’s distillery-tasting room-concept Tankyu Distillery (301), KOKO Coffee Roasters (G09) and Europa Tea Foundry (118).
What to do: Browse all the lifestyle shops and check out the spaces dedicated to trades and crafts — like the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile’s CHAT Shop (G01A) and experimental impact retail store Fabrica X (108).
The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong, www.themills.com.hk
618 Shanghai Street
Formerly known as Station Street in the 1860s, Shanghai Street stretches across reclaimed land — one of the earliest streets to stand on what was once sea! By the 1920s, the street became a bustling shopping area and transportation hub with ferry piers and boat-dwellers at either end. You could find anything from kitchenware and home goods to Chinese herbal shops and teahouses, silk and satin, goldsmiths, pawnshops and Buddhist statues. Today, 618 Shanghai Street is a revitalised cluster of historical tenement buildings located from 600 to 626 Shanghai Street, with plenty of local and independent brands, secondhand stores and eateries to browse.
618 Shanghai Street, 618 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 618shanghaistreet.com
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Main image courtesy of Hankt via Wikimedia Commons, image 1 courtesy of Chi Lok TSANG via Unsplash, image 2 courtesy of Central Market via Instagram, image 3 courtesy of Heritage of Mei Ho House (HMHH) Museum, image 4 courtesy of Johnny Wong via Unsplash , image 5 courtesy of Photo by Alison Pang via Unsplash, image 6 courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board, image 7 courtesy of The Mills, image 8 courtesy of Hong Kong Green Building Council.