Wan Chai Nightlife
Squeezed in between Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbour, Wan Chai’s reputation as one of Asia’s most dedicated red light district was earned during the Vietnam War and cemented by a starring role in the film and novel Suzie Wong. American troops piled in here on leave from the front and a string of notorious brothels sprang up around them.
Today the area has shed some its seedier reputation, although the intersection around Lockhart and Johnson Road is still bursting with girlie bars and stalked by mama sans looking for customers – and, when the US Navy is in town –by US servicemen. Thankfully, the clubs are restricted to just this area.
More likely to bring you to the streets of Wan Chai is the district’s raucous nightlife. The more down to earth, not to mention, easier on the wallet rival to Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai is home to British pubs, karaoke bars and most of the city’s oldest drinking establishments, as well as dozens of modest western restaurants. Several pubs run around the clocks. For something more upmarket, Star Street has gained a reputation for hosting some of the city’s edgier fine dining destinations.
Shopping in Wan ChaiWan Chai is home to a couple of worthwhile shopping destinations. The Wan Chai computer centre is the best place on Hong Kong Island to pick up cheap iPhones, laptops and anything else electronic. Packed floor to ceiling with cables and computers it’s a great place to pick up a bargain. There are also a couple of worthwhile street markets that are often overlooked by tourists in favour of the over hyped Ladies Market in Mongkok. Set around Tai Yuen street, the markets run from late afternoon to early evening and sell everything from clothes to knock off DVDs. They are a great place to rub shoulders with local shoppers and hear them haggle.
Sightseeing in Wan Chai
The area’s flagship building is the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This monumental piece of engineering was built on reclaimed land specifically for the Hong Kong Handover and it was here that Prince Charles and Chinese President, Jiang Zemin grimaced at each other as the city returned to Chinese rule. Commemorating the handover is the Bauhinia statue in Golden Bauhinia Square in front of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Each day there is a flag raising ceremony at 7.50am, where police units in regimental dress play the national anthem, although the police pipe band display (at the same time) on the 1st of each month is the better show.
Elsewhere, Wan Chai’s rich heritage means there are a number of historical sights worth seeing – most of which are on the Wan Chai Heritage Trail. The highlights include the century old Hung Shing Temple and the Old Wan Chai Post Office on Queen’s Road East, one of the few remaining examples of small scale colonial architecture. Another architectural star is the Blue House at 72 Stone Nullah Lane, named after the brilliant blue paint on its facade. This is one of the last remaining tenement buildings in Hong Kong to survive both World War Two and greedy developers and its wooden balconies and staircases are a superb example of the Tong Lau style that was once popular in Hong Kong.