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Hong Kong’s renowned skyline is a magnificent, widely-celebrated landmark among locals and visitors – and deservedly so. But delve a little deeper into its diverse, dynamic neighbourhoods and you will discover a lesser-known world of contemporary culture and classical tradition; of exceptional food experiences and lively night spots. Old Town Central If you like your vibrant modern art hubs to rub shoulders with exquisite old buildings, Old Town Central is the district for you. This collision of ages is exemplified perfectly in Tai Kwun, a huge former police station turned arts and heritage centre. Within the galleries and spaces of this staggering neoclassical structure you’ll find contemporary art exhibitions alongside an array of talks, workshops and performances. The complex is also home to a number of the neighbourhood’s hippest bars, such as Behind Bars and Dragonfly, and award winning restaurants such as Aaharn, The Chinese Library and The Dispensary. From galleries and art spaces to street installations, Tai Kwun is a cultural must-explore Stay on the historical path and take time to wander up Tai Ping Shan Street, in the PoHo area, where the intriguing dusty red walls of Kwong Fook I Tsz temple and the glittering gold carvings in the Kwun Yum Tong temple are nestled amid the tea houses and vintage stores. Head around the corner to swap spirituality for street art at nearby Hollywood Road, where murals depict everything from huge Koi Carp to Charlie Chaplin.
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If all this ambling has left you hankering for some authentic Cantonese snacks, join the locals and head to a dai pai dong. Grab a tomato noodle soup with crispy buns from the ever popular Sing Heung Yuen or a classic egg tart from the original Tai Cheong on Lyndhurst Terrace. As the sun sets, go all out with highballs, sake and small plates at Fukuro in Elgin Street. Stroll among the street art in Shelley Street where incredible murals unfurl en route One of the best ways to really get to know a destination authentically is through its markets. With that in mind, you’re going to want to visit Sham Shui Po in the northwest of Kowloon. Head to Sham Shui Po to enjoy authentic shops and markets and get a feel for Hong Kong life. This historically blue collar nighbourhood is home to open-air street markets, which provide a brilliant snapshot of local Hong Kong life. At the flea market on Apliu Street you can pick up everything from second hand power tools to vintage recording equipment. In Fuk Wing Street, you’ll step through colourful arches and narrow alleyways of toys, balloons and party accessories. The neighbourhood is also home to unique boutique shops which can only be found in Sham Shui Po. Check out Vinyl Hero, a treasure trove of more than 300,000 old records, owned and operated by Paul from his flat on Cheung Sha Wan Road or Bo Wah Effigies where Au-yeung Ping-Chi has transformed this traditional paper craft into museum quality works of art. Pick up some museum quality paper art at Bo Wah Effigies Sham Shui Po also has a reputation amongst Hong Kongers for authentic, family run restaurants. Here, restaurants seem humble, however the neighbourhood is jam packed with Michelin recommended eateries and street vendors offering the best local snacks. Check out Tim Ho Wan, which is considered one of the best dim sum restaurants in the city and follow up at the Kung Wo Beancurd Factory for delicious tofu desserts. West Kowloon It’s long been linked to great craftsmanship and art, and the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District has placed this neighbourhood well and truly on the international culture map. Nothing is more emblematic of its dedication to modern art and culture than the M+ Museum, which focuses on 20th and 21st-century visual creativity from design and architecture to cinema and animation. Immerse yourself in the Hong Kong art scene at the M+ Museum – a modern cultural hubd) Go a little further back in time with a visit to the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the northwest of the neighbourhood. Among the exhibitions of Chinese art and culture you’ll find more than 900 priceless artefacts from the Palace Museum, including everything from ceramics and sculptures to decorative art objects. For a deep-dive into art, design and craft through the ages, the Hong Kong Palace Museum is a must New theatres and events spaces are popping up regularly, but for an outdoor cultural experience, a visit to Art Park is a must. Weekly gigs, opera, experimental performance art, stunning views over Victoria Harbour – it’s all here. Beyond the museums and public artworks of the cultural district, get up close with West Kowloon’s wider history of craftmaking with a wander around Shanghai Street’s surrounding alleys. You’ll still find a host of smiths, tailors and artesans making leather goods, silk scarves, fans and bridalwear. These family-run independent shops have been making and selling their wares in the area of decades, and stopping into these places as you walk through the neighbourhood feels like a tour of Hong Kong’s rich artisinal heritage. Shanghai Street hosts a wealth of artesans crafting high quality leather and silk goods From fresh locales to unique accommodation and must-try experiences, for more Hong Kong travel ideas, holiday offers and help planning your stay, visit discoverhongkong.com Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists.