It’s impossible to get bored in Hong Kong. It’s geographically challenged just like Singapore but with so many things happening — restaurant openings, product launches, art exhibits and parties — size really does not matter anymore. Everyday there’s something new and exciting going on in Central, in busy Causeway Bay or in hipster Sheung Wan that you’d think you were in a big city like Los Angeles Or Barcelona. It can get overwhelming at times but it’s nice to know that when you get tired of this vibrant city, there’s a quiet place not far that you can escape to.
On our trip to Hong Kong early this year, many recommended that we go check out Stanley Market. So one morning, we hurriedly ate breakfast at McDee’s and rode a double-decker bus to Stanley Market. Let me just tell you right off, it’s a whole new world south of the island. Less crowded, more green and not that many skyscrapers. Actually I’m not entirely sure if there was any. Instead, you can find resort-like condominiums and what looked like luxury villas. Also worth noting is the number of expats on this side of town. I think expats love it here. We went on a Saturday so there were people out for a morning run, kids with moms walking along the boardwalk, couples having breakfast and most locals out and about because the weather was just perfect. I can’t believe that it was just roughly 45 minutes away from the busy streets of Kowloon and Central.
So what will you see in Stanley?
The Stanley Market, of course. Even the market here seems laid back. The vendors don’t harass you or force you to see their products. You are free to look around and when you spot something nice, you can touch it, try it on and if it doesn’t seem like the right fit, you thank the vendor and leave. No worries. Try that in the night market of Mongkok and see what happens. All hell will break loose. Well, sort of.
And just like in Ubud, there are a lot of shops that sell paintings and art. Actually, Stanley Market is a one-stop shop for everything. Clothes, accessories, homeware, souvenirs, and antiques.
TIP: If you’re going on a weekend, do your shopping early when crowd is still thin and you have a better chance at getting a good bargain on most goods.
Stanley Waterfront and Promenade. We didn’t need to feel like tourists here. Stanley does that to you. There’s no need to hurry and see tourist spots one after another. I think it’s the water. It calms you. We could just hang out and do nothing. If not for the slight drizzle, we would have stayed there until lunchtime watching locals walk their dogs, children being kids at the playground and the elders doing tai chi.
Murray House. It was named after Sir George Murray and served as a British Army barracks in its former location in Central. It was later on dismantled brick by brick, with each brick or stone catalogued and stored. In 1999, construction began and the building was re-erected on Stanley Waterfront.
Now numerous restaurants are on the first and second floors of the building and H&M just opened a branch here with 3 levels of shopping floors.
Blake Pier is just outside of and walking distance to Murray House. Again just like Murray House, it was originally located in the Central district. However, only the canopy was retained and the structure was built using new materials. Today small boats and ferries to Aberdeen and Po Toi Island are the only ones allowed to use this pier.
Tin Hau Temple. This temple is the oldest temple on Hong Kong Island and houses the Goddess of the Sea and protector of fishermen. Built in 1767, the temple has undergone repairs and rehabilitation but it still looks over the like a mother looking after her kids.
Where To Eat
Stanley Market is a really nice neighborhood and there’s no shortage of local cafes and restaurants — Classified is a great spot to have coffee and drinks. There’s wifi so you can get some work done if you really need to.
The main reason why we really wanted to visit Stanley Market was Lucy’s Restaurant. The food here was outstanding. The service was impeccable and the restaurant interior warm and charming. I couldn’t ask for more. It was a good choice for lunch. I’m still dreaming of that risotto and the freshly baked bread. I’m such a sucker for good bread.
We left right after lunch. But if you have more time to spare, I suggest you check out the following:
- Stanley Plaza for more shopping
- Stanley Main Beach — best time to go is from April to October
- Stanley Ma Hang Park
- Other temples — Tai Wong Ye Temple, Kwun Yum Temple and statue Pak Tai temple
- Si Yik — best-kept secret of Stanley. Try the French toast with kaya, milk tea, pineapple bun. This is similar to Lan Fong Yuen in Central.
- Cafe Rouchos for American cuisine like hotdogs, waffles and fries. But people go for their famous burgers called Holy Cow. It has double patties and is double-sized. Do come hungry when you wish to eat here.
- More restaurants — The Boathouse for fresh seafood, Angeletti Restaurant (Italian Cuisine), King Ludwig and Pickled Pelican for drinks.
How To Get There
I suggest you take the double decker bus and sit on the second level to get a better view. The scenic drive takes around 45 minutes.
SIDE NOTE: Going here could be a tough ride because of the zigzag roads. And it doesn’t help that the driver drives really fast. If you easily suffer from motion sickness, just stay at the lower level and perhaps, drink bonamine or similar meds prior to your trip to Stanley Market.
You can take bus 6, 6A, 6X , 66 or 260 from the Exchange Square Bus Terminus in Central or green minibus No.40 from Causeway Bay at the corner of Percival Street and Hennessy Road. There are buses too from Stanley Market to any part of the island. Just refer to the bus guide at the stops.
The true value of this afternoon was my daughter and I got to spend a slow day. We just enjoyed the sights and people watching. It was a much needed break from the usual hustle and bustle of the city.
Not fond of DIY tours? You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentals, rooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!