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What it’s like living in Sheung Wan

One of the most colourful and cool neighbourhoods in Hong Kong, Sheung Wan is located on Hong Kong Island, in between Central and Sai Ying Pun. It’s a fascinating warren of narrow, winding streets where you’ll find traditional Chinese medicine shops side-by-side with hipster coffee houses. Here, British Expat Steve Bruce, Independent LinkedIn Trainer & SME consultant, shares his experiences of living in Sheung Wan.

Sheung Wan Hong Kong chinese convenience store

The Sheung Wan Scene

How long have you lived in Hong Kong? Twenty-one years so far.

Why here? Because Asia is the place. There is nowhere else in the world that offers me the same combination of opportunity, low tax, ease of doing business as well as easy access to sailing, mountains, country parks, beaches and city living.

Where do you live in Sheung Wan? I’ve lived in Wing Lok Street for six years, but I’ve called Sheung Wan home since 1999. I first lived in Po Hing Fong and then Queen’s Road.

What transport to you use to get to and from your house? My feet – my office is two minutes’ walk from my flat.

Sheung Wan Hong Kong

The Specifics

When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? The two super-friendly cats who “work” in the Chinese dried seafood shop next to my flat. These guys make so many people happy every day.

The closest store to your front door is? U-Select, which is one minute from my flat.

The unofficial uniform of your area is? A t-shirt rolled halfway up with a big tummy exposed.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be: I live next to a Buddhist centre, so it would probably be a famous Buddhist teacher.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Walk down my street. It’s a working area and you can always find real street culture there at any time of day or night.

If you’re missing home, you: Head to The Globe in Graham Street. As one of the few proper English boozers in Hong Kong, you’ll always find a friendly English face in there to have a chat with.

Sheung Wan Hong Kong Chinese medicine

A mandatory stop for taking out-of-town guests is: The lower deck of the Star Ferry for that Suzie Wong feeling – and it’s also cheaper. You can’t beat the views of the harbour. You can cruise across at sunset, grab a few beers from the 7-Eleven and then go upstairs and watch the sun set at the Cultural Centre. And then you can head back again on the ferry once the sun has set.

You’d swap houses in a second with: I have one dream house in Repulse Bay Road. It’s got an awesome view, a giant garden, a round swimming pool, tennis courts and a killer view of Deep Water Bay – but I don’t think the owners would swap with me!

A common myth about your neighbourhood is: They do say Po Hing Fong is super haunted as Blake Garden is where the plague broke out, and it only came to an end after a big fire there. I lived there for 12 years, though, and never saw anything so I’m not so sure myself.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to: The metal recycling guys out the back of my flat delivering recycled metal at 4.30am. Thanks, guys – nice one.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to involve: Sheung Wan is light on late-night bars, so I normally head to Wyndham Street.

Sheung Wan Hong Kong road with tram

The Superlatives

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are: Brew & Chew is great for burgers and hangover food, while The Cottage has the best English breakfast in Sheung Wan. The Lot has friendly service and Konfusion also has lovely staff, and it shows sports. I also like Jacomax Pizza for authentic pizza – “just like mama used to make it”.

You won’t find better local food than at: I love the hole in the wall on Mercer Street for Thai food and Namaste Café on Queen’s Road. The Queen’s Road Food Centre also has great food, including ABC Kitchen and Nepalese food.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: A guy walking home in his underpants.

The best bargains in your neighbourhood are: At the factory overrun shops. The hardware store on Possession Street has been open for 50 years and is still going strong. There’s also an essential oil shop on Jervois Street that is a true gem.

The guiltiest pleasure in Sheung Wan is: Jacomax and a beer.

One thing you’d never change is: The working area vibe of Sheung Wan and the smell of dried seafood products on the street.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: No more shark fins, please.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to: Open some local feel outdoor cafes to make better use of the sitting out areas for everyone.

Whether they’re newcomers  or “old hands”, we’d love our readers to get to know your neighbourhood. Help us by sending an email to info@ expatliving.hk with “Street Talk” in the subject line. Include your name and street, and we’ll be in touch.

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section

Your guide to Wong Chuk Hang
What it’s like to live in Hong Kong
Are you looking for a job in Hong Kong?

This article first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.