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Wan Chai District

Around one hundred and fifty years ago, Wan Chai, which originally meant "small bay", was a quiet sandy bay on the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island. It was also known as Ha Wan, because geographically, its location is relatively low. Only a handful of people lived there and most of them were fishermen. They gathered to work around the area near Hung Shing Temple overlooking the whole harbour and worshiped Hung Shing Ye as God of the Sea. Hung Shing Temple is still standing in its original location in Queen's Road East, but years of reclamation have pushed the shoreline further away. Now the temple is surrounded by clusters of residential and commercial buildings.

It was in 1921 that the first massive reclamation in Wan Chai started, mainly to alleviate the chronic need for housing. In nine-year of reclamation, 36.4 hectares of new land were formed, stretching from Causeway Bay in the east, to Arsenal Street in the west. Built on reclaimed land, Johnston Road, Marsh Road, Tonnochy Road, Stewart Road and Fleming Road have become bustling thoroughfares in Wan Chai.

As time went by, Wan Chai was transformed from a small fishing village into a prosperous commercial and residential centre. A quiet place to live in the 1950s, Wan Chai has since become a major transportation hub, linking Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula via the Cross Harbour Tunnel as well as the east and west of Hong Kong Island via Gloucester Road.

Wan Chai Today

Covering 996 hectares, Wan Chai is home to about 160,000 people. In addition, up to 600,000 people flock daily to the district to work, shop and enjoy its facilities. Wan Chai offers a sophisticated and convenient public transportation system including the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), buses, mini buses and trams. Taking a ferry from Wan Chai is a convenient method for those who need to cross the harbour to Kowloon.

Each day, crowds of people come to the district to experience its vitality and fascinating diversity. There are many world-class commercial complexes and skyscrapers, the most notable being the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Central Plaza and Times Square. At the same time, unique architecture reminding people of the past has also been preserved. Wan Chai's renowned historical spots and cultural relics include Old Wan Chai Post Office - Hong Kong's oldest post office and a declared monument, Hung Shing Temple which witnessed the seaside development one and a half centuries ago and Pak Tai Temple where a bronze statue is dedicated to Pak Tai. In addition, a triple-story, decorated archway with a pre-war frontispiece wall featuring profound classical taste and the artistic touch of traditional buildings has been built right opposite to Li Chit Garden in Li Chit Street after the garden's reconstruction.

To appreciate a lush view of Wan Chai, you can take several routes up to the Peak. You may start from the old stone stairs facing Ship Street, or from the brae adjacent to Old Wan Chai Post Office and then ascend, step by step, to the top where grass and trees thrive. Do remember not to miss the flag-raising ceremony held every day at the Expo Promenade of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, especially on July 1, the anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR Government and on October 1, the National Day, times when the ceremony is most spectacular.


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