At first glance, Sham Shui Po may seem like a dirty urban slum: old worn-down buildings, streets filled with trash, and beggars being found every corner. However, to me, Sham Shui Po is one of those neighborhoods that still has the authentic and real Hong Kong aura that I associate Hong Kong with. I grew up watching Hong Kong dramas, so I have seen this area since I was growing up. As a result, seeing in person has been an eye-opener and this area definitely means a lot to me.
With a population density of over 40,000 people per kilometer squared, it is no surprise that Sham Shui Po looks the way it does. To compare, that is 4x that of New York City. On top of that, of the 18 districts in Hong Kong, Sham Shui Po has the lowest median household income and the highest number of elderly above the age of 65.
Having escaped much of the recent urban redevelopment, the area has little sense of over-commercialization or westernization that is happening in other areas of Hong Kong. It’s an area built by the local people for the local people. Take a walk through this neighborhood and experience its busy street markets, traditional eateries, and hundred-year old high rises to really understand what everyday life in the working-class community in Hong Kong is like.
If you look pass the dirty streets and crowded swarms of people, Sham Shui Po still retains the history, tradition, and charm of old Hong Kong that I grew up watching on television. This is real Hong Kong, real daily lives of local people. Without further ado, let me show you around some of my favorite spots in Sham Shui Po.
Shot 1 – Apliu Street (market stalls)
- Apliu Street is famous for its flea market stalls and shops that line the entire street selling basically everything related to electronics. Anything you ever thought you wanted could be found here. Take a walk through the street and you will the distinct features of Sham Shui Po: crowds, old buildings and signages, and more crowds. Fun fact: the common red signs on white boards are related to feng shui as they believe it has an effect on the company’s performance, relationship with customers, and management of employees.
Shot 2 – Man Fung Building
- Sham Shui Po is an area known for its old buildings and urban decay so it is very interesting to see this pop of color amongst the gray and dim buildings. Man Fung Building was painted by Madrid-based Spanish artist Okuda as part of the HKwalls movement in order to make the old district become more lively. It is interesting to see how street art will change the look of the neighborhood in the future.
Shot 4 – Eateries and street food
- Sham Shui Po has no shortage of mouth-watering street food but Hop Yik Tai’s cheong fun noodle rolls are one of my favorites. It is made fresh every day, and with its deliciously smooth noodle rolls and scrumptious sweet sauce, it is no wonder there’s queue all the time.
Shot 5 – Sham Shui Po Police Station
- Built in 1924, the police station is one of the oldest buildings in Hong Kong. It is considered a Grade III historic building in Hong Kong which means it is recorded and used as a pool for future selection of possible monuments that hold merit and historic value in Hong Kong. The station is actually still serving the whole Sham Shui Po district to this day.