Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city?
With several beaches, access to fabulous hiking, good alfresco dining, a dog-friendly waterfront, the historic pier, not to mention plenty of watersports and sunbathing opportunities – a trip to Stanley could be just what you need!
Located at the southern end of Hong Kong, Stanley is a laid-back and leafy suburb on the shores of the balmy South China Sea. It’s perfect for a day out with the family or a relaxing evening out, so we’ve picked out some highlights in our Stanley neighbourhood guide (which are sure to keep you well-fed, entertained and smiling long after you return home).
What To See
Probably the most Instagrammed spot in the whole of Stanley, Blake Pier is a hugely popular addition to the waterfront. Partially reconstructed from an old pier on the Central waterfront, the quintessentially colonial architecture is popular with everyone from dog walkers to tai chi practitioners to snap-happy tourists. At the weekends and public holidays, there is also a scheduled ferry service from the pier to Po Toi Island. If you can time the ferry right, this is a great day trip for an awesome seafood lunch on one of Hong Kong’s smaller and more charming outlying islands.
Blake Pier, Stanley, Hong Kong
Murray House is another well-loved piece of colonial-era architecture. Moved stone by stone from its former location in the business district (where the Bank of China now stands) this building was painstakingly restored in its current location. The wide verandas, designed to catch the cooling breeze, make a great spot to catch views across the bay and romantic sunsets.
Murray House, 96 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong
There are several temples in the area, but this is the biggest and the most famous. This is in large part due to the tiger skin that hangs in the temple! Supposedly, the tiger that once proudly wore these stripes was a local terror until it was shot by a brave policeman in the mid 19th Century.
Tin Hau Temple, Ma Hang, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2813 0282
Read more: 50 Things To Do With Kids In Hong Kong
Where To Eat And Drink
Burgers are always a family crowd-pleaser. Part of the well known and well-loved Beef And Liberty chain, this branch is a local favourite not just because of the great food, but also for the popular quiz nights and beach cleanups. The location overlooks Stanley Plaza and if you grab a seat outside you can keep a watchful eye on the kids in the playground.
Beef and Liberty, G/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2563 2798, www.beef-liberty.com
Want to try some super local Hong Kong cha chan teng food? Swing down to Buddy Café just behind Stanley market. It’s not glitzy, it’s not ritzy and it’s not on the main tourist route. That’s all part of the charm! Run by a very personable husband and wife team, Buddy Café is a favourite with windsurfers and sailors in the area. It specialises in extremely affordable, easy to eat and hearty food. The menu changes on a daily basis, but standouts include pork chop rice, hotdogs with special sauce, and chicken curry with a local twist.
Buddy Café, Shop A-D & G, G/F, 10-12 Stanley Main Street Stanley, Hong Kong, 9206 2600
You can’t go wrong with Cali-Mex. Another kid-friendly food option, perfect if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat on the promenade. Fresh ingredients, great Californian-style Mexican food, beer on tap at the tables and friendly staff make this a big hit with locals and visitors alike. Take a moment to check out the extensive collection of silverware won by the local Tai Tam Tigers Dragon Boat team.
Cali-Mex Bar and Grill, G/F, 90 Stanley Main St, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2866 7322, www.cali-mex.com
No day by the seaside would be complete without ice-cream! The kids will love a sweet treat to top off their day. You’ll find Gino’s Gelato conveniently located right next to the playground in Stanley Plaza.
Gino’s Gelato, G/F Stanley Plaza, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2803 1693
For something a little more traditional, pop down to Henry’s by Stanley Market. Henry’s (formerly Lucy’s) has been an operation in the same spot for several decades. Naturally, it is a favourite among many generations of Hong Kongers who have lived and visited the southside. As befits a local institution, the decor is comfortable, homely and familiar, and it does classics like Banoffee Pie incredibly well.
Henry’s, 64 Stanley Main St, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2813 9055
Kam Kee Café
Kam Kee Café is another good place in Stanley for a quick (and sometimes guilty) Chinese bite. It does a local breakfast with instant noodles and buttery toast as well as other Hong Kong crowd-pleasers like a baked pork chop rice with tomato sauce and cheese.
Kam Kee Café, Shop 102-103, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2338 3530
Even the fussiest little eater will find something on the menu at Mamie Yvonne. We feel these are the best crêpes in town and you can also get a mean pizza! Run by a genuine Frenchman and made with a buckwheat batter imported from Brittany, this place is the real deal. The cosy setting is perfect for ensuring that you get warm and personal table service.
Mamie Yvonne, G/F, Princeton Court, 118 Stanley Main St, Stanley, Hong Kong, 9430 3008
Near the Eastern tip of the Stanley promenade, Ricky’s is a local favourite for a relaxed bite by the seaside. Seating is all outdoors, which makes this is a perfect spot for sunny days and sundowners on a balmy evening. The lamb chops, quesadillas and freshly made sandwiches have everyone raving. There’s also an enviable selection of craft beers for the hop heads.
Ricky’s, Shop 1, Stanley Waterfront Mart, 20 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, 90937137
Tired of expensive cocktails with an ingredient list longer than your arm? Head down to Smugglers Inn to see one of the last truly honest and truly local neighbourhood pubs in Hong Kong. Delightfully unassuming, with the feel of an old sea dog’s lair, Smugglers is the perfect place to grab an ice-cold lager or beer right in the thick of Stanley promenade.
The Smugglers Inn, G/F, 90A, Stanley Main St, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2813 8852
The French community in Stanley has blessed us not only with a lovely creperie but also a supply of excellent baguettes, pastries and cold cuts. Located at the top of Stanley Plaza with commanding views of the bay, Stan Café is the go-to for incredible crusty carbs, delectable cheeses and tasty cured meats.
Stan Café, 5/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2324 9008, www.stancafe.hk
Find me a child (or grown up for that matter!) that doesn’t like homemade cookies? Pam’s hand-baked delights come in some awesome flavours you won’t find anywhere else. Her signatures include a cranberry shortbread, a rose flavour, and an intense coffee cookie for all you java junkies out there.
Pam’s Cookies, G/F, 122 Stanley Main St, Stanley, Hong Kong, 5405 9876, [email protected]
Things To Do
Want an alternative to getting fried on the beach all day long? The Aqua-Bound Centre offers windsurfing and stand-up paddleboard rentals from Stanley Main Beach. It offers super friendly service and a wide selection of boards. Ask, and its staff will happily tell you where is best to head out in the bay on any given day.
Tired of working out in big box gyms and classes where you don’t get any attention? Aqua Terra is a private and discreet training studio focused on one-on-one personal training and small group classes in a comfortable and welcoming environment. It also offers specific strength training programmes for women who want to stay fit during and after pregnancy. Babies and children are welcome while mums work out, and there are nursery facilities available on site.
Editor’s note: This article was written by Esther Bland, owner and Head Trainer of Aqua Terra Performance.
This one is for all the Insta-holics among us. If you’re looking to get a great shot of Stanley that doesn’t feature Blake Pier and Murray House (like all the other punters) this slightly challenging scramble near St. Stephens beach could be the perfect photo opportunity for you. A quick Google search should shed some more light on the small and mysterious route. Despite the challenges, the view of the bay and the cool geology makes this a great option for the photogenic outdoor enthusiast.
Rhino Rock Trail, Wong Ma Kok Rd, Stanley, Hong Kong
St. Stephen’s Beach
St. Stephen’s is a quiet beach five minutes walk from the main Stanley strip. Although it’s less accessible than either the main beach or back beach, the short walk guarantees you will be far from the madding crowd. There are changing facilities, barbecue pits and showers here, but bring a picnic hamper if you plan on snacking while on the sand.
St. Stephen’s Beach, Stanley, Hong Kong
The signposted trailhead on the road up from Stanley marks the beginning of the Wilson trail, a long-distance walking route that spans the entire Hong Kong territory. Most hikers from Stanley attempt Section 1 from Stanley to Wong Nai Chung Gap reservoir and then onto Parkview. This 4.8 km hike doesn’t sound long, but the vertical ascents and descents are sure to leave you breathless (from the exercise but also from the magnificent views of the area). Doing the trail in reverse is another good option. You can catch a trailhead at Parkview and make your way to Stanley. This way, you’ll be greeted with dramatic views of the village from Stanley Mount and can cool yourself off with some well-deserved refreshments on the promenade.
Wilson Trail, Stanley Gap Road, Stanley, Hong Kong
Activities With The Kids
Conveniently nestled next to a quiet playground, The Studio offers art classes that are a welcome escape from Hong Kong’s highly pressurised learning environment. Teacher Akiko welcomes kids aged 2 to 14 years old and all are encouraged to get messy, creative and enjoy their own artistic freedom and sense of expression. The Studio has regular afternoon and weekend classes but also accepts bookings upon request for birthday parties and special occasions (provided there is a minimum of two children).
Looking to spend time with your baby in a fun and mentally stimulating environment? Beks James at Honky Tonks has been running popular group classes with parents, babies and preschoolers that use music and movement to encourage creative exploration and sensory development. Honky Tonks has a wide variety of musical instruments for babies and toddlers to experiment with and uses both old-fashioned nursery rhymes and more contemporary songs during each session. In addition to regular classes, Honky Tonks also caters for birthday parties and other special requests.
Get your little one down to St Stephen’s College on Monday and Thursday mornings for some casual free play, arts and crafts, snacking and singing. This one is for parents and kids from zero to three years old and operates from 9:15am to 11:15am during school term. It is a relaxed environment where you can get to know other local parents and let your little ones socialise as well.
Just in front of Stanley Plaza (and right in front of Tin Hau Temple) is this gem of a playground. We know the kids will love burning off some energy while mum and dad watch on from one of the nearby alfresco dining options. Keeping with the seaside theme, this kids adventure zone is designed like a pirate ship. It’s sure to capture the imagination of your budding sailors!
Pirate Playground, Stanley Plaza, Stanley, Hong Kong
Spas And Salons
This isn’t the fanciest looking spa from the outside, but don’t be fooled by appearances. Run by two Nepalese sisters, Meena and Jina, the service couldn’t be more friendly and professional. Prathna offers a wide range of treatments from massages to waxing to mani-pedis and more.
Sassy perk: Mention that you are a Sassy Mama reader when making your first booking and you will get 10% off any of Prathna’s treatments!
Prathna Spa, G/F, Flat A1, New Town Mansion, 26 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2413 7333, 9556 7197, [email protected]
This friendly salon is popular among the Stanley locals and Lawrence (the owner) is great company, too. It does awesome cuts and colours if you fancy giving your hair some TLC after a long day in the sun and sea.
Spur Hair Salon Aveda, 26 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong, 2813 4298, www.facebook.com/Spur-Hair-Salon
Where To Shop
Craving a mega pack of Reese’s Pieces, or hunting for a supersized jar of gherkins? Look no further than a&m, as it imports all the goodies that you might otherwise miss in Hong Kong. The Stanley branch of this American supermarket is currently under renovation but is estimated to reopen in August 2019. Although it’s a fraction of the size of a suburban Costco, you can still snag some jumbo finds. Head to the Central store location if you can’t wait until August for your favourite snacks!
a&m US Groceries, Shop 209, 2/F, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, www.anmstores.com
Looking for the latest and greatest in beachwear? Island Wake has all the coolest gear for the whole family. It stocks everything from board shorts to sunnies, to insulated coolers you can use on the beach. The last time we visited they were even offering speed boats for sale!
This is one of our favourite places to get beautiful and unique gifts for babies and toddlers. All items are handpicked by the owners from small, tasteful, and high-quality boutiques throughout Asia. Not only will you stand out from the crowd, but you’ll also be supporting up-and-coming designers. We particularly love their cute and colourful bamboo dining sets for toddlers. They even have a DIY corner for mums and children to get creative and make their own hats and accessories! You can book the whole venue for private parties, too.
Lady In The Tree
If you’re a plant lover, it’s well worth making a short detour to visit the Lady In The Tree. We’re not sure what the registered name of the business is. We’re not even sure about the official address. But you’ll know it when you see it! Head down from the roundabout at the entrance of Stanley market towards the promenade. On your left, you’ll see a large tree on the side of the road surrounded by a dizzying selection of leaves and buds and flowers for sale. All this leafy goodness is overseen by the wizened proprietress who sets up shop at the base of the trunk. If you’re new to looking after plants, she also offers great advice on watering, light and general care.
Lady In The Tree, (Around) 25 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong
The venerable Stanley Market has been on almost every tourist itinerary for decades. Comprising a warren of several covered lanes just behind the seafront, the market is worth a poke around even if you aren’t on holiday. Despite what you hear, it’s not just fridge magnets and Bruce Lee t-shirts. There are some great finds here, from well-priced swimwear to cool pictures, cheap gadgetry and even some nice linen jackets and tableware.
Stanley Market, No. 6, Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong, www.hk-stanley-market.com
Featured image courtesy of Getty, image 1 courtesy of Aqua Terra Performance, image 2 courtesy of Getty, image 3 courtesy of CaliMex, image 4 courtesy of Stan Cafe via Facebook, image 5 courtesy of HK Aquabound via Facebook, image 6 courtesy of Getty, image 7 courtesy of Getty, image 8 courtesy of Pine.