Hunting for street art in concrete jungles…
With March being Art Month, it’s easy to forget that Hong Kong itself is bursting with creative expression, far away from the many galleries and fancy pavilions. If you’re looking for a fun (and relatively free!) day out with the kids where you can kick up your personal Instagram game and enjoy an unforgettable quest, we’ve come up with a a great plan (and a few options, if you’re not keen to do them all!). We’ve highlighted some of our favourites, but if there are some we’ve missed that others simply must see, send us a note to [email protected].
Begin The Day
When thinking about the Hong Kong street art scene, HKWalls is the event, which inevitably comes to mind. This festival takes place every spring (this year it’s in Central and Western district, and you can see more here) and leaves a lucky chosen district with a bunch of amazing murals, so it makes perfect sense to begin your hunt in the nest of last year’s edition. Now that the new MTR Island Line takes only 10 minutes from Admiralty, getting there is a snap! One of the great things about HKWalls is that it usually chooses a small area and covers it all, so you (and your kids) won’t have to walk miles to see all the graffiti. Use this map by HKWalls to find your way around
Although there is a lot for everyone to enjoy, we really love MAUY’s Monkey King. The Thai artist painted a real forest spirit, wild and somehow ironic: a mighty monkey on a wooden horse and in a sketchy crown — the longer you look the more quirky details you see. Did you notice the “YAP!”, by the way? One can find them in most of MAUY’s works, as it’s his ‘signature’ in his artwork.
The Sandy, Sad and Struggling People by Candy Bird, known for his socially-charged murals, would touch even the most heartless, while comical collaboration by SeeNaeMe and Messy Desk will make you and your kids smile even on the moodiest day!
If anyone needs a break from viewing, we suggest a coffee at Komune, especially as its terrace was a part of HKWalls too (so technically, it’s not even a break!). Another coffee place is Bread and Bistro with some seriously good pastries and a kids menu. If you want something more substantial, head to Golden Monkey for some comforting pho and bahn mi.
Where to find: Komune, 4/F, Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong, 3460 8157, www.komune.com.hk
Bread and Bistro, Shop G06, G/F, One lsland South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 3426 9883 www.facebook.com/BreadnBistro
Golden Monkey, Shop G08, G/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 3100 0184, https://www.facebook.com/goldenmonkey.hk/
Although Central is literally bursting with great murals, in all its buzz and fuss we tend to miss most of them. When you’re ready to take on a few more places, check out the fab murals here.
The first place on the list is the truly iconic Old Hong Kong Skyline graffiti on Graham Street. Although we don’t often see such clear blue skies and the houses depicted belong rather to Kowloon than Central, the spot is beloved by both locals and tourists for this old-school vibe and photo ops! Besides, they’re a great way to show kids the disappearing side of Hong Kong without actually leaving the island.
Where to find: Graham Street Wall Mural, 44 Hollywood Road, Central
Just a street away on Peel, there is the Uma Nota’s Laughing Woman, and although she is not as famous as the skyline, she brings the cheerful feeling of Rio to the very heart of Hong Kong. Take the next street (Elgin) and you will see a chic bar painted on a wall just by one of the only 28 surviving dai pai dongs right below the Korean fusion resto, Seoul Bros. (At Seoul Bros you can grab a quick, affordable bite of bibimbap while your kids munch on kimchi fries or fried chicken.)
Uma Nota, 38 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2889 7576, www.uma-nota.com
Seoul Bros, UG/F, 66 Hollywood Road (entrance from Elgin Street), Central, Hong Kong, 2793 5703, www.seoul-bros.com
A few meters down, at Pak Tsz Lane Park, there is a rabbit hole, which is extremely easy to miss, but getting into it would bring you to a tiny wonderland you and your kids would never expect to find: not only is there a mural asking not to be too noisy at night in the sweetest manner you have ever seen, but also a park with a playground — an ideal place for the kids to have some free range time and for you to give your legs a short break!
Where to find: Pak Tsz Lane Park, Central, Hong Kong
After the park, go downstairs, turn left, and soon you will find yourself on Gough Street, a true gem of Hong Kong Island: this tiny lane in Soho hides some of the most stunning pieces, so save some time for it. We adore the delicious looking seafood: chilly crab (pun intended), a thoughtful tuna and a pompous shrimp, — on the wall of , which is technically not on Gough Street, but definitely in its area. When you’re finished admiring the cool designs, walk down to the end and get yourselves some delicious ice cream from Oddies Foodies, served up in a warm egg waffle. Delish.
Where to find: Etsuzo, G/F, 52 Gage St, Central, Hong Kong, 2885 8212, www.facebook.com/etsuzo.hk
Oddies Foodies, 45 Gough St, Central, Hong Kong, 2750 2111, www.facebook.com/oddiesfoodies
Little kids may not make it much further, but if you’ve got some would-be artists in your fam, walk just a hundred meters away to see the exquisite and refined mural by Caratoes. Tucked in a narrow dead-end by 51 Gough Street, it will keep you mesmerised by its subtle reds and teals and wondering what the girl on the wall is seeing in her marine dreams, even if it doesn’t promise fabulous photos.
Where to find: 51 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong
Just a couple steps back and another couple up, a fading Einstein gives a universal answer to all your questions (spoiler: it’s love). If you’ve dropped the kids back home (or had someone take them there!) but want to see more, La Cabane Wine Cellar is also worth seeing, as its ever-changing walls never fail to surprise. You can grab a much-needed glass o’ red when you’re wanting another break.
Where to find: La Cabane Wine Cellar, B/F, 97 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2517 0186, lacabane.hk
Callixto, G/F, 11 Mee Lun Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2427 8555, callixto.com
Sheung Wan was blessed by HKWalls twice, but we will advise only a couple of places, because if we listed them all, you would have to walk around the blocks for weeks! On the other hand, you could make this your entire day out with the kids, because the amount of murals a 50-meter street can contain is truly stunning, so you won’t feel left out even if you visit only one of the places.
If Gough Street was a gem, then Tank Lane is Sinbad’s cave. A very international cave: the street features the works by artists from France to South Korea. We especially love the silver octopus, which is so smartly caged by Rookie (Taiwan), because otherwise it would be quite a dangerous creature.
Where to find: Tank Lane, Tai Ping Shan, Hong Kong
The marine theme (actually, a favourite in the 852) continues on Craftissimo with a shoal of blue fish, whose rapid movement towards the door makes the idea of checking one of the best places for craft beer almost irresistible. So, why not indeed #treatyoself, while the young ones sip lemonade or some water? If taking your children to a brewery is not exactly your cup of tea (no judgment if it is!), go for some real tea in Teakha (its cakes are exquisite as well)!
Where to find: Crafrissimo, Shop D, G/F, 22-24 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 6274 3130, craftissimo.hk
Teakha, Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2858 9185, www.teakha.com
Tai On Terrace is next on the list. Don’t let stairs scare you, because something very special is waiting at the top: geometric stars on stairs by Xeme and a funny “brush your teeth” window by Szabotage. The terrace itself is small, but mighty.
Where to find: Tai On Terrace, Tai Ping Shan, Hong Kong
While heading down to the MTR, have a look at Rukkit’s Fox Multi Coloured, famous and beloved among locals. Its straight lines, bold colours and perfect symmetry will make you want to come back again and again, because there is something truly hypnotising in this fox.
Where to find: 1-7 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Go Further West
Last but not least in Western District, head to Yat Fu Lane. The space is not that big, but amazing (we can say the same about pretty much everything in HK!). This is another offspring of HKWalls — the pop-up exhibition called Mark 6 for six local artists leaving their mark. If you were searching for the murals by the queen of Hong Kong street art, Bao Ho, look no further! However, our hearts were taken by Wong Ting Fung’s bull, graphic and bold, and by Kristopher Ho’s bird, fiery and angry.
Where to find: Yat Fu Lane, 554-560 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong, yatfulane.com