Over the years, the trend of neighbourhood walking tours in Hong Kong has noticeably increased, with various options on the market. Prudence Lui accompanies Walk in Hong Kong's founder, Paul Chan, on a private tour to find out more about the cultural and historical side of Sham Shui Po district.
The three-hour walking tour set off from Sham Shui Po MTR station in the morning. As a local, I love going to Sham Shui Po to shop and dine, but my knowledge is confined to the Golden Computer Shopping Center and Apliu Street. This time, as I’m on a small private group tour with Chan and our retiree tour guide William Ip, I hope to learn more about the area both historically and culturally.
The itinerary was rather long, and covers Mei Ho House Museum (the first public housing in Hong Kong in 1950s), Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC; a former industrial building transformed into a hub of arts and creativity), Pei Ho Street and Tai Po Road junction, Kung Wo Soy Bean Product Shop, Apliu Street Market, and handcraft & lifestyle stores on Tai Nan Street.
What fascinated me the most was that the area is home to a tapestry of trade, ranging from pawn shops to umbrella repair, to toy shops and places selling audio equipment.
During my tour, I also had the opportunity to interact with an artist in JCCAC, and I was looking forward to meeting Snake Queen Chow. But she wasn’t around when we traipsed through the Shia Wong Hip Snake Soup store. The staff were kind enough to allow us a peep, where we saw live snakes in cages as well as bottles of snake wine. I hope to revisit next time, as the tour guarantees guests an unforgettable experience to take a photo with the shop’s pet snake Kitty.
Our final stop surprised me, as the shops and building in Sham Shui Po have received a facelift courtesy of HKwalls graffiti; a Hong Kong-based street art group that invited a group of local and international graffiti artists to leave their mark.
Private tours are available upon request, and this allows for more insightful knowledge and interaction.
Prices start from HK$1,800 (US$230), and a minimum of two pax are needed. Maximum group sizes stand at 18. If there’s a bigger corporate group, for example up to 200 pax, the company can arrange for multiple guides to be present.
It is also better to do the tour in the morning, when the areas are less busy and crowded. Also, it is better to walk the city during autumn or winter, as it is not too hot or rainy.
There is no better way to explore the city than on foot, to soak in the ambience and rub shoulders with the locals. My knowledgeable local tour guide made a huge difference as he could easily respond to my burning questions.