Kennedy Town

Words: Marianna Cerni; Images: Hong Kong Tourism Board (Sai Wan Swimming Shed)


On the edge of Hong Kong Island, Kennedy Town has come a long way from its early days in the 1800s as Lap Sap Wan – or “Rubbish Bay” – when it was used as a dumping ground. It adopted its colonial name in honour of the seventh governor of Hong Kong, Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy and, over the next century, developed into a manufacturing hub. By the 1990s, the district’s old slaughterhouses and incinerators stood side-by-side with wholesale markets and family businesses, and by the time the MTR station opened in 2014, “K-Town” had become the vibrant international enclave it is today.

  1. Eco-friendly shopping

No trip to Kennedy Town now would be complete without a visit to Slowood. Opened earlier this year, this zero-waste boutique stocks all-natural beauty products and bulk groceries, as well as environmentally friendly homeware, crockery and cool design accessories. Co-owner Dora Lam designed the space, which sports minimalist Scandi décor, floor-to-ceiling windows, plus papier-mâché materials recycled into shelves. There’s also a tiny restaurant on site dishing up a delicious vegetarian menu should you need to refuel.

  1. Photography paradise

Take a look around K-Town and you’ll find countless photo-ops, thanks to the district’s leafy parks, waterfront promenades and quintessential Hong Kong architecture – picture skinny high-rises, curved tong lau tenement façades and narrow offshoots that beg to be explored. The surrounding area is home to two of the most famous photography spots in the city: Sai Wan Swimming Shed – the only area still open to the public where people can directly access the sea – and the West District Public Cargo Depot. Aptly nicknamed “Instagram Pier”, the cargo terminal’s uninterrupted views of Victoria Harbour and industrial settings are a photographer’s dream.

swimming shed

  1. Dark brews

K-Town is ground zero for Hong Kong’s serious coffee scene. Over the past year, it has added Australian-owned Winstons Coffee and an outpost of Japanese cult chain % Arabica to its ever-growing lineup of cafés. Both offer strong brews and pleasant outdoor seating – a rarity in the city. Linger at Winstons till evening when it transforms into a bar with excellent negronis and a beloved espresso martini. Also worth a visit is Infiniti C, which pairs its artisanal coffees with plant-based fare.


  1. Classic Hong Kong

While the district is definitely gentrifying, there’s still a vibrant balance of old and new in K-Town. For every trendy restaurant or boutique, a dozen butchers, bakeries and cha chaan tengs (traditional coffee shops) keep the classic Hong Kong spirit alive. Just peek into bustling Smithfield Market, brimming with fresh produce and cheerful sellers; stroll through Belcher Bay Park at dawn when septuagenarians still practise tai chi; or fight for a seat at Sun Hing, a decades-old Kennedy Town institution. Famed for its late-night dim sum and handmade custard buns, this busy spot only opens at 3am to serve long queues of grandpas, taxi drivers and hungry Hong Kong University students.


  1. Food frenzy

If there’s one thing that lures people to Kennedy Town, it’s the diverse dining scene. A walk through the area is a trip around the globe: Twelve Flavors specialises in mouth-numbing Sichuan cuisine; Yuan is Here recreates the vibe of a Taiwanese night market; Mama Malouf serves up contemporary Lebanese cuisine; 11 Westside crafts mouth-watering tacos; and Alvy’s serves craft beer and cocktails alongside creative sourdough-based pizzas like the locally inspired Bak Gwei (gruyère and char siu).


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