Header image courtesy of @emmiesees (via Instagram)
Though “Kowloon City” refers to a larger district encompassing To Kwa Wan, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon Tong, and other locales, Kowloon City proper is a historic area famed for being the former home of Kai Tak, Hong Kong’s first airport, and the notorious Kowloon Walled City. Now a relatively sedate neighbourhood favoured by shutterbugs for its photogenic low-rise tenement blocks, Kowloon City is also known for its concentration of Thai businesses, earning it the nickname “Little Thailand.”
With its charming old-town feel and concentration of streetside stalls selling fresh, ready-to-drink coconuts, Kowloon City is an underrated spot worthy of your next weekend exploration. Prep ahead for your next excursion with our neighbourhood guide on the best things to eat, drink, and see around Kowloon City!
For a peaceful, picturesque stroll, there is no better contender in Kowloon City than the Kowloon Walled City Park. With its circular moon gate, manicured bonsai trees, and ornate pavilions, this Jiangnan-style Chinese garden is a far cry from the lawless military-fort-turned-walled-city that inspired Christopher Nolan’s vision of The Narrows in his The Dark Knight trilogy. However, remnants of its colourful past can still be seen in the preserved military relics dotted throughout the park, while the yamen (衙門; the administrative office of a local bureaucrat)—the only Qing dynasty building left from the original walled city—also hosts a permanent exhibition on life in the Kowloon Walled City in its three halls.
Kowloon Walled City Park, Tung Tsing Road, Kowloon City
Thrift your heart out at Seven Kee Closet, a family-run business whose long and circuitous path since 1938 included stints as a grocery in Macau and a street stall in Kowloon City. Now, it’s a two-storey vintage clothing store filled with a well-organised and internationally-sourced selection of vintage clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.
Seven Kee Closet, 50–52 Lion Rock Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2716 1638
Experience all the benefits of yoga without actually, you know, doing yoga with a therapeutic Thai massage, during which you’ll remain clothed while a licensed practitioner uses pressure and stretching techniques to relieve joint and muscle soreness. There are plenty such massage centres dotted around the area—it is called “Little Thailand,” after all—but we like Nakhon Thai Massage, where a two-hour massage will only set you back $280.
If you prefer a more Western style of massage—you know, the ones where you lie prone on a table and try not to fall asleep—then pop by Shh Massage & Spa for an aromatic massage, starting from $308 for 45 minutes. They also offer beauty services, in case you need your brows micro-bladed or lash extensions refilled.
Nakhon Thai Massage, Unit A1, 1/F, 38 Kai Tak Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 54874324
Shh Massage & Spa, 6A Grampian Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2369 9996
Step into a living piece of Kowloon City history at Tai Wo Tang, a former traditional Chinese medicine apothecary that was given a second life as a hip café. Marvel at the golden signage, antique benches and shutters, and nearly hundred-year-old apothecary cabinet as you wait for your flat white ($42), rose latte ($44), or full English breakfast ($108). If you’re in the mood for a dessert with a Hong Kong spin, try the red date hawthorn cheesecake ($68) or White Rabbit mousse cake ($78), which tastes like the nostalgic childhood candy.
Tai Wo Tang (大和堂), 24 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2623 2006
If you’re looking for a cute spot to have coffee with the furry, four-legged members of your family in tow, drop by Lazy Creatures on Prince Edward Road West. With its chilled Aussie café vibe, Western-inspired food menu that runs the gamut of grilled cheese sandwiches to curry pies, adorable animal-themed murals, and tasty sweet treats, it’s a popular haunt with resident paw-rents and dog-lovers alike. If you’re there on a busy day, you may even spot the odd cat or gecko, too!
Lazy Creatures, Shop J, G/F, 379 Prince Edward Road West | (+852) 9099 9288
Adding to Kowloon City’s growing population of cute cafés is Nizen, a casual vegetarian café at Kowloon City Plaza known for its plant-based drinks and desserts. Although the interiors are most certainly inspired by Zen teahouses, the menu is more in line with Hong Kong cafés, with a range of savoury and sweet fusion-y plates like risotto, burgers, and curry. Nizen’s seasonal desserts are a must-try for any vegan with a sweet tooth, with past specials including matcha tarts, caramel & pear layered cake, and Earl Grey blackberry cake.
Nizen, Shop UG18, UG/F, Kowloon City Plaza, 128 Carpenter Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 3613 0133
If you’re a fan of moody colour palettes, Japanese teahouse vibes, and excellently brewed coffee, then you’ll love Sofi Coffee. Sofi Coffee only opened at the end of March, but it’s already attracted the attention of the Instagram café crowd with its chic concrete shopfront, dark minimalist style, and statement-making glass brick wall. Its flat white ($40) is already getting favourable reviews—as is the tiramisu ($58)—but if you’re more of a tea person, try the hand-whisked matcha ($65).
Sofi Coffee, 428–430 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City
Don’t be fooled by its nondescript shopfront—people have been coming to Fong Wing Kee for over 60 years for their signature satay hotpot. Regular da bin lo (打邊爐; hotpot) accoutrements like seafood, meat, veggies, and dumplings are all available, but the most popular add-ons are the hand-sliced beef ($298) and curly Nissin Demae instant noodles ($15). Satay sauce, beef, and instant noodles might not sound like a delicacy, but trust us when we say that it just works. We also recommend getting some tofu puffs ($38), fresh prawns ($68 each), and Canadian oysters ($158) to round out the order, as well as some luncheon meat ($48) if you’re feeling the cha chaan teng (茶餐廳; Hong Kong-style tea restaurant) vibes.
Fong Wing Kee (方榮記), G/F, 85–87 Hau Wong Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2382 1788
Kowloon City’s bustling food market is home to a number of shops and restaurants, including an excellent range of fresh fruit stalls selling crystal-clear Thai pitaya and pungent durian. Pull up a stool at one of many dai pai dong (大排檔; open-air food stall) eateries in the cooked food area upstairs to enjoy a casual and tasty meal at a fraction of the cost you’d normally get in a sit-down restaurant. For an affordable and authentic Thai meal, try Amporn Thaifood. Its deep-fried prawn cakes ($60), tom yum kung (starting from $55), and grilled pork neck ($60) are slam-dunks, while sashimi-lovers shouldn’t miss the raw prawn salad ($65), which pairs the fresh shellfish with spicy-sweet dipping sauce, raw garlic, and sliced herbs and veggies.
Kowloon City Market & Cooked Food Centre, 100 Nga Tsin Wai Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2383 2224
If it’s punchy, no-frills Southeast Asian fare you’re after, then check out Cambo Thai Restaurant. The Cambo brand is well-established in Kowloon City, with three Thai and Vietnamese restaurants in the neighbourhood alone. Those who prefer to nibble on lots of different small plates are well-catered to here, with a medley of interesting bites like the exploding prawn balls ($80), grilled meat skewers ($78), and Vietnamese butter chicken wings ($39) available for your snacking pleasure. For a satisfying, show-stopping main, try the herby crab vermicelli pot ($300).
Cambo Thai Restaurant, 25 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2716 7318
For a taste of old Hong Kong flavours, check out this underrated congee (粥; Chinese rice porridge) spot. The star of the show here is obviously the congee—in particular, the toppings-laden sampan congee ($22)—but other dishes like the cheung fun drizzled with sesame sauce and sticky sweet sauce (甜醬; tim4 jeong3) and pork chop noodles ($33) are popular too.
Tim Choi Kee (添財記), 35 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2383 9664
Bargain-hunting foodies will be sure to love this neighbourhood stalwart, which has a special menu featuring a different item—whether that’s a salad, beer, or plate of wings—for just $1 every day. It’s not just about the dollar deals, however—the Thai-style steamed fish ($169), which comes heaped in herbs, is a crowd-pleaser, as are the yellow curry jumbo prawns ($148).
Orange Elephant, 31–33 Kai Tak Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2718 1088