Urban Explorer Series: @streetsignhk’s Travel Itinerary

Urban Explorer Series: @streetsignhk’s Travel Itinerary

Editorial by Tim Fung ; Illustration by Cynthia Lau

“There is quite a difference between day and night explorations in the city. During the day, you get to witness a lot more of the local “flavour” of Hong Kong because there are more boutique shops, restaurants and wet markets opened, and the best part of it is getting to witness the way the locals interact with one another. These daily interactions are what really add to the overall magic of our city that you cannot find anywhere else. Whereas in the evening, the city becomes more vibrant and you get to see another side of Hong Kong  – from hip bars and night clubs coming to life to lively dai pai dongs and street market stalls springing up across the city in places like Temple Street.”




@streetsignhk’s Travel Itinerary


Without a doubt, signage plays a huge role in breaking down barriers, smoothening communication between one another and directing our society on a daily basis. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ken and Kevin, the duo behind @streetsignhk that preserves abandoned neon signs around the city, to better understand what they do and their urban exploration across our vibrant city. We asked them which places they think are worth hitting up around the city if they were to visit all the iconic signages in Hong Kong and here’s what they gave us:


10:00AM: Start your day off in the most Hong Kong way! Get some freshly baked buns and pastries at Hung Wan Café. Ken and Kevin also recommend you try their delectable soup macaroni with ham, and a milk tea on the side. The interior of this shop whisks you back in history – the decor resembles that of an iconic type of restaurant in Hong Kong called “ice room”, which specialized in serving iced beverages that started back in the 50’s


11:00AM: Head to Sham Shui Po by MTR and find the largest knife in the city (not literally, it’s a signboard of Leung Tim Choppers Factory) that is wider than a bus. Ken and Kevin love their stainless steel products for both household use & home decor. Be sure to also take a stroll at the nearby Ap Liu Street flea market nicknamed “guy’s paradise” as you can find all sorts of interesting gadgets here. You may also try your luck at finding some hidden treasures from stalls selling an array of local vintage goods


1PM: After a few hours of shopping, you’ll get hungry so make your way over to Kung Wo Beancurd Factory that is also in the Sham Shui Po area. Here, you may find possibly one of the oldest shop signs in Hong Kong, but we can assure you that you will not regret ordering a sharing plate of their renowned Tofu snacks at this little ancient local eatery that was founded in 1893



2PM: If you are tired of the typical souvenir shops that sell postcards and key chains and want to opt for something a little more unique, head on over to 旺角道手寫字鑿字 and find a sign-maker on the street, who will create a customized galvanized steel sign with hand-written Chinese characters on it. This will make the perfect souvenir gift for family or friends


3PM: Explore the city and take a walk over to Mong Kok district, the city’s most congested shopping and residential district filled with eclectic local charm and history. You wouldn’t find this on your average travel guide but Ken and Kevin suggests you walk along Canton Road, lined with building material shops (in particular New Shun Hing – a local shop that sells catering supplies and bakery items) and experience another type of signboard streetscape which is not filled with neon lights but rather, handwritten and cut-acrylic boards



4PM: Head on over to Yau Ma Tei by MTR or walking and you will find an exceptionally low rise area. This is the Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market – a cluster of market architecture that is a Grade 2 historic building built in 1913. If you want to get a real glimpse of the market at its liveliest, go back at midnight to see the camaraderie and bantering between the locals, but during daytime you can buy fresh fruits at a great bargain


5PM: Walk up to the Yau Ma Tei Carpark Building where you can take in the breath-taking views of Temple Street night market from high up and witness the density of the space. In this area, you can find one of the few remaining animated neon signs of a mahjong parlour nearby



5:30PM: Don’t forget to bring the taste of Hong Kong back home to share with family and friends. For centuries, dried seafood was a common ingredient in Chinese cooking and traditional tonics, as it adds rich flavour and aroma to many dishes. Be sure to buy some dried seafood at Tak Hing Seafood shop as souvenirs so you can still enjoy the local flavours of Hong Kong even when you return home. This shop will not be missed as it has the largest neon signboard on Woosung Street


6PM: Blend in with the local street market along Reclamation Street (near Saigon Street) where you may find some old-school signs like “Ms Smile’s Chicken & Duck” (笑姐雞鴨)


7PM: After a long day of city exploration, go for a classic hot pot dinner at Hop Hing Hotpot, where they serve the finest quality hot pot selection, using quintessential ingredients that are perfectly paired with a rich satay broth. Of course, do not forget to check out their neon signboard that features an over-the-top hot pot icon with food in it



9PM: Still have room for dessert? Try the double steamed milk at Yee Shun Milk Company, a dessert that many of the locals keep coming back for. Here, you can also find a dairy cow on their signboard. How fitting!


10PM: The night doesn’t stop there! If you want to revel in a few cocktails or beers to wind down while avoiding the touristy areas of the city, head back to Prince Edward district for a Cantonese-rice liquour (玉冰燒) cocktail or craft beer at the neighbourhood bar bound by Hillywood surrounded by the glimmering neon lights


3AM: If you are still hungry after an evening out, you may want to hit up Snake King Yan (蛇王恩), a popular eatery for those craving snake soups. Not your typical after-hours joint by any means, but Ken and Kevin suggest you give it a try as it is a very unique Cantonese delicacy and health supplement in Hong Kong, popular especially in the winter time