Central is possibly the easiest area in Hong Kong to understand – at least on the surface. International, cosmopolitan, modern-as-tomorrow, Central epitomizes – and at the same time challenges – all the standard Hong Kong clichés, preconceptions and easy assumptions. As a result, relative newcomers to Hong Kong soon feel that they “know” Central, and don’t feel that it offers them anything much by way of historical or cultural opportunities. But despite this superficial familiarity, much of what makes Hong Kong’s “downtown” business area such a pivotal place in Hong Kong’s urban evolution passes them by.

Among the skyscrapers, teeming lunchtime crowds, rampant consumerism and overwhelming focus on today’s needs, wants and expectations, it is easy to decide that no significant historical clues still remain. Not so. While the inescapable fact remains that much of Central’s architectural heritage has been lost to modern development in recent decades, significant buildings and unexpected sites of historical and cultural interest remain to be discovered.

Central’s development from the early 1840s to the present day, both as an initially European business district and as an administrative centre, will be discussed in detail. Street names, the gradual process of large-scale land reclamation from the 1880s onwards, development of civic open spaces and the process of urban evolution, transformation and associated social change will all be covered in this walk. Along the way, the evolution and decline of various long-established resident communities such as the Portuguese, the Parsees, Eurasians and others will be discussed and evaluated.

Among the places we will visit are Statue Square and environs, the exteriors of the old Supreme Court, Government House, the old French Mission Building, St. John’s Cathedral, the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, and the historic Jamia Mosque.

We will finish the walk near the Jamia Mosque on Shelley Street, where a wide variety of lunch-time options, to suit all budgets and palates, can be easily found within short walking distance.

Please note: All walks require appropriate footwear for walking. Please remember to carry water. We also suggest insect repellent, sunscreen, hat and an umbrella.

Please also note: This walk is not suitable for children under the age of 15 and is also not suitable for dogs and we only take HK Residents.

HK$550 per person for a scheduled walk.