Yaumatei is one of those Kowloon back corners that many long-term Hong Kong residents often overlook – or dismiss. Only a short distance away from Tsim Sha Tsui’s tourist glitz, brand-name emporia and omnipresent touts, another – altogether more intriguing, colourful Kowloon – awaits exploration, appreciation and enjoyment.
Yaumatei is home to the famous Tin Hau Temple – sometimes referred to as the “Temple of Temple Street.” This historic structure dates from the 1820s. Along with the banyan-tree shaded square in front, the Tin Hau Temple has been a key focus of Yaumatei community life for decades. Like Tin Hau shrines elsewhere in Hong Kong, the Yaumatei temple was originally located on the coastline, as befits a deity worshipped by sea-farers and fisher-folk; it is now marooned over a kilometre inland due to successive waves of land reclamation.
Less well-known to outsiders is the temple’s wider social welfare role within Yaumatei’s Chinese community, and its long-standing connections to health-care organizations such as the Kwong Wah Hospital.
Along the way we will see the historic Yaumatei police station, learn something about the historical development of the now-vanished typhoon shelter and how the daily lives of its “floating” inhabitants changed over the past half-century. East of Nathan Road, Yaumatei changes character, and this open, expansive green-belt side of Kowloon will also be explored and its continued existence put into historical context.
Shanghai Street, Reclamation Streets and nearby lanes are vital adjuncts to the local restaurant trade; every possible variety of cooking pot, wok, cleaver and kitchen utensil can be found here – at very reasonable prices. Nearby, the Yaumatei Theatre, the oldest cinema in Kowloon, has been spared from demolition, and has been attractively renovated as an art cinema complex.
Locally-famous for decades, Yaumatei’s gwo-laan, where most of Hong Kong’s fresh fruit is traded, is an essential part of life and not to be missed. While the gwo-laan is at its bustling, noisy best in the small hours of the morning, there is still much of interest to be seen by mid-morning. Surviving old buildings nearby provide a home to steadily vanishing occupations and businesses – legal, tolerated and otherwise – and will all be explored along the way north through Kowloon.
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 15 years old and is also not suitable for dogs. We only take Hong Kong residents.
HK$550 per person for a scheduled walk.