Old Shops: Timeless Trades in Old Sheung Wan (On Private Request)

    On Private Request
    Sheung Wan
    Connaught Rd Exit, Western Market, Sheung Wan
    Approx. 2.5 hours
  • FEE
    On Private Request
    English (Cantonese and Mandarin options are available for private group bookings. Please email [email protected] for details.)
    Note: this tour is only available on Private Request- if interested, please contact our email [email protected] for further inquiry.

    You’ve probably heard about how Chinese food culture and Chinese medicine give special status to certain ingredients that in other parts of the world would be considered strange or even absolute “no-go zones”. Desiccated versions of unusual seafood like abalone and sea cucumber, as well as items that few would associate with medications like horse and monkey gallstones or whale’s vomit, are the speciality of some 100 stores in the economic heart of old Sheung Wan. These businesses are continuing a proud and long history, but the context they operate in today is very different to when it all started in the mid-19th century.

    This tour will focus on a story-laden trinity of streets off Des Voeux Road West, and we’ll be asking: Why do the Chinese prize the said food and medicinal items so highly? Why are these expensive delicacies and health remedies found in so many stores in this part of Hong Kong? Where do they come from and where will they be shipped to? In trying to answer these questions, we’ll not only introduce you to the quirky taste buds of the Chinese, but we’ll also revisit Nam Pak Hong (literally, North-South Firm), the intriguing trade system originally founded in 1860s Sheung Wan to circulate the celebrated purchases between Southeast Asia and China, and which today has expanded into a vast network covering most continents of the world.

    Owners of the area’s oldest dried seafood and Chinese medicine stores will also share their memories of the special trading community that they belong to and by extension, of the oft-forgotten role that three little streets in the area played in Hong Kong’s transformation into an international trade centre.

    Tour Highlights:
    • Visit some of Sheung Wan’s oldest shops that specialise in dried seafood and traditional Chinese medicine, and hear their owners talk about the distinctive trading practices and tales that have endured in the area;
    • Learn about how the Chinese traditionally look after their health through Chinese medicine;
    • Learn about the evolution of Chinese food tastes and banquet culture.