When you hear the name Tsim Sha Tsui, what likely comes to mind is its mesmerizing view of Hong Kong’s harbor. However, this district has far more to offer than just breathtaking scenery. Situated in Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the liveliest and most bustling parts of Hong Kong. In this article, we will guide you to explore this incredible district, from its rich history to its vibrant present.
The Historical Roots of Tsim Sha Tsui
Before British rule in 1860, Tsim Sha Tsui was home to numerous villages. It was famous as Heung Po Tau, or the “fragrant quay.” It was a hub for collecting incense trees from the New Territories, which were then transported to Shek Pai Wan in southern Hong Kong Island for export. This area was historically referred to as Chung Mun, meaning “the middle gate,” as it’s nestled between Kap Shui Mun to the west and Lei Yue Mun to the east, in the heart of the harbor.
Tsim Sha Tsui’s Growth and Transformation
The transformation of Tsim Sha Tsui began with the construction of Nathan Road in 1888 and the introduction of the Star Ferry, connecting Central and Tsim Tsui. Until the 20th century, Tsim Sha retained its charm as a leafy suburb housing various British garrison facilities. Whitfield Barracks, now Kowloon Park, stood to the west of Nathan Road, and the Kowloon Naval Yard occupied the waterfront to the west of the army encampment.
However, as part of a strategy to boost trade in the colony, Chinese residents were allowed to settle in Tsim Sha Tsui, and this led to the replacement of garden houses with bustling residential blocks. Wharves and godowns were constructed along the western shore, with major developers like Hormusjee Naorojee Mody and Catchick Paul Chater playing pivotal roles in the district’s development.
Tsim Sha Tsui also served as the terminus for the Kowloon–Canton Railway (KCR). In 1915, the famous Tsim Sha railway station and its clock tower were completed. The station building was demolished in 1978 to make way for the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. The clock tower, standing at 45 meters with an 8-meter lightning rod, remained and is now a Hong Kong landmark.
The Enchanting Waterfront
One of the highlights of Tsim Sha Tsui is its picturesque waterfront. It offers an unobstructed view of Central Hong Kong across Victoria Harbour, making it a popular spot for photographers. The Star Ferry terminal, another iconic attraction, connects Tsim Sha with Central. The Avenue of Stars, inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is also a favorite among photographers.
The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, hugging the edge of Victoria Harbour, is home to some of the district’s most significant cultural attractions, providing an array of sights to explore. Begin your scenic stroll along the waterfront at the historic Former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower. A well-preserved monument harking back to 1915, symbolizing the early era of railways in Hong Kong.
A Haven for Culture Enthusiasts
For culture enthusiasts, Tsim Sha Tsui offers a wealth of attractions. The Hong Kong Museum of Art, recently renovated, boasts Chinese antiquities, trade art, and contemporary works by local artists. Right next door is the Hong Kong Space Museum, known for its iconic dome architecture and stargazing exhibitions.
The Avenue of Stars is another must-visit attraction, featuring almost 100 celebrity handprints and bronze statues of Hong Kong legends. Including martial arts master Bruce Lee, singer and actress Anita Mui, and the beloved cartoon character McDull.
Legoland Discovery Centre
For those looking to unleash their inner child, the Legoland Discovery Centre is a paradise. Here, you can enjoy signature rides and marvel at iconic landmarks recreated with over 1.5 million Lego bricks. This is an adventure that is certain to bring joy to visitors of every age.
Convenient Access to Tsim Sha Tsui
Getting to Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong is easy. With travel restrictions easing for most countries, flying to Hong Kong has become even more accessible. Upon landing in Hong Kong or if you’re already in the city, the subway is the most convenient way to reach Tsim Sha, taking just 8-12 minutes from Central. If you’re arriving from the airport, you have various options, including airport shuttles, hotel buses (45-60 minutes), or a red taxi, which can get you there in about 30-40 minutes.
Tsim Sha Tsui is a district that seamlessly merges its rich history with contemporary attractions. Whether you’re aware of history, culture, stunning waterfront views, or family-friendly activities, Tsim Sha has something for everyone. It’s a place that captures the essence of Hong Kong and provides a memorable experience for all who visit.