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Mark Parren Taylor

Photo by Mark Parren Taylor

Trams run along Johnston road through the heart of Wan Chai.

Why Now: Hong Kong’s vibe may be on pulsating overdrive, but the tangle of dead-end streets and tree-shaded squares that make up Wan Chai (which means “little bay” in Cantonese) attracts star chefs, ace coffee roasters, avant-garde fashion designers and artists. It’s easily one of the hippest ’hoods in this thriving city.

Where to Go: Prepare to get lost wandering the maze of Sun, Moon, Star and St. Frances streets. Walk the extremely low-traffic precinct of Sau Wa Fong, visiting Igloo Homeware for ultra-modern home accents and wood furniture, Simply Pleasure for beautifully elegant women’s clothing, and Incredibles, an emporium of menswear by under-the-radar brands such as Barns Outfitters and Henry & Henry. Visit the first outpost of Kapok, which Frenchman Arnault Castel founded in 2006. His “future classics” style of curating the store’s wares—from fragrances and technology to apparel—has made it the place to find a kitschy gift. Drop off the day’s spoils in a luxe room at the stunning Island Shangri-La (technically just outside Wan Chai proper but worth the sub-five-minute walk) before striking back out. For a taste of the history that still thrives in the neighborhood, have a milk tea and stir-fried flat noodles at Duk Yu (a cha chaan teng, or tea restaurant) and drink in that elusive blend of old and new that this district has in spades.

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