Stanley, Hong Kong: a guide

A southeastern peninsula in Hong Kong Island, Stanley has the feel of a holiday spot, with all the charms of a Chinese fishing village.

Want to get away from the bright lights and endless stamina of Hong Kong? Stanley is your answer with our step-by-step guide to this enchanting area of the city.

1. Towards Stanley

From Central district's Exchange Square bus terminus, take a taxi which travels across the Hong Kong Island towards the southern coast. Expect a long journey through winding roads to reach Stanley. Alternatively, you can start from Wanchai which is shorter but much less picturesque. Stanley Main Street is the first stop. The most popular spot on the peninsula, it is lined with international restaurants and bars that offer a beautiful view of the bay. If you look across the water, you will see two buildings that seem slightly out-of-place...

Blake-Pier-Stanley2. Blake Pier

Blake Pier, an Edwardian structure, was not originally located here at all. It used to serve as a ferry pier in Central until it was replaced by a modern concrete pier constructed in the 1960s. The old pier was moved and eventually transplanted to Stanley. Over the years, it has become a symbol of its idyllic bay. Murray House had a similar fate when the Victorian building ceded its original address to the construction of the Bank of China. The historical edifice was reconstructed, brick by brick, in Stanley Bay where it is now home to some very good restaurants on its first and second floors.

3. History

The stories of Blake Pier and Murray House set the tone of the visit where different periods of history collide in this peninsula. Stanley Market is another great example. Wedged between luxury apartments, local eateries and world-class restaurants, this eclectic bazaar offers everything from clothings and accessories to souvenirs and ornaments under one colourful canopy. Avoid the kitsch and look out for truly well-made local crafts to bring home.

                         Pickled Pelican

4. Lunch

For a light lunch and refreshing drink by the ocean, Pickled Pellican is the place to be. Go for classic mains like US sirloin steak and pork ribs, or pan-fried salmon and sole meunière. Have a Guinness at the bar, a glass of wine, or how about Raslinger - fresh raspberries an rosé wine over shaved ice, while relaxing in the overstuffed armchair before we head to our next stop. 

5. More exploring

After a sumptuous lunch it's time to explore deeper into Stanley: St. Stephen's College was founded in 1903, and has witnessed many changes over the decades. Starting with only six boarders, the Christian boys' college aspired to be 'the Eton of the East' with a curriculum analogous to that of the prestigious British school at that time. Major expansions transformed St. Stephen's into a large campus and a historical landmark and the main School House was declared a monument in 2011.

6. Stanley Camp

Part of the college grounds used to be inside Stanley Camp, a landmark of a very different kind. During the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, over 3000 non-Chinese civilians were interned here under poor conditions from 1942 to 1945. Though this chapter in the Pacific War was relatively little researched, many of the civilians lived to tell their personal stories, reflected in the larger picture of Stanley's emergence from an occupied peninsula during World War II to the beautiful sun-drenched resort area it is today.

7. Stanley Mosque

The final stop for the day is of Stanley Mosque, one of five mosques in Hong Kong. Built within the Stanley Prison property, it served as a place of worship for hundreds of prison workers from India and Pakistan in the early 1900s. At that time, since other Muslim institutions in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were difficult to reach with limited transportation available, the government decided to build this mosque for the employees. Though not open to non-Muslims, its beautiful architecture makes a nice visit after you pass by St. Stephen's College.