Squeezed between Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong's Wan Chai has a reputation for being a red light district, which was earned during the Vietnam War and the city's starring role in the film and novel "The World of Suzie Wong." But the area has shed some of its seedy stigma and offers one of Hong Kong’s premium nightlife districts, including some of the city’s oldest drinking establishments, British pubs, live music bars, and dozens of Western and other restaurants. It's a more down-to-earth and affordable rival to Lan Kwai Fong in the Central area. Wan Chai is not only an overall pedestrian-friendly area but it's well connected to local transport, with subway, trams, ferries, and buses all available. Another advantage of traveling in Wan Chai is that in general, Hong Kong is considered one of the world's safest places—though like in most areas, travelers and locals should avoid bad areas, dark streets, and being out very late at night.
Bars and Restaurants
From rooftop steak bars with incredible skyline views to hidden Spanish restaurants and wine bars, Wan Chai has something for everyone seeking food, spirits, and fun.
- Ham & Sherry: A trendy restaurant opened by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, this spot offers Spanish dishes and a bar with wine, cocktails, and many sherries. It is fairly tucked away on Ship Street, but worth finding if you’re looking for a creative menu.
- The Optimist: This down-to-earth three-story Northern Spanish restaurant and Barcelona-style bar has no service charge and a great happy hour.
- Wooloomooloo Steakhouse: Head to this rooftop bar for some drinks, steak, and fabulous views of Wan Chai, Victoria Harbour, and Happy Valley Racecourse from the 31st floor.
- The Queen Victoria: This casual and welcoming British bar is a fun place to enjoy everything from rugby games on TV to quiz nights and DJs—while having some cheap drinks and pub grub.
- The Pawn: In one of Wan Chai's colonial buildings from 1888, you'll find a sophisticated Western restaurant with seasonal dishes on the second floor, while The Pawn Botanicals Bar on the first floor features indoor and outdoor areas, DJs on Fridays and Saturdays, and handcrafted cocktails.
- Coyote Bar and Grill: A colorful and lively option, this eatery has vegetarian-friendly Mexican food and beloved tequila and margaritas.
For those looking to party to some live music in Wan Chai, the fun options vary: You can do everything from listening to '50s tunes while eating Italian food to dancing at a packed nightclub into the wee hours of the morning.
- Carnegie's: Established in 1994, this pub is famous for customers dancing on top of the bar, numerous shots and foods to choose from, and is a vibrant place to meet people and hear live jazz, as well as enjoy jam nights and other types of music.
- Dusk Till Dawn: This bar and nightclub is a worthwhile stop for joining other travelers, locals, and expats for some late-night live music, dancing, and drinks. Arrive by midnight before it's too crowded to find a seat or room on the dance floor.
- The Wanch: If you'd like to see some diverse live music played nightly by cover bands and other global groups, chug down a beer, and have no cover charge to pay, The Wanch is your place. The venue also hosts events like the H2 Music Festival, about a week of tunes by over 80 local and international bands.
- The 50's Bar & Restaurant: Eat Italian, Asian, or other types of meals while you listen and dance to the in-house band playing popular songs from the 50s through the 90s every night (except Sundays, when the place is closed).
- The most useful transport connection is the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), which has a Wan Chai stop on the Island Line. More relaxing is the tram, which winds its way through the whole neighborhood and is a great way to get a bird's-eye view of street life. You can also hop on the Star Ferry at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and watch the Wan Chai skyline unravel behind you, or grab an Uber or a taxi.
- Wan Chai nightlife can be late and noisy. Many bars and pubs are open very late or around the clock. You'll find the party starting after midnight—as other areas are starting to slow down.
- In general, most restaurants in Hong Kong add a 10 percent service charge onto your bill; if the service was excellent, you can discreetly tip a few extra dollars. At bars and pubs, tips are not expected.