Originally a sleepy fishing haven, Stanley was the largest settlement on Hong Kong Island before the British moved in. The modern town, hugging the southern coast, still makes a peaceful, pleasant escape from the bustle of the city. Traffic is minimal, and the pace of life relaxed, with plenty of excellent places to eat, good beaches and a large market to search for clothes, silks and souvenirs. Stanley is also the place to glimpse old Hong Kong and an older Chinese tradition seen at the Tin Hau Temple.
Reasonably priced clothes, shoes and accessories as well as plenty of tourist tat are to be found among Stanley’s pleasant, ramshackle market stalls. Although it’s not the cheapest or best market in Hong Kong, you may as well potter among the hundred or so stalls before heading to a café or one of the seafront eateries.
Old Police Station
The handsome building was built in 1859 and is Hong Kong’s oldest surviving police station building. Today it houses a restaurant.
The pretty waterfront makes a pleasant promenade between the market area and Murray House. The harbor was once home to a busy fleet of junks and fishing boats, but is now empty.
This fine stretch of sand is perfect for a dip and a paddle. It’s the venue for the fiercely contested dragon boat races in June when the beach fills with competitors and revellers.
Tin Hau Temple
Lined with the grimacing statues of guards to the sea goddess Tin Hau, the gloomy interior of this temple is one of the most evocative in Hong Kong. It’s also one of the oldest Tin Hau temples in the region, dating back to 1767.
The old British army barracks at the end of the peninsula.
St Stephen’s Beach
Another good stretch of sand, St Stephen’s is also the place for sailing and canoeing. The small pier is the departure point for the Sunday boat bound for the remote island of Po Toi.
Pubs and Restaurants
One of Stanley’s best attractions is its excellent range of restaurants and bars. A host of eateries, from Italian to Vietnamese, are lined along Stanley Main Road, facing the sea, many with out-door seating. Murray House also contains good restaurants.