Stanley is one of the best places to spend the day in Hong Kong, and should come as no surprise that it’s a favourite spot among tourists (including my family when they come to visit Hong Kong). This laid-back village (not any more) has a very relaxed vibe, but at the same time offers plenty to do and explore. You can chill at the beach, dine at one of the many cafes and restaurants on the promenade, or shop for antiques and curious at the Stanley Market.
Named after Lord Stanley, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time of Hong Kong’s handover to Britain in 1841, Stanley village was one of the earliest settlements on Hong Kong Island. Its Cantonese name is Chek Cheu from the cotton trees with red flowers that flourished in the area during the early settlement days.
In the 1940s, the British and the Japanese actually fought a war here, and in the 1960s it served as an important typhoon shelter. But since the 1970s, Stanley has been redeveloped into a tourist attraction with shops, restaurants, and even a mall. Today, tourists and locals come to Stanley to enjoy its peaceful seaside vibe, dine and stroll along the promenade, and shop.
How to get to Stanley
There are plenty of ways to get to Stanley.
The easiest way to get to Stanley is from Central on bus number 6/6A/6X. This bus to Stanley also travels through Admiralty and Wan Chai, where you can also catch it along the way.
From Tsim Sha Tsui
At Tsim Sha Tsui, head down to Mody Road and into the Tsim Sha Tsui East Bus Terminus. From here, catch bus 973 to Stanley.
On the Big Bus Hop-on/Hop-off Tour
If you’re visiting Hong Kong, and have passes to the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus, take the Green Route that goes on the Stanley Tour.
You can also take a red taxi to Stanley, but be mindful that it may be expensive depending on where you start from. Stanley is located on the south-east side of Hong Kong Island, and it’s a relatively long journey by car from the main city.
And of course, you can always use Google Maps to find you the shortest and quickest mode of transportation to Stanley.
Things To Do In Stanley
There’s plenty to do in Stanley for everyone. So, here are some of our favourite activities.
1. Shop at the Stanley Market
If you like street shopping then you will love Stanley Market! You can find everything from clothes, toys, electronics to art, antiques and other collectibles here. Stanley Market has something exciting for everyone. Discover quaint curios or cool souvenirs to take home, or linen for your bedroom.
For those of you who are looking for something more high street, check out Stanley Plaza, which is located on the other end of the promenade. Stanley Plaza is three floors of big brands and small boutiques selling clothes, sportswear, bath & body products and even grooming items for pets.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Lover’s Terrace at the Plaza, or go to the top floor for some awesome views. And if you’re in Stanley over the weekend, keep a lookout as there’s something always happening in the amphitheatre in front of Stanley Plaza.
2. Dine at Stanley Promenade
Stanley Promenade which overlooks the sea, is lined with restaurants, bars and cafes. The promenade has a very European vibe with its outdoor patio seating, overflowing crowds, and live musicians. It’s a perfect place to sit on a sunny day and enjoy a refreshing cocktail or beer and grab a bite.
The most iconic of all these restaurants is the Boathouse Cafe, which stands out because of its bright yellow facade. The restaurants are open all day until 10pm so you can come in anytime. Just pick one, get seated and enjoy the experience.
Next to the promenade is also the Stanley Waterfront Mart. This small market also consists of a few (cheaper) eateries, and a couple of shops. However, most of the visitors prefer to carry their own drink and sit along the wall and admire the view. We suggest you do the same!
3. Admire Murray House
Murray House is an iconic landmark in Hong Kong. This 160-year-old building, constructed during the colonial times, was originally located in Central, Hong Kong. It was relocated to Stanley in the early 2000’s. The three-storied building is now home to numerous restaurants and shops including a massive H&M store.
Walk through the corridors of Murray House, admire it’s beautiful window frames and tiles. There are also a couple of restaurants inside. Even if you choose not to dine here, we recommend walking through this building to soak in its colonial architecture. You may also come across some really cool photo-opportunities to flaunt on Instagram.
4. Stroll through Ma Hang Park
If you need from all that shopping and eating, take a walk through Ma Hang Park. This park, located adjacent to Murray House, is where once the old Ma Hang fishing village was situated. It runs along the shore with plenty of benches to relax and enjoy the views. You can also takes the stairs up to the top deck for some unique vistas of Stanley.
Inside the park is also the Pak Tai Temple, once a major temple in the Ma Hang village. The temple was built in 1805 by the Chiu Chow fishermen to worship the Taoist god Pak Tai (God of the North), one of the protectors of the fishermen.
From the temple you can enjoy the beautiful views of the sea, and can also takes the steps down to the rocks along the shore.
5. Relax at Stanley Beach
Stanley Main Beach is a ten-minute walk from the Stanley market & promenade area. You can rent a beach chair from one of the vendors at the beach or bring your own mat and towel to relax. The beach does get very crowded so we recommend going as early as possible to secure a good spot.
If you are in a big group and are looking for something fun to do, check out “Castles Can Fly” – a company that specialises in sandcastle building entertainment for people of all ages.
6. Admire Stanley Blake Pier
The Stanley Blake Pier is another iconic landmark from the colonial times, named after the 12th Governor of Hong Kong in the early 1900s. It was originally located in Central and served as a landing place for Governors and British royals. Today, it has been relocated to Stanley, right in front of the Murray House.
When the Hong Kong government decided to dismantle the pier, the roof was put aside for several years until it was relocated to Stanley in 2007 and resumed serving its role as the roof of a pier. Even today you can see the British influence in its architecture. In our opinion, it is the most beautiful pier in all of Hong Kong!
7. Visit Po Toi Island
Why simply admire Blake Pier, when you can travel from it? Take a trip Po Toi Island, often referred to as the South Pole of Hong Kong. The island is particularly famous for its seaweed and peculiar rock formations.
The Tsui Wah Ferry Service operates on this route and the timings can be found on their website or the website of the Transport Department. Keep in mind that the ferry service is extremely infrequent except on Sunday, when it gets a little better. So, plan your itinerary well ahead. To learn more check out our blog on Po Toi Island.
8. Take the Aqua Luna to Stanley
The Aqua Luna is the iconic red junk boat that appears in all pictures of Hong Kong. Although the boat primarily takes visitors for a ride along Victoria Harbour, it also goes all the way to Stanley and docks at Stanley Blake Pier.
One of the reasons why going to Stanley on the Aqua Luna is a fun experience is because you’d get to see a different side of Hong Kong Island while traveling on water. The junk boat literally travels half-way around the island and on it we guarantee that you’d get amazing views from Central to Kennedy Town and then the south side of the island, right from Cyberport to Aberdeen.
We hope you enjoyed our concise guide on things to do in Stanley, Hong Kong. As always please feel free to share it on the social media platform of your choice.If you’re visiting Hong Kong, make sure you check out our ultimate guide to exploring this marvelous city! We’ve packed in plenty of things to do for anywhere between 4 to 7 days.