Kowloon Bay is an ageing industrial and residential neighborhood slowly going upmarket. Is the district's first hotel a preview of things to come? I decide to find out for myself! Look over my shoulder as I explore the 'hood!
Situated in East Kowloon, Kowloon Bay and neighboring Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok are slowly morphing into Hong Kong’s second Central Business District (CBD).
A few towering office buildings are already looking down on decrepit factories that produced garments and plastic flowers and timepieces in decades past, and surely more will follow.
Will Kowloon Bay one day resemble Central or Causeway Bay or Wanchai on Hong Kong Island?
Fast forward a few years, and the run-down industrial estates will be all but a memory. Either they will have been torn down and replaced by modern high-rises or they will have been rehabilitated into new uses.
An example is the newly opened Camlux Hotel, which hosted me while I explored a neighborhood I once called home.
Other examples of the district's changing face include Kellett The British International School in Hong Kong and the Hongkong Post Central Mail Centre, both of which are just a stone's throw from the hotel..
Nothing is more reflective of the district's changing face than the East Kowloon Cultural Centre, which will be built on a now vacant 2.16-hectare site opposite the Kowloon Bay MTR Station.
Expected to open in 2022, the cultural centre will house five performance venues.
Included will be a 1,200 seat multipurpose hall, a 550-seat theatre, and three smaller studios for performances of music, dance, and drama, seating from 120 to 250 attendees each.
The future, however, is already here in the shape of ZCB, Hong Kong's first carbon zero building, hence the acronym.
As a neighborhood in transition, Kowloon Bay offers a nostalgic look at Hong Kong’s past and an optimistic preview of Hong Kong’s future.
Here’s my definitive guide to Kowloon Bay.
See + Do
As the first Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong, ZCB is a green oasis in the heart of Kowloon Bay.
Built by the Construction Industry Council, it opened in 2013, showcasing state-of-the-art eco-building design and technologies in a bid to raise environmental awareness in the SAR.
Occupying an entire city block, ZCB has a three-story Zero Carbon Building occupying 14,700 square metres. It is set amid beautifully landscaped gardens.
Facilities include an indoor exhibition and education centre, an eco-home, an eco-cafe, a multi-purpose hall, an eco-plaza, outdoor exhibition areas, and the SAR's first urban woodland populated with native plants.
- ZCB, 8 Sheung Yuet Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, Telephone: (852) 2100-9588. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit A, take the free shuttle bus to MegaBox, which is across the street, or show your environmental awareness by walking – it takes 10 to 15 minutes on foot.
Kowloon Bay has four shopping malls, each one catering to a different market segment.
Malls such as Elements or Ocean Terminal or Festival Walk in the more upscale parts of Kowloon cater more to foreign tourists and well-heeled locals.
Unlike those malls, the malls in Kowloon Bay are targeted primarily at mass-market local shoppers, and the shops and food and beverage outlets in them reflect that.
A three story shopping mall with nearly 300 retail outlets, Amoy Plaza caters primarily to the retail and eating-out needs of residents living in the immediate neighborhood.
The mall is especially strong in specialty gift shops, but you will also find clothing, electronics, and other lifestyle retail outlets.
There are more than 30 food and beverage outlets in the mall, serving Chinese, other Asian, and Western dishes.
- Amoy Plaza, 77 Ngau Tau Kok Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2756-6722. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit B, a 10-minute walk.
Face of the new Kowloon Bay, MegaBox is the district’s newest hot spot for entertainment and retail therapy.
With 1,100,000 square feet of retail space, the 19-floor shopping mall is a part of Enterprise Square Five, which also has two office buildings.
Retail outlets include the SAR’s largest Gigasports outlet, its first Giormani flagship store, and Popular, the largest bookstore in East Kowloon.
There are dozens of other retail outlets selling everything from garments and electronics goods to children’s wear, children’s toys, household furnishings, and lifestyle products.
The mall's anchor tenants include Aeon, a two story department store, and Ikea, with a large grocery store selling Swedish foodstuffs.
For entertainment, there is Hong Kong’s first international size ice skating rink, its first Imax Theatre with a five-floor high ceiling, and its largest karaoke outlet.
Unlike most of the SAR’s karaoke lounges, which can be a bit dreary, MegaBox CEO has panoramic views of Victoria Harbour!
There are dozens of eateries ranging from fast food outlets to cafes, with an emphasis on Chinese and other Asian foods. Most of them are operated by restaurant chains.
- MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2989-3000. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit A, take the free shuttle bus or walk – it takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Located adjacent to the Kowloon Bay MTR station, Telford Plaza is the district’s oldest – and most upscale – shopping arcade.
The mall is divided into themed “boulevards” with roughly 250 outlets selling everything from fashion to electronics to housewares.
In addition to numerous fast food outlets, Telford Plaza has the district’s largest collection of upscale eateries as well as a multiplex cinema.
Maxim’s Palace, Lei Garden, and Jade Garden – all popular with locals – serve Cantonese food. Ruby Tuesday is an American style eatery.
- Telford Plaza, 33 Wai Yip Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2750 0877. Kowloon Bay MTR Station, exits A or C.
Located within the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre, E-Max WearHouse houses dozens of outlets selling casual wear, sporting goods, and designer labels at a discount.
There also are several fast food restaurants and cafes, chain restaurants, a couple of coffee houses, and a multiplex cinema.
- E-Max WearHouse, Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre, 1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Kowloon Bay MTR Station, exit WA, take the free shuttle bus outside Hang Seng Tower.
You won’t go hungry in Kowloon Bay. Most of the restaurants in the district’s shopping malls are operated by chains.
In addition to McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Yoshinoya, you will find numerous other restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese, other Asian, and Western cuisine.
The streets and alleys of the district are dotted with independent eateries serving mostly local fare targeted at people living and working in the district.
With the arrival of upscale commercial buildings, an increasing number of independent cafes and bistros catering to office workers are starting to line some of the streets - especially those near MegaBox.
Backstage – For a taste of Old Hong Kong, forget dim sum! Instead head to Backstage at E-Max WearHouse, where the menu runs from such cha tsan ting favourites as macaroni and ham to spaghetti with BBQ pork, fried egg on toast, devil’s pork bun, and raw egg oatmeal.
For a thoroughly local experience, wash it down with yuanyang with ice – a mixture of iced coffee and iced tea. It’s an acquired taste. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- Backstage, first floor, E-Max WearHouse, Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre, 1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Kowloon Bay MTR Station, exit A, take the free shuttle bus outside Hang Seng Tower.
You won’t get bored after shopping till you drop in Kowloon Bay. Recreational facilities include the SAR’s largest ice-skating rink, its largest karaoke bar, and three multiplex theatres.
What you won’t find is much in the way of nightlife. For bars and pubs, you’d best take the MTR or grad a taxi to Tsim Sha Tsui, where you’ll be spoiled for choice.
E Cube Club – For the kids, there is Cube Club, Hong Kong’s largest “indoor playground”. It has an integrated area of 11,000 square feet of entertainment, education, and exchange.
- E Cube Club, Level 12, MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2151-9761. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit A, take the free shuttle bus or walk – it takes 10 to 15 minutes.
MegaBox CEO – Unlike most karaoke lounges in Hong Kong, which are a rabbit’s warren of small rooms, Megabox CEO has panoramic views of Victoria Harbour.
- MegaBox CEO, level 17, MegaBox. 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2359-0123. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit 1, take the free shuttle bus or walk – it takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Mega Ice – Hong Kong’s first international sized ice cream and the only one meeting Olympic standards. Watch amateur ice hockey players practice – yes, it is a popular sport in Hong Kong!
- Mega Ice, level 10, MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2709-4023. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit 1, take the free shuttle bus or walk – it takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Kowloon Bay has three multiplex movie theatres, and Hollywood blockbusters and local films are the norm, but there is the occasional Japanese or Korean flick.
Movies are almost always shown with original soundtracks, and there are nearly always Chinese and English subtitles.
MCL Telford Cinema – There are six venues seating 120 to 158 patrons. Movie-goers watching 3D movies should bring their own 3D glasses, which are on sale at the box office and concession counter.
- MCL Telford Cinema, Telford Gardens, 33 Wai Yip Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2759-2248. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit A, a short walk through the mall.
The Metroplex @E-Max – a nine-screen cinema with from 20 to 430 seats. All with Dolby Surround 7.1 sound and 3D and 4K projection systems.
While I was visiting the mall, a Gala Premier of a local blockbuster, was taking place, with some of Hong Kong's biggest stars in attendance.
- The Metroplex, ground floor, E-Max, KITEC, Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: 2620-2200. Free shuttle bus to and from Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit A.
UA Megabox / IMAX Theatre - Hong Kong’s first movie theatre with a five-storey high screen.
- Level 11, MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telehphone: (852) 3918-5888. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit 1, take the free shuttle bus or walk – it takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Four-Face Buddha – Hidden in the shadows of the Goldin Financial Global Centre at 17 Kai Cheng Road is the Four Faced Buddha, arguably the most beautiful Buddhist shrine in Hong Kong.
The shrine is usually roped off. Call ahead for schedules if you want to get up close.
- Goldin Financial Global Centre, 17 Kai Cheung Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2593-2815. Kowloon Bay MTR station, exit C, a 15 minute walk.
Camlux Hotel – Housed is a former industrial building, the Camlux Hotel has 185 rooms and a café serving breakfast buffets, set lunches, and a la carte menus throughout the day.
- Camlux Hotel, 15 Wang Kwong Road, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2593-2815.
Check guest reviews and room rates at TripAdvisor/Camlux Hotel