Hong Kong’s reputation of being an urban jungle belies the fact that the city regularly hosts art exhibitions at its numerous galleries and studios. But if you want a bit of inspiration while you’re walking to work or strolling through the bylanes of the 852, there are several street art and graffiti spots that adorn the city’s public spaces.

There is seemingly no spot in Hong Kong that hasn’t caught a muralist’s eye — from blank walls, alleyways and stairwells, to lanes, shopfronts and shutters. We bring you our pick of the best spots in the city to find street art.

Graham Street — Central

The mural on Graham Street in Hong Kong shows old-time buildings jostling for space. The buildings are painted in mostly pastel colour and have windows, grills and sloping tiled roofs.
The Graham Street mural created in 2012 is known as Instagram Wall (©joojoe.ys via Instagram)

This is the definitive street art Instagram spot in the entire territory. Don’t be fooled by the pictures online that show a pedestrian- and vehicle-free road in front of Alex Croft’s depiction of cheek-by-jowl old-world buildings that line the wall along Graham Street. It’s a bustling thoroughfare, mostly filled with people vying for that perfect shot in front of one of the city’s most iconic murals.

Heung Yip Road — Wong Chuk Hang

A collage showing two murals in the neighbourhood of Wong Chuk Hang. The one on the left shows a dragon-serpant hybrid creature entwined around a person's hand on the side of a building. The building is in front of a street and pedestrians stand in front of it waiting to cross the road. The one on the right shows a man stirring food in a wok, set against a blue background.
The murals in Wong Chuk Hang were created for the 2017 HKWalls Street Art Festival (© HKWalls)

After the MTR’s South Island Line opened in 2016, the industrial neighbourhood of Wong Chuk Hang got an HKWalls makeover the following year when local and international street artists covered its outdoor spaces with striking pieces of art. The most dramatic is the mural of a dragon-serpent entwined around a hand on E Tat Factory Building on Hung Yip Road, which was created by Spok Brillor.

Man Fun Building — Sham Shui Po

A collage showing two images of Man Fung and Kam Ning buildings in Hong Kong. The one on the left shows a street view of the structures and the one on the right shows the buildings photographed from the rooftop of another building. Man Fung Building is painted in geometric shapes to form the face of a fox. Kam Ning building is an all-yellow edifice.
Man Fung Building and Kam Ning Building as seen from the street level and from an overhead view (©marcolamht and @peresbernardo via Instagram)

In 2016, Madrid-based street artist Okuda San Miguel used his trademark style to create an image of a fox on an entire residential building on Tai Nan Street called Rainbow Thief during the HKWalls festival. Man Fung Building is often photographed with the adjoining Kam Ning building — which is painted a bright shade of yellow — and the two stand out from the drip mark-stained high-rises of Sham Shui Po. While getting a street-level picture is easiest, some head to the rooftop of a neighbouring building to get a perfect click of both buildings.

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The Mills — Tsuen Wan

An image of the bust of a female cotton worker. Her head is topped with cotton leaves, which then form raw cotton, and then go on to form colourful fabric.
This mural of a female factory worker represents The Mills’ past as a cotton production site (© The Mills)

This cultural hub known for its cool cafés and local designer shops was the site of the Nan Fung cotton mills in the 1960s. The six murals that now find a place on Pak Tin Par Lane represent the site’s past, present, and future. The standout image is Karen Pow’s depiction of a female factory worker and the representation of the yarn that the “factory girls” here produced more than half a century ago.

My Secret Garden — Peng Chau

A yin-yang depiction on a wall of a former leather factory in Peng Chau. It is surrounded by odds and ends like bicycle tyres, old cellphones, and gears.
The wall art in Peng Chau’s My Secret Garden is surrounded by artistically arranged bric-a-brac (© The HK HUB)

Peng Chau has a thriving art community, so it’s a given that there will be some spots dedicated to street art on this outlying island. Stroll down Wing On Street, the commercial thoroughfare of the village, and you will spot a shuttered store with a mural of a cola bottle top with the words ‘Peng Chau’ emblazoned on it. 

Walk through the graffitied alleyway next to this mural and you’ll come upon My Secret Garden — a display of rotating junkyard installations run by artist Sherry Lau. Amid the bric-a-brac of bicycle wheels, scrap-made robots, old cellphones, and straw hats, you’ll see a medley of street art adorning the walls on two of the island’s the old leather factories.

Art Lane — Sai Ying Pun

A mural depicting a girl watering potted plants. She is wearing a blue-and-white short-sleeved blouse with a long patterned skirt and uses a tin watering can. There is a tabby cat in the mural, as well as creeping plants at the bottom.
The mural of a girl watering plants incorporates elements of the building’s structure into the artwork (©one_chinunna via Instagram)

The street art dotted around this hip neighbourhood is the result of an urban revitalisation project for which nine local and international artists reimagined the alleyways and stairwells that criss-cross the area. The most popular spot is near exit B3 of the Sai Ying Pun MTR station, where you will find a huge mural of a young girl watering plants, as well as a rainbow staircase. Saunter through the paths that link Ki Ling Lane, Shek Chan Lane, and Chung Ching Street to find other works of art.

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King of Kowloon — Kowloon

Tsang Tsou Choi's graffiti was not the colourful variety we associate with street art as Tsang used it more as a way to mark the land he claimed the government had illegally taken from his family.
Tsang Tsou Choi’s graffiti was not the colourful variety we associate with street art as Tsang used it more as a way to mark the land he claimed the government had illegally taken from his family (© longzijun via Flickr)

The King of Kowloon, born Tsang Tsou-choi, was famous in colonial times for his calligraphy graffiti. Tsang used his work as a way to express his displeasure at what he considered the unlawful takeover by the British government of his ancestral land — which he said covered most of Kowloon. The contents of his graffiti usually included his name, his self-given title of Emperor or King of Kowloon, his family tree, the names of illustrious emperors, and the exclamation, “Down with the Queen of England!”

His work was famously painted over by authorities, but he would tirelessly recreate it as soon as the paint dried. More recently, there have been efforts to preserve his work, such as his inscriptions on a pillar at the Tsim Sha Shui Star Ferry Pier, which are covered to prevent them from being damaged.

Oi Kwan Road — Wan Chai

A mural showing white-petaled flowers interspersed with red and green strokes on a school wall.
The nature-inspired mural on the boundary wall of Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School in Wan Chai (© Gunguti Hanchtrag Lauim via WikiCommons)

The street art in this neighbourhood is the result of yet another group of international and local artists’ efforts. The most eye-catching is an enormous mural by Montreal street artist Fluke on one of the street-facing walls of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. It depicts a woman cupping her hands and holding the words “knowledge” (知識) in Chinese. Other standouts include a blue mural of a swimming pool with an interesting pixelated pattern and nature-inspired works on the corners of Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School.

Tank Lane — Sheung Wan

A shattered-glass depiction of a close-up of Bruce Lee's face on a wall in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
The mural of Bruce Lee by South Korean graffiti artist Xeva shows two likenesses of the martial arts and big screen legend (©mini_miniimint via Instagram)

Sheung Wan is dotted with street art on practically every corner, but one of the most famous pieces features a Hong Kong icon: Bruce Lee. This mural of the martial arts legend on Tank Lane was created by South Korean graffiti artist Xeva using his signature mosaic style. Stroll around the area and you’ll come across French urban artist Hopare’s rendering of a mysterious woman casting a hypnotic stare. 

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If you turn on to Tai Ping Shan Road from here, you’ll come across more artwork such as the wraparound murals on Square Street and the funky-looking bear on Craftissimo.

Hollywood Road — Central

The pop art-style mural on the Hotel Madera Hollywood bears images of (from left to right) Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin. The stars are set against the backdrop of Hong Kong's skyline.
The pop art-style mural with iconic film yesteryears stars wraps around the Hotel Madera Hollywood (© GUIATAIEMP 126 via WikiCommons)

Hollywood Road is known for many things — being the first completed road in Hong Kong, the low-key but pricey antique stores that line the road, and the stone wall trees that dot its path. But it also has some striking street art, most notably the pop art-style mural that adorns the walls of Hotel Madera Hollywood. While the name of the road itself is not inspired by the American film industry, this mural most definitely is, with its imagery of old-time movie stars like Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Charlie Chaplin.

Harbour City — Tsim Sha Tsui

The entrance to Harbour City mall in Hong Kong. On the left is Victoria Harbour and on the right are the four Pac Man ghosts on a wall that lead up to the mall.
Invader’s trademark Pac Man ghosts greet visitors to Harbour City in Hong Kong (© Wpcpey via WikiCommons)

If you happen to spot Pac Man ghosts or Space Invaders during your sojourns in Wan Chai, Tsim, Sha Tsui or Kowloon City, chances are they are signs that street artist Invader was in the neighbourhood. The legendary artist, who keeps his identity a secret, has visited Hong Kong several times and left behind artwork that covers entire walls and is even just a few centimetres wide. 

If you visit Harbour City in Tsim Sha Shui, you will see signs of Invader’s work all over the mall, most noticeably at the Ocean Terminal Forecourt.

Man Yee Playground — Sai Kung

Wong Ting Fung’s mural incorporate elements of the playground in a jigsaw piece style (©hkwalls via Instagram)

This chilled-out New Territories hotspot has several murals — think Bo Law’s immense whale at Man Nin Wah restaurant or Bao’s goddess and veggie children at the Sai Kung Market. But Hong Kong-based designer, illustrator, and artist Wong Ting Fung’s work here deserves a special mention because of its unique style. His mural in Man Lee Playground is inspired by the Tin Hau Temple in the area and takes the form of abstract Chinese characters in green and red.

Header image credits: Tiffany Ng via Pixels

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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