Phil Brown -  journalist . writer . poet

Phil Brown

journalist . writer . poet

articles . books . poems

Phil Brown - Travel Stories


Kowloon’s backstreets conceal a wealth of wonders

May 18 - 24 2016



If you could get a sports jacket made for a very reasonable price by David Bowie's tailor, you'd do it. Wouldn't you? After reading in Time magazine about how the late star had his suits made by Sam's Tailor on Nathan Rd, Kowloon, I was determined.

Fortunately our hotel was a mere threeminute walk from Sam's Tailor, established in 1957 and located in the nondescript Burlington Arcade, just off the busy thoroughfare where Indian tailors pound the pavement touting for business.

Manu Melwani (son of Sam) and his team made me a flash blue sports jacket, and I was doubly chuffed to find out recently they also made clothes for Prince. Cool.

I visited Sam's a couple of times for fittings, fending off other tailors and touts en route. - You want suit? Copy watch? Handbag? - You get used to it.

I have stayed in a few hotels around here over the years, but this was our first time in the Holiday Inn Golden Mile, in Tsim Sha Tsui, or TST, on Kowloon peninsula.

I grew up in Honkers and as a kid, this was my patch. My best mate lived in a penthouse on the corner of Cameron Rd and Nathan Rd (a bank replaced his building), and our lives revolved around the YMCA, the Peninsula Hong Kong and Swindon Book Co. in Lock Rd, and despite changes they are all still there.

TST is positively pumping. The shopping is brilliant with the flash new iSQUARE, the Ocean Terminal, Harbour City and other retail havens. It's only a short walk from all these places to some of Hong Kong's major attractions, and the historic Star Ferry and MTR train stations are handy.

The backstreets of TST are fun and there are great little foodie precincts including Minden Row just behind the Holiday Inn and Ashley Rd, a cul-de-sac with great eateries including Jimmy's Kitchen.

Funky little cafes and patisseries have sprung up in the streets between Nathan Rd and Chatham Rd (Granville Rd, Mody Rd, Humphreys Ave and others). Take a walk around here early to scope things out before the crowds emerge.

Other attractions near the hotel include Kowloon Park, the Hong Kong Arts Centre on the harbourfront and at nearby Tsim Sha Tsui East, the Hong Kong Museum of History, which has amazing exhibits (fabulous Chinese opera costumes, life-sized Chinese junks) and a cafe with Shanghaistyle wooden booths.

The Holiday Inn is just a few doors down from that eccentric Hong Kong landmark Chungking Mansions, a hub for African traders, subcontinental merchants and others, with the best cheap curry houses in town. There's even a book about this sociological wonder entitled Ghetto at the Center of the World by Professor Gordon Mathews.

During our visit, the local branch of the Royal Geographical Society was holding a lecture about this phenomenon by Professor Mathews. Check the place out. You can't miss it - just look for the bustling crowd that clogs the pavement outside day and night.

If you are staying at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile, book a deluxe room on one of three executive club floors for privileges including access to the swish lounge in the basement.

The rooms offer a "handy smartphone" which gives you free internet access, free phone calls home and locally (unlimited, I might add), and these little units serve as Wi-Fi hotspots, which made my son very happy.

... travel with PHIL BROWN

Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong,
50 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
Deluxe rooms from $210 + 10 per cent service charge.
For more, see


Phil Brown - Arts Editor - weekly columnist - writer

Read Phil ’s weekly

Brisbane News

Book with Speakers Ink


Copyright © Phil Brown