There are more than 860,000 registered vehicles in Hong Kong, which makes for an incredibly busy network of highways, streets and lanes. Many of these thoroughfares have an interesting backstory. From Castle Peak road to Hollywood road, some of the most famous streets in Hong Kong hold an interesting history! Here’s our look at 10 pieces of trivia related to roads in Hong Kong.
#1 Hong Kong’s longest
The longest road in Hong Kong is Castle Peak Road – which, incidentally, celebrates its 100th birthday in 2020. The 51.5km road runs from Kowloon all the way to near the top of the New Territories.
#2 Petite pathway
With Castle Peak Road taking out the title as the longest road, we started wondering about the shortest. Well, there are some tiny lanes that aren’t navigable by car (one example is Wa On Lane off Aberdeen Street), but the shortest street that vehicles can use is Lok Kwai Path in Shatin. It’s 12 metres in length.
#3 Seven sisters
Tsat Tsz Mui Road in North Point has a tragic background to its name. It means “seven sisters” and refers to a tale of seven Hakka girls who lived in the original village at this spot. When young, they pledged to remain sisters for life, and to die on the same day without getting married. After the girls’ parents arranged a marriage for one of them, they committed suicide together on the beach the day before the wedding. The urban myth developed around a group of seven large boulders located along the shoreline here.
#4 Read it backwards!
There’s a Hong Kong street name that consists of an English name spelt backwards. Know which one? Well, a Mr Alexander once lived along a particular Mid-Levels terrace, and today the thoroughfare is known as Rednaxela Terrace. Nobody really knows why, though the error is usually blamed on a scribe who was accustomed to reading Chinese from right to left.
#5 Philippines to HK
The same street mentioned above is famous not just for its backwards name, but as the temporary home of José Rizal, the Filipino nationalist hero of the 19th century. During his time in Hong Kong (1891-1892), he ran an ophthalmology clinic on D’Aguilar Street, Central.
#6 Luxury lane
Russell Street in Causeway Bay has six times been named the most expensive retail street by rental value in the world. It last regained the crown in 2018, replacing New York’s Fifth Avenue, thanks to an average rental per square foot of almost HK$21,000. Not quite so luxurious is the street’s old nickname of “Mouse Street” or “Rat Street”, which it got for the excessive rodent population that was drawn to all the traditional wet markets once found here.
#7 Avoiding four
The one-way High Street in Sai Ying Pun was originally called Fourth Street. Why did the name get changed? If you’ve ever been in an elevator whose numbers skip straight from three to five, it’s the same reason. The number four is considered unlucky because in Chinese it sounds similar to the word for “death”. (Fear of the number four, by the way, is known as tetraphobia.)
#8 Sea-related roads
A large number of Hong Kong street names have a maritime theme. In Shau Kei Wan alone, there are five streets that start with “Hoi” (“sea”). Elsewhere, you’ll find Ferry Street, Pier Road, Shek Wharf Road, Shipyard Lane, Boat Street and over 100 more.
#9 Tricky translations
Chinese translations of English street names sometimes go astray, as evidenced by Fir Street, whose Chinese name translates as “Pine Street”. Meanwhile, Pine Street is known as “Cedar Street” in Chinese, and Cedar Street is “Cypress Street”.
#10 Hollywood Road
Yes, parts of the 1960 Hollywood film The World of Suzie Wong were filmed in Hollywood Road. But the street isn’t named for the famous Los Angeles movie enclave. The name has less glamorous origins, deriving from the family home in Bristol of Sir John Francis Davis, the second Governor of Hong Kong.
- The highest speed limit of any road in Hong Kong is 110 kilometres per hour on the North Lantau Highway.
- There are over 2,100km of roads in Hong Kong.
- Glenealy is one of the few thoroughfares in the city without “Street”, “Road” or a similar suffix. It just goes as “Glenealy”.
- Hong Kong has approximately 1,300 vehicular bridges, and 15 major road tunnels.
- Many Hong Kong streets (or surrounding areas) have nicknames; they include
- Cat Street, Dried Seafood Street, Antique Street and Herbal Medicine Street.
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