With its local and global cuisine, bustling markets, vibrant nightlife, swoon-worthy shopping and cultural hotspots galore, Wan Chai is fast shaking off its saucy red-light reputation to become one of Hong Kong’s most character-packed, visitor-friendly nabes. Here are our top picks for a one-day wander...

Wan Chai is best explored by foot so, armed with your DSLR and best ballet flats, begin by scoping out Asia Society. This region-promoting NPO creates partnerships across Asia via rotating art exhibits, performances, lectures and film screenings. Pause for a lunch pitstop at onsite, uber-contemporary, fusion food glamourmama AMMO, or, not too far away is niche gall F22 foto space, with its curated photo-centric bookshop and Halfway Coffee outpost. Don’t miss current spectacle III III II II by emerging Chinese shutterbug Huang Jing (until 31 Oct).

Culture itch scratched, it’s time to hop on the retail trail. A 15-minute amble brings you to delightful indie boutique-stacked St Francis Yard. Standouts here include design doyen Timothy Oulton’s Brit-influenced interiors and distressed leather totes; Parisian-chic his-n-hers threads and lifestyle kit at French concept shop Kapok; charming Sino decor and objets d’art, including jewellery boxes and chinoiserie-printed pillows at Lala Curio; and colour-pop stationery and interior trinkets at Eclectic Cool.

Shopper’s shoulder kicking in? You’re perfectly positioned for a spritz-fix on the street-fronting patio of Vietnamese brasserie Le Garçon Saigon, a mere skip around the corner. Or, for an invigorating caffeine hit, flop instead at neighbouring Elephant Grounds, brewing top-notch java in a minimalist woody cafe.

You must be famished! Luckily for you, dinner options abound. A five-minute trot back to St Francis Yard will land you at piccolo perch Pici, plating up homemade pasta paired with Italian vino (expect to queue). A 10-minute walk away is cheery Thai shophouse Samsen, packed out with hungry hordes vying for its rice noodles and spiked fruity concoctions. Or, try your luck at local fave Kam’s Roast Goose, a convivial, Michelin-starred eatery showcasing...well, duh! To finish, slip into vogueish conservatory-esque sipper The Optimist for a cheeky craft cocktail. Cin cin!

Asia Society / 9 Justice Dr / +852 2103 9511 / 11am-6pm Tue-Sun, until 8pm last Thu of the month / asiasociety.org / AMMO / +852 2537 9888 / lunch & dinner daily / ammo.com.hk

22 photo space / 5/F / Amber Commercial Bldg / 70-74 Morrison Hill Rd / +852 9698 1122 / 11am-7pm Tue-Sat / facebook.com

Timothy Oulton / 17 Gough St / +852 2161 1742 / 11am-8pm Mon-Sat, 11am-7pm Sun / timothyoulton.com

Kapok / 5 St Francis Yd / +852 2549 9254 / 11am-8pm Mon-Sat, 11am-6pm Sun / ka-pok.com

Lala Curio / 32-33 Sau Wa Fong / +852 2528 5007 / 10am-7pm Mon-Fri / lalacurio.com

Eclectic Cool / 5 Sun St / +852 5699 6882 / 11am-5pm Wed-Fri, noon-6pm Sat-Sun / eclectic-cool.com

Le Garçon Saigon / G/F / 12-18 Wing Fung St / +852 2455 2499 / lunch & dinner daily / legarconsaigon.com

Elephant Grounds / 8 Wing Fung St / +852 2778 2700 / all day daily / elephantgrounds.com

Pici / 16 St Francis Yd / +852 2755 5523 / lunch & dinner daily / pici.hk

Samsen / 68 Stone Nullah Ln / +852 2234 0001 / lunch & dinner Mon-Sat / facebook.com

Kam’s Roast Goose / Po Wah Commercial Center / 226 Hennessy Rd / +852 2520 1110 / lunch & dinner daily / krg.com.hk

The Optimist / 239 Hennessy Rd / +852 2433 3324 / lunch & dinner daily / theoptimist.hk