1950s Sun Ya Hotel, Nathan Road, Mong Kok

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:31

received via email:

Taken in the 1950s looking northbound along Nathan Road. Opposite the Sun Ya Hotel is the Paramount Nightclub. Looks like the Hotel is now the HSBC Mong Kok Branch.

Date picture taken


I don't think the Mongkok HSBC branch stands on the former site of the Sun Ya. From what I've seen on the internet, the Grand Tower Hotel was on that plot of land, although it closed in 2002. My mom told me she stayed at the Sun Ya in 1962 on her first trip to Hong Kong. I didn't know Mongkok was such a tourist destination back then. I'm fascinated that she stayed up there and not in TST.

I just asked her why she stayed at the Sun Ya back then and she had no idea. She said all she remembered about it was that it was in Kowloon. She was in college then and traveled there with a college friend (California--Honolulu--Guam--Tokyo--Kai Tak). I'm not sure how she got that reservation, but it was the only hotel she stayed at on that trip to HK (when she returned a few years later, she stayed at the Merlin, I think in TST).

From this picture, Mongkok looks quite different than it does today--less crowded, more upscale.

memories from mid 60s:  mongkok has always been  'crowded' with 15 storey buildings on fa yuen, sai yee, sai yeung choi, argyle streets etc. also always had a fabulous night market.  there were also 2 big department stores - china products and sincere's as well as several cinemas, my favourite being the gala (largely films in english).  nathan road was always perceived to be wider, just not so much traffic!  the sun ya hotel was a fairly up-market hotel from the time even though it allowed juvies to slouch around in the lobby for a cool-off, sharing a coke between 2- i have another card of this place picked up from my wanderings, which shows a rainbow bar and other ameneties - will source and try and post (haven't mastered the abc of gwulo upload yet however must confess)

Susan, thanks for asking. I guess it was just where the travel agent booked her then? And probably looking for somewhere on a budget if traveling as a student. (We've also got the location of the Hotel Merlin over here).

Vannessa, you had expensive tastes! I was just looking back through one of those Hong Kong guide books (1964, I think) they handed out. It has the Gala at $2.00 a show, second only to Royal at $2.20. At the budget end of the list were the Liberty and Princess at $1.00 a show.

I was checking the book to see if the Sun Ya hotel was one they'd recommend (the book cover has 'With compliments of Hotel Reservation Centre, Kai Tak'). It isn't mentioned in the blurb, but it does get a line in their list of hotels:

  • 127 rooms
  • Single $25-35
  • Double $40-45
  • Suite $60

Those are the cheapest rates in the list for a double room. Hotels with the highest rates for a double room were:

  • Peninsula $90-110
  • President $80-200
  • Mandarin $85-225
  • Marco Polo - Peninsula Court $100
  • Repulse Bay $55-155
  • Hilton $80-up

There are some tips on uploading photos here, but let us know if you have any problems (or just upload to Facebook and let us know the link).

Regards, David

must say david that i saw all those kiddie specials at the princess.  in the days of those massive cinemas we had a three tier cost. upstairs was called  dress circle, downstairs were back stalls and front stalls - only remember sitting in front stalls once and that was in macau some years later - not so good on the neck from what i recall.  we could hear the mice/rats scurrying round too but too dark to see anything :)

Thank you so much, David and Vanessa! I suppose the travel agent did book her into the Sun Ya because it was less expensive than those in TST. She said that there were no taxis in 1962! Is that true? The only way to get around was by bus, ferry, and train, which only went as far north as Shatin (where I lived for five years in the 90s).

My uncle stayed somewhere called the August Moon, I think also on Kowloon, in the mid-60s.

I love the old HK cinemas and feel lucky to have gone to a number of which closed in the last 10-15 years.

I just spoke with my mom again tonight. She actually went to HK in '62 with a group. She volunteered in the Philippines while in high school (nothing religious--we're Jewish) several years earlier and the leader knew Hong Kong and the Sun Ya, so booked the group there when some of them went to HK a few years after that trip to the Philippines.

60's HK cinemas were a horror show as public manner was non existent in old HK. People would spit, smoke and threw garbages all over on the floor during the movie showing.

There were taxis alright but they were expensive by local standard. Many locals preferred to take 'Bark Pie' which stands for unlicensed private car for hire and cheaper than taxi.

spitting, dropping trash even throwing (biggish) items from the windows was addressed in the most effective litter campaign ever - lap sap chung - which started in 1972.  i still remember the spittoons in the noodle shops and on sale in the appropriate establishments.... the illegal cabs 'bak pai' earned their name from having a white plate with black letters/numbers as opposed to the legal taxis who had a black plate with white numbers.  they were not usually cruising around looking for passengers.  one of my school friends was driven to and from school for years in one.  lastly, the august moon was situ near kimberley road in the proximity of the clubs - kgbc and kcc - it  looked like a block of flats rather than a hotel :)

this is a picture of nathan looking south circa 1966.  the hk bank would have been a block north on the left-hand side so out of the picture.  next to the little yellow building (cinema) was shan tung street and if you followed it across nathan, shanghai street and a couple more would lead you to the former mongkok ferry

Hi Vanessa, This view sould be looking north, as the Ritz (the litlle yellow building) was on the western, Mongkok Ferry side of Nathan Road.

Moddsey, I'm not sure. You could possibly get a shot of the same view today to compare?

Regards, David

david - the cars on the left are driving down nathan towards ymt - also if this were northbound you would see the kowloon hills in the background, well 99% sure anyway ;)

Hi there,

There is a landmark 龍鳳大茶樓 on the left hand side of the photo, which is on the north bound side of Nathan Road.  That particular building still exist today, but it had been remodelled as the Standard Chartered Bank.  The street between 龍鳳大茶樓 and the Ritz theatre is Shandong Street.

Also referring to the photo at the top of this thread, there is another landmark 瓊華, which is on the south bound side of Nathan Road and Shandong Street.  This building had been rebuilt.

Best Regards,


ok admit defeat on this one - took a while to wrap my head around where it was taken from even using a map!!  anyway my sense of direction has probably been warped by 30 years in europe where we drive on the right side of the road :)  still sure the hills were very visible in the distance when going up nathan though