Hong Kong Instagram hot spot or photoshopped fake? What do people really think of Choi Hung Estate?

Natasha Ho

We talk about the history behind the popular photography location and ask the public how they feel about the ‘rainbow’ village

Natasha Ho |

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Choi Hung Estate is famous for its colourful buildings, which attract many looking for the perfect Instagram snap.

Choi Hung Estate is one of the most instragrammed spots in Hong Kong. On weekends, holidays and after school, you’ll finds congregations of teens taking snaps of the colourful residential estate, which was built in the 1960s to house Hong Kong’s rapidly growing population.

Young people and photography lovers aren’t the only ones enamoured by this eye-catching spot. In 1965, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects awarded the collection of buildings a Silver Medal for architecture. Over the years, the estate has also attracted a number of famous figures, including would-be US President Richard Nixon in 1964, and British Princesses Margaret and Alexandra, who visited in 1966 and 1967 respectively.

Zoe Fedoruk, a 14-year-old student from Saint Paul’s Co-educational College, doesn’t see the public’s fascination with the estate ending any time soon.

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“With the rise in popularity of photography thanks to photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, more and more people are going to Choi Hung Estate specifically to take aesthetically beautiful photos,”she explains.

The roads inside Choi Hung, which translates to “rainbow” in English, have equally colourful names: Red Plum Avenue, Yellow Chrysanthemum Avenue, Green Willow Avenue, Cyan Willow Avenue, Blue Bell Avenue, and Purple Flourish Avenue.

The buildings, too, are marked with the Chinese characters for “purple”, “emerald”, “gold”, “red” and many other dazzling hues.

Claire Lee, reporter Veronica Lin, and Natasha Ho at Choi Hung Estate.
Photo: Veronica Lin/SCMP

Yet as magical as this may sound, the estate is still the estate is ultimately just a cluster of 1960s residential blocks. Is it really worth the hype?

We conducted short interviews with residents and tourists to gain insight on their views.

Cloudy Yun, 22, is a tourist from Guangzhou, who first discovered the Rainbow Estate on the video sharing app TikTok, and wanted to see it for herself. However, she said that she was “slightly disappointed” with how the estate looked in real life, saying it was different from what she had expected.

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Some Hong Kong students agree that photos shared online of the estate don’t always match with reality.

“While I personally think that Choi Hung Estate is a nice place for photos, and I can see the appeal of it, it’s true that a lot of the photos we see online are heavily edited, to make the colours look brighter,” says Kody Tang, 14.

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One 16-year-old American International School student, however, argues that the building “is old, and the only thing special about it is that it’s painted pastel colours.” A 13-year-old student from Sha Tin College adds that “after some editing the photos taken there are nice, but it also annoys the people living there.”

For one resident at the estate, a 55-year-old man who didn’t want to give his name, this sentiment couldn’t ring more true. He explains that on public holidays, as many as 200 people can be seen crowding the basketball court. “It is incredibly irritating due to the fact that it prevents people from playing basketball,” he says. “I just don’t see any allure of the buildings. For me, it’s just where I live.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge