Travel Beyond the Ordinary: CityWalk, Shop, and Savour

A travel phenomenon that goes beyond the conventional touristic experience.

In the bustling world of travel, a new phenomenon called CityWalk has emerged, captivating the hearts of adventurers and cultural enthusiasts alike. This unique way of experiencing a city involves roaming its streets on foot, immersing oneself in its vibrant atmosphere, and indulging in the unparalleled charm of old buildings, boutique shops, local snacks, and steaming cups of coffee.

Photo Credit: @tombophoto

CityWalk is more than just a means of transportation. This idea originated from London, with the aim to create a planned itinerary for tourists to tick off multiple historic landmarks and to get a glimpse of the local life within a short period of time. It is a way to truly connect with a city's essence and immerse oneself in its culture.

With the rise of personalised travel services, the concept of CityWalk has gained even more momentum. Millennials, known for their desire for experiential travel, find CityWalk to be the perfect way to explore a destination based on their individual interests and needs. Platforms such as Withlocals, GetYourGuide and ToursByLocals have seamlessly integrated CityWalk into their offerings, enabling travellers to embark on unique and in-depth journeys through the heart of a city. In the hope of preserving Hong Kong’s heritage, Hong Kong Historical Shops collaborated with Yuet Wo Soy Sauce to invite participants to join all walks of life and to share a common goal – spreading the stories of old stores and to promote cultural inheritance of Hong Kong. These customised adventures contribute to a more immersive and meaningful travel experience, making CityWalk an integral part of contemporary travel culture.

Photo Credit: Chestnut Journal

This growing trend has been reflecting a change in attitude towards life, embracing a warmer, relaxed, and healthier lifestyle. As more and more people seek unique and off-the-beaten-path adventures, CityWalk has become a norm in the world of travel. Fresh off the pandemic impacts, the concept captured the attention of participants and revolutionised their engagement with social media platforms.

People sharing their citywalk route in different cities on Xiaohongshu, Photo Credit: Xiaohongshu @DG0908777 @953156736

The appeal of CityWalk took on a distinct flavour in China, striking a chord with the younger generation who often found themselves entangled in demanding work schedules. Weekend outings for local exploration became a popular choice, offering a refreshing escape from their daily routines. Social media platforms like Xiaohongshu, WeChat, Weibo and Douyin have been instrumental in amplifying this trend, creating a shift towards entertaining contents by providing a 30 second highlight video or a narrative slideshow to evoke one’s imagination of urban cultural life.

Instagram Reels #citywalk introducing different areas in Hong Kong, Reels Credit: @shannkst @cyncynti

Today, this trend has become another popular hashtag with over 2 million user-generated contents, over 400 million views on Xiaohongshu alone. By searching #citywalk, #centurycitywalk, #cityphotography and similar keywords can lead you to a special guided trip with experiences and thoughts shared online. Most importantly, these routes will also help you avoid famous scenic spots and big crowds to gain a more inclusive experience of the place you would like to visit. Because of this behaviour change, the shift has also changed their overseas travelling preferences.

According to the China Travel Consumer Trends Insights White Paper 2023 Edition, 63% of respondents are more reluctant to overfill their travelling agendas and would rather find satisfaction to live like a “local” such as living in an Airbnb versus big named hotels.

Photo Credit: 36Kr

Brands across the globe started picking up the CityWalk spotlight and have been increasingly incorporating this concept in their marketing strategies and events. In 2023, the Zurich-based recycled bag brand, Freitag launched a CityWalk from its first Shanghai boutique to gain offline to online traction among locals. Many influencers hopped on the #Freitag trend by wearing the recycled truck tarp bags when roaming around the city by foot or by bikes. By connecting with the brand’s outdoor and environmentally friendly image, this resonates with the influencers’ demographics who are younger customers.

Photo Credit: NCW Libraries

Putting aside the marketing aspect, CityWalk has influenced participants to engage in a healthier lifestyle by walking over taking public transport. Research shows that walking can significantly lower one’s chances of developing vascular dementia, boosting the immune system, and building a healthier heart. While strolling along the road, you will be able to focus on yourself and your inner thoughts. Engaging in CityWalk offers a break from sedentary lifestyles and can stimulate curiosity while enhancing mental agility.

Photo Credit: Xiaohongshu @Angie_Luo0403

In this fast-paced era, CityWalk stands as an opportunity for travel service providers to elevate the travel experience, offering a bespoke, professional, and personalised service that meets the ever-changing demands of modern explorers. The streets and buildings may stay the same, but the people you walk the cities with can change the experience. CityWalk allows a sense of accomplishment in helping individuals connect with their surroundings and to appreciate the beauty of the city.

A traveller or a local, CityWalk will always provide you an opportunity to unlock the true essence of your destination. With endless countries and landmarks to visit, where will you for your next CityWalk experience?

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