Oh, how I adore Hong Kong! It is my Asian home away from home: I have been to a number of Asian cities – including Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila – but none of them have captured my heart as much as Hong Kong. I recently tried to count how many, but my memory seems to have failed me – it has been an unbroken love affair over a dozen years or so.
At first glance, Hong Kong might seem like a densely populated ocean of high-reaching skyscrapers, split in half by the vast and sprawling Victoria harbour. Trust me, this bustling city, the perfect embodiment of fusion between East and West, has a million of gems for you to discover. A considerable amount of which are food-related gems, might I add. Nom nom nom.
- Drink in spectacular panoramic views of Hong Kong from Sky Terrace 428
For the best view in the city, head to the top of Sky Terrace 428, which is the highest viewing platform in the city. This ought to be your stop number one since it gives your the most comprehensive overview of Hong Kong and the sprawling Victoria Harbour. This open-air terrace with an altitude of 428 above sea level provides unrivalled 360 views of the city to be enjoyed either morning, afternoon or evening. Getting your photo taken by a professional photographer is worth every single penny (like the one above): not only do you get a whole section of the terrace to yourself, but the photographer uses top-notch camera equipment and knows how to take a great shot or two! In a nutshell, the best souvenir you can keep from your outing here!
- Avenue of the Stars
Avenue of the Stars honouring the celebrities of Hong Kong Film Industry, along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, is modelled on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Consequently, Set into the promenade are plaques honouring various celebrities, some containing their imprints. Avenue of the Stars is perhaps my favourite place for a leisurely stroll in Hong Kong – facing Hong Kong island, it commands great panoramic views of Hong Kong Island and its fabulous skyline.
- A day trip to Sai Kung
The old town of Sai Kung and its surrounding areas is a real gem in the vicinity of the city and a day trip there is a real must if you want to get away from the density and hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. A picturesque promenade, perfect for a short stroll along with the seaside first things in the morning or perhaps on a gorgeous afternoon, is lined with casual seafood restaurants displaying a dizzying array of live seafood. You will also spot local fishermen selling their wares directly from their boats. You are sure to see and perhaps taste some of the strangest sea creatures. The rest of the town is interlaced with narrow lanes where whilst surely getting lost you sill stumble some across unassuming eateries bustling with locals serving delicious local fare.
- Hike the Maclehose trail
You might be surprised to hear that Hong Kong has some fantastic hiking opportunities! Hong Kong is not all metropolitan with copious high-rise buildings and polluted air. In fact there is plenty of greenery, gorgeous beaches with the opportunity to bathe in case you get a little too hot! Maclehose trail, weaving its way throughout the spectacular countryside in the vicinity is Sai Kung and totalling around 100km, provides some of the most scenic hikes that you will undertake in Hong Kong. The trail, very well maintained and with clear signposts along the way, is split into sections differing in the level of hardness.
- Flower Market road
This is the locals’ favourite destination for purchasing a dizzying array of flowers, a place brimming with vivid colours and permeating with heavenly floral smells. This is the place to experience the authentic culture of Hong Kong with a myriad of photo opportunities. Inhale the fresh smell of flowers as you slowly make your way down the road and a resplendent feast for your eyes.
- Have a champagne mojito in the highest Bar in the world
Having the advantage of being the highest bar in the world – on the 118th Floor and 490 metres above sea level – OZONE has an unsurpassable USP! This sky bar and lounge perfect location for a pre-dinner drink, literally in the clouds, as the sun is setting over the city. Located on top of the luxurious Ritz Carlton on the 118th floor, this bar offers unparalleled views of Victoria Bar and Hong Kong island – even those of us not suffering from vertigo might feel a little uneasy at the very top. So relax and drink in those views along with your delicious inventive cocktail! I have a soft spot for their champagne mojitos…
- Man Mo temple
Man Mo temple, one of the city’s oldest temples, is a historical, unassuming gem amongst the sea of modern skyscrapers on Hong Kong. This atmospheric building, built-in 1847, is dedicated to the worship of gods of literature (man) and war (mo). The interior of the temple is smoky and beguiling, with rows of large earth-coloured incense coils hung from the roof. In the past, this temple also served a secular purpose by being a court of arbitration in disputes between locals and the colonialists.
- Sail the Victoria Harbour on Aqua Luna
Can you think of a lovelier way to finish off the day than by soaking up the sights of Hong Kong’s remarkable skyline, whilst relaxing in a comfortable chair with a glass of chilled white wine? Then, go on Aqua Luna’s evening cruises on a junk, an ancient Chinese sailing ship (you will instantly know it by site, especially when you spot the crimson sails!) that takes you across Victoria Harbour and back.
- Eat, eat and eat some more!
Hong Kong is known as one of the best Epicurean destinations in the world. Here you will find everything from scrummy local street food to the best dim sum you have ever tried in your life to some of the most exquistie fine dining hailing from all corners in the world.
Some of my favourite eating establishments (there are obviously thousands of excellent places, both big and small):
Australia Dairy Co – the best egg sandwich and iced milk tea in the city.
Jade Garden – great dim sim with splendid views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. A perfect lunch spot after shopping at Lane Crawford.
Dragon King – a chain of smart restaurants offering the most delicious dim sum I have tried in Hong Kong.
Sushi Imamura – tucked away on the 16th floor in an unassuming building in Causeway bay, this tiny elegant restaurant serves fantastic, fresh sushi. On the expensive side.
Ho Lee Fuk – “good fortunate for your mouth”: excellent play on words, isn’t it? A contemporary take on Chinese fare in the heart of SoHo.
Sushi Kuu – great place for a Japanese meal on the casual side right in the heart of central.
Honeymoon Dessert – a local favourite to hang out after hours that do not involve alcohol. An incredible assortment of deliciously sweet desserts. Various locations throughout the city.
Prince Restaurant – my favourite place for supper( in Elements shopping centre) before heading to the airport from Kowloon station. Chinese fine dining at its best.
Bon Bon Cafe – for wonderful casual local fare, head to this humble-looking eatery. Apparently, they serve noodles with foie gras and truffle.
Kowloon City Market – one of the best food markets in the city. Perfect place to pick up some fresh fruit, vegetables and just-killed chickens.
- Just roam about, getting lost a little
Hong Kong is not exactly a city made for walking around, but parts of it are certainly fun to explore on foot. My two favourite places to do so are SoHo on Hong Kong Island and random parts of Kowloon ( I always forget where exactly…). You never know what you will find around the corner, and if you get lost, you can simply observe locals going about their daily lives, which is fascinating in its own right.
Where to stay:
Upper House – An epitome of boutique hotel luxury on Hong Kong island. I stayed here for a couple of nights about a year ago, and still fondly reminisce about this hotel.. Even the cheapest room is the size of a suite, and views facing the harbour offer splendid views. I loved the huge tub and full-sized REN toiletries.
Where to drink:
001 – a perfect example of a speakeasy since it is almost impossible to find amidst the market stalls down a narrow and somewhat steep street. Top notch cocktails and sultry decor are two things that define this basement bar. And a no standing policy is another major plus. A perfect drinking den to finish off your evening.
Sevva – the bar that has the best roof terrace of all the bars I have visited in the world. I think enough said.