From the bright Asian shopping signs in Mong Kok to the streets littered with food stalls serving traditional Chinese snacks and wet-markets selling a variety of cuisines a city break or stopover in Hong Kong is unforgettable.
And it’s not just a shopping and city metropolis, behind the scenes Hong Kong is a hotbed of urban hiking trials, natural infinity pools and beautiful, clean beaches.
What to do
There are over 600 temples in Hong Kong, one of the most treasured, Chi Lin Nunnery, is not only known for its Buddhist relics and wooden architecture, but also for its landscaped gardens. Surrounded by Diamond Hill’s towering apartments, Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens offers a quiet haven in the busy city. If you have to visit one temple in Hong Kong, make sure it’s this one.
Travel up the The Peak, located on the Western side of Hong Kong Island for a bird’s eye view of the skyscrapers across from Hong Kong Island and the mountains of the New Territories in the distance.
Where to stay
Hong Kong is home to an endless list of luxury hotels including The Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La and The Langham, to name but a few.
Harbour Grand Kowloon is located on the edge of the harbour in Kowloon and only a short walk to the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui. This modern and luxury hotel offers a range of different rooms, all offering dazzling views across the the harbour. The hotel boasts a rooftop pool with glass walls, a state of the art fitness centre and spa.
For those with a head for heights, check in at Hong Kong’s tallest hotel, the luxurious Ritz Carlton.
Hotel Icon was built for teaching and research purposes for the School of Hotel and Tourism Management but this is no student digs set up. After a day of sightseeing visit the panoramic bar for expertly made cocktails. The hotel is home to the world’s largest indoor vertical gardens, designed by world- famous botanist Patrick Blanc.
Where to eat
Hong Kong has an abundance of eateries. From classic Asian haunts to American, Caribbean and high-quality steak houses, you’re spoilt for choice. Dim sum is one of Hong Kong’s best loved dishes. Competition is rife and restaurants take great pride in serving what they think to be the finest dim sum. Known as one of the cheapest one michelin starred restaurant in the world, One Dim Sum prepares some of the best pork steamed buns and dim sum in Hong Kong.
There’s only one way to travel around Hong Kong and that’s on the MTR. The super-efficient, clean and easy to navigate system is the simplest way around the city. Buy an octopus card at the travel desk in the airport and top it up as you go. Octopus cards can also be used in various shops, chain-stores and supermarkets across Hong Kong.
When to go
Hong Kong can be hot and humid so pick your months well. Travellers will often see big rain storms, though they usually pass quickly. From April – July, humidity is at its highest. January to March is the best time to visit, when it starts to become warmer without it being unbearable.
A visit to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the popular Star Ferry. Departing from Central Harbour on Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon or vice versa, the 7 minute boat ride presents some of the most impressive picture perfect sights. Best to travel at night when all the skyscrapers transform into a sea of lights.
Three things we like
- The Dragon’s Back hiking trail, voted ‘Best Urban Hiking Trail’ by Time (Asia Edition) starts at To Tei Wan village and ascends to 284 metres high offers a glimpse of the coast, Shek O and Tai Long Wan. Reward yourself with an ice cold cider at one of the many beachside bars at Tai Long Wan beach at the finish line.
- Kowloon park is an oasis in Tsim Sha Tsui. Step inside the park for tranquil ponds full of flamingos, large green spaces and seating to pass away the time. Bring a book and get comfy for a few hours.
- The Jumbo Kingdom, a floating restaurant in Aberdeen is one of Hong Kong’s gems. Designed in the style of an ancient Chinese imperial palace, this landmark is both charming whilst serving gourmet food.
Something we don’t like
Although taxi rides are cheap compared to UK standards, make sure you are clear with instructions of where you want to go. Some taxi drivers won’t pick you up if they don’t understand where your destination is. It helps to have you hotel written in both Cantonese and English.
High50 insider tips
- If the city gets a bit much, visit Macau just across the Pearl River Delta. Boats take an hour and sail from the Central Harbour. Las Vegas may be known for its gambling, but Macau turns over more money in gambling than anywhere else in the world. A Portuguese overseas territory until 1999, Macau still maintains its European influences.
- Walk around the streets of Macau and you’re transported back to Europe – you certainly won’t feel like you’re in Asia. If you’re not a gambler, Macau offers stunning architecture, both traditional Asian and Portuguese fare – a Portuguese tart from Macau is a must. Don’t forget to visit the ruin of St. Paul’s – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Need to know
- Be careful of bones! If you’re dining at a Chinese establishment, all meat tends to be on the bone. Chicken breasts are rarely used and instead thighs and chicken wings are preferred.
- Spitting bones out is common practice in Hong Kong.
- Don’t argue with Chinese people. It’s a term called ‘loosing face’ where shouting or arguing at the locals will lead them to feeling embarrassed which isn’t taken well in their culture.
- Dress appropriately when visiting temples.
- Throughout Hong Kong on different days there are ‘Ladies nights’ where drinks are free for women. Some high-end bars in central are worth a visit on these nights.
- Don’t drink water out of the tap and sticked to bottled water instead.
- Be patient. People don’t tend to rush or run for transport. We aren’t in London anymore.
- Crime rates are very low and in some neighbourhoods unheard of. There are usually police officers on the streets and they can help with any incidents.
- In peak season, humidity is high and at times, uncomfortable. Pack lightweight clothing and remember to carry around water.
- Service charge is normal and should be paid. It isn’t uncommon for bars to add service charge even if you sit at the bar.
- Although English is widely spoken, locals enjoy tourists speaking in Cantonese even if it’s just a few useful phrases.