I recently visited the amazing city of Hong Kong. The perfect balance of East meets West, this city has both the skyscrapers of a modern city, as well as the history and culture of a traditional Asian country.
How to get there:
When you are returning to the airport to go back home, you can actually check in your luggage at Kowloon train station, meaning you are luggage free, before you even get to the airport. Tickets can be pre-bought online, or at the station itself.
Things to do:
The wonderful thing about Hong Kong, is that everything is easily accessaible and no more than 30-40 minutes away. You can be in a modern rooftop bar, influenced by Western society, then you can hop on a bus and be at the beach or at a Buddhist monestry. If planned well, Hong Kong is definitely a place where you can squeeze in a lot of activities in a short period of time.
This brings you up to the highest hill in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak, where you can see spectacular views of the whole city. If you are planning to get the tram up the hill, I would recommend getting there early in the morning to avoid long queues later on in the day. Alternatively, it is possible to also hike the peak.
TIP: try to go on a day with clear skies or minimal fog so you can get great views of the city.
2. Hike the Dragons back:
Unfortunately due to timing, we didnt get a chance to do this, but it is recommended across the board as something to do when in Hong Kong. The Dragon’s Back is a ridge in southeastern Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, between Wan Cham Shan and Shek O Peak. The hike is about 4 hours in total so bare that in mind when planning, allowing additional time to get to and from the location.
3.The Big Buddha/ Po Lin Monastery:
The Tian Tan Buddha is definitely worth a visit, but bare in mind vicious queues. My recommendation is to get to the gondala early in the morning and also to get the Crystal package as it means you can skip queues when coming down from the mountain. If it is foggy when you are vistiing the Buddha, dont be put off by this, as you will still be able to see all the attractions once you get up there.
You can also check out the beautiful Po Lin Monastery once you are up there.
4. Repulse Bay:
A 12 minute taxi from central Hong Kong is Repulse Bay, a beautiful beach off the coast of Hong Kong. With fantastic restaurants and bars along the coast and right on the waterfront, its hard to believe that this place is so near the skyscrapers of central Hong Kong.
5. Star Ferry:
This is a boat service that brings you across the water from Kowloon to central HK. It is definitely worth doing, so you can see how many of the locals commute everytday. From memory, it is the equivalent to about £1 each way, and you get a great view of both sides of HK.
6. Rooftop bars:
Rooftop bars really are the hidden gems of Hong Kong. It was only by meeting someone who lived and worked in Hong kong that I was able to gain insight into the best rooftop spots in the area. These bars are normally at the top of residential or office buildings, making it impossible to know that they even exist.
Here are my favourite spots:
- Eye Bar Hong Kong
- Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton ”The Highest Bar in the World”
7. Ladies Market:
For anyone who loves cheap designer knock offs, the Ladies Market is the place to go. Be willing to haggle as you can definitely get prices down, you just need to push.
Where to eat?
When it comes to food, Hong Kong has both traditional Asian restaurants, as well as modern, Western cuisine. We chose to do breakfast/brunch in more Western places, whilst trying more traditional Asian cuisine in the evening times.
Commissionary (Traditional Western Brunch Spot, Central HK)
Chom Chom was our first restaurant in Hong Kong, and definitely set the standard for the days to follow. This tiny restaurant can be heard from the streets outside, with its queues out the door and blaring music. The food is Vietnamese and absolutely delicious – not to mention they also do incredible cocktails! We had to wait for a table when we arrived, but the staff are very helpful and ask you to grab a drink whilst they try arrange a table for you. This spot is definitely full if expats, so it is more western-infused. The food is not cheap but I definitely think it is worth the visit, particularly on weekends.
Bars to checkout nearby: The Woods & The Old Man
Tim Ho Wan
So while I was researching restaurants in Hong Kong, Tim Ho Wan kept coming up as a recommendation. This is the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world and is famous for its traditional Dim Sum.
However, I am going to be honest, once I actually tried the food, I realised it was not for me. The texture is quite slimey and one of the traditional dishes is chicken feet, which quickly sent me running out of the place!
I don’t have any regrets though! When you travel so far away, I think it is important to try local and traditional food, even if you don’t end up liking it!
On my final night of exploring Hong Kong, we went to the ‘up and coming’ area of Kennedy town. Missy Ho’s had come up as a recommendation quite a few times for great cocktails and a quirky atmosphere. The food was simply stunning! Mainly Japanese/sushi, the plates are smaller in size and perfect for sharing between 2 or more people. Like Chom Chom, this place is not cheap, but you definitely get value for your money.
For a healthy breakfast on the go, I would recommend Supabowl. This is a tiny Acai Bowl café in Wan Chai. There is no seating, so bare that in mind if you intend to go there. However the bowl is delicious and definitely worth it, if you like that kind of food.
Sabah Malaysian Cuisine
For something a bit more local, you can try a curry house such as Sabah Malaysian Cuisine in Wan Chai. This restaurant is always busy, so be prepared to queue. The food is local and delicious, but expect heavy curries.
- Download Citymapper so that you can get around Hong Kong. It is free to use and will give you the best and fastest routes to get around Hong Kong.
- Pre order your Hong Kong dollars before you leave, or get a Revolut card. However I would recommend having both card and cash on hand at all times just in case.
- Taxis: taxis are quite cheap but only take card. UBER is actually more expensive so I would recommend taking local taxis. Taxi drivers also do not speak English, so if you can translate your location in advance using Google translate then definitely do so.
- Public transport: public transport is really cheap in Hong Kong, and pretty easy to navigate. Given the Western influences, all the signs in Hong Kong are translated into English. If you are there for a significant period of time, I would recommend getting an Octopus card which you can top up as you go.
- Forward plan as best you can: Hong Kong is unusual in that the country is split across water, so when you are researching things to do, try and divide it by location so that you are not hopping back and forth all the time.