A Guide to Hong Kong

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:
The airport runs a fantastc train serice directly from the airport to Kowloon. From Kowloon station, I would then recommend getting a taxi to the place you are staying at.

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.

 

1.The Peak:

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 ar eplanning 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.

84E21E60-A0C2-4BAF-BB2B-DC094BCAFA8E

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.

255C8EED-6336-4F9C-ACD1-84BCDCED58A20EE66A6E-2B2D-45F2-A113-5BD622C13ACBProcessed with VSCO with av8 preset

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.

61552CB6-4502-4F2C-A11B-C18E67F8EEF3

We went to a beautiful resturant called Classified, which serves Western food and is the perfect spot to relax, eat and enjoy a glass of wine/rose.

Processed with VSCO with av8 presetEFFB3769-BC74-4185-B011-50CC67868FA1E5F5BF4C-8B64-49DC-9E71-89A9F5D7AF91A8CB33BF-A333-4E1D-A4EE-3C00FC287B25

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
  • SEVVA
  • Wooloomooloo
  • Ozone at the Ritz-Carlton ”The Hightest Bar in the World”

56389291-620E-4525-9A1D-9F56863BEFEB.JPG

^^OZONE BAR

IMG_7495.JPG

^^ SEVVA

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.

50522A31-3310-46C2-8FBD-108FF289C90A

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)

36E41395-CB69-41E8-B5D1-42929CE2DF0940A1763C-6E34-48A0-BE84-FEFE588FDEA49A2BBD04-77AD-4229-AB26-DD7F7CB92373

Chom Chom

Chom Chom was our first restaurant in Hong Kong, and definitely set the standard for the days to follow. This tiny resturant 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, particualrly on weekends.

5CA6772F-FFC9-468F-8A0A-C6CD20442ACCB9A8E3D0-9DF7-48A0-8DCA-70F246CEF6B7D38BA43E-603C-4A82-B158-904B6B3895F843DBD15C-1C03-457D-B27C-C4B5137609B2

Bars to checkout nearby: The Woods & The Old Man

 

Tim Ho Wan

So while I was reseraching restuarants 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!

 

Missy Ho’s

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.

0A0C3D0E-46DE-40F6-B916-94151BC12CADProcessed with VSCO with au1 presetProcessed with VSCO with av4 preset289649A1-3492-4485-A5EA-1A997302A7B3FD77CFDE-2DA5-4B37-BD08-A26F92CA0CF1

Supabowl

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 currys.

 

TIPS:
  • 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 Octapus 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.

 

Enjoy xxx

Villefranche

IMG_9315

I have had the pleasure of being invited to the beautiful French town of Villefranche for the past two years, by one of my oldest friends. About 10-15 minutes outside of Nice, this town allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of Nice whilst boasting the most incredible views of the French Riviera.

One of the most amazing things about the South of France is how easily accessible each of the towns are. From Villefranche you can get trains/buses to Monaco, Nice, Eze, Saint Tropez, Cannes, Antilles and Italy.

IMG_9007

How to get there?

The easiest airport to get to Villefranche from is Nice airport. From there, you can get an Uber which takes about 20 minutes, and is about 22/23 euro in price. The cheaper option is to get the bus. During the day the 98 leaves directly from the airport and brings you straight into Nice. From Nice, you can get either the 100/81 bus to Villefranche.  The cost for the first bus is 6 euro and the second bus to Villefrance is only 1.50 euro. If you are flying into Nice later in the evening, there is a late night bus you can get straight from the airport (100,) however this service only runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is an information point at the airport should you have any further questions when you arrive.

 

Restaurants I would recommend:

img_9281.jpg

 

La Mère Germaine  (high end restaurant)

La Belle Etoile

La Grignotiere

Les Garçons

Cosmo

Bistrot du Creux

For ice cream: Soléa Gelateria Di Corsica

 

Day trips:

For coffee: There is a beautiful coastal walk to Beaulieu (French town next to Villefranche.) Le Gran Caffe is a great spot for a morning coffee, if you fancy spending the morning outside Villefranche.

Italy: Ospedaletti is easily accessible from Villefranche and has a beautiful, cycle track, converted from a railway line. To get there, take the train to Ventimiglia from Villefranche, followed by the Sanremo (Line 2) bus to Ospedaletti. The track is flat and very easy to cycle on. Afterwards, I would definitely recommend stopping off for pizza at Baixarico on the seafront.

France: A lot of other French towns across the South of France are easily accessible via train or bus from Villefranche, and are perfect for day trips. You can use trainline.eu for timetables and bookings.

 

NICE

With Nice being only 10-12 minutes away, we visited a few nice restaurants in both the new and old towns. The bestofniceblog.com is a definite go-to for restaurants and things to do, so definitely check that out for more information. The main shopping street is Jean Médecin and has a number of high street stores including Galleries Lafayette, Zara, Zara Home, H&M, Mango etc.

Restaurants I would recommend in Nice:

Le Neuf Cinquante (950) 

Badaboom

Jaks

Chez Palmyre (Traditional French food in Old Town)

Bistrot d’Antoine (Old Town)

Lac (gorgeous Chocolate shop)

For ice cream I would recommend Fenochio in the Old Town

Brighton

 

IMG_7854 (2).jpg

I recently spent a sunny bank holiday Sunday down in the seaside town of Brighton. We decided to get the train down from Clapham Junction as trains are very frequent and it only takes just over an hour door to door. I used trainline.com and would recommend booking as far in advance as you can to get the best deals. When you arrive at the station, the pier is only a 10-12 minute walk straight down the main road.

 

A57CA01A-63F5-44A9-96DA-0C4FB6582619

Lucky Beach Cafe

As I had never been to Brighton before, I was unsure where to go to for breakfast/brunch. I started doing some research and came across the Lucky Beach Café. I would recommend if you are ever looking for a restaurant to look it up on Instagram, as it gives you photos from real people.

 

Attachment-6

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Attachment-1

Vintage Shops

Luckily, the day before I went to Brighton I happened to get some recommendations for good vintage shops in Brighton.  The North Lanes are the main streets for vintage shopping. The main stores I would recommend are To Be Worn Again, Independent Rag and Dirty Harry and all are significantly cheaper than London vintage shops.

Other shops I went to included JuJu Brighton which has great stuff (not vintage) and Kerrie Berrie Beads & Jewellery. Kerrie Berrie is the cutest little shop where you can create your own pieces of jewellery. There are lots of beautiful options and the jewellery and pieces are really affordable.

 

Food for Friends

This restaurant was another recommendation from a work colleague. Food for Friends is a well known, award-winnign vegetarian restaurant in Brighton that is not to be missed. You can book a table in advance and there is the option to sit inside or outside.

ED44AE12-842A-4CE2-88EC-B0DDD0C667A5

Other Recommendations

Some other recommendations that I got that for Brighton included The White Rabbit which is a classic pub where all the locals hang out. There is also The Black Lion which has a nice beer garden and Pike & Pine on St James Street.

Paris

IMG_2558

 

Beautiful, magical Paris! I just adore this city. When I was 19 I spent a summer working here working as an intern, and as of 2018 I felt it was time to go back. This wonderful city has so much to offer, from sight – seeing to great food and wine. Here are all my tips…

 

Eurostar:

We took the Eurostar to Paris from London. The trip is so effortless and easy and makes for a very pleasant journey. Kings Cross/St. Pancreas is accessible by tube, and the train arrives into Gare du Nord in Paris. This station also has Le Metro meaning you can hop straight onto public transport when you arrive. We booked our Eurostar tickets about 2-3 months in advance so they were only about £80 return. The journey takes about 2 hours. I would recommend arriving for your journey an hour in advance.

 

Where we stayed:

Because there were 5 of us, we decided to take an Airbnb for our stay in Paris. We chose the most stunning apartment located near the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, no destination was more than 30 minutes away. Andrew (the owner) was not only super friendly but also very helpful and accommodating when it came to restaurant bookings and places to go. The apartment was in the most beautiful building that lead into a stunning courtyard. The flat itself was very modern and comfortable to sleep in.

Link to apartment

 

image1 (3)

 

Getting around:

CityMapper is a fantastic app for getting around. It has been my lifesaver since I moved to London, and was so handy in Paris too. The app tells you the quickest way of getting somewhere in extensive detail and all the travel options that are available. The app has a wide range of  cities available, so you can pick and chose where you are going. For taxis, I would recommend using Uber. Le Metro is very easy to navigate. I recommend buying single tickets in bulk, so x15 at a time, for example. These tickets let you go anywhere and on any line.

 

FOOD
Angelina:

This is the ultimate Parisian cafe. In various locations around Paris, I visited the X branch close to the Lourve museum and Tuilleries Gardens. I simply adore this place! If anyone is ever asking me for go-to places in Paris, this is my number 1. Their hot chocolate is to die for, it is literally melted chocolate. I would recommend doing tea and cake here. Their normal food is okay but their cakes and hot chocolate are definitely what you go for.

Link for website

 D450DBAD-1958-423A-8164-15F175F22630166649CD-E96E-4237-9C13-1A6AD7EE314E

C9DD733A-39E5-46A7-81D2-9D8D5F923B99

 

La Belle Epoque:

This is a hidden gem, that we got a recommendation for from the man who owned our Airbnb. This place is super trendy, and a go-to spot for those in the fashion industry. The food and wine was incredible and we were able to book in advance which was a huge plus!

Link to Website  

 

IMG_2555

 

St. REGIS on Île Saint Louis:

When I lived in Paris, I was incredibly lucky to live on one of the two islands in the city, Ile Saint Louis. This tiny island is home to the most famous ice cream in Paris, Berthillon, and is right next to the Notre-dame. This small little French bistro is the perfect spot for lunch, located right on the corner of the main street, and over the bridge onto the island. The food was delicious, high quality and the staff were very friendly and accommodating.

Link to website
IMG_2470IMG_2471IMG_2469IMG_2472

 

Berthillon Ice cream:

 

IMG_2531

 

Alcazar:

I can’t recommend this place enough. If you are going to Paris in a group then Alcazar is the perfect spot for a Saturday night! Located in Saint Germain the atmosphere is incredible, the venue is stunning and they allow you to pre-book. We had dinner in the restaurant downstairs. The food is delicious and  pretty reasonably priced for a good French restaurant. Upstairs is a fabulous balcony bar, with a stunning sit down area and great music for dancing! For those who want to take the night even further, there is an underground club right next door.

Link to website

IMG_2532

 

Other restaurants I would recommend but didn’t get time to go to:

Le Relais de L’Entrecote

Big Mama Restaurants

L’avenue

Balagan

Monsieur Bleu

Things to do/ Places to see:
  • Notre-dame & Île Saint Louis
  • Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Versailles (day trip outside of Paris)
  • The Louvre (free for 25 & under with a European driving licence) & The Tuileries Garden

 

IMG_25207518818208_IMG_09367518818208_IMG_0947IMG_2565