No doubt about it: Hong Kong is a city that will surely surprise you. There’s no way to prepare for the beauty of the fantastic hotels, restaurants and shops sitting against the verdant terrain and glittering skyscrapers. Whether you are going for a weeklong trip or only a matter of days, our below tips will help you make the most of (and survive!) this dynamic city.
Firstly – a few do’s and don’ts, (courtesy of Conde Nast Traveller):
Do… ask your concierge to jot down your destination’s address in Chinese—most taxi drivers don’t speak English. (Get your hotel’s address for the return as well.)
Don’t… overlook the incredibly efficient MTR subway, which is far easier to navigate than you might think.
WHAT TO DO
Stanley Market: This daily market is a must visit for all those journeying to Hong Kong Island. It’s a great spot to find ceramics, embroidered silk, Chinese knick-knacks and bargain-priced silk underwear as well as a few fake goods accompanied by a few food stalls. To get to the market, take the number 6 bus from Exchange Square.
Victoria’s Peak: Hong Kong’s most notable landmark, The Peak is one of the few places on the island that actually feels like it has a tropical climate and is humid for the majority of the year. To get up close and personal, take the Peak Tram from Central Terminal to see Macau and the outlying islands and Aberdeen Harbour to the south of the island.
Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas: Over 12,000 Buddha statues adorn the walls of this monastery, completed in 1957. The only way of reaching this is by climbing the 500 steps up Sha Tin Mountain, but trust us, the struggle is worth it! It is one of the most popular public monasteries in Hong Kong, and a stream of people visit here daily to pray and ask the monks for advice.
Wong Tai Sin Temple: Take a visit to the Wong Tai Sin Temple and have your fortune told for a small fee. Easy to reach from Wong Tai Sin Metro Station, have a moment of calm whilst you walk through the Chinese gardens and the Confucian Hall.
Visit the beaches: Repulse Bay is the most popular of the Hong Kong Island Beaches and as a result can be crowed at times! There is a great restaurant called Limewood on the sand which will tide you over whilst you lounge in the sun. Another popular hot spot is Deep Water Bay -home to a hardy crowd of early morning swimmers. Weekends can get crowded here, with its views of the yacht club annexe on Middle Island and the cable car up and over to Ocean Park, but weekdays offer hidden delights of long quiet snoozes under the trees and unencumbered swimming. Those looking to indulge in the hear during down time can try out Big Wave Bay and hike their way over the mountain to more secluded spots. It is also a popular surf spot – the wind swells are consistent, but at weekends you’ll be competing for them. There are also dangerous rip tides to be aware of – follow the locals’ lead and head cautiously!
WHERE TO SHOP
Dickson Warehouse Boutiques: Try the Dickson Warehouse if you are looking for labels like Polo by Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole with up to 90% off the original price tag – we all love a bargain hunt!
Joyce Boutique: A small boutique that sells chic designer labels such as Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Armani, Marni and Costume National with a enticing 50 percent off.
Shanghai Tang Mansion: When in China, do as the Chinese do and this definitely includes a visit to the famous Shanghai Tang Mansion. This flagship store sells its own brand of contemporary-chic Chinese clothing – from printed silk dresses to acid-bright cashmere shawls – accessories and homewares.
Factory Outlets Shops: Visit Upper Lascar Row, Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok is famous for its numerous factory outlet shops. Rummage to uncover items by Nicole Farhi, Ralph Lauren, Emanuel Ungaro, Calvin Klein, Jigsaw and Banana Republic, discounted up to 90 percent.
Prada Warehouse: A favourite with fashion-conscious Hong Kongers, the Prada warehouse sells last season’s items at up to 50 percent off as well.
Initial Fashion: The unique and renowned initial style is made possible by its professional team of designers, buyers, visual merchandising and graphic, who search for pieces from all round the world with an emphasis on local Chinese designers.
Vein: Owner Melinda Wong mixes hard-to-find brands that focus on crafts and unique textiles with couture labels like HOPE and Ganni.
WHERE TO EAT
There are SO many great places to eat in HK – from casual to Michelin star and cafes to bars, there is something for everyone in this ever-evolving city. Find a list of our favourites below:
FoxGlove: Easily dismissed as a gentleman’s umbrella shop, this spot is the new and popular speakeasy, drawing its inspiration from the 1950s with an interior reminiscent of airplane cabins – the perfect place to relax with a whiskey with a side of Jazz.
Din Tai Fung: Following its arrival to Dubai recently, everyone now knows the name Din Tai Fung, however in Hong Kong it is much better, so much better that it actually has a Michelin star in the Yee Wo branch!
The Pawn: Housed in one of Hong Kong’s most iconic landmarks, The Pawn sits where a famous Woo Cheong pawnshop used to be. After extensive renovations in the summer of 2014, The Pawn reopened in collaboration with celebrated British chef, Tom Aikens and now offers both traditional and modern British cuisine across two floors, the ‘Botanicals’ bar and second floor ‘Kitchen.’
ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge: This HK favourite is a trendy restaurant inspired by the fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors of southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Mott 32: A phenomenon in the world of dim sum, Mott 32 represents modern Hong Kong. With core principles of farm-to-table cooking, Mott 32 is an attempt to shift the focus back onto ingredients and recipes passed down from generation-to-generation. A must try for dim sum fans and Chinese food fanatics.
Mah Wah: Located on the 25th floor in the Mandarin Oriental, our Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant serves exquisite local and regional specialties. Often referred to as Hong Kong’s most beautiful dining space, Man Wah’s atmospheric decor and panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline provide the perfect setting for wonderfully delicious cuisine. A great date spot for those visiting the city.
Lung King Heen: The world’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded the coveted Michelin three-star rating – enough said!
Ho Lee Fook: Translated as “Good fortune for your mouth,” this funky Chinese kitchen is inspired by old school Hong Kong cha chaan tengs and the spirit of late-night Chinatown hangouts in 1960’s New York. Taiwanese-born chef Jowett Yu’s inventive approach to Chinese flavours is best enjoyed with an open mind and a strong appetite.
Fish School: A buzzy neighbourhood fish specialty restaurant, by restaurateur Yenn Wong and Chef David Lai, Fish School brings modern Hong Kong to the plate with a cuisine reflecting the local culture and resources. Prepare to whet your appetite with thoughts of small plates, an array of local fish unbeknown to many and most importantly, come ready to explore.
Duddells: Duddell’s is a cultural and social destination for people who have an active appreciation for the arts. Its stylishly relaxed interiors provide a colourful backdrop against which creative ideas can be shared and developed. Go for dinner or lunch, or even better, try out their fantastic weekend brunch!
RŌNIN: RŌNIN is a Japanese inspired dining bar with a focus on fish and seafood and a curated selection of Japanese Whisky, sake, shochu, beer, wine and unique cocktails. There are no parking or reservations but they do have gluten free and veggie options!
WHERE TO DRINK
M Bar: Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, with stunning views of the Hong Kong skyline, the M bar is one of the city’s favourite late-night destinations. It is something of a signature of the Mandarin Oriental chain (its hotels in Boston and Miami have bars with the same name); but only in Hong Kong does the M bar offer a delectable selection of Cantonese tapas from the famed Man Wah restaurant next door.
Ce La Vi Hong Kong: Following a swift rebranding from Ku De Ta to Cé La Vi (CLV), the seductive brand has opened on the top two floors of LKF’s California Tower. Like its Singaporean sister on the 55th floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, this Hong Kong outpost is one of hottest addresses in town. The rooftop bar features a central Jacuzzi (not quite Singapore’s 150m infinity pool) and still a pretty impressive view over Central and Mid-Levels that leaves you feeling still in the city, rather than above it. We vote this as a perfect spot for a few cocktails and a bite to eat.
Ozone: Ozone belongs to The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, on the 118th floor of the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon. At 490 metres above sea level, it is the world’s highest bar. As you might expect from a bar with this title, it is all-out glam, with a golden 3D honeycomb ceiling, hexagonal bar stools, and a narrow terrace with a jagged ‘rock garden’ made from scraps of the marble used inside.
Wooloomalooo: Few restaurants in Wan Chai can offer panoramic views of our fair city, and fewer yet from a stunning open-air roof terrace. Located on the 31st floor and rooftop of The Hennessy, Wooloomooloo Steakhouse (Wan Chai) is a gem for the fan of great steak, vibrant nightlife and of course, a metropolitan view to die for.
WHERE TO STAY
The Upper House: Located in Hong Kong, The Upper House was designed by architect Andre Fu. A calming contemporary hotel, The Upper House is a haven within the city. The hotel’s 117 studios and suites are surprisingly spacious, featuring natural materials and gorgeous bathrooms. Enjoy thrilling views from Level 49 at Café Gray Deluxe.
Ovolo Hotels: A dynamic lifestyle hospitality company that provides guests with the BEST in effortless living – a hotel designed from a traveler’s point of view with smartly spaced interiors full of the latest tech, luxury hotel amenities and fresh fun-loving features. Best of all, they are all free! That’s right, everything from the breakfast, mini-bar, Wi-Fi and even happy hour is all covered when you stay with Ovolo Hotels…!
W Hong Kong: A spectacular sanctuary oozing a passion for fashion, food and fun, the W Hong Kong is the ultimate blend of style and urban glamour, and is affordable to boot!
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel: Perfect for those with deep pockets looking to splash out in the city – the hotel is famed for its stunning design, peaceful ambience and impeccable service.