Whether you are a first time explorer of Hong Kong or wish to experience Hong Kong anew, one never quite runs out of things to check out in one of the world’s busiest business centres. It is an ideal destination for shopping, for enjoying a thriving nightlife and for a generally fun time.
These are the 10 reasons you need to plan your next vacation in the multifaceted, fascinating city of Hong Kong:
A sweeping view of perfection aboard the Star Ferry
You don’t want to miss a ride on the ferry. One of the most scenic boat rides in the world, you get to also simultaneously gaze (from an upper-seat deck) at the skylines on both sides of the water. The Star Ferry transports 20 million riders across Victoria Harbour every year. Get on at Tsim Sha Tsui and set sail to Central to get one of the best views of the Hong Kong skyline. This is one of the cheapest and most enjoyable forms of transport in the city. There are 12 boats in the Star Ferry fleet and the crossing takes a mere seven minutes. Once you are all strapped in for your little ride, you’ll sail past shipping vessels of all kinds and take in spectacular views of the Hong Kong Island coastline from Quarry Bay to Western. The boats also stop mid-harbor for a few moments so that tourists can take photographs of the nightly Symphony of Lights show — a sound and light show that incorporates lasers, fireworks and 44 waterfront buildings on both Hong Kong and Kowloon.
The nighttime thrills of betting on a horse at the most impressive horse-racing track in the world
Cheer with the hordes and strike up a friendship with the punters at the city-centre horse races. Floodlit Happy Valley Racecourse is where you want to be on Wednesday nights in Hong Kong. Get in the thick of the action at this impressive horse racing track because the atmosphere is electric (unmatched by even the best sporting venues of the world). A birdie tells us Hong Kong saw the start of horse racing as soon as the malarial swamps of Happy Valley were drained and turfed in 1846. The energy at the venue feels more celebratory than competitive. Popular with both expats and locals, this weekly event sees throngs of happy people looking forward to a fun get-together and who knows, maybe a lucky bet. Some weeks are presented to you as themed nights, like during the Carnival or Oktoberfest, and the crowds dress and represent accordingly. Night racing under floodlights began in 1973 and the Wednesday evening meetings have attracted large audiences ever since.
The World’s Longest Escalator Ride
When you are done traipsing through hilly Hong Kong, walk into the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, and consider stopping at the bars, restaurants, antique shops and historic landmarks you see on your way up. The world’s longest covered escalator takes you from downtown Des Voeux Road Central to Mid-Levels, on the lower slopes of Victorian Peak. The system is a series of 20 escalators and 3 inclined moving walkways, connected in places by footbridges, and with 14 entrances and exits. The Midlevels Escalator is an 800m moving sidewalk zigzagging up the hillside, giving you a glimpse into street life and history in the open-air markets and streets you will pass. To ride the complete length of the escalator system one-way takes about 20 minutes. Inaugurated in 1993, the escalator shows you a magnificent cross-section of the dynamic life in this diverse, pulsating city. It runs downhill from 6 am to 10 am and uphill from 10.30 am to midnight and passes through the heart of trendy SoHo (the area named for being south of Hollywood Road).
Delight in some afternoon tea
The best way to savour your holiday moments with family/besties in the city of Hong Kong is to sip some of the finest teas and treat yourself to dainty nibbles against a dazzling skyline view. Afternoon tea indulgences are one of the enduring legacies of British occupation here. It would appear that for centuries, tea-houses were the city’s social, cultural and commercial centers. It was tea that made the British arrive in the 1800s, and it was tea that fueled the colony that they established. The fusion of cultures born out of tea can be said to have laid the foundation for Hong Kong’s modernity. Today, tea is still the beverage of choice.
*Whisper*The signature beverage among Hong Kongers, the Hong Kong-style milk tea, in fact, derives from India’s chai making tradition!
Most of the city’s best restaurants and hotels offer afternoon tea daily, but one of the more quintessential spots is in the lobby of The Peninsula, where people start to queue up before 2 pm. Much like the dim sums at Maxim’s Palace, afternoon tea at The Peninsula is a long standing Hong Kong tradition. Another great spot is the lobby of the InterContinental, where the opulent ceilings and gilded columns are a wonderful backdrop, but it’s the afternoon tea that has people returning over and over again. The menu offers a mix of classic Chinese teas and western blends by Mariage Frères alongside warm currant scones, Devonshire clotted cream, a quartet of tea sandwiches, and delightful pastries.
You get to take full advantage of the city’s cocktail revolution
Light, fruity drinks took a fitting turn toward a cocktail revolution in the city known as Asia’s business and travel hub. As you may have guessed, Hong Kong is a buzzing, fast paced city renowned world over for its dazzling nightlife and cosmopolitan streets. Well, it is also home to a variety of trendy cocktail bars. Cocktails were first started at the best hotels of the city. Its high octave style of entertainment ensures that Hong Kong’s cocktail culture ranks among the best in the world – from high-end hotel bars to underground speakeasies and a daring mix of both, Hong Kong’s cocktail culture has been spoken about lots and ranks among the best in the world. At Duddles, sample their creative signature tipple – the Opium is scotch laced with peach, poppy seed milk and a pinch of lime. While you are already giddy with drink, don’t forget to grab a topless Margarita or savor the delicate flavor of Chinese ginger. For whimsical concoctions and drinks that impress, check out Quinary, where bartenders ruthlessly push the limits of molecular mixology. The cocktails are crafted with liquid nitrogen and other fancy instruments. 001, a most exclusive underground speakeasy hidden behind an unmarked door, is for lovers of cocktails inspired by classics; Midnight Manhattan is made with cherry-and vanilla-infused bourbon. Sample garden-fresh spirits at Aberdeen Street Social or impress a client at The Captain’s Bar, one of the oldest bars in the city.
To enjoy cheap Michelin-starred cuisine. Did you ever imagine such a thing?
The best food and some of the finest meals of the world are surprisingly affordable in Hong Kong. Moreover, 58 of the city’s restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars and recommendations – and even those are cheaper than the restaurants of similar quality at other metropolitan towns. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well in Hong Kong; Hong Kongers don’t care for pretentious dining. Walk the trail of no-frills noodle and dumpling restaurants on Wellington Street and have your mind blown by cluster of cheap, delicious dining options; hobnob and share a seat (elbow-to-elbow, a lot of the time) with local foodies. For a taste of molecular gastronomy, head to Bo Innovation. Grab a seat at one of the long communal tables at Tsim Chai Kee and marvel at the prettiness of plump homemade minced fish balls and hand-pulled noodles. Catch a celebrity at Luk Yu Tea House on Stanley Street, a legendary institution known for its culinary authenticity that is low key at the same time. The ornate panelling, stained-glass windows and white tablecloths instantly gives you a sense of a traditional, animated teahouse. Tim Ho Wan, best known for their pork buns, is the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world.
Get away to the beaches and hike to the country parks
Hong Kong has about 40 public beaches with shark nets, showers, BBQ grills, changing rooms and lifeguards, and hundreds of private and public parkland beaches you can hike to for alone time. So there really is something for everyone. Less than an hour from the city center, you’ll come into some gorgeous beaches, reached easily by taxi, boat, or public transportation. Shek O Village is one of the most popular beaches, along with stretches of sand in Stanley and surrounding Repulse Bay. If you are looking for a more secluded experience, head to Lo So Shing Beach on the hiking trail from the Yung Shue Wan pier, or mosey into upsoiled Tai Long Wan on the eastern coast of Sai Kung Peninsula, one of the most beautiful places in all of Hong Kong. Travellers are often surprised to learn that one of the tiniest territories in the world reserves 40 per cent of its total land area for country parks – such as Shek O. Guides to hiking trails across mountainous terrain and remote valleys to hidden and largely deserted beaches are stocked at local bookshops around.
You will shop till you drop.
Hong Kong really is all about shopping. Expect to stumble upon one or multiple shopping frenzies on a tour of the city. Don’t stop at just one because Hong Kong’s street markets are diverse, and they scrupulously cater to various clienteles with different merchandise. Hollywood Road is one of the world’s most enticing antiques shopping areas, for instance, what with the Buddha sculptures, Maoist memorabilia, and Ming dynasty ceramic horsemen. And Temple Street Night Market (a traveler favourite and best example) bursts with fortune tellers, opera singers and vendors as they hawk clothing, kitschy bric-a-brac, fortune tellers, watches, fans, electronics, clothes, street-side karaoke, sex toys, and knock-off paintings – all for brilliant prices. Not to be missed.
Now ladies, you must head on over to The Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street in the Mong Kok neighborhood for women’s clothing and accessories. You can’t leave empty handed here; you can find anything here from a fake Gucci watch to a potato peeler. Amazingly, each bazaar also has its own ambience. Take a stroll through Stanley Market and don’t shy away from bargaining at this beautiful seaside market. Check out the colonial Murray House while you’re there.
Shopping lies at the heart of an authentic experience of Hong Kong – from high-end designer stores in lower Kowloon and Central and the frenzied malls of Causeway Bay to seedy environs of Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road (eat a curry here).
Chi Lin Nunnery
The large Buddhist complex of Chi Lin Nunnery is one of the most beautiful and arrestingly built environments in Hong Kong. It is a stunning recreation of Tang-dynasty architecture built in 1930. It is a most serene place come alive with lotus ponds, immaculate bonsai tea plants and bougainvillea, and silent nuns delivering offerings of fruit and rice to Buddha and disciples or chanting behind intricately carved screens. This extensive complex covers 33,000 square meters, including temple halls, Chinese gardens, a visitors’ hostel and a vegetarian restaurant.
Local fish delicacies at Jumbo Floating Restaurant
This internationally renowned tourist attraction is an iconic Hong Kong landmark, and guess what? It took over four years and millions of dollars to build one of the largest floating restaurants in the world. Ornamented in the style of ancient Chinese palace with grandiose surroundings, the Jumbo King is loved by both tourists and locals. The restaurant has played host to many international dignitaries and celebrities, including HM Queen Elizabeth II and film star Tom Cruise.
With opportunities and excitement at every turn, Hong Kong promises you the best holiday for the whole gang! Get in touch with TripFactory for a customized experience of Hong Kong.