I’ve been (Rebecca) lucky enough to visit Hong Kong with work numerous times and always came back brimming with excitement so it made complete sense for us to stop in and see what all the fuss was about en route to Indonesia. Compact for a city and a beautiful mix of Chinese culture without the rigidity of the mainland and the relaxed vibes that you would find in European cities and big city boroughs. People call it NYC of the east, we would say its not even worth comparing but lets say New York may have a rival.....
Things to Note -
- Hong Kong was a British colony which means most hotels have a British plug and they drive just like us.
- The metro is efficient but you will notice there aren't 100's of stops, they have an intricate map of tunnels taking you to what you think is the metro only to walk 1 mile underground to the actual train. We ended up walking the majority of it meaning you see a lot more of the city.
- Hong Kong was hands down the safest city we have ever visited, not once did we feel intimidated. I mean always take care but you should be A-Ok.
- It can get crazy hot here in summer and their electrical storms are a sight to behold. Definitely visit September through April.
- Its bloody hilly.
- Thank you is 'M Goi' pronounced (erm goy) they laugh so hard every time you do it but in typical British style you just can't help but say thank you for things that don't need it.
- Embrace the food, I've been to China innumerable times and Hong Kong is a foodie heaven in comparison. If you are offered chicken feet try them, they might just be the next wing...
The best place to see the vast metropolis below, we would highly recommend researching a few hikes before you head up and getting off the beaten tracks to take in the views and enjoy the cooler air. You have to queue both up and down for the tram and this can take quite a while! If you are feeling fit and the weather is temperate you can hike down but it is not for the faint hearted.
Kowloon - The closest you can get to China without crossing the border, Kowloon is a vibrant borough where the locals congregate around the innumerable markets (The flower and bird markets were a highlight) We would recommend a star ferry over early evening, a wander around the markets accompanied by some street food and a final stop on the harbour to watch the sky go dark and the lights turn bright on the islands skyscrapers. Its worth noting the ferry is much cheaper than the metro and runs on a pretty frequent timetable (with a much better view)
Western market - Theres something sad about Hong Kong in that no architecture is particularly sacred, as the land is so expensive if a single storey can be levelled to put a 99 storey building in its place it unfortunately turns to rubble. The western Market still stands and although by British standards is nothing to shout home about architecturally in contrast to its more contemporary neighbours it screams history and for that reason alone warrants a visit.
Flower market Kowloon - As mentioned above this market is an Instagram dream, in typical eastern style there are 100 different versions of the same thing but they split each shop down by style, so there are orchid shops, tropical plants exotic species and so on. You sometimes even find a bird in there that has lost its way from the neighbouring bird market.
Man Mo Temple - one of a few rare buildings that has listed status and dates back to the 1800's this temple is a welcome respite from the hectic neighbouring financial district. Inside are numerous historical artefacts and beautiful areas for a little reflection.
PMQ - Pack your trainers and spend the day wandering the old Police Married Headquarters, now converted into tiny indie design shops from what used to be the policeman's family home. The shops are to die for and there are innumerable places eat and drink. Also worth noting on the ground floor is the renowned Jason Atherton's, Aberdeen Street Social restaurant for amazing food and drinks.
Homeless - there are a few scattered around and are always worth popping into. Brimming with unique homewares, tech and lighting you could get lost in there. Just remember to leave some space in your case!
Star Street, Wan Chai - This area always feel like a hidden secret, head uphill from Queens Road East and you will be transported to a little metropolitan village, brimming with a mix of independent shops, coffee shops and cool eateries where you can easily while an afternoon away. Just don't tell anyone...
Maxims - Set within city hall (if you want to people watch this place is the best, it churns through numerous weddings a day!) get over early as the queues are insane. Something of an (overrated) institution in Hong Kong, grab a table and watch the waitresses wheel around hundreds of dim sum dishes, just remember to ask what they are before you commit if you are a picky eater. Boiled chicken feet anyone?
Social Place - You know you have dropped on when nobody in the restaurant speaks English and you are the only non locals in sight. You get a menu and a bingo card, dab what you want and tuck in. The truffle shitake buns are to die for ( they even look like a mushroom) and there are a surprising amount of veggie options. Best place we visited, just a shame it was on our last night.
The pawn - Set in an incredible old tenement building, request a balcony seat and watch the sky change colour whilst the trams rumble along underneath. We would highly recommend the baked Rum Alaska and then nip for a cocktail in the bar. We did this on the first night to stave off the jetlag, it worked a treat.
Chacha wan - Nestled in a pretty cool area full of vintage and antique shops this Issan Thai restaurant was the perfect spot to escape the heat and grab some alternative eats. The food was good but neither of us expected what we ordered, even so definitely worth a stop.
Crafty cow - located just around the corner from Chacha Wan in PoHo their brunch is legendary and is well worth the trip up, even with a hangover. The truffle grilled cheese is worth it we promise.
Fish and meat - Located in Central, the most western area in HK, we stopped here for an impromptu dinner and it was bloody good if not a little pricey. This area was good for wandering around and taking in the numerous bars scattered around, we just found it a little too seedy late on a Friday night (The place where the foreign business men let their hair down) but would highly recommend an afternoon here.