Hong Kong is often referred to as the gateway to China, this former British colony in southeastern China perfectly blends eastern and western cultures. Hong Kong is densely populated, vibrant and and full of energy from the minute you arrive till the second you leave. Towering skyscrapers sit in perfect harmony next to colonial buildings and traditional Chinese temples. If shopping is on your list then you are in the right place and every foodie will love the city’s restaurant scene. From Cantonese dim sum, traditional afternoon tea to local noodle bars right through to some of the best Michelin star restaurants in the world.
So whether you have been to the city once or 100 times, here are some not to be missed experiences.
Taking a trip on the Star Ferry
The Star Ferry is far more than your average mode of transport, this is one of the city’s much loved icons. For over 120 years the ferry has played an important role in transporting passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back, a trip limited to The Star Ferry up until 1978 when the Cross-Harbor Tunnel opened. Not only does this provide a means of travel, you are also exposed to utterly breath-taking views.
For a mere dollar a ride you can enjoy second to none views of one of the worlds most photographed harbors. With around 12 ferries in service, some dating from as far back as the 1950’s, and leaving every 10-12 minutes, taking a ride on The Star Ferry is an absolute must.
Shop Shop Shop
From top end to top find, Hong Kong offers a multitude of shopping experiences to suit all matter of budgets and tastes. Whether it is the latest designer trends fresh off the runway or a real taste for tourist free trinkets Hong Kong delivers.
An everyday part of life for the locals, the bustling and vibrant markets are not to be overlooked. Not only can you immerse yourself in local culture but you’ll also be able to grab a bargain here. For the real Chinese market experience pay a visit to Ladies Market and Temple Street Market, both situated within the busy shopping area of Mongkok.
For the luxury seekers amongst us, Nathan Road should be your first point of call. Running through one of the most important shopping areas within Hong Kong, there is a wealth of choice available, from luxury designer houses to local fashion brands. However, if your loyalty lies with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel or Miu Miu then this is the place for you. You will find your favorite names and much more.
For those of us who strive to dig a little deeper, the K11 Concept Mall situated at 18 Hanoi Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, is for you. Coined as the worlds first art concept mall, the design lead décor is a spectacle of its own. An array of fashion, lifestyle and trendy artisan experiences are on offer.
Dim Sum and Chinese Tea
It would, after all, be a sin to visit Hong Kong and not try Dim Sum in its native setting. You are utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting your Dim Sum destination. If you really fancy pushing the boat out, then you must pay Fook Lam Moon a visit, situated in the metropolitan area of Wan Chai. The Michelin Starred restaurant is a common meeting ground for the rich and famous. This extravagant stretch to luxury dining is not for the faint-hearted, prices are high, reflecting the opulent setting and top class dishes.
For a price tag that’s easier to digest whilst not compromising on taste or quality head along to Tim Ho Wan, coined the ‘cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world’, situated in the Sham Shui Po area of Hong Kong. Here you can expect to queue but it will be well worth the wait.
Feeling thirsty? Tea and Chinese culture come hand in hand. Tea is enjoyed throughout the day, and with the numerous different varieties to pick from there is something for everyone. Why not indulge in one of Hong Kong’s decadent traditions and enjoy afternoon tea at The Clipper Lounge. To accompany your tea in this aromatic and relaxed atmosphere, try one of their grilled cheese and truffle sandwich. Complete indulgence.
Take A Tram To Victoria Peak
Known locally as ‘The ‘Peak’, Victoria Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong, this is impressive, and the breath-taking views are simply stunning. The Peak Tram, a 120-year-old funicular is your mode of transport and undoubtedly an experience in itself. By the light of day, your view is filled with dazzling skyscrapers and Victoria Harbor, whilst early evening see’s the sky melt into dreamy colors, engulfing the brilliant horizon and transforming it into an illuminated vision of hustle and bustle. With eateries, shops and the Peak Tram Historical Gallery all situated within the area, this is certainly an all encompassing activity.
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple, in Sheung Wan, is said to be the oldest of its kind within Hong Kong. Built in 1847 by Taoists, the picturesque temple worships two idols; the God of literature and the God of War. This was once a place of meeting in order to settle disputes, whilst the two God’s were also worshiped by eager students looking for success. Today people can be found burning giant coils of incense that hang from the ceilings in the hope of attracting the attention of the God’s. If you feel curious, there are numerous stalls housing fortune-tellers scattered around the temple!
Lantau Island Giant Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha)
If the 268 steps leading up to this giant bronze statue haven’t left you breathless, then the grandeur certainly will. The Tian Tan Buddha, alternatively known as simply the Big Buddha, was completed in 1993 and is located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. Towering above the once remote monastery, the Tian Tan Buddha sits at 34 meters high, drawing in pilgrims from all over Asia and further a field. Considered one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sacred temples it is well worth a visit to this monument within the impressive mountain scenery.
Taking a Tram on Island Side
Whilst in Hong Kong take the opportunity to explore the sights on one of the city’s historic trams. Not only do you get an undiluted experience of the double-deckers which have been running since 1904, but its also an affordable way to get around. Named by the locals as the ‘Ding Ding’, due to the non-stop chiming, there are different routes to pick from spanning the 13 km line. From Kennedy Town on the West to Shau Kei Wan in the East and 100 stops in-between, you’ll see the real Hong Kong street life whilst soaking up the landscape and culture.
Happy Valley Race Course
Whether horse racing is your cup of tea or not, the Happy Valley Race Course is certainly worthy of a visit. The whole experience of spirited crowds and magnificent horses alongside world-class dining equates to an electrifying experience. With eateries, bars, lounges and a theatre for private viewing, there is something to make this the perfect day out for everyone. The popular beer garden offers fantastic views of the racecourse alongside chilled drinks and to really set off the whole outdoor sensation there is even a barbeque! With top-notch racing, a dynamic atmosphere and surrounded by Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, this is the place for tourists, enthusiasts and jockeys alike.
Taking a Trip On The Aqua Luna
The Aqua Luna, ‘Cheung Po Tsai’ in Cantonese, is the perfect vessel in which to cruise the Victoria Harbor. The junk (an ancient design of Chinese sailing ship still in use today) was hand built using traditional methods which only serves to add to its splendor. The project took 18 months and was overseen by a local craftsman and shipbuilder. An impressive upper deck with fantastic views is complimented by the atmospheric lower deck saloon. The distinctive red sails and authentic artistry make this harbor tour a must do.
Images supplied by Tim Draper
Text by Ross @theluxuryeditor