12 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO BOOK A FLIGHT TO HONG KONG ASAP
When describing the luxurious skyline, the stunning lush natural landscape and iconic cuisine of Hong Kong, one can only think of vibrancy and melting pot of culture. At risk of sounding a little Lonely Planet-ish, there’s actually something for everyone (and we’re not exaggerating!).
I flew to Hong Kong (en route to London from Auckland) with the wonderful Cathay Pacific Airlines. Incase you are new to Cathay Pacific — no other airline in the world has been named “Airline of the Year” as often as this Hong Kong based airline. Also, Hong Kong International Airport has been voted the “Best Airport” 8 times in a row. So if you’re just transiting through, I’d suggest using your points or doing a cheeky upgrade to get into the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge (they have a dumpling bar, tea room, Aesop products and Tom Dixon fit-out!) And, we have to admit — Cathay Pacific wins our vote for “The Best Airline Food” in the world. We have got a taste for Hong Kong right from the get-go (thanks to Cathay Pacific Airlines), but now it’s time to explore the city.
4 incredible women living in Hong Kong to share their insight on little local gems and best kept secrets you wouldn’t normally witness with the everyday travel guide.
WHAT TO EAT, DRINK AND SEE IN HONG KONG —- RECOMMENDATIONS FROM HONG KONG LOCALS :
THE BEST WAY TO START YOUR DAY IN HONG KONG
Images // NOC
If you're looking to kick start your morning with a hearty breakfast and a strong cup of specially brewed coffee at NOC (stands for Not Only Coffee). Their smoked salmon and guacamole toast paired with their seasonal brews is an indulgent way to start the morning. They have three locations now in HK and most of their venues are open, airy and have natural light spilling in from their floor to ceiling windows. - Recommended by Nishita Raj, SMB Account Manager, Facebook
2. TAKE AN ADVENTUROUS HIKE
Images // Sassy HK
Once fuelled up and if the weather permits, I highly recommend doing a hike. (I'm a sucker for all the hikes the city offers; as it's a great way to escape the concrete jungle and experience a real jungle which is usually just a 20 - 30 minute cab ride away!)
Dragon's back hike - head towards the east end of HK island; Chai Wan (easily accessible by the MTR or a 20 min cab ride from central). The hike gives you another view of HK - minus sky scrappers and an abundant view of the ocean, sandy beaches and lush green terrain. Overall it's a 2 1/2 hour hike, so pack water and wear a hat as there's no shade in some parts of the trail. Once completed, you can catch a bus (Bus No.9) that takes you down to the famous southern eastern beach called Shek-O.
By far the best way to unwind after a long hike - relax on the beach and enjoy a refreshing dip in the water. If you're hungry (which I usually was) there's a few restaurants by the beach too choose from. A cheap and cheerful choice (which never disappointed!) is the Shek-o Chinese & Thai Restaurant which serves up a delicious pad thai, killer pork neck salad and fresh ice cold coconut water - perfect to rehydrate after that long hike! - Nishita Raj
3. NO HIKE, NO PROBLEM. A LONG YUM CHAR LUNCH IS A MUST IN HK
Images // @YumChaHK
When it comes to adorable and unique dim sum, we look no further than Yum Cha. Home to the famous “vomiting” custard buns, this resto is an Instagrammer’s delight! With locations in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, Yum Cha is easily accessible whichever side of the harbour you’re on. It also has incredibly attractive offerings for lunch and dinner that you can order alongside the famous custard buns. The delicious char siu bao (BBQ pork buns) even look like the three little pigs! Not only is a meal at Yum Cha engaging and totally Instagram friendly, it tastes wonderful too.
Images // Living + Nomad
A Hong Kong classic with a few locations scattered throughout the city, from Hong Kong Station to Sham Shui Po, Tim Ho Wan is a must try. This local spot is possibly the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, meaning the queues start early, but the wait is oh-so worth it. It’s no reservations, so plan your timing strategically and make sure you order the world famous Crispy Char Sir Baos! The crunchy, yet light-as-air buns burst with sweet, tender pork and BBQ sauce and come on a serving plate of three buns. We usually order a plate each – don’t judge it ’til you’ve tried it. Even eating to our heart’s (and stomach’s) content, we never seem to spend more than $50 to $80 per person!
- Recommended by Tania Shroff, Editor, Sassy Hong Kong
4. SHOP AT THE FAMOUS LADIES MARKET
You can hardly say you visited Mong Kok without ever stepping foot in the famous Ladies Market. The 1km stretch is jam packed with stalls selling clothing, accessories, toys, electrical items, souvenirs and so much more! It’s always bustling. Go at night because the streets light up and the place really comes alive. The quickest to get to The Ladies Market is by getting out at Exit B3 of Mong Kok Station. Check it out and see what wonders you come away with…
- Tania Shroff, Sassy Hong Kong
5. DISCOVER TSIM SHA TSUI (SOUTHERN KOWLOON)
There's tonnes of restaurants to discover in Tsim Sha Tsui, (TST) from African food stalls to Omakase sushi bars. Alongside you'll find designer brands to thrift shops and also a famous area where tailors can whip up a suit in under 24 hours. Once you've taken in all the crazy lights and sound of TST, I'd recommend having a 'drink at the world's highest bar' at Ozone (Ritz Carlton) for a killer view of HK island while sipping some seriously high- altitude beverages!!
If you're looking to continue indulging in more cocktails & nibbles here's a few more recommendations :
Ping Pong; Gin fans look no further! It's a cool stylish underground bar that offers 35 varieties of gin while nibbling on some delicious Spanish tapas. FoxGlove - If you're after a high end speakeasy with live jazz music & delicious french food - this spot in Central is for you. - Nishita Raj
6. DINE AT MOTT 32
I love this restaurant for its food and ambience: delicious modern Chinese cuisine set in a beautifully designed, unique interior: it’s moody, sophisticated, mysterious - and always popular. Tip: book ahead, and when making a reservation, make sure to let them know (normally a day in advance) that you’ll be ordering the Peking duck (it’s famous - don’t miss it).
- Recommended by Parveen Ebrahim, Founder & Yoga Teacher at The Yoga Effect HK.
7. OR — DINE ON SHIP STREET
Images || threebadmice.com
Ship street is full of restaurants - English chef Jason Atherton of Pollen St Social has two joints on this street called 22 Ships (AMAZING tapas) and Ham & Sherry (has a cool secret bar behind the restaurant). Definitely check out Ashley Sutton’s first HK bar - Ophelia at L’Avenue - it’s one of the most stunning bars in Hong Kong -
Recommended by Jolene Chen, Designation: Head of Marketing, APAC. Vestiaire Collective
8. WHERE TO DRINK?
Images // Suitcase Magazine
Drink: Soho and the famous Lan Kwai Fong is buzzing any night, any time of the year and always worth visiting for first time travellers. But if you’re looking for a drink somewhere chic and away from the crowds, look UP!
Many of Hong Kong’s best finds for shopping, eating and drinking are never at street level, instead you need to travel up many of the city's towering skyscrapers. More often than not, if you head to the very top floors you’ll find the best rooftop bars for city-gazing (and people-watching) - Parveen Ebrahim, Founder & Yoga Teacher at The Yoga Effect HK.
9. VICTORIA PEAK IS A MUST
Images // Tumblr
A must to do as a visitor is to soak in the HK skyline. Grab the peak tram and head up to Victoria Peak. Once on top, take in the gorgeous HK skyline along with the uninterrupted view of Kowloon Bay.
Slow down after taking the beautiful views by exploring the neighborhood of Sheung Wan. It has some of the oldest markets such as the medicine street (which hasn't changed in over 60 years!), graham food market and the dried seafood market. Visit the Man Mo Temple (a beautiful old temple which pays homage to the god of war & literature) which is right next to the antique & cat street. (Hint; you'll find some inexpensive pottery, jewelry and coins there - great if you're on a hunt for old trinklets!) - - Nishita Raj
10. FOR AN AUTHENTIC HK EXPERIENCE VISIT TAI O FISHING VILLAGE FOR A DAY TRIP
Images // Vanessa Jackman
Tai O should be added to everyone’s Hong Kong bucket list. A quaint fishing village with houses built on stilts, it you’re looking for an authentic Hong Kong experience, this is it. It is also very instagrammable, for those looking to up the ante on their grid. But the best thing about it? You’ll feel worlds away from Hong Kong’s bustling energy and concrete streets. Best time to visit is weekdays (avoid weekend rush).- Tania Shroff, Sassy Hong Kong
11. WHERE TO STAY?
Images // The Fleming by Blessthisstuff
The Fleming - A boutique hotel in the heart of Wanchai inspired by Hong Kong's iconic cross harbour ferries.
Tuve - stylish minimal boutique hotel around the corner from bustling Causeway Bay.
Upper House - An intimate luxury hotel in Admiralty, above the hustle and bustle of the city.
Pottinger - Charming luxury boutique hotel conveniently located in Central HK.
-Recommended by Jolene Chen, Head of Marketing, APAC. Vestiaire Collective
12. BIG BUDDHA AND A CABLE CAR RIDE
Big Buddha - On Lantua Island must be experienced by taking the cable cars ( beautiful views to be experienced if you're not afraid of heights!) Best time to visit is during the week, when it’s less busy. You can combine Tai O Fishing Village & Big Buddha and do it in one day.
TRAVEL TIPS TO HONG KONG FOR NEWBIES :
- Take the Airport Express to and from the airport. It's only a 20 minute journey from the airport to Central HK, far quicker and cheaper than taking a taxi. You can also already check in your suitcases at the Airport Express in Central HK on your journey back (so you don't have to lug it with you onto the train when heading back to the airport)
- Make sure to carry cash as taxis do not take credit card payments.
- Bring a light sweater/ wrap scarf as the air-conditioning indoors especially in malls/restaurants/cinemas can be rather chilly.
- Visit the newly opened Tai Kwun (Centre for Heritage & Arts), formerly the city's Central Police Station. It's smack in the middle of central HK where all the bars and restaurants are.
- Lamma Island - A 30 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong to escape the hustle and bustle.
-Always always always carry a mini umbrella with you, the weather in Hong Kong is totally unpredictable.
-Best time to visit is September to February.
-If you are visiting for a while, get the octopus card for tourists called “On-Loan Octopus” which requires you to pay a refundable deposit that covers the card cost. You can use this card like a pre-paid debit card for travel, 7/11 and even McDonalds! Octopus cards can be purchased at all MTR stations, but the best thing to do is buy one at the Airport Express station at the Hong Kong airport.
-Hong Kong does incredible street food. Here is a really good beginners guide to Hong Kong’s street snacks.
-Taxis are insanely cheap in HK but most drivers aren’t too friendly, also some don't speak English so I'd recommend downloading this app which translates english addresses into Chinese - you can then show them the Chinese address on the screen: https://itunes.apple.com/hk/app/hong-kong-taxi-translator/id438401655?mt=8)
Recommendations by Hong Kong locals :
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