There is so much to see and do in Hong Kong, it’s hard to know where to start! We first visited Hong Kong 8 years ago and ticked off some of the more obvious travel sights: Victoria Peak viewing platform and riding the Peak Tram, the Symphony of Lights show at night along Hong Kong Harbour, a day trip over to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha, and the various markets of Mong Kok.
This time our trip was a quick weekend getaway from Singapore, so our focus was on soaking up the food, drink, and atmosphere of this lively city.
See / Do
Catch a Star Ferry: For excellent views of the city skyline, catch the Star Ferry across Hong Kong Harbour from the Central Ferry Pier to Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s extremely cheap for a ticket (ie. 60 cents for one way!!) and a really fun way to see the city. When you reach the Kowloon side make your way to the Avenue of the Stars for plenty of photo taking opportunities, or grab a seat on the steps to soak up the views.
Admire the Architecture: Hong Kong’s skyline is both huge and vast, and what I particularly love is the mixture of modern skyscrapers blended in with the local housing development buildings from the 1960’s. One of the most impressive collections of these residential tower blocks is located in Quarry Bay. It is famously nicknamed ”The Monster Building” (from the Transformers Movie!) and is a photographer’s dream. Keep in mind this is private property, so please be respectful when visiting the complex.
Explore Shueng Wan & SoHo: I always believe the best way to explore and experience a neighbourhood is by foot. So grab your camera and set off for a stroll though the streets of Shueng Wan and SoHo neighbourhoods. You’ll stumble across local produce markets, trendy cafes, as well as an impressive display of street art (concentrated around Hollywood Road). Here you can also ‘ride’ the famous mid-level escalators. This is the perfect area to get lost in, immersing yourself in the buzz of daily life.
A View from Above: Taking in the views from Victoria Peak is a must do on any Hong Kong visit, but if you are also keen to keep active then I would highly recommend hiking to the top via the Lung Fu Shan Morning Trail. The trail winds you up and around the mountain, with occasional breaks in the surrounding tree line to surprise you with beautiful vistas of the city below.
It’s a great way to work off all your eating and drinking, whilst dodging the tourist crowds (there is mainly locals and their dogs out here!). Follow the mid-level escalators all the way to the top, getting off on Conduit Road. Then head right along Conduit Road for about a 20 minute walk to Hatton Road, where you’ll find the beginning of the trail. As the name suggests, it’s best to set off in the morning to avoid the heat of the day.
If you’ve got more time and love hiking, then check out Jardines Lookout. It’s quite a long walk at about 3 hours all up, but takes you along a trail with some truly impressive vistas. Sadly we didn’t have enough time to fit this in, but it would certainly be on the hit list for a return visit. There’s a really good write up on this blog, which gives a good teaser of the views along the track!
Eat / Drink
SoHo (the area known as ”South of Hollywood Road”) has an array of narrow streets packed with excellent restaurants and bars, including many ‘hole-in-the-wall’ places. It is THE place to be for after-work dinner and drinks on a Friday.
Ho Lee Fook: Probably the most enjoyable meal of our trip, Ho Lee Fook has a buzzing atmosphere with utterly delicious plates of modern Asian food. Accompanied by an ice cold Tsing Tao or one of their impressive cocktails, you’ll quickly ascend to foodie-heaven. You can’t miss the entrance to this basement restaurant; you’ll know you’ve found it once you see the wall lined with Lucky Golden Cats!
Chifa Dumpling House: A fusion restaurant (this time HK meets Peruvian!) in a modern but casual setting, perfect for ticking off your dumpling cravings. Dining for one or two? Then grab a spot up at the bar, and overlook the chefs juggling orders within the open kitchen.
65 Peel Street: An epic craft beer list with laid-back vibes. All tap beers are from Hong Kong microbreweries, but there is also a list of international bottled beer too. If the bar is full inside, pull up a plastic stool roadside to watch the world go by.
The Old Man: Awarded No. 5 on the Worlds Top 50 Best Bars List, is a speakeasy style cocktail bar hidden down a stairwell just off Staunton Street. Here you will find expertly made cocktails in the most intimate of settings (it only has space for about 25 people max!). Yes, you’ll have to queue, and yes, it’s not cheap (similar to Singapore prices), but it’s worth it! A great choice for a celebratory drink, or a cosy date night.
Coffee / Cafes
Hong Kong is actually a coffee lovers paradise; you just need to know where to go to find the pick of the bunch! Here is a list of some of our favourites:
- %Arabica: after tasting their coffee in Kyoto, we knew we had to find this place. Same great quality coffee, and with branches at either side of the Hong Kong Harbour, it’s perfect for coffees on-the-go.
- Coco Espresso: serving up great quality coffee and pastries. The best coffee we had in SoHo!
- Why50: a popular place for breakfast, and for a healthy choice I would recommend the fruit and yogurt pot. Good coffee, but tend to run on the milkier side.
- The Cupping Room: serves up an excellent cortado. A few locations about Hong Kong, but the Queens Road outlet in Shueng Wan has a nice and relaxed vibe.
- NOC Graham Street: strong delicious coffee and the best breakfast of our weekend. We ordered the avocado toast and acai muesli pot, and both were SO good!
Where to Stay
There is so much accommodation to choose from in Hong Kong, it can actually be an overwhelming choice. The choice most likely depends on your budget, and which neighbourhood you’d like to be based in. We wanted to be central and amongst the cafe and bar scene of SoHo, so we ended up booking our stay at 99 Bonham. Chic and modern decor with big rooms (some with incredible city views), this was the perfect choice. Just keep in mind it’s not a full service hotel so you won’t find additional services such as room service. However they do have a rooftop space that you can chill out on, and the location is spot on.
The easiest and most efficient way to get into central Hong Kong from the airport is via the Airport Express Train. The journey to Hong Kong Central will only take you 25 minutes. I would highly recommend grabbing an Octopus Card from the ticket counter at the airport; this will cover the cost of the airport express ticket but then can be topped up and used to get about the city on the MTR train network. The HK traffic can be pretty dire, so best to utilise public transport where you can. There is a super handy write up on Octopus ticket prices and usage on TripSavvy.