Hong Kong is not just a city; it’s a portal to the world – a myriad of cultures and lifestyles intertwined with colourful Chinese roots and colonial connections.
Combining modernity with tradition, and art with adventure, Asia’s world city has culture, history and the very essence of life pumping through its veins. A trip to this vibrant South China Sea island promises a journey through all life’s little joys and secret pleasures – from culinary gems and shopping galore to natural serenity and theatrical grandeur.
A taste of China, Asia and the world is just round the corner. But in a city as electric and diverse as Hong Kong, where do you even begin?
The Peak (Victoria Peak)
This may be an obvious suggestion, but The Peak really is the place to go for that postcard shot of Hong Kong. Take the 125-year-old Peak Tram above the jagged skyline of the city for breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the jungle of skyscrapers that lay below.
Work up an appetite browsing the abundance of shops or strolling along one of the many trails that The Peak has to offer before enjoying a bespoke dining experience served with stunning views over the majestic city.
Retail therapy like you’ve never seen it before. Causeway Bay is the beating heart of Hong Kong’s shopping scene, with a myriad of malls, department stores, restaurants, and little treats in a lively, compact area.
After parading the endless stream of international brands, and surfing the array of local stalls, your wallet may start to hurt as much as your feet. But this enthralling, chaotic slice of downtown Hong Kong is undoubtedly worth any financial or physical pain that may ensue.
Ngong Ping 360
Located in the charming and lively Ngong Ping Village, this 25-minute cable car ride through the heart of Hong Kong’s natural beauty is worthy of a number one spot on anyone’s “to-do in Hong Kong” bucket list. Crossing Tung Chung Bay towards North Lantau, Ngong Ping 360 takes the meaning of panoramic to new heights with outstanding 360-degree views of the South China Sea and the rolling hills of North Lantau County Park.
(Insider tip: for a truly multisensory experience, upgrade to a Crystal Cabin and enjoy the unforgettable, and slightly unnerving, sight of the earth stirring beneath your feet through the clear glass bottom of the cabin).
Ocean Park Hong Kong
Ocean Park Hong Kong is more than a theme park – it’s a celebration of nature. From cruising through the rainforest on a raft, to venturing deep underwater with over a hundred sharks, a trip to this award-winning attraction promises an adventure around the world and a journey through time. And if the miracles of nature aren’t thrilling enough, get your kicks from the array of death-defying roller coasters and rides that make this park the best day out in Hong Kong!
Photo: Hermeia Chan/Flickr
An aerial view of Hong Kong from the lofty heights of The Peak is beautiful, but to truly capture the splendour and magnitude of Hong Kong’s world-famous skyscraper skyline, you have to return to sea level for a memorable tour of Victoria Harbour.
Spend an afternoon leisurely cruising around the most celebrated landmarks and renowned architecture of Asia’s World City onboard an authentic Chinese junk. Alternatively, take an evening cruise and witness the lights and spirit of Hong Kong burst into life as the sun sets on the South China Sea – A Symphony of Lights Dinner Cruise is an absolute must.
The Hidden Gems
Nowhere else in the city is the buzz of Hong Kong more prominent than at the splash of colour and life that is the Ladies’ Market. Contrary to its name, this bustling marketplace has something for everyone – from male and female clothing to novelty gifts, the Ladies’ Market is the perfect place to go for a reasonably-priced shopping spree.
You may visit the Ladies’ Market for the shopping, but stay for the atmosphere – it’s electric, authentic and simply unmissable.
Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden
Photo: celine ☆/Flickr
If you’re feeling sporty, take this opportunity to hike up the 9km trail towards the summit of the mountain, Kwun Yum Shan, winding around picturesque organic farm terraces, botanic gardens and native forestry (there is also a minibus service if you’re looking for a more chilled out experience).
Fresh air, exercise and tranquillity – there are few better places to catch your breath from the pandemonium of Hong Kong than Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden.
In Hong Kong, anything goes. After all, where else in the world would you come across a 360 foot-long cruise liner in the middle of a housing estate? Whampoa Dockyard, formerly one of the busiest shipyards in Asia, became Whampoa Garden in 1985, and with this major transformation came a new landmark and hidden gem – The Whampoa!
Be sure to visit the spectacular ship-shaped mall, if not for the 300 shops, restaurants and theatre, then surely for the bizarre sight of a ship surrounded by the concrete ocean of Hong Kong!
Go to the beach…
Photo: finite possibilities/Flickr
After so much time in the shadows of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, take a moment to relax with the sun on your face and sand between your toes on one of Hong Kong’s many delightful bays and beaches. Lower Cheung Sha Beach is the perfect location for a sheltered swim or sandy stroll, and with a modest selection of restaurants and shops, you could easily spend a whole day at this glimpse of paradise.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous time in the sea, then Big Wave Beach is the place for you because…well the clue’s in the name! Other incredible beaches worth checking out include: Turtle Cove beach, Butterfly Beach Park, Lo So Shing Beach and Repulse Bay Beach.
Where to eat
Lung King Heen
Looking for somewhere special to feast in Hong Kong? There’s nowhere more special than Lung King Heen – the first Chinese restaurant in the world to be awarded a Michelin 3-star rating. Authentic Cantonese food, stunning harbour views and impeccable customer service – just a few reasons this fine restaurant brags the reputation as the best Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. Their exquisite selection of dim sum and fresh seafood is a must try, even if the prices are slightly boastful of the Michelin star rating.
Few cities in the world can compete with Hong Kong when it comes to international cuisine. Transport your taste buds to a cosy Alpine chalet with an evening to remember at Chesa. This little piece of Switzerland delightfully combines traditional Alpine décor with a delectable range of Swiss gastronomy, offering a hearty cheese fondue, raclette, or rösti in an unpretentious, welcoming environment.
Canton’s Dim Sum Expert
Tsim Sha Tsui, where the restaurant is located. Photo: Tama Leaver/Flickr
This unassuming little restaurant, inconspicuously tucked away underground downtown Tsim Sha Tsui, is one of Hong Kong’s great culinary surprises. Canton’s Dim Sum Expert takes palatability back to basics – no flashy décor, ostentatious staff or over expense – just great dumplings and quality service. With some of the best dim sum in Hong Kong, this authentic Asian dining experience is a favourite with the locals, and the perfect place for a quick, inexpensive lunch or late night snack.
Temple Street Market. Photo: kartografia/Flickr
Spice up your evening at the heart of Hong Kong with some of the finest Nepalese and Indian food in town. Beyond the dull, unattractive facade of Manakamana Restaurant, you’ll discover a world of celestial aromas and mouth-watering flavours.
Indulge your senses with the exquisite array of curries, dumplings and naans Manakamana Restaurant has to offer, and at more than reasonable prices. Take a break from the chaos of Temple Street Market for an enchanting meal at one of Hong Kong’s most popular hidden treasures.
Contemporary French cuisine served with all the elegance, charm and artisanal qualities of a classic Parisian restaurant, Caprice is the perfect venue to cap your Hong Kong dining experience. Admire the unwavering beauty of Victoria Harbour whilst pampering your taste buds with a heavenly selection of succulent meats, fresh seafood and tantalising desserts. Roasted Brittany Lobster and Caramelised Pigeon Breast don’t come cheap, but, combined with the stunning location and exceptional service, they are worth every single penny.
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This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by American Express.