Hong Kong is the gateway to Asia, buzzing with a vibrant culture of east meets west, and old meets new. But it can be overwhelming for first time visitors, so I’ve put together an easy guide so you can get the most out of this wonderful city.
1. GAWK AT SKYSCRAPERS
They are hard to miss given there are over 7000 high-rise buildings making Hong Kong the world’s most vertical city. There are plenty of vantage points around the city; the classic skyline viewing area at Tsim Sha Tsui, atop Victoria Peak, or my favourite – a rooftop bar, with a cocktail in hand.
2. EAT DIM SUM
You should never go hungry in HK! Expect to stuff yourself silly on BBQ pork buns, shrimp dumplings and noodles. The best bit – dim sum is quick, delicious and affordable at $US3-4 a dish. The best cheap and cheerful spots are One Dim Sum, Lin Heung Tea House, and the cheapest Michelin Star in the world, Tim Ho Wan.
3. SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Hong Kong is a shopping mecca. Be warned: it varies from cheap to stupid expensive with not a lot in the middle. At one end of the scale you have typical hawker markets like the Ladies Market, Temple Street Night Market, and Stanley Markets, that peddle the usual tourist wares. At the other end of the spectrum are high-end luxury designers that occupy prime positions in every district. My personal pick for something unique is the PMQ in Soho. This historic building is home to up and coming designers, pop-up shops and boutiques.
4. VISIT A TEMPLE
You will find temples at every turn in Hong Kong so no need to go too far out of your way. There’s the historic Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road dating back to 1847, the colourful Wong Tai Sin, where you can have your fortune read, or the scenic Tian Tan Big Buddha with the Po Lin Monastery next door.
5. GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Most people don’t realise that 75% of HK is designated Country Park full of walking trails. For hardcore hikers there are the MacLehose, Lantau and Hong Kong Trails. If you are more of a weekend wanderer my top picks are the famous Dragon’s Back on HK Island or the Family Trail on Lamma Island. Both can be squeezed into a morning or afternoon.
6. KICK BACK WITH COCKTAILS AT A ROOFTOP BAR
All this sight-seeing is thirsty work and there is no better way to relax than with a drink in hand and a view to die for. My favourites are Eye Bar, the world’s highest rooftop bar, Ozone, or Wooloomooloo. If these are all out of your budget, head to the nearest 7/11 to grab a drink, and hit the rooftop of IFC Mall in Central!
7. GET YOURSELF AN OCTOPUS CARD
Save yourself time and money by buying an Octopus Card immediately when you arrive. Pay $150 ($50 deposit, $100 credit) at the ticket counter of any MTR station or at the airport, and you can tap and go on trains, buses, trams, ferries, 7/11, Starbucks, McDonalds and more! Even better when you leave you can take it back and collect your deposit and any remaining funds on the card.