Hong Kong is a densely populated island with strong international influences, but don’t be fooled, they still have plenty of their own culture to offer. There are also a few things about the city that might take you by surprise. It’s a tropical destination, surrounded by mountains and islands, with parts of it feeling more like Thailand than a financial epicentre. There will be more of language barrier than you anticipated and prices, just like their skyscrapers, are high.
Ho Lee Fook
This funky restaurant has Chinatown basement vibes with creative Asian fusion dishes. For those Sydney siders reading, it’s the child of Jowett Yu who co-founded Ms G and Mr Wong. It’s hard to order anything wrong from the menu.
This offers a modern take on Chinese dining, with traditional recipes in a contemporary space. Upon making a reservation, you’ll be told about their 42 day Apple Wood Roasted Peking Duck, which is prepared over 48 hours. I’ve never been a huge fan of duck and was slightly apprehensive about 3 females taking it on, but we were pleasantly surprised when it came with pancake accompaniments.
A new York Italian restaurant becoming famous around the world for their celebrity diners. It’s old school service and decor provides a fun ambience which makes it hard to believe you are still in Hong Kong. With a spicy vodka rigatoni and dessert trolley, the food certainly did not disappoint. The bill however is eye-watering, as is the wine list.
By now it’s a Hong Kong classic, set 25 floors up amongst billboards the size of buildings. Perfect for pre and post dinner drinks and I’ve heard from a good source that the food is great too.
The M Bar
Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, the M Bar has stunning views of the skyline and is a classy place to start your night.
SkyDeck at Ce La Vie
Another roof top bar with a live DJ and depending on the weather can sometimes feel like you are standing in the clouds.
This one isn’t a bar, it’s a nightclub resembling something you would find in St Tropez. Light up magnums of champagne and huge smoke machines makes for an extravagant night out, regardless it’s fun for people watching.
I’ll be surprised if you ventured to Hong Kong for many reasons other than shopping. Between The Landmark and IFC shopping malls you’ll find just about every international brand you can think of. There’s also plenty of dining options, meaning you can go days without ever seeing outside.
Lane Crawford is a high end department store found in the IFC with beautiful displays, carefully curated pieces and an epic homewares section. Down this end of the IFC there’s an entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel, their lobby restaurant is a great spot for lunch or coffee.
Shanghai Tang Mansion
The 4 storey flagship of this iconic lifestyle brand is a must see. If you’re unfamiliar with this contemporary-chic Chinese label, it has everything from beautiful silk scarves, to homewares and table settings. It wouldn’t be everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly worth a look.
Victoria’s Peak (& The Peak Tram)
When a friend and I asked our hotel concierge if it was possible to hike up to the top of Victoria’s Peak he very literally laughed in our face. The mode of transport is the tram, and once you do it, you’ll realise why he laughed. It’s the steepest funicular in the world, meaning you need to hold on to your seat. At 552 metres above sea level the view can be quite spectacular, if the sun is out and the smog has cleared.
Zoological and Botanical Gardens
This one took us by surprise, we stumbled across the zoo after hearing the loud calls of monkeys while passing through the park. It’s located at the base of Victoria Peak and has a large number of animals, including Meerkats and Orangutans.
A Hong Kong icon, the Aqua Luna is a traditional red-sailed Chinese junk. Many might opt for the 45 minute cruise around Victoria Harbour, however it can also be used as your mode of transport to Stanley. The trip takes 2 hours but you’ll venture out of the harbour and around the island, with yacht races and hundreds of tiny islands, you’ll discover Hong Kong’s true tropical potential.
Repulse Bay & Stanley Markets
After you’re sick of the IFC and in need of some fresh air, head over to the south side of Hong Kong Island where you will find the beachside Stanley Markets and Repulse Bay. Stop by Cabana for a ‘day club’ experience with sun-baking and Japanese baths. We were lucky enough to get it on a quiet day, but usually it turns into quite the party destination.
The Mandarin Oriental
Located conveniently in Central Hong Kong with traditional Chinese décor, as well as a comprehensive breakfast buffet (including an omelette station).
What we’ll be back for…
Upper House – Café Gray Deluxe
The most contemporary of the luxury hotels, with a great rooftop restaurant (and apparently, Turkey Club Sandwich).
The Murray Hotel
A 5-star boutique hotel slightly more affordable than the others, with modern furniture and park views.
Renowned contemporary Japanese dining with 11 locations around the world.
A new hipster shopping mall in a historic venue (it used to be the Police Married Quarters, dormitory for police officers), showcasing local artists & designers.
A new Indian fusion restaurant with lots of swagger.
Need to know
From Hong Kong International Airport it’s a very easy and cheap train ride into central, look for the Express train signs as you leave the terminal.