Hong Kong is a city I associate with family, food, and shopping... I still associate it with family, food, and shopping (ha), but it was fun to experience the city for the first time travelling by myself.
I am of the belief that it's a waste of annual leave if you're not going on a trip somewhere. So at some point, I decided that taking a 12 hour flight for a few days in Hong Kong, to take advantage of an office closure, was a great idea. It was. Tiring, but great.
Like many other Asian cities, Hong Kong is fast paced with new buildings popping up at an alarming rate. Leaving a couple of years between visits can certainly highlight the changes. This was the first time I got to see the creative side of Hong Kong and I loved the design culture that is emerging.
Hong Kong is a common stopover for long haul flights and spending a few days in the city is a great way to break up that flight time. There really is something for everyone - food (obviously first and most important), nightlife, shopping, culture, and even nature. Whilst I could never live in Hong Kong (the sheer number of people and general lack of personal space would drive me mad), it's definitely a city I will continue to visit.
I hope you enjoy some of fave spots and please let me know if you have any favourites you think I should visit! L x
Accommodation in Hong Kong can be expensive, so this time I didn't stay quite so central. I actually enjoyed being a little further away from the bustle of the city, and my room at Pentahotel was pretty damn cute. Located in Diamond Hill, in Kowloon, Pentahotel is well equipped and only a short shuttle from Tsim Sha Tsui. If it's your first time in HK you might want to stay closer to the action. In which case, TUVE in Causeway Bay is on my wishlist for my next visit - a minimalist's dream!
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTS
A new find on my last trip, courtesy of my friend Rose, the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre is a former explosives magazine, and a stunning piece of architecture. Restorations of historical buildings can be a tricky one and it's nice to see an architectural treatment that is sympathetic to the existing structure, and yet not afraid to be contemporary. Surrounded by trees, the Asia Society Centre can be a peaceful respite from the chaos that is HK.
I think the best way to see Hong Kong is from the water and the best way to get from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon or vice versa is on the Star Ferry. Whenever I cross the harbour, I try anId take the ferry instead of the MTR. It’s super cheap and the views are just beautiful (even on a hazy day). Make sure you take this at least once during the day and once at night so you get to admire the pretty night skyline in all its guises.
For archinerds who fangirl or fanboy over Zaha Hadid, a stop by the PolyU Innovation Tower is a must. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go inside and the facade was still being worked on when I was there. It certainly isn’t my favourite of Zaha’s work (it looks alien in its surrounds, even more so than usual for a Zaha building), but the concrete base is beautiful!
I've become much more aware of my obsession with the work of Norman Foster in the last few years (special mention to the Gherkin), so I couldn't visit Hong Kong without seeing the HSBC Building. It's really stood the test of time.
Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden is a little bit out of the centre of HK, in Diamond Hill on the Kowloon side (which is just a stone throw's away from Pentahotel). A lot of people visit HK and never visit this place, probably because of it's location, but it’s stunning. Go early before it gets too busy, as there are still busloads of tourists who do make the trek!
Probably one of my favourite pieces of architecture in Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Cultural Centre is located in Tsim Sha Tsui and it’s pale pink tiled facade is pretty hard to miss. Make sure you walk the whole way around it, the undercroft area when the light streams in is perfection.
The Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak is a tourist highlight. I love it. It can get crazy busy on weekends, so be prepared to queue at peak (pun intended) times. If you’re into walking/hiking, the walk up The Peak is great. Or if you're not feeling quite so energetic, take the tram up and walk down.
PMQ is an arts precinct that has kind of become a bit of a hipster hang out since it opened. There are some interesting boutiques and studios here, definitely worth checking out.
FOOD & DRINK
Number one on the list when I’m in HK are Daan Tart (or egg custard tart). The best are from Tai Cheong Bakery, which has a few outlets. Think delicious pastry filled with silky smooth custard.
I freely admit that I am a terrible Asian as I am not enamoured with Cantonese food (give me a bowl of pasta over a bowl of rice any day). But I do have a soft spot for family favourites - wontons and congee (not wontons in congee though, haha). Tasty Congee & Wantun Noodle Shop lives up to its name. Yum.
Yum Cha is BIG in Hong Kong. I'm no expert on where to get the best yum cha in HK, but my suggestion would just be to try as many places as you can! Obviously there is also the famous Michelin starred (and now in Australia) Tim Ho Wan.
If you get tired of Chinese, there are tons of other Asian cuisine options, like BEP Vietnamese.
And if you're craving ramen, head to Ramen Kureha. This place is a little difficult to spot because of it’s Japanese signage… best advice I can give is to look up the photo on google! Once again, thanks Rose for the tip off!
If you've been reading, you may know by now that I’m a massive sweet tooth. I’m also kind of obsessed with matcha… Via Tokyo has some of the best matcha soft serve going around.
And if waffles (and ice cream) are your thing (and really, why wouldn't they be?) then you have to visit Oddies. I lost my mind over the red velvet egg waffle. Not too sweet either!
Oh and Hokkaido cheese tarts. These tarts from Japan are taking over the world and Bake Cheese Tart does a mean one.
Coffee is something I take pretty seriously (not too seriously, just seriously enough to identify as a coffee snob). The Cupping Room's multiple outlets serve more than decent cup and with one particularly pretty floor to boot! Elephant Grounds is also excellent.
001 is a speakeasy and isn’t the easiest to find, but it’s worth it if you like a great cocktail. In Lan Kwai Fong (LKF, and one of the nightlife hotspots) 001 is located on the corner of Graham and Wellington, it's the lit doorbell opposite Yin Serviced Apartments. These are the directions my cousin gave me and it worked a treat.
Also great and much more vibey, is Iron Fairies, which is just a really cool space. Live music, great cocktails (the chilli one I ordered certainly packed a punch), and a beautiful interior.
Cafe Gray at Upper House is a must. It’s also super close to the Asia Society Centre, so an ideal refuelling spot after your visit there. The view over HK is spectacular and whilst it is pricey (if I could afford to stay at the hotel, I would), stop in for a cocktail if nothing else!
Shopping generally is kind of crazy in HK. Shops open late and close even later. You can shop until midnight if you want to! There are obviously all the huge malls and markets, there’s way too much to choose from, but a few things on my hit list:
Walking into the Gentle Monster HK flagship is like walking into a Wes Anderson set. The Korean Sunglasses brand has a cult following and as a sunglasses addict (I have many vices) I can understand why. Even if you're not into sunglasses, but cute interiors (or even Wes Anderson), this is worth a visit.
I’m obsessed with Uniqlo and I know it's now available almost everywhere, but the range is WAY better in Asia.
I’m also obsessed with Korean sheet face masks, so I make sure to stock up when I can. My favourite of the brands I’ve tried is Fix & Tox... get your fill at Watsons or Sasa, which you will basically find on every other street corner.
Grana do great basics and whilst it's predominantly an online business, they have a “fitting room” in HK where you can try all of the styles.