This is one of the most densely populated places in the world and also one of the most cosmopolitan. It’s the centre for international finance, a global hub. It’s a foodie’s heaven and a consumerist paradise. Let’s face it, you can find anything and everything here.
Michelin-star restaurants, haute couture, high-tech goods, and a revolving door of the latest trends. And just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it’ll offer you something you never expected. Glimpses of old-world beauty, Taoist temples wreathed in incense, lush green wetlands, islands and secret beaches just a boat or train ride away.
The only question is where to begin in a city with so much to offer? Relax and enjoy the ride, we’ve done the hard work for you.
Start the day in Sheung Wan because it’s the perfect mix of old Hong Kong and hip expatville. Antique and herbal stores are interspersed with cool cafes where (surprise surprise!) the coffee is excellent. Head to the area loosely known as Poho (around Po Hing Fong). Enjoy a simple breakfast at Teakha (teakha.com). Run by a one-time lawyer now passionate food blogger, it’s a place where tea and attention to detail is everything.
Saunter your way through design stores like Konzepp (shop.konzepp.com) and Eclectic Cool (www.eclectic-cool.com) before making your way to what is unofficially known as Noho (north of Hollywood Road). Like the younger sibling of Soho (South of Hollywood), it’s a little bit cooler and more underground. Note: you can remember these different neighbouring areas by thinking of them as one big family (beware Lan Kwai Fong: the brash and trashy sibling).
Spend the morning walking down chic colonial streets, stopping at whatever designer boutique or house store catches your eye. Linger in Homeless (www.homeless.hk) deliberating over the perfect light feature for your living room. If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere. Then move on to the gallery, Amelia Johnson Contemporary (www.ajc-art.com) to checkout some local art and just maybe the next big thing. If you’re still in this area at lunchtime you’re in luck.
Nearby local den Kau Kee (21 Gough St) is renowned for its beef brisket noodles. The beef is soft and the soup light and flavoursome. It’s easy to spot, just follow the queue that extends all the way down the street.
In the afternoon allow yourself to be just another tourist. Take a hundred-year-old funicular to the awe-inspiring panoramic views at Victoria Peak (the highest point of the island). Look down on Hong Kong’s famous skyline and the mountains beyond. For views of a different kind, take a cable car over the South China Sea. Arrive at the world’s biggest outdoor Buddha. Two hundred and sixty steps bring you to the foot of this massive bronze statue and the lush green vista over Lantau Island. If you’ve worked up an appetite, now’s your chance to rack up good karma points by eating vegetarian at the nearby Po Lin Monastery.
After a day of exploring all the city has to offer there’s nothing better than indulging in one of the nicest legacies of Hong Kong’s colonial past: high tea. Available at most high-end hotels, choose Sevva for its elegant modern take, which mixes Asian and European inspired tasty morsels. On your way out don’t forget to stop at Mrs B’s cakes. Sure, you’re full but these elaborate cakes verge on pieces of art.
When the sun goes down and the lights go on, and the crowd gets even bigger (if that’s possible), it’s time to get dressed in your best designer gear and head out. If you’re looking for the best in Cantonese food, Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons is the only three Michelin-star Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. For something new and international, there’s Serge et Le Phoque. Run by three French friends, (two of which have impressive gastronomic credentials) its fancy French food without being stuffy.
The night continues in Soho, with its many bars to choose from. Quinary (www.quinary.hk) is the cocktail expert in town. Otherwise try Salon No 10 (10 Arbuthnot Rd) in Central. Cosy and just a little bit kitsch, lounge in one of its sofas discussing the virtues of a good G&T. And if in the early hours of the morning you want to take it up a notch go to Fly (clubfly.com.hk), a huge electronic club where there’s no room to talk (the impressive sound system makes sure of that), just dance.
After a night that may have ended with sore feet and ringing ears, you are never so glad to see the smooth modular décor of Mira (www.themirahotel.com), your design hotel and temporary haven. Plop into a Jacobsen egg chair as you relive the day’s events one more time before the day is well and truly over.
Nearly three-quarters of Hong Kong is pristine wilderness. It’s hard to believe but the New Territories and outlying islands offer enough jungle and hidden beaches to make you forget the bustling city is just a stone’s throw away. Hike The Dragon’s Back for its stunning coastal views. Arrive tired but happy in a charming village and then go for a dip in the nearby beach.
A chic addition to the creative Poho area, this French-Japanese bakery offers artisanal goods made the traditional way: from scratch without preservatives or artificial additives.
Tim Ho Wan
Billed as the cheapest Michelin-star restaurant in the world, this dim sum place does a roaring business, despite the fact you sit elbow to elbow with strangers and the waiters are notoriously curt. The signature char siu bao makes it worth it, and after all, it’s a real HK experience.
Wonton & Noodles:
Who would think a simple bowl of noodles with prawn dumplings could spark such heated debate? Who does it best? We decided to weigh in. We loved this unassuming diner for its handmade noodles and delicate dumplings from a bygone era.
Present for the man in your life:
Like being in a gentlemen’s abode. Leather chairs and quality crafted men’s products by three men who understand the importance of a good suit.
An unmarked door with an illuminated doorbell is the only signpost for this dark underworld of jazz, velvet booths and an excellent selection of cocktails and liquor. Make sure to call (+852-2810-6969) and reserve before you go.
Combination of Art, Design & Eco in a hotel:
Packs a punch with Hong Kong’s design heavyweights, which includes Rocco Yim, Terence Conran and Patrick Blanc. It also donates excess food from its kitchens and has cut its Co2 emissions. You don’t need any other reason to stay.
Text and photos by Stephanie Ong