I didn’t know much about Hong Kong before I went – I didn’t even really know if it was its own country or not (technically, Hong Kong – and also Macau – is a “Special Administration Region of China”. So kind of its own country with different rights and freedoms than China). The boyfriend and I went on holiday for 8 days to Hong Kong and Macau and it was a wonderful week of walking, drinking, eating and more walking and drinking and eating. There aren’t a ton of super touristy things to do in either country but it’s definitely a place I could see myself living in.
WALKING IN HONG KONG:
Even though the metro system is superb, I recommend walking as much as possible. We spent the majority of our time just walking throughout the city – stumbling upon quaint parks, gardens, zoological and botanical gardens, aviaries, crazy shops and markets, ridiculous amounts of shopping and amazing views of the skyline.
EATING IN HONG KONG:
The cuisine in Hong Kong is also AMAZING. All kinds of international foods I’ve missed since Ulsan has little to no variety. We tried to eat as much Chinese/dim sum/dumplings as possible (which were delicious, of course. We even tried sea cucumber (not my favorite), and shark fin dumplings) but we couldn’t stay away from the Italian, Mexican or Thai. One thing that I’ve missed in my life is HAPPY HOUR. Luckily, Hong Kong has superb Happy Hour specials everrryyywhere. Of course, there’s also the street vendors selling all kinds of crazy things (the dried squid on the Avenue of Stars smelled soooo good) and super fresh seafood that we didn’t eat nearly enough of.
DRINKING IN HONG KONG:
My favorite area in Hong Kong was Soho, near Central station around Hollywood Road (on Hong Kong island). There are toooons of bars, restaurants and shops. The streets are super windy and confusing, with random outdoor escalators to assist the inebriated up the steep hills, and heaps of people throwing back alcoholic beverages on the streets, myself obviously included. One thing I just LOVE about Asia are the drinking in public laws, or the lack thereof I suppose. There are tons of different lounges and bars to choose from with reasonably priced specials. Hong Kong has a ton of rooftop bars as well (we went to the top of the IFC Mall and brought our own drinks and food) and bar areas outside of Hong Kong Island (if you’re staying near Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Knutsford Terrace is a cute little area with a few good bars and restaurants.)
Things To Do in Hong Kong:
The touristy things we did participate in were entertaining and well worth it also:
- Victoria Peak – One of the best views of the city (and also the longest and most crowded lines known to man on the tram ride up). To get there: take the metro to Central and the Peak Tram is on Garden Road. Basically just follow the signs and massive crowds.
- Avenue of the Stars – Nice just for the view of the city. We came here in the day after walking around for a few hours and sat down to have a picnic. We ended up going to the pool area at the Intercontinental Hotel to enjoy the view at one of their tables. They also have a legit infinity spa and the friendliest staff EVER.
- Symphony of Lights – This is a skyline light show that can be seen from the Avenue of Stars. It’s highly overrated and we only watched it because we just happened to be drinking in an area nearby. It’s around 10 – 15 minutes of buildings flashing lights and shooting off lasers in sync to music playing. It sounds a lot better than it actually is, so I’d give it a miss unless you just happen to be there when it starts (which is at 8pm every night, by the way).
This is what they WANT you to think it will look like which is a LIE. Must’ve been Photoshopped because there was at most, 3 buildings flashing lasers into the sky. Just saying, be warned and don’t expect much.
- Dragon’s Back Hike – it luckily wasn’t super crowded, but I hear it often is on the weekend. Apparently, there are tons of hiking trails in Hong Kong, this one being the most popular. It was an easy, 2.5 hour hike that ended at Big Wave Bay, where Nate and I went surfing at afterwards and then took the bus back (rather than hiking back). To get there: take the metro (MTR) to Shau Kei Wan, exit A3 to the bus terminus and take bus 9 to To Tei Wan on Shek O Road.
- Ozone – this is the highest bar in the world on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton in West Kowloon. Drinks were delicious (and about $20 each for the cheapest ones.) and the view was awesome. I’d recommend only coming for one drink just to enjoy the view.
- Star Ferry and the skyline – Hong Kong’s skyline is probably one of the best in the world (there are over 8000 buildings that are over 14 stories tall). While at the top of Victoria Peak, the free audio guide went on about how “feng shui” it was with the placement of the buildings facing the water with the mountains in the back. There are a million different great views of Hong Kong’s famous skyline but my favorite was probably on the Star Ferry going from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. It’s only a few bucks more than the subway and definitely worth it:
- Dialogue in the Dark – This is one of the highest rated “to do”‘s on TripAdvisor and so we went since it’s only around $170HKD ($20ish USD). DiD was a really unique experience. We were lead into a completely pitch black room with a blind person as our guide. She lead us around in the dark to different environments and rooms and we used our other senses to try to become familiar with our surroundings. When it started, it was mildly terrifying because it seemed like a start to a really cliche scary movie, and continued to still be pretty scary because it was PITCH fricken BLACK. Like no adjusting at all and being able to see shadows. Complete darkness. It’s kind of crazy encountering different situations blindly and how much more difficult they are – going to a market, crossing the street, ordering drinks at a bar, etc. I can only imagine how difficult it is being blind and attempting to use a public bathroom or finding your correct gate at the airport. You don’t realize how amazing we have it to be able to see. For more information, how to get there and advanced booking (which is recommended since there’s usually only 1 or 2 English tours a day), click here. OH and if you haven’t seen About Time with Rachel McAdams, Bill Weasley and Rufeus Scrimgeour, go see it! It’s only kind of related, but both of these things, I’m giving my stamp of approval to.
Other Things To Do in Hong Kong & Random Tips:
- Get a foot massage. The Chinese are ALL ABOUT their foot massages and foot reflexology. We went to Gao’s/Good Day Foot Massage, which was a lot more reasonably priced than other places and was AMAZING. They know their shit. Located in Lan Kwai Fong – same building as Happy Foot on Wellington Street but on the 15th floor. (Trip Advisor calls it Good Day Foot Massage but on the building it’s called Gao’s).
- Check out DiscoverHongKong and see what different events/festivals are going on.
- Get an OCTOPUS CARD for public transport use. You can buy one at any of the MTR’s (metro stations) and top it up there also. It’s a lot more convenient than getting exact change for buses, you can use it on trams (including the Peak Tram), the metro, buses and ferries, and you can also use it at random shops like 7/11 and some grocery stores. You can also return the card to get your $50HKD deposit back, which we, of course, forgot to do. Don’t bother getting the “Airport Express Travel Pass”, it’s not really worth it and the Octopus Card is more or less the same.
- If you’re going to be there for more than a few days, get a SIM card for your phone. We bought an iPhone compatible SIM card at 7/11 for $98HKD ($12ish) and it was more than enough data/internet usage and a fair amount of texts/minutes that we never used. Definitely useful and super cheap.
- Check out Macau. I didn’t realize this post was going to be sooo long, so I’ll write about Macau another time. If you’re in Hong Kong for more than 4-5 days, definitely check out Macau for a night or two. It’s about an hour away on a $170HKD ferry ($20ish). Click here for details on ferry tickets and times (tickets are a bit cheaper during the week and ferry’s leave every 15 minutes until midnight).
- If you arrive in Hong Kong past midnight, click here for directions on how to get to your hotel/hostel via nightbuses. (Click Interactive Route Search, type in your destination and click “Overnight”)
- WHERE TO STAY: We stayed near Tsim Sha Tsui station in a hostel. It’s a great location and there are tons of cheap hostels. For our last night, we stayed on Hong Kong Island. Hotels are more expensive on this side but worth it for a night or two!
Thanks for an amazing week, Hong Kong, we will most definitely be back 🙂
Have you been to Hong Kong before? What was your favorite part? Favorite restaurant? Favorite bar? Any other tips or advice?