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SAVE ON HONG KONG VACATIONS

Hong Kong city guide

Where to eat, drink, shop and play, plus the best Hong Kong hotels

Flanked by dense curtains of LED-lid skyscrapers on either side of Victoria Harbour, the Hong Kong city skyline is iconic. But this special administrative territory of China offers more than great views. While exploring the city of 7.4 million, you’ll discover slow-paced islands, expansive natural parks laced with hiking trails, fishing villages untouched by time, and more than 14,000 restaurants. With so many things to see, do and eat, the Fragrant Harbour has something for every traveler. 

Words by Kate Springer


Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Hong Kong island

On the southern shores of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong Island is usually the first stop on travelers’ itineraries. Its heart is Central, home to the city’s most impressive architecture, restaurants, nightlife and art galleries. Ride the hyper-fast MTR or the slow-yet-charming tram to the east and you’ll find trendy bars, vintage stores and massive parks in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. Head west and art galleries and foodie finds abound in Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. Head south for laid back vibes and beachfront restaurants in Shek O, Repulse Bay and Stanley.

Courtesy HKTB

Kowloon

An eight-minute ride on the famed Star Ferry will deposit you on the Kowloon Peninsula. The ‘dark side,’ as residents like to joke, exudes a slightly grittier, scrappier feel when compared with polished Central. There’s no shortage of things to do, from gloriously green Kowloon Park to the art-fueled West Kowloon Cultural District, outdoor markets (like Temple Street Night Market and the Ladies’ Market), dai pai dongs (family-run outdoor food stalls) and historic Buddhist and Taoist temples.

Courtesy HKTB

New Territories

Heading north from Tsim Sha Tsui, you’ll eventually hit mainland China. In between is the New Territories region. The wide-open land feels nothing like the Hong Kong you see on postcards. Picture instead mountains and wetlands, national parks and seaside villages—best experienced in Sai Kung, Yuen Long, Sha Tin or Ma On Shan. This is also home to some of the territory's most beautiful hiking trails. The 100-kilometer-long MacLehose Trail, for instance, snakes across country parks and around the crescent coastline of Tai Long Wan, affording incredible scenery along the way.

Courtesy HKTB

Outlying Islands

Lamma. Lantau. Cheung Chau. Peng Chau... Though technically considered part of the New Territories, Hong Kong’s 260-odd outlying islands deserve their own mention. Most are 30-to-60 minutes from Central aboard fiercely punctual ferries. On Lamma island, ease into a slower pace of life; on Cheung Chau, explore caves and devour seafood; on Lantau, kick back at Mavericks beach bar, ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to see the Big Buddha or explore historic Tai O fishing village (famed for its colorful stilt houses)—ideal day trips that showcase another side of Hong Kong.


Dim sum restaurants

Courtesy City Hall Maxim's Palace

City Hall Maxim's Palace

2521 1303, 香港 中 區 大 會堂 低 座 2 樓 2/F, Low Block, City Hall,, Central, Hong Kong

A serious contender for the best dim sum in Hong Kong, Maxim Palace combines old-world decor with excellent food. Don’t miss the har gau (shrimp dumplings), char siu bao (baked barbecue buns), wu gok (deep-fried taro puff), or egg tarts. There’s a line on weekends, so get there early for the best chance of a window seat overlooking the harbor.

Ot maxims.com.hk

Courtesy Yan Toh Heen

Yan Toh Heen

2313 2323, Yan Toh Heen, Lower Level, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Renovated in 2018, the refined atmosphere at this hotel restaurant—with its warm wood paneling, jade accents and expansive harbor views—feels a world away from the city’s conventional loud, busy and rushed dim sum restaurants. Chef Yiu-fai Lau crafts premium dim sum (plus a few creative surprises), while a dedicated tea sommelier will pair aged pu’er, oolong and delicate jasmine teas with your meal.

Ot hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

Courtesy Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan

2332 3078, Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1, IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong

There are several Hong Kong locations of this famously inexpensive Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant, from Sham Shui Po to North Point—along with a very convenient address within IFC tower in Central (right above the Airport Express). Don’t miss the sugar-crusted char siu bao, vermicelli rice rolls, and fresh siu mai—all at just US$3-6 each.

timhowan.com.hk

Foodie favorites

Courtesy Chachawan

Chachawan

2549 0020, 206 Hollywood Rd, Tai Ping Shan, Hong Kong

Chachawan opened in Sheung Wan in 2014, and there has been a line out the door ever since. This buzzing no-reservations restaurant is renowned for its red-hot Issan cuisine from northeastern Thailand. The original chef, Adam Cliff, has since moved on to open Samsen, a Thai noodle spot in Wan Chai that’s also worth a visit, but the food at Chachawan hasn’t missed a beat.

chachawan.hk

Courtesy The Chairman

The Chairman

2555 2202, 18號 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong

When it comes to Cantonese cuisine—known for its subtle flavors, delicately steamed seafood, dim sum and roasted meats—The Chairman is hard to beat. Set in a two-story shop house on the western edge of Central, the restaurant celebrates southern Guangdong traditions with age-old recipes and locally sourced ingredients. Try the unforgettable steamed flower crab in aged Shaoxing wine.

thechairmangroup.com

Courtesy Francis

Francis

3101 9521, 4 & 6 St. Francis Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

This modern Israeli restaurant, which opened in the trendy Star Street neighborhood of Wan Chai in 2018, serves delicious sharing plates—think grilled meats, mezze platters and baked halloumi smothered in pomegranate molasses. While chef Asher Goldstein spoils diners, a convivial atmosphere and creative cocktails add to the appeal.

francis.com.hk

Courtesy Little Bao

Little Bao

2194 0202, 66 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong

Named Asia's Best Female Chef in 2017 by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards, May Chow is one of Hong Kong’s most creative young chefs. She made her mark with Little Bao—where she serves up pillowy sandwich-like ‘bao’ in a cool diner setting. The popular restaurant has become synonymous with modern Hong Kong cuisine and, due to popular demand, Chow opened a second and much-larger branch in Causeway Bay last year.

little-bao.com

Fine dining restaurants

Courtesy Amber/The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

Amber

2132 0066, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

After extensive renovations, two-Michelin-starred Amber re-emerged in May 2019 with a neutral-toned, organic look from designer Adam Tihany. The décor isn’t the only reason to visit, though. Culinary Director Richard Ekkebus, who’s known for his innovative French-meets-Japanese cuisine, has introduced a “healthier” menu of 50 new dishes—all of which eschew dairy products and reduce salt and sugar.

Ot mandarinoriental.com

Courtesy Caprice

Caprice

3196 8888, 8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong

After working around the globe, including in Singapore and Macao, French chef Guillaume Galliot finally landed at three-Michelin-starred Caprice in 2018. Under his creative influence, the doggedly traditional French menu flexed for the first time, with the introduction of such east-meets-west elements as the signature laksa with king crab, confit egg and sudachi lime.

fourseasons.com

Courtesy VEA

VEA

2711 8639, 29 & 30/F, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Drawing from his Hong Kong upbringing and French training, chef Vicky Cheng presents a singular fine-dining experience at VEA. The eight-course set menu does not come cheap at US$214 per person, but it’s an unforgettable experience—each dish has a story to tell. While the menu changes with the seasons, you’ll usually find signatures like the roasted sea cucumber and the smoked goose year-round, as well as a choice of wine or cocktail pairing.

vea.hk

Afternoon tea

Courtesy The Peninsula Hong Kong

The Lobby at The Peninsula

2696 6772, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

A holdover from British colonial days, afternoon tea in Hong Kong is a classy way to spend an afternoon. There are dozens of options, but one rules them all: The Peninsula hotel. In the sky-high lobby restaurant, gilded columns, frescoes and a string quartet set an elegant tone while white-gloved servers deliver three-tiered sets full of bite-sized finger sandwiches, fruity desserts and fresh baked raisin scones.

Ot peninsula.com


Best cocktail bars

Courtesy Gough's on Gough

Gough's on Gough

2473 9066, 15 Gough St, Central, Hong Kong

The first restaurant-bar from British designer Timothy Oulton, this Gatsby-ish art-deco address has a gilded spiral staircase, black-and-white tiles and leather furniture, while its intimate cocktail bar riffs off old classics. Try the signature Churchill martini (a three-gin medley of Plymouth, No. 3 London dry and Tanqueray) or the delicate pear Negroni.

goughsongough.com

Courtesy COA

COA

2813 5787, Shop A, LG/F Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong

One of Hong Kong’s first—and possibly only—cocktail bars devoted to mezcal, COA delivers a convivial vibe, blood-pumping reggaeton, hand-drawn murals and an innovative drinks menu. Owner and head bartender Jay Khan is a gregarious, intellectual host who will happily walk you through the ins and outs of agave spirits as you sip on a creamy horchata, smoky mezcal negroni or a citrus-forward paloma.

coa.com.hk

Courtesy Quinary

Quinary

2851 3223, 56, 58 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong

Quinary’s cocktail maestro Antonio Lai is credited with kick-starting the independent cocktail scene in Hong Kong. The stylish, narrow space is all about multi-sensory drinks, evidenced by the collection of high-tech rotary evaporator and sous vide gadgets behind the bar. Signatures like the towering Earl Grey Caviar Martini (pictured) are what this place is all about.

quinary.hk

Courtesy The Old Man

The Old Man

2703 1899, Lower G/F, 37-39 Aberdeen Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong

Since it was named “Best Bar in Asia 2019” by Asia's 50 Best Bars, The Old Man has been tough to get into. Once you do get a table, you’ll embark on a journey through the life and times of Hemingway via complex drinks that borrow molecular cooking techniques. Try The Sun Also Rises, made with copra fat-washed applejack, curry leaf-infused Gin, sweet vermouth, sous-vide pandan leaves and kaffir lime.

theoldmanhk.com

Where to drink craft beer

Courtesy 65 Peel

65 Peel

2342 2224, 65 Peel St, Central, Hong Kong

65 Peel, on Peel Street in SoHo, is one of the only bars in Hong Kong dedicated to local craft beer. The pared-back industrial space serves six pages of brews—including Gweilo Pale Ale, Lemongrass IPA by Mak's Beer and sour Cha Chaan Teng Gose from Young Masters—as well as locally inspired pub grub.

m.facebook.com

Courtesy TAP

TAP

2468 2010, G/F, 15 Hak Po St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

When TAP (The Ale Project) opened back in 2014, people were skeptical. Craft beer was still a novelty in Hong Kong and the Mong Kok neighborhood had yet to see such a trendy bar. Today, TAP has built a loyal following among Hong Kong beer geeks. Come for the 18 independent beers on tap, stay for the siu yuk (roasted pork) Cubano sandwich and cold brew coffee on a nitro-tap.

facebook.com

Courtesy Blue Supreme

Blue Supreme

2323 3633, 21 Tung St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Devoted to hard-to-find Belgian beers, this open-air bar and restaurant in Sheung Wan will spoil you for choice. While the taps pour mostly local beers, the Belgian bottle menu at Blue Supreme traverses more than 50 options, including “live” beers containing wild yeast that continues to develop its flavor with time, all paired with an indulgent Modern American menu.

bluesupreme.live

Bar with a view

Courtesy Ce La Vi

Ce La Vi

3700 2300, 25/F California Tower, 30-32 D'Aguilar St, Central, Hong Kong

Sitting atop California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong, Ce La Vi’s rooftop SkyBar overlooks the harbor, the city, the mountains and beyond. The Singaporean import—its sister bar is in the Marina Bay Sands—has a strong cocktail game, too, with a mix of classics, spritzes and a list of inventive “sundowners” that changes every few months. After you’ve watched the sun set, head downstairs for dinner at Ce La Vi’s restaurant or dance your way into the club-lounge.

hk.celavi.com


Five notable locals show us how to do Hong Kong, their way

Hong Kong has no shortage of nicknames: Pearl of the Orient, the New York of Asia, the Fragrant Harbour. But none of these really captures the kaleidoscopic range of this city. Each neighborhood has its own distinct energy and personality, yet all are marked by recurring contrasts of east and...

Luxury Hong Kong hotels

Courtesy The Peninsula Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hong Kong

2920 2888, Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Opened more than 90 years ago, The Peninsula Hong Kong exudes quintessential colonial elegance, from the stately white facade to the pillbox-capped pageboys, majestic lobby, luxurious restaurants and harbour-facing rooms. Home to a fleet of 14 Rolls Royce Phantoms, the hotel has been the go-to for visiting dignitaries and celebrities alike—even starring in 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

peninsula.com

Courtesy Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Rosewood Hong Kong

3891 8888, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

The recently-opened Rosewood is the jewel in the crown of the new Victoria Dockside arts and design district in Tsim Sha Tsui East. Equipped with harbor views and luxury linens, the 413 rooms and suites feel classic and residential. The drinking and dining options are another draw: Light-filled Darkside bar and lounge has become a destination for cocktail lovers and Holt’s Cafe serves up a fresh take on Hong Kong diner food.

rosewoodhotels.com

Courtesy The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

2132 0188, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

The Landmark’s fashionable following could be linked to its location within one of Hong Kong’s glitziest malls—or maybe it’s the soothing, artistic interiors by Hong Kong-based talent Joyce Wang. The apartment-like suites are some of the largest and sexiest in town (most rooms have a nine-foot-diameter tub). There’s also a two-story wellness center, plus six bars and restaurants, to round out the altogether luxurious experience.

mandarinoriental.com

Best boutique hotels

Courtesy Eaton HK

Eaton HK

2782 1818, Hong Kong, Jordan, Nathan Rd, 380號

On a mission to promote creativity and community, the Eaton HK hotel combines progressive arts and culture programs with delicious local dining options (follow your nose to the Foodhall or try classic Cantonese dim sum at Tung Heen), as well as a cool music-focused cocktail bar called Terrible Baby. The retro-looking rooms are on the snug side, but perfectly comfortable.

eatonworkshop.com

Courtesy Tai O Heritage Hotel

Tai O Heritage Hotel

2985 8383, 14號 Shek Tsai Po St, Tai O, Hong Kong

Located on the remote, southwestern shores of Lantau Island, Tai O is considered one of Hong Kong’s oldest fishing villages. If you like the idea of a rustic side trip, stay overnight at Tai O Heritage Hotel. Formerly the Tai O Police Station, the white colonial-era building is now home to nine sea-view suites and a British restaurant. The village’s heritage comes to life through beautiful antiques and breezy colonnades, cannons, guard towers and vintage photographs.

taioheritagehotel.com

Courtesy The Fleming

The Fleming

3607 2288, 41 Fleming Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Designers A Work of Substance have channeled the century-old Star Ferry service in every detail at The Fleming: porthole-shaped mirrors, bottle-green accents, nautical striped rugs. To call the rooms cozy is generous (go for an extra large king size, pictured), but they’re equipped with everything you could possibly need. Don’t miss Italian eatery Osteria Marzia on the ground floor, which serves up a light Mediterranean breakfast and excellent Negronis come nightfall.

thefleming.com

Hotels for business travelers

Courtesy Hotel ICON.

Hotel ICON

3400 1000, 17 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Run as a training hotel for hospitality management students, Hotel ICON strikes a perfect balance of style and substance. A light-filled atrium and enormous vertical garden (the largest in Asia) set the tone. Then there’s lots of green cred and extensive facilities, which cover everything from a rooftop pool to a harbor-facing gym, Thai-inspired spa, and top-floor club lounge. Don’t miss a superb Cantonese dim sum or dinner and some of the best views of the city at Above & Beyond on the 28th floor.

hotel-icon.com

Courtesy Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

2588 1234, 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Adjacent to the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, the Grand Hyatt is one of the top choices for business travelers. Adding to the appeal, it’s hard not to love the modern rooms (most of which have harbor views), dependable restaurants, Grand Club lounge and leisure facilities. Carve out some time to relax at the 160-foot outdoor pool—it ranks among the best in the city.

hyatt.com


Hong Kong heritage

Courtesy Tai Kwun

Tai Kwun

3559 2600, 10 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong

After a decade of planning, Tai Kwun opened last year in the heart of SoHo. Formerly the Central Police Station, the arts and culture complex has captivated the city with its grand colonial buildings, a spacious public courtyard (rare in Central) and a slew of international dining options including Aaharn, an upscale Thai restaurant by award-winning chef David Thompson.

taikwun.hk

Courtesy Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

2180 8188, 1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Starting with the iconic Bruce Lee statue guarding the doorway, the enormous Hong Kong Heritage Museum offers a whirlwind tour of local art, culture and heritage across its 12 galleries. The experience covers ancient traditions such as Cantonese Opera, Chinese paintings and ceramics, alongside pop culture. Running through 2020, for example, there’s a captivating “Bruce Lee: Kung Fu‧Art‧Life” exhibition that features more than 600 pieces of memorabilia.

heritagemuseum.gov.hk

Courtesy Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Hong Kong Maritime Museum

3713 2500, 11 Man Kwong St, Central, Hong Kong

Relocated from Stanley to the Central Piers in 2005, the Maritime Museum traces Hong Kong’s seafaring past, from fishing to naval warfare to global shipping. It’s one of the most fascinating museums in the city, thanks in part to interactive displays like the KM Koo Ship Bridge Simulator, which enables guests to “steer” ships, and a collection of nautical instruments.

hkmaritimemuseum.org

Best art galleries

Courtesy H Queen's

H Queen's

2343 1738, 80 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

Smack in the middle of Central, H Queen's emerged last year as ground zero for art, design and dining. The 24-story tower is home to eight contemporary art galleries and auction houses (large enough for innovative installations) including big names like David Zwiner, Pace and Hauser & Wirth. While you’re browsing, don't miss popular restaurants like French fine-dine Écriture, Peruvian restaurant ICHU, and French-Mediterranean restaurant La Petite Maison.

hqueens.com.hk

Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District

M+ Pavilion

2200 0217, West Kowloon, Hong Kong

Set to be Hong Kong’s premier arts and events destination, the West Kowloon Cultural District has been in the works for more than two decades. Attractions—including The Box theatre, Lyric Theatre Complex, the Hong Kong Palace Museum, and the landmark M+ museum of visual culture—are still a work in progress. Sate your curiosity now at M+ Pavilion, which hosts a rotating lineup of independent small-scale exhibitions, or catch a Cantonese opera performance at the ultra-modern Xiqu Centre.

westkowloon.hk

Where to shop in Hong Kong

Courtesy PMQ

PMQ

2870 2335, 35號 Aberdeen St, Central, Hong Kong

Hong Kong has no shortage of malls, but if you’re looking for local wares, head to PMQ. Opened in 2014, this heritage restoration project turned the former Police Married Headquarters on Hollywood Road into a design mecca. Within the four-block compound, you'll find countless indie artists and designers selling everything from handmade jewelry to leather goods, sunglasses, clothes and more.

pmq.org.hk

Courtesy HKTB

Star Street

Star St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Over in the Wan Chai neighborhood, the charming Star Street precinct is home to quiet, leafy streets and an appealing mix of upscale boutiques. Stock up on indie fashion, sunglasses, bags and souvenirs at local spots like Kapok, WOAW, LALA CURIO and Odd One Out. You can also dip into luxe international stores or stop for a coffee at one of the area’s breezy cafes and restaurants.

Outdoors

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

The Peak

The Peak, Hong Kong

A must-visit on every itinerary is The Peak. It lives up to its reputation as one of the best lookout points in Hong Kong, but not every traveler is as impressed by the historic “Peak Tram,” which typically sees long lines to board. If the weather allows, try walking up the leafy, peaceful Morning Trail instead, then riding the tram down to avoid the queues.

thepeak.com.hk

Courtesy HKTB

Dragon's Back

Dragon's Back, Shek O, Hong Kong

So named for its undulating terrain, Dragon’s Back hike is one of the most accessible in Hong Kong. The trail starts in Cape Collinson Catholic Cemetery, near the Shau Kei Wan MTR station, where a near-vertical climb through the tombstones will take you to the trailhead. From there, an easy walk along the ride affords astounding sea views.

Courtesy HKTB

Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

An ideal day trip for nature and seafood lovers, Cheung Chau island is about 35-minutes by ferry from Central. Once you’re there, lounge on Kwun Yum Beach, explore the Cheung Po Tsai Caves (said to be pirate Cheung Po Tsai’s former hiding spot), and dine at one of the many family-run seafood restaurants along the praya.


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