Despite having lived in Hong Kong, I can safely say that this city is constantly changing its shape so there is always something new to do. Every week there is a new restaurant, there’s always another hike you can do and there’s always more skyscraper lined streets for you to maze your way through. That said, I feel like now I’m at the point where I can provide you all with a pretty extensive guide to Hong Kong/I’m a pro.
When I initially moved out here my expectations were basically skyscrapers and a hell of a pace. I can’t deny that Hong Kong is one of the quickest cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting and I’d also be lying if I said that you didn’t spend a large portion of time in the shadows of some pretty epic skyscrapers, but Hong Kong has so much more to it than what you see on your standard postcards. Hopefully, this will at least give you a glimpse of its diversity.
Touchdown in Hong Kong International and you can be in the city via the airport express within 20 minutes. You can either get this all the way into Central or jump off at various stops to change lines depending on where you’re staying. Alternatively, for a cheaper route, you can jump on a bus into the city, which run all night and do take their good old time.
You won’t have any problems getting from A to B in this city, its transport system is one of the best in the world. Wherever you want to go, whatever time, you will be able to get there and probably with very little difficulty. The best way to get around the city is MTR, which is the train system. They go pretty much all over, especially to all of the tourist spots and trains run as often as every two minutes. There are also regular buses, minibuses and a whole lot of taxis. Hong Kong is also a city that requires you to walk a lot so purchase some decent kicks.
Top tip: The best way to efficiently travel is by purchasing an Octopus card. You can buy them at any 7/11, top them up and use them for just about anything. All transport will take them as well as most shops, stores and restaurants. This really is your little ticket around Hong Kong. I’m also pretty sure that if you purchase one at the airport you can get a refund on them after you’ve finished.
It’s pretty much a given that one thing every person who visits Hong Kong has to do is head to the Peak. There’s a great reason for it – Hong Kong is epic. Make sure you go up once in the day and once in the night because both will absolutely blow you away.
There are lots of ways to get up there – you can hike, you can tram and you can bus. Shouldn’t be too difficult, but go up one way and go down another.
When you think of Hong Kong the first thing that pops into your head isn’t hikes to hidden infinity pools and gazing from the top of green hills over opal waters and countless islands, but that’s not to say that Hong Kong doesn’t put it on the table. In fact, this is one of my favourite things about the city – I can be out of it within 20 minutes. One of the reasons that Hong Kong is perfect for a lot of different people is that there is actually something for every body, and hiking here definitely keeps me sane. These are a couple of the ones you should prioritise in my humble opinion.
Dragon’s back is the hike everyone does when they first touch down here. It’s beautiful, it’s easy and you can never quite believe you were navigating through skyscrapers and organised chaos just 20 minutes or so before. The whole hike takes maybe a few hours, and you can drop down to the beautiful beaches of Shek O, where there is excellent Thai food, or to Big Wave Bay, where the waves are still not big but you can hire a surfboard if you decide you can conquer them.
To get there you can start at either Chai Wan MTR, navigate your way through a super eerie graveyard and clamber up to the ridge. Alternatively, you can jump off the MTR at Shau Kei Wan Station and jump on the Number 9 bus to Shek O Road.
Hong Kong offers a lot better hikes than Dragon’s back, it’s just one of the most accessible. If you feel like you want to get a bit more adventurous I’ve got a handful more hikes up my sleeve that I’m happy to suggest/possibly crash your pleasant day out – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat Sing Leng – The 8 Immortals. (Wilson Trail 8-10)
This one is probably my all time favourite one in Hong Kong. Queue 8 peaks, surrounded by islands and waters and if you have a clear view you can see up to mainland China. It’s stunning in every direction and a pretty epic day of hiking.
To get there you need to start either in Fanling or in Tai Wai. I’d personally start in Fanling and jump on minibus 52b to the start. And to return, hike to Tai Wai and take the 75k back to Tai Po MTR.
Top tip: Bring a lot of water and a lot of suncream.
Take a tram ride
Whilst a tram ride is by no means the quickest way to get around this city, it’s definitely one of the best ways to see all the different districts if you have the time. Jump on, climb to the top and hop off whenever you can’t stand the pace anymore for only 2.10HKD. Plus, if you can get a bunch of your buddies together it’s an excellent place to throw a party.
Happy Valley Races
Every guidebook you read on Hong Kong encourages you to make your way to Happy Valley on a Wednesday night. There’s a very good reason for this – it’s absolutely epic. It’s a racecourse in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world, what’s not to love about that? The atmosphere is always insane and the place is always filled with business men winding down with a beer and some gambling after a long day at the office, which definitely counts as chilling out Hong Kong style.
Cycle Shatin to Tai Wai
If you’re up for a leisurely cycle down Shing Mun river and along Tai Po Waterfront, then I highly recommend grabbing a couple of friends and setting aside a few hours to do this. You can either stop at Tai Po, or if you are up for an extra bit of exercise then head all the way to Tai Wai. You can grab bikes opposite exit A at Shatin – 80HKD for the whole day so plenty of time to practice wheelies.
This is the cheapest way to get across the harbour and so worth it for the view and the price. Boats run pretty much every ten or fifteen minutes and it takes the same amount of time to get across the water.
Big Buddha, Tai O, Mui Wo and ferry back to central – Try out Lantau.
Big Buddha is one of those things that is highly recommended to people who visit Hong Kong, and there’s no denying that it is most definitely one big Buddha. Jump on the cable car from Tung Chung and then head up to Ngong Ping. Rather than heading back down after trekking up to see this lil guy, jump on a bus down to the little fishing village of Tai O. It’s all very quaint and cute and you can jump on a boat that will take you through the village if that strikes up your fancy.
Top tip: You should definitely stop for an egg waffle here, made by this super cool guy.
Rather than getting the bus back up over to Tung Chung, head to Mui Wo so you can see a little more of the island and jump on a ferry back to Central. There are also some decent hikes from Mui Wo should those take your fancy and I’m more than happy to give you them if you drop me a message.
Hit the markets of Mong Kok and Prince Edward
So you can’t go to Hong Kong without dropping in on Mong Kok. This is definitely the real and raw version of the city. It’s grimy, it’s busy and it’s head to toe in neon, but it’s also the epitome of a Hong Kong postcard. It’s got its own kind of charm. Hidden among these streets are the famous Ladies Market, where you can pick up a lot of knock off designers stuff that’s actually moderately convincing.
Top tip: Haggle.
You’ll also fine the goldfish market, which I’m totally ethically against but it’s quite a novelty to walk down a street that’s lined with bags of goldfish. Finally, go check out the flower market in Prince Edward. I have very fond memories of heaving a Christmas tree back through these busy streets.
Sai Kung is an area in the eastern New Territories full of gorgeous hikes, beaches and villages for you to explore. There are an abundance of things to do here and you’re well and truly away from the concrete jungle of the central areas. Once you arrive in Sai Kung, by bus most likely, you can either explore the many cool coffee shops and other artsy things in the town or head out. Jump in a taxi to Sai Wan pavillion if you want to hike to some gorgeous waterfalls and quiet beaches. Hire a kayak if you’re feeling like you have a lot of energy. Or, jump on a boat from the pier that’ll take you for a good old explore of some of the neighbouring islands, even a ghost town. Sai Kung is one of those lovely weekend stops and you’ll find a lot of locals heading up there for a chill on a Sunday.
Make sure you munch on:
Now I could write a whole different and ridiculously long post about all of the incredibly delcious things that you can eat in this incredible city, however I happen to know somebody who is far more eloquent and detailed about where and what to eat. She also happens to have been my partner in crime whilst living here so you should all go and check out her blog dimsumdiet for the proper lowdown on Hong Kong eats.
In the meantime try these:
Go for Dim sum
If I miss one thing about Hong Kong, it’s the abundance of Dim Sum its got going on. We’re talking dumplings and pork buns and sticky rice and steamed cake and really the list just goes on and on. If you stumble on a good place then everything is going to taste magnificent. My favourites are One Dim Sum in Prince Edward, Tim Ho Wan and Din Tai Fung, which is technically Taiwanese but so gosh darn delicious.
Milk tea (奶茶)
Everybody here loves and drinks milk tea. It’s so good and I definitely wouldn’t be looking to miss out on it. It’s basically black tea with evaporated or condensed milk, served either hot or cold. I personally much prefer it cold, but both are quite yummy.
Egg Waffles (雞蛋仔)
Honestly, I think this is what I will miss most about living in Hong Kong.
Try Mammy Pancake (媽咪雞蛋仔) for the best ones imho. Even thinking about them induces salivating. They have locations across Hong Kong – one of which happened to be around the corner from my old flat in Mong Kok (aka egg waffles galore)
Pineapple buns (菠蘿包)
No actual pineapple involved but still incredibly sweet and substantially less healthy. They are however, absolutely delicious.
Try Kam Wah Cafe in Prince Edward (金華冰廳) for the best ones I have found.
Egg tarts (酥皮底)
Thanks to Portuguese and English influence over Hong Kong and Macau, you can find these bad boys all over the city. Best served fresh and hot.
Chicken feet (just kidding, don’t)
Hong Kong is one hell of a melting pot, so when you get sick (you won’t) of traditional Hong Kong food, there are also a great mix of places to get your chopsticks into …These are some of my favourites: Little Bao, Maison Lebanaise, Mana, Bep, Cupping Room, Catch, Mammy Pancakes and Brickhouse.
There’s no denying that this city is one of the best in the world. I fell in love with living here and I’ll most certainly be back. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.