The Weekly Getaway: vibrant urban spaces, tropical islands and global flavours in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is internationally known as a financial hub and as one of Asia’s cultural centres. Decades of British colonialism have left profound impacts of the physicality of the city and its people. The return to China as a special and independent region in 1997 equally impacted the entry of Hong Kong into the 21st century as a global city.
Hong Kong is a place where history and memory are visible in its contrasts and juxtapositions in every corner of its hilly streets. Throughout the years, hundred of thousands of expats relocated to the city, who, coupled with immigrants from all over the continent, make it a ‘melting pot’ comparable to London and New York.
The city of never-ending skyscrapers and countless footbridges is a unique – and often surprising – metropolis that will never stop to amaze its visitors and residents. What is mostly unknown about the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, however, is that it’s in fact an archipelago of more than 200 islands rather than a city in its conventional sense. Divided into Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, the diversity of landscapes is truly fascinating. The celebrated harbour skyline is only a façade, as country parks, tiny islands, naturally protected spaces and hiking trails largely outnumber urban areas.
Along the coastline
The coastline of Hong Kong Island is home to many vibrant neighbourhoods. Central is the financial centre, a shopping area, and home to a multitude of restaurants and bars. Soho and Shueng Wan– connected to Central through the famous outdoor escalators - are the heart of Hong Kong’s nightlife, vintage shops, art galleries and urban eateries. Most Notably, Hollywood Road is a gem for foodies.
Eastward, Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley make this part of the island as lively and interesting as its counterpart with numerous traditional and Western eateries, temples, historical buildings and the up-and-coming four streets that constitute the so-called ‘hipsterland’.
The southern part of the island offers completely different scenarios: white beaches, small villages, and hiking trails. Repulse Bay deserves a lunch visit as the promenade offers multiple food options and it’s also good for a chilled day at the beach less than 20 minutes away from the skyscrapers of Central.
On the other side the harbour lays Kowloon, another colourful with its own peculiarities. Tsim Sha Tsui – TST for locals – is the waterfront area of the peninsula, the place to enjoy the best skyline view of Hong Kong Island and where many luxurious hotels and rooftop restaurants are located. Kowloon Park, Peking Road and the tiny alleys full of street food and stores make this part of the city fascinating and attractive to both visitors and residents. Mong Kok, in Kowloon’s hinterland, is one the world’s most densely populated areas, and home to the psychedelic and renowned Hong Kong neon signs, as well as 24 hours traditional eateries, markets, and street activities.
All the Outer Islands and the hinterland part of the Hong Kong territory that stretches to the border with Mainland China are part of the New Territories. Every island deserves a visit for they all have natural or traditional hidden treasures to explore. Most notably Lantau – the biggest island in the entire archipelago – Lamma, and Chueng Chun, are among the most interesting and easy to reach from Central.
- Victoria Peak – Hike to Hong Kong’s Island best peak for one of the best view of the territory
- PMQ – A former police station turned into a design “open mall” with art galleries, pop-up stores, and much more
- Temple Street & Ladies Markets – Traditional night markets, don’t miss out on the delicious street food and fortune-tellers on the street
- The Big Buddha, Lantau Island – One of Hong Kong’s symbols, a visit to the Big Buddha and the Po Lin monastery can’t be missed
- Dragon’s Back Hike – Hike on one of Hong Kong’s Island highest point for a breath taking view
- Shek – o Village and Beach – A small village with holiday houses and surfer, Shek –o really is a Hong Kong treasure. The beach is also very nice
- Lamma Island – Enjoy seafood by the water and walk around the small streets of the village that lead to a nice beach
- Kennedy Town and Sai Yin Pun – Stroll around the two young and up-and-coming neighbourhoods in West Hong Kong Island full of eateries and small independent shops
- Horse Races at Happy Valley – thousand of Hong Kongers gather to the Happy Valley Racecourse on Wednesdays to gamble – or just enjoy drinks and the party atmosphere
- The Peninsula – The Peninsula is a Hong Kong’s institution and the most luxurious option in the city
- 99 Bonham – One of the most stylish hotel on Hong Kong Island, perfect location to explore its surroundings and other areas
- One 96 – Possibly the finest Boutique hotel in Hong Kong, it’s surrounded by new restaurants, bars and very close to the LKF party district
- Residence G – Cheap, stylish and in the heart of Tsim Tsa Tsui, Residence G is perfect for young travellers
- Dim Sum Square – Delicious traditional Hong Kong’s dim sum and local atmosphere make this place a must-go
- Aberdeen Street Social – Located inside the PMQ design complex, Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton’s restaurant offers a wide range of modern European dishes for Brunch, Lunch and Dinner in a stylish environment
- Hutong – Want to experience the finest dishes of Northern Chinese cuisine with a stunning view? Hutong is the place to be
- Catch Kennedy Town – Best Brunch in Western Hong Kong Island with multiple spicy options and a young international crowd
- Pirata – One of the best Italian restaurants in Hong Kong, it offers a diverse menu with multiple regional options, as well as tasty drinks and a stunning view over Wanchai and Admiralty.
- Lin Heung Tea House蓮香樓 – One of the only remaining traditional teahouses of Hong Kong. Don’t be fooled by the name, they don’t serve tea and pastries but the best and cheapest dim sum in town
- TokyoLima – Japanese Peruvian fusion, aka Nikkei Cuisine or everything that Hong Kong foodies were waiting for – a must-try