We made a quick stop in Hong Kong, mainly to obtain tourist visas for China, but because of great friends, were able to experience the city with the best of the ex-pats. Here are a few tips if you have a few hours to spare there.
Little Bao. Get the Pork Belly Bao (slow-braised pork belly, leek & shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup) and Szechuan Fried Chicken Bao (Chinese black vinegar glaze, Szechuan mayo, coleslaw). If you have room afterwards, splurge for the LB Salt Ice Cream Bao (salted ice cream and caramel sauce on a mini bao roll). You won’t be disappointed.
Chom Chom. Order the Shaking Beef (Beef Tenderloin, Watercress & Rocket Salad, Jasmine Rice), Pho Roll (Grilled Beef, Fresh Rice Noodle, Pickled Daikon, Purple Basil), Summer Paper Roll (Market Vegetables, Vermicelli, Avocado, Herbs, Peanut Sauce), and Salt & Pepper Squid.
Motorino Pizza. Known originally for it’s delicious pies in the New York City, Motorino has expanded to feed the hungry ex-pats of Hong Kong. Found in two locations, the shop in Soho is conveniently located right off of the escalators. The meatball pizza is what they’re known for, but all of their pies are fantastic. Would also recommend the pumpkin and goat cheese salad (if in season).
Junk Boats. If you happen to be in Hong Kong over a weekend in the summer, and know of someone who can spring to get you an invite for a Junk Boat party, it’s well worth it. For a flat fee, your drinks, food and spot on the boat will be covered. It’s truly the best way to experience Hong Kong; you’ll get to enjoy the day meeting fun and interesting people, who are all likely ex-pats from the UK, U.S., Australia and New Zealand, while taking in some incredible views of the city skyline as you sail out to nearby islands where you’ll swim and party all day.
CÉ LA VI. Located on the top three floors of California Tower, Ce la Vi is a swanky rooftop bar, boasting beautiful views of the Hong Kong skyline twinkling at night. Insider tip: Men must wear covered shoes and appropriate clothes (collared shirts, nice shorts or pants) to enter.
Experience cred: Thank you Josh and Laura for taking us out to experience the best of Hong Kong!
- Uber is available in Hong Kong but surge pricing usually applies if you’re on the Kowloon side.
- Taxis are very cheap, but only accept cash. Most drivers understand English, but to be safe, you can download an app called Hong Kong Taxi for easy translations.
- Octopus cards are what you’ll need to get around on public transportation. They can be used to ride the train, bus, and tram. You can even use them to make purchases at 7-11!
- Hong Kong is mostly a cash-driven city, but many businesses on the Western side of the island accept credit cards. ATMs are easily accessible in case you find yourself in a pinch.
Must know for getting a Chinese visa
If you’re looking to get a visa to enter China as a U.S. Citizen while in Hong Kong, we’d recommend downloading and reading this e-book.
Other recommended things to see and do*
- Victoria Peak. A must-see, but you’ll need a clear day in order to see anything. Accessible by taxi, you can ride to the top, take in the views over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. If there’s not an enormous line, you can take the famous Peak Tram back down.
- Big Buddha on Lantau Island. To access, take the train to Tung Chung, then switch to the cable car for Ngong Ping 360. Buy cable car tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to wait in line. The Big Buddha and monastery are at the top. Insider tip: If you visit the Big Buddha, you can go to Tai-O fishing village as well. A bus will take you there from Ngong Ping. It’s a traditional fishing village that’s great to walk through, famous for it’s stilt houses.
- Kowloon Peninsula for “A Symphony of Lights” that takes place every night around 8pm on The Avenue of the Stars.
- Stanley. Southside of Honk Kong Island where you’l find small markets and restaurants. It’s an ex-pat heavy area with nice views of the water and mountains.
Promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui (also known as TST). There you’ll find great views back to Hong Kong Island.
- Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) Area. Here you’ll find heaps of high end shopping, and great hotels. It’s a good area to walk around in, and close to Promenade.
- Star Ferry. This is the oldest ferry in Hong Kong. It’s said to be a bit touristy, but also used by locals to cross the Harbor. You’ll get a great 360 view of HK during the ride, and then be dropped off near the Promenade. The ride itself is a short 10 minutes and very cheap. Sit on the top deck.
- Chi Lin Nunnery. Japanese garden.
Ladies Market. This is where you can go have a traditional Asian market experience. (Note: This is more a market for handicrafts and knock-offs rather than food)
- Wet markets. Opposite from the Ladies Market, these are markets that locals frequent for the variety of fish and meat hanging in the streets.
- Mid-Level Escalators. Hong Kong is home to the longest covered escalator system in the world. A series of 14 elevators with an alternating schedule takes you down from 6am – 10am, and up from 10am – midnight. Makes getting around the area a bit easier and they’re free to use.
- Hiking. There are a lot of hikes to take advantage of. To name a few- on the more famous side there is Dragon’s Back: a great trail with views and easy to get to by taxi, Peak Hike: trail up the side of the island to the Peak, and The Twins: harder in difficulty, with a lot of steps, but takes you to some beautiful remote beaches with white sand.
- Lamma Island. You can take a ferry to one side of island, do a 1.5 hour walk/hike to the other side. Known for local seafood and some small beaches.
- Macau. If you like to gamble, this is your spot; said to be 90% gambling, 10% entertainment. It takes around an hour to get there by ferry.
*Suggestion Cred: Thank you Zach and Jess for all your wonderful recommendations!