Last January I paid a visit to Hong Kong, which was a long desired destination as I heard many great stories about the world’s most vertical city – 311 skyscrapers to be precise. Although HK and Singapore are often being compared amongst expats, I got to experience in person that both cities are completely different and unique on its own. Here are my tips and hotspots for a bustling city trip!
Butterfly on Hollywood Hotel in Soho
We had a stay at the Butterfly on Hollywood Hotel, an affordable boutique hotel that is situated on Hollywood Road near the Soho area in Central. The hotelroom itself is small but as the hotel is centrally located, it is a good basis in the heart of the city. As a bonus free smartphones with maps and an extensive guide programme are being provided for guest use, which enables you to explore the city as a local.
Things do do
When leaving the hotel, just walking around is a reward itself. I particularly liked this part of the city as many boutiques, bars and restaurants are at walking distance, as well as some historical highlights and wet markets. From the hotel it is just a 5 minute walk to the Man Mo Temple, a dedicated tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).
Take a walk to the Sheung Wang MRT Station to easily head to other parts of the city. The Central Mid-Levels Escalators are a must do! The world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system is a 800-metres ride through the streets of steel hillside of Hong Kong island, bringing you up to a hight of 135-metres.
Being the highest point of the city, Victoria Peak is another highlight that can’t be missed. Taking the Peak tram to get there is considered to be a visual experience on it’s own. However, big lines occur from the early morning due to the popularity of the attraction. Since we had quite a tight schedule, we decided to grab a cab that brought us all the way up in just 15 minutes to the Peak Gallaria mall. From here, you get to experience a stunning view as well, and as most tourist are at the official peak we had a quite spot for ourselves.
The Jade market is worth a visit to buy some affordable jade jewelry. I personally very much enjoyed the Hong Kong Museum of History as it displays an appealing visual tour about the emergence of the valley and the establishment of the city, as well as extended information about the history of the culture and the local habits. If you are longing for greenery, head to the Kowloon Park for a stroll or to take a rest at one of the benches.
Eating and drinking
Being a vegetarian, it was a bit of a struggle finding my way in the traditional Chinese cuisine as it is famous for the wide variety of different animals processed in the food. So we often had to divert to the Western cuisine, which is also abundantly present in HK and generally quite delicious as well.
As the hotel did not provide breakfast, we went to a few of the many neighbouring coffee bars and restaurants. Barista Jam serves fine coffee and sandwiches. For a healthy and vegetarian or vegan meal, the Grassroots pantry is the place to be. This restaurant serves a high-end mix of Western and Asian dishes in a chic greenhouse-meets-garage and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Near to the hotel, Itchi is a nice pub to enjoy a beer and peanuts at their terrace while watching activity of the street.
Find an extended list of excellent HK vegetarian/vegan restaurants at a foodieworld.com.
Other restaurant tips that we received from a Hong Kong expat (and serve both meat, fish and vegetarian dishes) are 22 ships and Ham & Cherry for tapas and sangria, Le Garcon Saigon for a french-vietnamese dining experience, Ho Lee Fook for a funky Chinese dinner, Oolaa for all-day dining and drinks with a unpretentious worldly cuisine, Duddell’s for dumplings and other Chinese specialities and The Butchers Club for both meat and vegan burgers.
A fancy night out in Hong Kong
Hong Kong provides a vibrant nightlife, so a fancy night out should be considered as a must! Start at Cafe Grey Bar in the Upper House for drinks and bites with a view. Eat like Don Corleone and head to Carbone, a New-York style Italian restaurant with an authentic 20-century style menu located in the middle of the central district. Or choose for Hutong, an award-winning Northern Chinese restaurant against stunning views of the Hong Kong island skyline (many options for vegans). End your night with a cocktail at one of the excellent speak-easy bars like Le Boudoir, Foxglove and Stockton.
For both restaurants it is recommended to make reservations in advance to be assured of a table. Ask for a window table at Hutong!
Your visit to Hong Kong is not complete without a hike. As the city is located in between the mountains, it is famous for its variety of beautiful hiking trails. We went to do the popular Dragon’s Back trail on a Sunday afternoon. This was not a great timing as there were many hikers that went on a leisurely stroll with their kids and family. So I would highly recommend to go early in the morning or, even better, on a weekday if you got the time to do so. Nevertheless did we enjoy exploring Hong Kong’s nature and the stunning views along the way.
- The Butterfly on Hollywood Hotel starts at 79 HKD a per night.