A guide to Hong Kong
You think of Hong Kong and immediately food, sights, sounds and style come to mind.
The thoughts of traipsing through the seemingly hundreds of discount shopping malls, markets, centres and endless tourist attractions are made only that much sweeter when coupled with the incredible – and mostly edible – street-side food that there is around every turn.
Hong Kong truly is a tourist’s dream, and is honestly as easy to expatriate yourself to either for a week, a fortnight or a month, as any other western city or country.
They got something right with this one.
Admittedly, though, it can be a bit confusing, is probably the word, when it comes to deciding where to eat, what to see and how to get there with all the half Chinese, half English type names that surround you at every corner.
We’ve put together a bit of a guide on where to stay, where to go, and where to eat in Hong Kong.
Take a look…
The Ovolo Southside Hotel, Aberdeen
One of the edgiest, most cleverly designed and harmoniously themed hotels in Hong Kong by far. With everything you need, The Ovolo Southside Hotel something that required it’s own dedicated post to explain its awesomeness.
Ask any man, woman or child what they think about Hong Kong and the first thing they mention is the food.
Some of it can be quite scary and a bit too ‘local’ if you’re not used to it, but for every dodgy eatery is another waiting to blow your socks off.
The Fatty Crab
Right in the middle of Hong Kong Island’s party town, Lan Kwai Fong – more colloquially known as LKF – the Fatty Crab is as delicious in menu produce as its name is weird.
It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find north-of-the-river in Melbourne; the moody-lit, secretly doored, interesting drinks listed venue that is almost too cool for itself, but then reels it right back in with its decent staff and top-notch customer service. Best bit is, most of the waiters are European, so for the non-Contonese speaker, you’re in for a breezy night.
Topping their menu popularities are, to no surprise, their crab options. Though with all sorts of shellfish, the work involved in eating it far outweighs the benefits, you go for the crab, stay for the environment. That and they have a huge array of other options ranging from the Asian to the Western and everything in-between.
With a nice sized dining room and a generous sweeping view through a pane of glass of a neighbouring street that often plays highway to the drunk and hilarious; it’s a great restaurant in a great part of town.
See more about Fatty Crab at their website.
The Feather Boa
If, however, drinks are more your speed and a fabulous place of sassy means to consume said drinks is beckoning you, the Feather Boa is where you need to be.
Picture everything you expect for a tourist-filled region of a city as massive as Hong Kong and throw it out the window. The Feather Boa is literally the most sophisticatedly camp example of what traditionalistic American prohibition-era drinking with a lick of homosexuality and a great smack of awesome is. No word of a lie.
You knock three times on the door. No more.
Behind a taut gossamer curtain peeks a small Asian face. She requests identification and numbers. The space inside is secretive and tight.
She barks at you in a mix of Cantonese and English to keep the noise levels down and to not stay longer than you need to. Hong Kong’s a busy place, after all.
The walls are adorned with orante brass, gold and bronze framed images of things you’d find in your Nanna’s house, draped in – you guessed it – feather boas and other pink, red, gold and varying other pastel coloured décor like pillows, rugs, buffet tables and high-back armchairs.
It’s like an incredible coming together of 1950s England with the edginess of a Hong Kong night venue.
You order a gigantic strawberry daiquiri with a cocoa powder rim – the must drink drink from the menu – and enjoy it or the company of your friends.
But remember, don’t let that noise level rise about a dull roar or the bar staff and that door woman will ring their old docking bells and hurriedly scream at you until it subsides.
Keep it nice.
It’s as scintillating a venue as you’d expect from a venue named Feather Boa and every bit as fabulous.
See more of their sassiness at their website.
You know those moments when all you want is a substantial meal of things you know, love and could (and would) eat for days? But Asian? Soho Spice is that.
Situated fairly centrally in Lan Kwai Fong, Soho Spice is a bit Thai, a bit Vietnamese and a lot delicious.
They serve a lot of traditional and authentic food presented in contemporary, not-scary fashion, perfect for the group diners or a simple eat-and-run. They rate high on Open Rice, Hong Kong’s version of Urban Spoon and are very easy to find.
See more at their website.
One of the nicest bars in Hong Kong (alongside Aqua Bar in Tsim Sha Tsui), Sevva is a testament to the secret twists and turns that make-up the brilliance of Hong Kong’s night life.
Right in the heart of Hong Kong in Central, there is a building, corporate from the outside, a shopping haven on the inside. With offices.
You walk in, take an unassuming elevator to the top floor and alight, facing a glamorous display case of gold plated cutlery available for purchase to the tune of around $AUD4000. You can imagine the kind of venue you’re about to walk into.
Sevva is immeasurably sophisticated, visually stunning and enjoyably pleasant beyond all other quantifiers, you have no other option that to simply sit back with your overpriced (for Hong Kong) glass of wine and enjoy the view.
It sits atop the roof of a corporate building, overlooking Victoria Harbour and the surrounding highways, dwarfed on all sides by the tallest buildings of the Hong Kong skyline that participate nightly in the 8 o’clock light show; famous around the world.
Every night, the surrounding buildings owned by the likes of HSBC and the like, explode in a display of colour, moving imagery and lights to entertain tourists and keep the skyline interesting regardless of the clear or murky weather that’s taken hold.
It’s a sight to behold and on a clear night, can help any new-to-Hong Kong visitor or seasoned veteran identify all manners of landmarks and renowend buildings as far as the eye can see.
Highly recommended, see more about Sevva at their website.
Hong Kong has an interesting history. Part of China, then colonised by the English, then independent, then back with China, it’s all over the place.
However, this has meant that a lot of Hong Kong is stooped in rich and culturally diverse history that is definitely worth exploring.
The Giant Buddha at Ngong Ping
Cultural overload; it’s a Tian Tan Buddha in lotus position nestled cosily and beautifully in the Hong Kong mountains on the island of Lantau.
If you’re a historical and spiritual nerd like I am, this is the place for you.
Taking a suspended cable car for about 20-25 minutes over rivers, between mountains and over sweeping valleys, you arrive at Ngong Ping where another 20 minute walk plus a stairway climb up the side of a mountain will reveal the temple that is the Tian Tan Buddha, backdropped by sweeping views of Hong Kong’s surrounding regions.
Nestled in amongst the trees opposite the Buddha’s gaze is the Po Lin Monastery where monks still live, work and meditate. It’s a spiritual place of great divinity.
The whole trip costs only around $AUD50 and can be done in an afternoon.
A ‘must do’ when in Hong Kong, The Peak and its method of transport to and from is as historical as the city itself.
The Peak is a viewing platform on the highest point of Hong Kong which provides breathtaking views of the city and Victoria Harbour.
It has a direct tram that takes tourists up and down all day that actually ascends on a 45-degree angle. Quite the experience if you never have before. Even if you get motion sick, the ten minute ride is worth every second once you’ve climbed to the top and absorb the view. From central Hong Kong to as far as the New Territories, deep on the mainland China side of Hong Kong, the view is one to remember.
This costs about $AUD17 and takes about two hours to make it worth your while.
Avenue of the Stars
Hong Kong’s movie and entertainment industry is massive.
Not that you can watch it if you don’t speak Cantonese, but it’s certainly successful. Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee are two figureheads of the scene and have as such, been cast in Bronze along Hong Kong’s equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Avenue of the Stars lines the northern bank of the Victoria Harbour channel and provides some flooringly good photo opportunities and views whether at day or night.
It’s free to enter.
All-in-all Hong Kong is a phenomenal mixing pot of awesomeness, colour, culture and affordable and decent food. It’s an opening of the eyes, senses, wallet and personality to maximise what you get from each and every turn of its maze-like madness.
If you’ve been, go back; if you haven’t, go.
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