If you find yourself researching things to do in Hong Kong and can’t quite decide what you want to do or what you want to see, let me help. Hong Kong is massive, but I’m sure you already knew that. The options are endless. I mean, they have their very own Disneyland! Regrettably, we didn’t go. I spent four days in Hong Kong, silly me for thinking that was enough time to spend in this magical (yes, magical) place. I would need a whole month…better yet a year! Sure, the massive amounts of people and traffic would get old but it comes with the territory.
Day One: Lantau Island, Tian Tan Buddha
This is one of those things you have to see for yourself. Pictures don’t do it justice. Not only is it a good photo op, it is full of everything I like about traveling: culture and history. You’ll see people admiring Big Buddha from all walks of life. Some worshiping and some just staring in awe, like me.
We took the MTR all the way to Big Buddha, from Tsim Sha Tsui to Tung Chung. In about 40 minutes we arrived and did not have to switch trains once! It was a short 10 minute walk to the cable car from the train station and about a 30 minute ride to see the Buddha. Tip: once you make it to Tian Tan Buddha make the trek up 268 steps, bring water and an empty memory card. Photo ops galore! Tip # 2: go as early as possible! Tian Tan tends to be filled with tourists starting around 10 to 11 AM. Learn from my mistakes people.
Day Two: Create your own food tour
This is a given for me! I am such a foodie at heart. And luckily, Lesley is too! Our first stop was Allegretto Coffee. Queue the “oohs” and the “ahhhs” because the latte art here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen! Not to mention that lattes are damn good. It might have the best lattes in Hong Kong, and that means a lot coming from me! On any given day the baristas make two kinds of latte art. The day we went they happened to be making elephants (my favorite animal) and cats! Naturally, I requested an elephant. Be prepared to wait about a half hour for your latte. Don’t worry, it’s worth it!
Next up was Yum Cha. I guess you could call this a day filled with cute food! By then it was almost lunch time and we were starving, hot and ready for some FOOD. Yum Cha offers a playful twist on traditional Chinese cuisine with a variety of dim sum options. The dim sum we ordered was filled with deliciousness! The green ones were filled with green tea custard. This is where my green tea obsession all began, thanks Yum Cha. The orange was filled with vanilla custard and the little piggies were obviously barbeque pork filled. Kind of morbid. And the soup? That was a spicy peanut soup, chalk full of noodles and flavor.
Last up was Oddies Foodies. Okay I have a confession, we didn’t really make it to Oddies on the day of our food tour because we had to get back to the hotel for a reservation AND it was all the way in Central and we did our food tour on the Kowloon side. But, we knew we needed to make it there. And made it there we did. I ordered the MOB. This is a black sesame mocha eggette with Italian low fat milk gelato, apple yuzu jelly, homemade matcha ice cream, citrus crunchy flakes and drizzled with matcha sauce. If that doesn’t scream Hong Kong I don’t know what does. The best $55HKD I ever did spend.
If you plan on doing a food tour in Hong Kong or any other city for that matter make sure to walk to each location. Generally, cities are pedestrian friendly so use this time to walk off a few of the calories you’re about to consume or already consumed. How to stay fit while traveling lesson one!
Day Three: Markets
This is an obvious thing to do in Hong Kong and all of Asia for that matter. Prior to walking the streets of the Ladies Market I often dreamed of what it would be like to stroll through, touching all the fabrics, admiring all the people and bartering with the locals. I couldn’t wait to get there and see it for myself.
I quickly learned bartering is KEY. Go into the markets with prices you’re willing to pay for items and be sure to know the exchange rate. If you need to, whip out your calculator on your phone to do the math and figure out what your paying in your home country’s currency. Often times, the locals will try to communicate using a calculator by punching in numbers, and they’ll seem firm on a price after going back and forth. For example, I was only willing to pay 300HKD for an item priced at 700HKD. The shop owner and I went back and forth with numbers on the calculator. She wanted 700HKD and I was keen on paying 300HKD. I’m not kidding I think we went back and forth 10 times on prices. I finally got sick of it and said I was all set. She QUICKLY changed her mind and accepted 300HKD. Just have patience! They’ll probably come around.
The Flower Market in Kowloon was just one of those things you have to see for yourself. Or maybe not if you don’t like flowers because it’s literally a street lined with flowers. Just one street on one side. But there were so many beautiful, unique and exotic flowers. You don’t need to spend much time here, maybe an hour or so.Day Four: Victoria Peak
Let me back track for a hot second. Upon learning of #BucketListWithLesley I researched the hell outta Asia. There are so many places I wanted to go! Bali, Thailand, the Maldives, Dubai, mainland China, the list goes on. I just kind of stumbled upon Hong Kong when researching and creating my initial bucket list. The reason Hong Kong ended up on my bucket list: Victoria Peak. This is what drew me in from the start. The moment I saw Victoria Peak was the moment I decided I would make it there one day.
I am all about perspectives and angles. I love seeing things in ways they aren’t normally perceived. It’s one thing to look out at the city from the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong but its another to trek miles up a mountain and see the lush greenery mixed with the contrast of the city buildings and Victoria Harbor. It’s the best of both worlds really. You’re completely separated from the busy streets of Hong Kong but you can enjoy and appreciate all of its people and beauty from way up high. It kind of looks like Lego Land. Tip: for the best views go to the Skywalk Observatory. It costs extra but this is the best view on all of Victoria Peak. Also worth noting, much of Victoria Peak is a mall so don’t get distracted and navigate your way through.
We took a taxi up to Victoria Peak by mistake. We thought the driver was taking us to the tram. Nope. He took us all the way up. It was about a 20-30 minute drive up the mountain which wasn’t bad. On the way down we took the tram. This was an interesting experience. The tram came to a sudden stop, I mean VERY sudden, people fell over! I don’t think this is a normal thing but be cautious.
Bonus: Aqua Luna
You can do this any night of the week but on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s you’ll get to see the Symphony of Lights from Victoria Harbor. Like I said, I am all about perspectives. We almost didn’t go because the weather was looking pretty bad and there were thunderstorm warnings. We braved the (almost) storm and ended up with a lovely night on a junk boat with Aqua Luna. Opt for the complimentary refreshments, Hong Kong Beer is the choice you need to make. Yeah sure the Dragon’s Back tastes like Budlight, but it’s the Hong Kong version so it makes it better. Duh. Now that I think of this, Lesley and I were dressed in jumpsuits and heels drinking beer on a boat, this probably looked pretty funny. Not to mention we were taking photos and laughing hysterically at who knows what!
Bonus Two: SoHo
Okay, this is a must. You have to go to SoHo when in Hong Kong. There is no way around it. We only spent an evening here and that was definitely not enough. Parts of SoHo can be accessed by the Mid-Levels Escalators (some visit SoHo just to see these) and walk up steps. Exotic and swanky with a hint of local flavor describes this area perfectly.
The funny thing is that we ate at a delicious Italian restaurant, Pasta Publico, with a friend of Lesley’s. It came highly recommended and the two of us love pasta so we promptly obliged. After stuffing our faces with pasta, bread, and more pasta we walked around the area and sort of bar hopped. There are so many alleyways with hidden bars and restaurants, no wonder Anthony Bourdain loves this city so much. SoHo is filled with expats from all over the world, so you’re bound to run into someone and just start a conversation.
Over to you! Have you been to this wonderful city? What are your must-sees? Taking notes for the next time I visit Hong Kong.