Hongkong food and fashion. I think everyone should have seen this incredible city at least once in his life.
Actually not really part of my trip to Japan, I decided to make use of my stopover in Hongkong and spent a week there.
And it was truly the right decision. The city of skyscrapers is a place full of opposites. In one moment, it looks like one of the most developed western metropolises you have ever seen, packed with tall buildings and fancy shops and in the next moment you can find yourself in the middle of a Cantonese Street Food market without realizing how you got there.
This place just took me in for the full length of my stopover and it was actually kind of hard for me to leave again.
I don’t know if there’s just something about big Asian cities that attracts me but I felt home from the first moment on and really fell in love with this place in the short time I was able to stay there.
In my opinion, Hong Kong is a city for everyone. There is just so much to see, to do and to eat that it doesn’t give you the opportunity to get bored even for one moment.
Another huge plus of the city is it’s beautiful nature. Nature? In Hongkong? You heard it right. Even though Hongkong is extremely densely populated, only 18% of the land can be built on and that’s why you find a beautiful coastal and hilly countryside in Hongkong.
And the shopping… When one attribute fits the best to this place than it’s shopping paradise. No taxes, a variety of everything you could imagine and crazy discounts that’ll make you look twice at the price tag.
But I’ll get more into detail later on. First, let me introduce you to Hongkong from my point of view and share with you some of the places and experiences I liked the most.
Where to stay?
That’s actually not an easy one, as deciding where you want to stay really depends on your priorities and what you expect from a place.
When it comes to me, I’m travelling more on the budget side so I’ll mostly choose a hostel, also because it makes it easy to get in contact with other people, especially when you’re travelling alone.
The location I chose for my stay was in between Kowloon and Mongkok and I didn’t regret it for one second. I decided not to stay on Hongkong Island as it’s supposed to more of an commercial and business area which didn’t sound that exciting to me.
Being located in between Mongkok and Kowloon was just perfect. All around the place were loads of food places and small markets, a metro station was just 1 minute away and walking to either Mongkok or Kowloon took me not more than 10 minutes.
In the end I was really happy that I chose to stay in Kowloon as I’d consider it the more local part of Hongkong with an amazing food scene.
If you’re looking for a place to stay I can definitely recommend Yesinn @YMT. I stayed there during my trip to Hongkong and it was a great Hostel.
What to do?
Well there is a lot to do in this huge city and I’m quite sure I didn’t even closely see enough things to give you a detailed guide about what to do in Hongkong. Still, I’d like to present you my favorite experiences as I’m quite sure you’re going to enjoy them when visiting Hongkong.
Shopping: As a budget traveller with only a carry on luggage this point should definitely not be on the list. But that shows even more how insane this place is when it comes to shopping. I neither had the budget nor the place to buy stuff but still managed to do so, don’t ask me why or how. It’s like Hongkong is teasing you with all it’s offers and unique items. You’ll find stores and products that you haven’t even heard of before and trust me, when it comes to style, Hongkong really know what’s going on. There are so many small boutiques and stores with unique stuff that you’ll really have to get your shit together not spending all your traveling money on clothes.
Might be a good idea to visit Hongkong as your last stop so that you won’t have to carry all that stuff with you during your whole trip.
Here’s a list of my favorite shops:
- Loading Store (G/F & 1/F 43-45 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon)
- Upstairs Apparel (1/F, No.62 Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok)
- Overlab (Shop 7, B/F, Yan On Building, 1 Kwong Wah St, Mong Kok)
- CHOCOOLATE (Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mongkok, Hongkong)
- Sneaker Street (sneaker street hong kong)
Viewpoints: With all its towering skyscrapers, it would be a shame not to catch a view of the many towers and buildings. Luckily, Hongkong island is located in between the sea and the mountains which means, with a little effort you can get some breathtaking views.
The most famous viewpoint of the city is Victoria Peak. There are many options to get up there so it’s up to you. I myself prefer walking and it took me about 1 hour and a half to get to the top, with some nice views on my way up.
If you’re not into walking or just don’t want to spend that much time, you can also take a bus or the traditional Tram to get you up the peak (even though you have to calculate with some waiting time).
The views from up there are breathtaking and you’ll get a great overview of Hongkong and about how many skyscrapers there are actually. Hongkong definitely has one of the most impressive skylines I’ve seen so far.
Once you’re up the peak, also try to have a little stroll around as there are many more viewpoints and you might be lucky to end up at a beautiful spot just by yourself. And who can say that in a city so densely populated.
Another great possibility to get some good views of Hongkongs skyline is to take the Star Ferry which goes in between Hongkong Island and Kowloon. For a special experience, take it after sunrise as the skyline of Hongkong looks even more impressive with all the lights on. They have a lightshow every evening at 8pm so you might consider taking the ferry around this time.
Secret Tip: If you’re staying around the Wan Chai Area you definitely have to check out this one. A friend of mine who’s been living in Hongkong for the last 3 years showed it to me. Enter the Hopewell Centre and take the elevator up to the 17th floor. Then go out of the elevator and straight towards a sign where it says “Grand Buffet”. There is another elevator you can take up to the 52 floor so just get in and wait for one of the most amazing views you’ll ever get. I don’t want to reveal too much but I’ll promise you that you have never seen something like that before! It’s a pure insider tip and you won’t see any other people using the elevator.
Walking: Hongkong is a city made for walking. Even though there are 7 Million people living here, the center of the city is not that vast as you might assume. You’ll soon realize that the Hongkong people learned how to manage huge masses of people without having a lot of space: They just started building up high what makes walking from one point to another incredibly easy.
I love cities than can be explored on foot as it gives you a completely different overview over a place than taking the metro everytime you want to go somewhere.
You’ll come across a lot of interesting things and you’ll be surprised about how much there is to explore apart everything you’ve already planned.
Most of the times, I try not to make to many plans on what to see in a city because by walking around you can see so much stuff and you could never make up for that even with weeks of planning.
Go to the beach: Hongkong has some incredibly beautiful nature and landscapes to offer, including white and vast beaches. If you’ve got a little bit more time in Hongkong you should definitely consider visiting one of the marvellious beaches.
If you won’t mind a little hike you have to check out Sai Kung National Park in the north-east of Hongkong and visit Ham Tin, Tung Wan and Tai long Wan Beach which are by far the most beautiful beaches in Honkong. Another extra is that you can take a tent with you (or rent one) and stay there overnight. I did it with a friend of mine and it was an incredible experience. As the beaches are quite far away from the city centre, you won’t find a lot of people there and even less staying over night. So it’s definitely worth it! And the hike with its views is an experience you won’t forget so fast.
When there’s another thing which this city is famous for apart from shopping, it’s definitely food. Hongkong might not have all these small street food carts you’d find in cities like Bangkok and isn’t that cheap also but you can still find some amazing and affordable food here.
Being a hotspot of Cantonese cuisine you cannot miss out on the classic dishes like Dim Sum, Roast Goose or Pork, the egg tarts…
But there is much more to it. Hongkong is a city with over 18 Michelin Guide rated Street Food restaurants. These are places where you can get some of the best food you’ve ever tried for a dime. You definitely have to make sure to check out some of them. I’ll link them here in case you are interested.
Another great thing are the many street side barbecues found all around Mongkok and Kowloon. Just point out the meats, vegetables or whatever you’re interested and they’ll marinate and barbecue it right in front of you.
One more must visit are the Dai Pai Dongs of Hong Kong. There are not too many of them left as they’re only allowed to be given on in the families. They are open air hawker centres with great and insanely fresh food. One of the most amazing ones is the seafood Dai Pai Dong in Temple Street, Kowloon. Make sure to try out one of Hongkongs signature dishes: Spicy Crab.
In Hongkong a food adventure awaits around each corner and if you’re a little curious you’re going to have a great time here.
If you want to try out another Hongkong signature dish you should definitely visit this place and get some Roast Goose: It’s called “利星火鍋海鮮小炒” and you can find it here. 200 HKD will get you the most amazing roast goose you ever had in your life. Incredibly succulent and juicy but crispy on the outside with a sweet plum sauce on the side. That’s really a dish to die for. It’s a completely local restaurant in a local area of Hongkong and there was no foreigner when I went there which made it really interesting to me. I got the tip from a local I met during my travel and he totally recommended me this place.
To sum it up
Hongkong is one of the most interesting, diverse and liveable cities I have ever been to. There is such a variety of things to do like checking out the culinary scene, hiking to a lonely beach, enjoying the insane skyline or just strolling around the city.
Surprise awaits around each corner and once you got used to the busy crowds and the high buildings you’ll enjoy the beauty of this city.
Hongkong is a city where luxury cars meet old school taxis, where tradition meets innovation and even though more and more money is being spent and earned here you can still enjoy the city and its food on low budget.
This year is Hongkongs 20th anniversary of being independent from the British government. Back in 97 they signed a deal with China and England, allowing Hongkong to govern itself for the next 50 years with minimal Chinese influence. Meaning that in 30 years Hongkong will be fully part of China again and a lot of things are already changing. So make sure to check the city soon if you don’t want to miss the experience of how the real Hongkong is. If you’re interested in reading more check out this.
As always I’d be really happy if you have any tips or food spots to add and I’ll be awaiting your recommendations.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article and will get back for the upcoming articles about my travel through Japan.
With love, Niko.
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