I can call Hong Kong my home since January 2018, as I am now based here, flying out of HKG airport. Via Instagram I get a lot of questions about my new hometown. ‘I will visit Hong Kong for a day / a weekend / a week, do you have any tips for me?’ So, as a nice overview of what I usually answer, find here what I recommend in Hong Kong! For sure I will provide another blog with tips in the future, as I am still in a stage of exploring this amazing city, and I don’t think one can ever be done with that! For now I hope you like reading @flywitheva‘s little Hong Kong guide.
So you plan to visit the amazing city of Hong Kong? Good choice! It is truly ‘Asia travel for beginners’, in the sense that it is quite western due to it’s history, and English language will get you around almost everywhere. It has so much to offer: nature, culture, nightlife. And food: all cuisines are on offer, the food deserves a proper foodie article soon. Ten tips from an expat living in this city for several months now:
1. Surfing at Big Wave Bay
Surfing in Hong Kong? Yes! When I have a day off from flying, one of my favourite things to do is to head to Big Wave Bay. This small beach is easy to reach: from MTR stop Chai Wan you can either take a minibus or taxi, or, what I always do: take a short hike, which is only 45 minutes from the MTR. You need to hike via the cemetery; first steep stairs up, then a downhill hike till the beach is the nice reward at the end. At the beach there is a facility to change clothes, and there are two spots to rent surf boards. For only 50 HKD (= about 5,5 Euro, plus 100 HKD deposit) you can rent a board for a full day! It is such a nice spot with good waves for both beginner (like myself) and more advanced surfers.
If you have been following me for a while, you know I am an outdoorsy person. When I was based in Barcelona I loved taking trips to the Pyrenees. I am so happy Hong Kong offers a tremendous amount of hiking trails. I am waiting for fall and winter before stepping up the hiking game, as the summer is very hot and humid. But I can recommend for example ‘Lantau Trail’ on Lantau Island, The High Junk Peak Trail and Dragon’s Back. All these trails are good for any level of hikers, and you can do the full trail or choose to do just a part of it.
3. The Peak
The view over Hong Kong from Victoria Peak is kind of a must for any Hong Kong visit! Get up there by foot, or hop on the peak tram. Another option is to take a taxi (taxi’s are inexpensive in Hong Kong). At the top you find the Peak Tower Building where you can visit a Sky Terrace, but in my opinion this is not worth the wait or the money; the view just below the Sky Terrace is free, equally beautiful, and there are less people around!
4. Wooloomooloo Wan Chai rooftop bar
Drinks are fairly expensive in Hong Kong (plan for happy hour!), both at street level or at one of the roof terraces. So why not enjoy that cocktail with a great view? The Wooloomooloo Wan Chai rooftop bar is one of my favourite places to chill, and to bring my friends when they visit me in Hong Kong. High above buzzing Wan Chai it is a relaxed lounge spot with a view that does not disappoint; either before or after sunset you can make your Insta-worthy pictures 😉
5. Cocktails at Ophelia
Hong Kong nightlife! It is centred around two areas: Lan Kwai Fong (‘LKF’) and when the night is not so young anymore: Wan Chai. Definitely check it all out, but let me also recommend a different spot in Wan Chai: Ophelia. A sophisticated bar with a burlesque vibe. Make sure to dress up, then order one of their perfect cocktails and enjoy the entertainment. For sure this place will be not something you have seen before! A few other places I like to go to go on a night out: Club Feather Boa (a ‘hidden’ bar, but not that well hidden for flight crews from many airlines), Iron Fairies, The Music Room at Potato Head, and when you are ready for the after party: Dusk Till Dawn. For sure this list will be more extensive in a few months as there are simply too many places to discover in this city.
6. Sports in Tamar Park
To balance all the food and alcohol you might want to check a sports class on your Hong Kong trip. Most gyms require a membership, but surely you can join the local Hong Kong crowd working out in Tamar Park. For example pick one of the outdoor yoga classes, or how about a bootcamp class? Tuesday evening at 20:00 you can join ‘Tamar strong‘ (and most likely find me there if I’m in Hong Kong) for running and hiit exercises, or on sunday train hardcore with Sunday Shred.
7. Mui Wo
If you are just visiting one or two days I would recommend sticking to Hong Kong Island. But if you come for several days, I urge you to visit Mui Wo on Lantau Island. Either take a boat trip from central pier to Discovery Bay and hike from there, or take a ferry directly to Mui Wo. It will simply show you a whole different side of the city; it’s a calm village, with not a high apartment building in sight. On Lantau Island I can also recommend to visit Tai O Village and the Tian Tan Buddha (‘The big Buddha’). The boat trip to reach Hong Kong Island is fun as well, and shows you the Hong Kong skyline from the water.
8. Dim Sum at Lin Heung Tea House
Not especially for the food, but absolutely for the experience: Lin Heung Tea House. It is full, it is buzzing, loud, you squeeze in at a table with the locals and grab your little baskets with food from one of the many food trolleys in the room and they stamp your card. It is something else! A table full of tea and peculiar dishes is the result. No need to dress up 😉
9. Tram ride
I told the most recent captain I flew with I was writing up some tips on Hong Kong, and asked him (living in HK since almost 20 years!) what his favourite ‘Hong Kong experience’ is to show friends and family. ‘To take the tram, grab a seat in the front on the upper deck, bring some beers, and watch Hong Kong pass by: always a success!’ I agree: hop on a Ding Ding: it’s a cheap and fun way to see a big stretch of the city! Did you know you can also hire a tram to host a party?
10. Longer stay? Visit Macau!
I highly recommend to combine Hong Kong with a trip to Macau if you stay more than 5 days. It is only one hour by ferry, and you will arrive in a different world! Macau is also called ‘The Las Vegas of Asia’. Try your luck in one of the many casino’s, explore the Portugese side of Macau, and for a show that will take your breath away: visit The House of Dancing Water. There is no need to arrange a visa in advance, but do bring your passport!
Various other tips:
- A good amount of western style restaurants join in Hong Kong Super Mondays: you can get 2 main courses for the price of one! Find a list of participating restaurants here (you don’t need the card to benefit!) I tried Bouchon Bistro Francais (mussels and white wine!) and ALTO (Great food! And that view!)
- Invest in an ‘Octopus card‘ to pay with ease for public transport, and your beers at 7-Eleven 😉
- One of my favourite Hong Kong lifestyle websites is Sassy Hong Kong. Have a look, lots of ideas and events.
- If you prefer a private tour in Hong Kong, I know the perfect tour guide. He can take you for an overview of Hong Kong, or a certain part of the city; take you on a bike tour, hike tour, culinary tour, and can guide you or a group of people around in English, Spanish, French, German or Dutch. Together you can design your own customised plan. Get in touch if you are interested!
These are my first tips on Hong Kong. In the coming months I will dive further into the city. I plan to visit many musea and events, to try lots of restaurants (from cheap Asian meals to Michelin restaurants), to go camping in Sai Kung, and to sail, paraglide and hike my way around the city and the New Territories. So stay tuned for more recommendations, and keep following my adventures on Instagram 🙂