In November we took the 14 hour flight from Heathrow to Hong Kong for 6 night adventure in one of my favourite cities in the world!
My family originate from Hong Kong, with my mum being born and growing up there so I have a personal connection to this city.
It was only when I was researching for our itinerary did I find out people often consider HK to be nothing more than a stopover destination. Having heard all about Hong Kong as I grew up I definitely didn’t have that preconception, and now having been I can confirm it is certainly not just a convenient stopover.
I visited Hong Kong for the first time a few years prior to this trip, however this was James first time and I couldn’t wait to show him the city I had fallen in love with. Before booking, we had considered a few different destinations, including Vietnam, Bali and Japan, but with only a week to spare and with James hearing me rave about it for so long, we settled on Hong Kong.
We flew with BA, as Cathy Pacific flights were sooo much more expensive. Price wise our choice was between BA or Virgin Atlantic and due to earlier arrival in HK times, we went with BA.
BA seems to be a little hit and miss depending on what plane you get. Unfortunately on the way there we got an older one, which was a bit worn in placed. The man next to me’s chair was stuck at permanently reclined, which wasn’t ideal for him nor the person behind him. But overall it was fine, even for a long haul flight.
On the way back we had a double decker new plane which was noticeably nicer, and more comfortable. Obviously you don’t get insight into the plane type when booking, so it’s pretty much out of your control, but overall I would fly with BA again if the times suited best. I guess as we were only there for 6 nights, the timings mattered more to us than a nicer plane ride!
Where We Stayed
When people go to Hong Kong visitors choose between staying on either side of the water, either on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. There are pros and cons to both, depending on what you’re looking for.
A few of the key attractions of both:
Hong Kong Island
- The Peak Tram and The Peak
- Mid Levels Escalators
- Happy Valley Racecourse
- Ocean Park
- Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
- Ladies Market
- Jade Market
- Temple Street Night Market
- Avenue of Stars
We chose to stay The Royal Garden in Kowloon. This hotel is beautiful! And price wise, it was pretty average for Hong Kong. The rooftop pool is incredible, one memory I will never forget is swimming at 9pm, the air temperature still being so warm, and the lights from the Hong Kong Skyline lighting up the pitch black sky. The spa is also great for relaxing after a long day exploring. It’s in a great location, about a 10/15 minute walk to the Star Ferry. I think we only took the metro twice during our stay, but the metro (Tsim Sha Tsui) is a 2 minute walk from the hotel if you need that.
However the hotel wasn’t the main reason I wanted us to stay in Kowloon. Whilst you would arguably be closer to more attractions on Hong Kong Island, you wouldn’t see the famous skyline from that side, and you wouldn’t need to take the Star Ferry everyday which is probably my favourite thing about Hong Kong.
Some people say a week is too long for Hong Kong, but our itinerary filled up fast! And there is still so much I want to do.
We speant most of the week wandering round all the different areas, however there were a few activities we knew we had to do. Here is a rough idea of how our week panned out:
Town Hall Dim Sum
The Peak Tram and The Peak
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Man Mo Temple
Mid Level Escalators
Temple Street Night Market
Dragon’s Back Hike
Shek O Beach
Tram ride from Central to Causeway Bay
One last market round up to pick up anything else we wanted to bring back
Honestly, we did not have a bad meal while we were in Hong Kong. As long as you like Chinese food, you wont be spoilt for choice when it comes to food in this city. Here are some stand outs:
Dim Sum at the Town Hall
Ok fully understand this is on everyones must go list but there is a reason! This was some of the best dim sum I’ve had, and is one of the few places left in Hong Kong which still does trolley service which is a much funner way to order. Get here early. There is a ticket queing system, and can get insanely long on weekends. I’ve been twice, the first time on a Monday early lunch (11ish) and walked straight in. A bit later on a Friday, had to queue for around an hour and a half. By the time we sat down the service was slowing down anyway, so even the choice of dim sum was limited. It is so worth it if you are able to get in early!
Egg Waffles at Temple Street Market
We saw these all over the city and wish we had tried them sooner. So so so good. They’re around £2 – £3 depending on where you get them, and you can add toppings/ice cream/choose different flavours. We had a normal flavour one with ice cream. They take so much better than i was imagining. They’re basically loads of little pancakes in a waffle. Delicious!
Huge plates of noodles at Ladies Market
Some of the best dinners we had were in these outdoor restaurants at the markets. Huge plates of noodles with huge bottles of beer for less than £20 between us. We stuck to the noodles as they were delicious but you could also opt for meatier options, and there were plenty of fresh crab dishes available too. Go for the Chinese beer, super cheap (£2?) for a 1 litre bottle!
This was the only splash out meal we went for, and in all honesty for food is was the worst we had all week. We were super wary of the prices (average £20 for starter, £40 for main) so we definitely didn’t try the best thing on the menu! These prices are insane compared to what we paid elsewhere for much tastier food. That being said the view is probably the best in Hong Kong. We went for 8ish so were able to catch the nightly light show which was great to see from the 28th floor!
We didn’t actually make it to Tim Ho Wan :'(
We spent hours walking around a shopping centre following google maps which kept leading us to nowhere and after actual hours of walking round and round we gave up and headed into LKF for some cold beers to soothe our feet. I have to go here next time! It’s one of the cheapest michelin star restaurants in the world, and is meant to be incredible.
Hong Kong has an incredible nightlife, due the amount of young professionals working in the city. We found most the nice bars and clubs to be on the Hong Kong Island side. Drinking alcohol can be pricey, however lots of places offer happy hour and some offer ladies night where women drink for free/discounted.
Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) is the go to area to find bars and clubs in Central. You can find a strip of roadside bars, all offering “the best happy hour in Hong Kong”. Our favourite bar was Ce La Vi, on the 25th floor of the California Tower in LKF. Go outside to the roof terrace for a surreal drinking experience among the towering buildings of the Hong Kong skyline. We also went to a couple more clubby bars, including Dragon I and Tazmania Ballroom which are also in LKF. They were much more flash and a little too cool for us haha.
The Dragon’s Back Hike
I hadn’t done any hiking in Hong Kong before as the last time I’d come it was Summer over 30 degrees everyday! November was much better hiking weather. The Dragon’s Back is a hike on Hong Kong Island, made of a series of peaks and dips resembling a dragon’s back. There are a few different routes depending on how long/challenging you want it to be. We started at Cape Collision Cemetery and ended at Shek O Beach. It took us around 3 hours all together. The views were amazing and it was so satisfying to get the beach at the end!
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Hiking down from The Peak
After experiencing the near vertical ride in the Peak Tram we walked back down into central. This was a great option as it is steep in parts but isn’t too taxing and you really get to get the feel for the lush greenery the city has. We felt like we were in the middle of the jungle. Further down you get to Old Peak Road where you can see some of the best addresses in the city. You can then cut into the Botanical Gardens and go see the animals.
Eating Buddhist Food at The Big Buddha
After visiting the Big Buddha in Lantau you can visit the canteen which serves traditional buddhist food. It’s all vegetarian and really cheap. We tried some delicious tofu and sesame dishes which we definitely wouldn’t have chosen otherwise.
Tram Ride from Central to Causeway Bay
A tram ride from central is a great way to see a lot of the city, without killing your feet or your budget. A ride from central to Causeway Bay will set you back a grand sum of £0.25 and will give you another view of the bustling streets of Wan Chai.
Good to know before you go
Cheap eats win
We found the more expensive the food, the worse it tasted. Hong Kong knows how to do good food, and the best meals were often found in markets or in tiny local places rather than the big name restaurants.
The night markets are amazing and we found so many decent knock offs to bring home. However they are made to be haggled at. A lot of the time we were able to get the price of goods down to 50% or even 25% of what the stall owner initially quotes. You have more bargaining power if you are willing to buy more than one item so stock up if you can. And don’t be afraid to walk away if you’re not getting the price you want. Another stall down the road will more than likely have the same stock and you can try your luck again there.
Don’t be afraid of the catalogue market sellers
You will see a few people holding a catalogue without an actual stall of stock. This tends to be the way to get the more decent fake designer stuff. Flip through the catalogue and ask them if they have the one you want. If they do, you can haggle for the price you want, then they will go off to get the bag/purse/watch you want from some secret holding place.
Take public transport but avoid the subway
Some of our most memorable views/sights of this trip was due to rides on boats/trams/buses. We only took the subway a couple of times during the week rather than the Star Ferry, and it was so crowded we tried to avoid as much as possible. If you are on holiday and have time to spare enjoy travelling by boat instead, it will be cheaper too!
I love Hong Kong and am always recommending it to everyone! The mix of culture with fast paced modern life is like nowhere else. Next time I go I want to go see the casinos of Macau and do some more hiking. Have you been to Hong Kong yet? I would love to hear what you thought!