Looking to swap one concrete jungle for another? You’ve come to the right place. Hong Kong is no chilled-out beach escape – it’s noisy, crowded, teeming with street life and utterly overrun with some of the absolute best (and cheapest) food you’ll ever come across. If you like a holiday filled with sights, sounds, smells (the dried fish district is certainly aromatic) and a constant stream of stimulus (and food – this city is all about the food), there are few more exhilarating cities to visit than Hong Kong.
Ho Lee Fook
One of the most popular restaurants in town for Hong Kong’s trendy 20- to 40-somethings, this stylish basement spot off the buzzing Hollywood Road promises a setting inspired by the late-night Chinatown hangouts of New York in the 1960s. Expect funky, contemporary Chinese cooking from Taiwan-born chef Jowett Yu – and prices to match the ambition of the kitchen. This place isn’t cheap, but you won’t leave disappointed.
Elgin Street, Central, holeefookhk.tumblr.com.
Lan Kwai Fong
This is the liveliest spot for nightlife enthusiasts. You can find the best bars, lounges and rooftop hotspots around here. You might want to check if there is a festival running during your visit.
D’Aguilar Street, Central.
One Dim Sum
It may not be fine dining, but this tiny, no-frills, Michelin-starred Cantonese dim sum restaurant on the Kowloon side is so popular you’ll need to be prepared to queue outside to try the famous food. Once seated, you’ll be sharing tables with strangers, drip-fed your (unbelievably good) dumplings, soups and buns as fast as the kitchen can send them out, before being force-fed dessert and sent on your way. An truly unmissable, excellent-value experience.
Playing Field Road, Prince Edward, Kowloon.
Escape Hong Kong’s busier districts (or relax after a day of hiking – the island’s hilly landscape affords much of it) by venturing out to this serene beach spot, backed by The Pulse, a strip of restaurants, bars and shops.
Repulse Bay Road.
Temple Street Night Market
A classic Chinese market, here you can haggle your way through one of the busiest street bazaars in the territory. Stallholders clamour to draw attention to their wares, which range from clothes to antiques to stationery, while the smells of street foods such as octopus skewers and pineapple buns drift through the air.
Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.
One of Hong Kong Island’s most popular tourist attractions, The Peak, as it’s known, can be ascended on foot (around an hour of uphill walking) or – if you dare – by the old-fashioned tram. If you don’t like crowds, on foot is best. It’s worth the hike for the views over the bay and out to Kowloon alone.
Outdoorsy types, this is your calling. The most interesting (and well-known) section of this trail takes in The Twins – a track traversing two peaks, but not until you’ve ascended the 1,000 steps leading up to them… After a calve- and glute-ravaging three-hour hike leading, finally, down into Stanley, you’ll have more than earned a cold drink and bite to eat. Be sure to take lots of water on the trail (and we recommend a change of T-shirt).
Pick up the trail at Park View.
Where to stay
InterContinental Hong Kong
For a real blow-out stay, this swish tower on Kowloon side offers impressive views of the bay and Hong Kong’s famous Symphony of Lights – a light and sound show that illuminates the sky over Hong Kong Island every evening from 8pm.
iClub Sheung Wan Hotel
Staying in Hong Kong can be pricey (and the rooms on the pokey side – this is a densely populated city), but it’s possible to find good rates in good locations. Just a short walk from Central and the busy nightlife scenes of Hollywood Road, the iClub Sheung Wan offers just that.
Hong Kong is extremely pedestrian-friendly and has excellent public transport. Its underground MTR network is efficient, while ferries are an alternative (and affordable) way to cross the bay. Taxis are slighty more expensive, but easy to find.
Qatar Airways flies directly from Doha to Hong Kong daily and the trip takes a litte over seven hours. It costs approximately QR3,500.