From stumbling down hidden laneways lined with street art, to discovering places to eat just by the emanating smells and the crowd outside, to being constantly in awe of the vibrant lights that decorate the city, it’s hard not to fall in love with Hong Kong. I recently spent five days there with my husband as an extended stopover on the way to India for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and instantly felt enamoured with the city even though it was only my first time there.
For any other potential first-time travellers, I’ve compiled a ‘quick and dirty’ list of things to see, do and eat in Hong Kong. By no means is this list exhaustive (I only just scraped the surface of this vast city in five days, and admittedly even then it was the pretty generic tourist hot spots), but if you don’t have a lot of time but still want to experience some of the things this city has to offer, then this list may be a good starting point for you. This is part one of a two part series.
PART ONE – SEEING
Victoria peak tram
The highest viewing point in Hong Kong, this was our first stop. The view of the city was fantastic and really gives you a sense of how vastly spread the city is. My only regret is that we didn’t do this at night – seeing the city lit up at night would have been amazing. If you’re heading to the peak tram during the day, I’d recommend getting there before 11am to avoid the queue.
We stayed on Hong Kong island but ventured out to Kowloon – one of the older parts of Hong Kong – several times via ferry. Much more traditional than the main island, it was great to see some of the architecture here and catch the view of Victoria Harbour at sunset.
Imagine a city built up and on steep and sprawling hills. Then imagine rows and rows of escalators that sit in between that; in between houses, in between shops, in between buildings. That is the mid-level escalators in Hong Kong Central. It’s hard to visualise it without seeing them, but they really are just that; a set of free-standing escalators that save you having to walk up kilometres and kilometres of steep hills (my kind of city!). We were lucky enough that the escalators were lined with fairy lights for Christmas, which was beautiful at night.
After seeing Macau in *that* James Bond scene and hearing so much about it, we decided to take a day trip via ferry to check the place out. I was expecting the huge casinos, but what was surprising was the heavy Portuguese influence permeating the city; signs were written in Portuguese, taxi drivers spoke broken Portuguese, the architecture was decidedly Portuguese influenced, and egg tarts were everywhere. Not that we were complaining! We then hit the Venetian (one of the city’s most famous casinos) purely for the experience than anything else. While the casino itself was impressive, it was the attached shopping mall which was built to resemble Venice where we spent more time. Think elaborate ceilings and an indoor waterway complete with gondolas and suitably dressed gondoliers. While Macau was a great experience, if you only have limited time and aren’t really into casinos I wouldn’t recommend going as you’re probably better off spending your time exploring Hong Kong itself.
Prior to visiting, I was told by friends that Disneyland Hong Kong had nothing on its American and European counterparts. While it was quite small for a theme park, I’m still glad we made the trip there as it was great to embrace our inner child and give in to the inevitable excitement and mayhem. Oh, and the green tea latte I ordered from the café was seriously the *best* I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot.
Stay tuned for Part Two – Eating, which I will be posting soon! Now excuse me while I finish drooling all over my keyboard…
Victoria Peak – Garden Road, Hong Kong.
Mid-city escalators – Jubilee Street, Central, Hong Kong.