Vicky's guide to Hong Kong
People ask me what to do, where to go when they visit Hong Kong for the first time. Normally they are there for a few days. I have an email that tweak and update whenever I need to send on this information. So I decided to just post an article here.
There will be updates every so often. If people wish to add their own tip on things to do in Hong Kong, feel free to post it in the comments section.
Here we go…
First thing is to get is an octopus cards as soon as you get to HK. No need to worry about change, it’s a smart card, used for underground, trains (don’t think it is used for the airport one though, depending on where you will be staying, get the hotel bus. Don’t get taxis or the airport train, can be very expensive. You will need something like HK$50 deposit, and you can top up the card. The smart card can be used on taxis (afaik), 7-11’s (useful 24 hour convenience store), buses, mini-buses, ferries, trams, Mc Donald’s, chemists, supermarkets, etc!
You can purchase this at a kiosk at Hong Kong Airport when you exit to the Arrivals area. This saves you time, you can top up the cards at 7-11, CircleK stores as well as train stations and at the airport.
More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopus_card .
Eating out in HK can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. It has everything, sure it has it’s own Italian town, Indian town… it’’s so multicultural. Drink is cheap as well. Check out their supermarkets ( i.e. Park n’ shop) If you love seafood, you are in luck, HK has one of the best seafood I have ever tasted. But there is so much to try and eat, the closest you can get to that type of standard of food is London Chinatown. But please don’t buy from food stalls, you might not be use to the environment, and you might get an upset tummy. Another place to avoid is what they called “Dai Pai Dong”, outdoor food places (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_pai_dong).
Alternate to McDonald’s and a great cheap place to eat Chinese food is Café de Coral. Their menus change a few times a day, and awesome value for lunch and dinner.
I made it a point to find good alternative cafes to Starbucks and Pacific Coffee Company and we found a place called “18 Grams”. They have 3 places, original in Causeway Bay, but small. Go to the one in MongKok. Find Starbucks, and it’s the Gala Place beside it on the left hand side, and it’s downstairs. Well worth it for a good cup of coffee. Their breakfast is good and as close as you can get to well-prices western food and no Chinese twist to it. There’s free wifi there as well.
Shanghaiese Chinese food is well worth trying, stay away from Chiu Chow restaurants. They are pricey and not much to write home about.
Roast goose is famous here - http://www.yungkee.com.hk/whatsnew/whatsnew-e.html - although I’m biased and say it’s over-rated and over-priced, the roast goose is much better at Yat Lok BBQ restaurant in Tai Po (where I stay in HK).
Don’t bother with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumbo_Kingdom as they are over-priced, touristy, service is bad and food is so-so. That’s what I heard from my friends who went there. We never been ourselves as we were warned about it.
You probably noticed that Hong Kongers love their Japanese food. You can find them everywhere, you won’t be disappointed.
Snack stalls in Mongkok. Hong Kongers also love to snack (don’t know how they stay so stick thin though), even late into the night. You will find many snack stalls around Mongkok, you won’t miss the queues to the popular ones.
By the way, try the egg waffles, they are my favourite, always brings me back happy memories from my childhood in Hong Kong (http://bit.ly/AwyHgV). http://kampungboycitygal.com/2009/05/street-snacks-dundas-street-mongkok-hong-kong/
Check out 1-star Michelin star dim sum place. They’ve 3 places but I recommend the one in Central which was opened recently. It’s a bit bigger, but be there on a weekday around 10-11am, else you will be waiting for a table. Ask for English menu, their BBQ bun is their signature dish. It’s really affordable and everything on the menu (not a huge one, thank goodness, around 30 items) is delish. Also try their sponge cake, it’s also a must. If you are unsure on what else to ask for, ask the staff, they are really nice to tourists.
You can try any of the dim sum places, but they may not have English menu as everything is marked on a piece of paper (not from a menu), and it’s all in Chinese. I get by by going to dim sum with my relatives. But the atmosphere is buzzing, especially in the mornings (even at 7am).
Lunchtime buffets at hotels are a bargain, basically eat yourself silly for 2 hours. My best memory has to be The Excelsior Hotel, fantastic carvery, western and Asian food and dessert. It’s not pretentious and well worth a visit. There are other hotels as well, go for the 4-star and above, again, all good value at lunch time. Book in advance though.
There are many food courts in major shopping plazas like Langham Place, APM,
More info at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong
PLACES TO VISIT AND DO
It’s dirt cheap, and great way to cross the harbor if you don’t want to be crammed in the underground train. Plus it’s worth doing the Harbour ferry tour at night time.
Get the trams on HK island, it’s one of the oldest transports in HK and it’s cheap as well. Great way to check out HK. Try and avoid rush hour though.
The Peak: Go around 5pm so you can see Kowloon in the daytime. As HK sun’s sets at 6/6:30pm each evening (HK’s close to the equator), you can also check out HK at dusk and finally night time view of the wonderful city HK. ☺ It’s kinda breath-taking. You can have dinner up there, but it’s dear.
Ocean Park is a theme park, been there for yolks. I’ve been there several times. Best part is the cable car ride, the view is spectacular.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Check out the harbour view of Hong Kong island, the Avenue of the Stars. Be there for 8pm’s nightly light and laser show.
You have art museum, the science museum, and also the must see Hong Kong history museum.
Disneyland Hong Kong is the smallest but if you have extra time, check it out. Otherwise, best give it a miss. The newly opened Toy Story land is tiny… really tiny!
The Bronze Buddha on Lantau. Go there via cable car ride: http://www.np360.com.hk/html/eng/front/index.asp and you get to see the bronze buddha. Try their crystal cabin, it’s not as scary as you think, it’s quite good fun and well worth it. It’s free to go up to the Buddha, but you can pay to get a dinner coupon for some vegetarian food at the top. I heard it’s not bad, so worth a try. Also try their dessert, a delicate tofu dessert that is made with the mountain spring water by the monks.
Stanley Market is really touristy, it’s where most westerners would go and live back in the days. The view would have been great, if not for the huge plaza blocking the view. Plus the food is expensive there (like in Ireland). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley,_Hong_Kong
Sai Kung, one of the last fishing villages left in HK. It will disappear, as they will be developing it in the near future. ☹ The cool thing here is, if you are early enough in the morning, you get to watch the fishermen sell their catch from their boats up to the people on the pier. Great fun to watch. The food out there is great, but cos more tourists are dropping by there, you may get stung for a more expensive bill. Plenty of country parks in HK (Sai Kung has one), you can ask in the tourist office if you want.
The Golden Arcade in Kowloon is a 3 story building packed with gadgets, PC parts, consoles, games etc… takes approx 2 hours to look around, more if you are bargain hunting. It’s takes a few goes to recognize one tiny shop from another. It’s well worth a visit, you will never experience this in Ireland anyway.
Don’t go to Mongkok Computer Center, that place is crap, and don’t show the full price i.e. HK$39xx.xx, whereas in Gold Arcade, most stuff is legit, and they show all the prices, and as long as you have receipt you can return items while you are still there.
Lan Kwai Fong - Just to say you were there. The pubs are nothing to scream about. It’s HK’s version of Temple Bar, but much smaller, and just one street. It’s expats and tourists ahoy there, so plenty of places to eat and drink. A bit pricier than most other areas in HK.
55th Floor (IFC Tower); I haven’t checked this out yet, but it’s worth a visit for the view.
Mid-Levels in Central - Hong Kong’s Central is pretty hilly and there are people living in this expensive area. It’s hot and humid in summer, so hiking back hime is not really pleasant, that’s where the mid-level escalators come in handy.
Since you are around the mid-levels, have a wander to Cat Street and browse the “antiques”.
Souvenirs and local HK products - check out Design Gallery at the Convention Centre. It’s affordable and staff doesn’t follow you around the place even when you said you don’t need their assistance.
Walk along Nathan Road and there’s plenty of gold jewelers, yep, Hong Kongers love their bling. We had a hard time finding a normal wedding ring with no diamonds for Mick in Hong Kong. The gold jewelleries are normally for people getting married (the bride). Be forewarned, there’s shop assistants hovering at the doors all the time, and they’ll be bugging you, you can just ignore them.
Sim City (Mongkok); great centre for new and 2nd hand cameras and its bits and bobs. Also a place to check out mobile phone covers, camera bags, and expensive headsets.
There are plenty of markets to check out, clothes, knickknacks, electronics, gifts everything. Temple Street is a buzzing street from 8/9pm onwards. All the rest are day time only. Here are the list of markets to visit:
Flower Street; lots of shops and market areas with lots and lots of flowers, some pretty expensive as well. They don’t like people taking photos but sneak ones are ok.
Goldfish Street; you also find dogs and cats on display, I personally feel sorry for these puppies/kittens as the pet stores are small, and so many people look at them and try and get their attention. I’m pretty sure many are in-bred as well (so many pug face cats) and they look terribly frightened. Check out some of the shops and you’ll see what I mean. Hong Kong people love animals though, they would treat them like their own, you will see people carrying their prize pets in their bags or even in their own push chairs.
Bird Street; because of Avian Flu, probably best to avoid this area just in case. http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/attractions/kln-bird-flower-goldfish-market.html
If you have the time, get the hydrofoil over to Macau. It’s a gambling mecca, but you can try out their food, since they use to be a Portuguese colony, they have a combination of Portuguese-Chinese flavors. Ignore the cab drivers who wants to escort you as your personal tour guide (you’ll also end up in a touristy shop to “buy” something). Just hop on any of the air-conditioned hotel shuttle buses to check out the different major casinos. One even will drop you off to the old quarter where you will find lots places with nice food to try out.
Small shops in Kowloon, Tsim Tsa Tsui, Monkgkok.. ok, all places (even in plazas). You may see something really cheap in the window, but the seller might say they don’t have it in stock and bring out a more expensive one, and make sure your exit is not blocked. I am not kidding, you will know if the guys (yeah, mainly guys) look a bit dodgey. And forget about returning goods to them, they are cheap for one reason, they sneak the goods in without paying custom excise taxes. Just go to Fortress, Broadway or any of the bigger stores you find in Mongkok and shopping plazas for more security in your electronic buys, they allow returns and depending on what you buy, you can get worldwide warranty.
Be careful of nightclubs, check it out in a tourist book like lonely planet. Nightclubs usually mean clubs with girls and easy coaxing of punters of their cash from buying cognac, cigars and girls themselves! And nightclubs tend to be raided by police quite regularly, as gangs then to hang around clubs. It’s quite different to clubs here in Ireland. So places where expats go like Lan Kwai Fong and areas around that should be safe enough.
- http://www.discoverhongkong.com/uk/index.jsp (official tourist page, events, overviews on where to go)
APM in Kwun Tong (Kowloon); clothes shopping, cafes and great food court.
Citygate outlet plaza in Tung Chung (near airport); clothes outlet stores, great food hall. Plus it’s a great stopping point before/after you go up to the Bronze Buddha.
MegaBox in Kowloon
Shatin New Plaza in Shatin; you can find almost everything here, gold jewelers, clothes, food courts, restaurants, shoes, etc.
Langham Place; check out the longest indoor escalator in HK, great shopping plaza, and plenty of places to eat. Go to the very top, there’s a viewing tower down to the lobby below.
Dragon Centre; check it out for their indoor roller coaster, although it’s not in use anymore, but cool to know that someone crazy built one in an shopping plaza. There’s plenty of shops to look around as well.
Sino Centre; multi-level weird and cutesy stuff, still find it funny that an odd porn shop is beside a cute stuffed toy store, plenty of kids wandering around.
In’s Point; collector’s toys, hobbyists, lots of LEGO
IFC Mall in Central; really high end but worth a visit on how crazy Chinese from Mainland China buy stuff at the Apple Store.
Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui; Mix of high end and high street stores. Restaurants, etc.
Hollywood Plaza (Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok); you should check this place out, it’s crazy full of clothes, you can hardly pass by people inside. It’s jammed with so many clothes stalls and tiny shops (even though most of HK is jammed with small shops that’s overflowing with stock).
There’s also plenty of plazas in Causeway Bay, a little high end, but there are normal shops as well. There are also lots of other plazas I haven’t mentioned as I can’t remember them all.
Other references on shopping:
Just have fun, and shop around, the staff are annoying and clingy, but you an ignore them