Having co-hosted the Olympic equestrian events, Hong Kong is on a high. There’s never been a better time to visit the bright lights, big city of Hong Kong and experience all that the amazing territory has to offer.
Consisting primarily of Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories, Hong Kong is also home to some 260 smaller islands. Aside from its large archipelago, Hong Kong is also famed for its large architectural ambitions: it currently has the world’s greatest number of skyscrapers, some 6,382 in total. Given population pressures, the city has more people living or working above the 14th floor than any other on earth, making it the most vertical city in the world. Needless to say, it also has one of the most awesome skylines in the world, and architectural wonders abound at every turn. Impressive structures of note include I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong International Airport, and Tsing Ma (one of the world’s largest suspension bridges), among many others.
Dining and Nightlife in Hong Kong
Reputed to be the culinary capital of Asia, Hong Kong showcases cuisine that is an exotic fusion of Eastern and Western flavors. Its cultural blend, proximity to mainland China, and reputation for quality have made Hong Kong a gourmet paradise, with over 9,000 restaurants offering almost every cuisine under the sun.
Many of the restaurants and bars in Central offer a true Hong Kong experience. Budget eateries featuring local snacks can be found along Jardine’s Bazaar, Tang Lung, and Matheson streets, while bars, sushi parlors, and a number of fine-dining establishments line Sunning Road. Head to Times Square to enjoy an alfresco beer as the sun sets, then enjoy a meal in one of the many crazy restaurants that pepper surrounding Lee Theatre Plaza, Percival Street, and Paterson Street, in Causeway Bay.
Lan Kwai Fong is one of the most popular places for a relaxed meal followed by a big night out on Hong Kong Island. Here you can find specialties from around the globe, including Middle Eastern, Italian, Mexican, French, and American to name but a few. As an added bonus, many restaurants feature alfresco dining areas, so you can enjoy your meal under the glow of the island’s skyscrapers.
Farther west around Staunton, Shelley Street, and Elgin Street, Soho offers a mix of trendy bars and restaurants specializing in international cuisine. Alternatively, for fresh seafood, head to Sai Kung, Lamma Island, and Lei Yue Mun. Pick your favorite seafood from the tanks at the restaurant and let the chefs take care of the rest. The town of Stanley also offers a unique mix of laid-back eateries in a relaxed, seaside setting.
Tsim Sha Tsui is a dynamic district for gourmands. A veritable smorgasbord of tastes is on offer, from international cuisine to traditional Chinese delights, along Hillwood Road, Canton Road, and Chatham Road, as well as side streets such as Ashley Road and Granville Road.
Hong Kong is a great place to indulge in retail therapy, given that all goods, other than alcohol and tobacco, are tax-free.
Central is famed far its luxury boutiques and sprawling shopping malls, including the Landmark, The Galleria, Prince’s Building, Alexandra House, and the IFC mall. All ooze glamour with designer shops and exclusive brand names in abundance. But Central still offers a number of bustling local markets where you can indulge in bargaining. Two parallel streets known as “The Lances,” Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West, are a riot of stalls hawking everything from inexpensive clothing, watches, and costume jewelry to luggage and shoes. It’s open from 10 am to 7 pm every day.
Farther west towards Sheung Wan is a bustle of sidewalk hawkers on Central’s stepped “ladder” streets. The Western market is Sheung Wan (at the corner of Connaught Road and Morrison Street) is beautifully renovated Edwardian building filled with Chinese handcraft stores and fabric shops. The area around here is famous for its small Chinese-style shops selling dried seafood and medicinal herbs.
In Kowloon, be sure to stop by the Yuen Po Street Bird garden. Even if you’re not in the market for a pet, it’s a great place to absorb the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong street life, and is constantly a hive of activity, similarly, even if you don’t want to buy flowers, don’t miss a stop at the Hong Kong flower market. Here, you’ll find an overwhelming selection of colorful displays, exotic blossoms, and feng shui houseplants.
On The Water
Victoria Harbour is one of the world’s busiest and most impressive natural harbors, bustling with countless container vessels, junks, sampans, and pleasure craft.
Cruises set sail from piers on either side of Victoria Harbour at all times of the day. One of the best times to take to the water is during the nightly A symphony of Lights multimedia spectacular that includes 44 buildings. The show is an all-around vision of colored lights, laser beams, and searchlights performing a stunning, unforgettable spectacle synchronized to music and narration. There are five main themes (Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership, and Celebration), and shows kick off at 8 pm nightly.
The best places to watch the spectacle are from a boat, along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars, or from the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on the waterfront promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.