A Weekend in Hong Kong – Ten Highlights

Since my first time to Hong Kong during grad school back in 2009, I’ve referred to Hong Kong as my favorite city in the World.  After a third trip back, I still think it’s my favorite city anywhere.  There’s just so much that this metropolis has to offer.   From the markets to the vistas to the beaches to the food to the architecture, Hong Kong really has it all, and is a true urban metropolis.
Every time I go back to Hong Kong, I continue to be mesmerized by its iconic skyline that towers over Victoria Harbor.  I’m still  enthralled with the absurd variety and quality of foods.  Hong Kong is basically Manhattan — with a better skyline.  But on a beautiful harbor.  With mountainous terrain.  And great beaches on the other side of the mountains… basically, I think this city has it all.


An Around the World Trip — Oktoberfest and Asia


Hong Kong is basically like New York — only with more buildings.  Westerners can get along just fine here speaking English, as pretty much everything is in English as well as Chinese since Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997.   Though the exchange rate is a fixed $7.75HK = $1 USD  In general, Hong Kong is not overly cheap.  The only inexpensive things are taxis, open air markets, and street vendor noodle shops / dim sum.  Most hotels, restaurants, and legit shopping is expensive, or just as pricey as the states (but no sales tax).
Since I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times, I’ll just focus on ten things that the three of us did on this trip.  We were only there for a weekend, but managed to do a good bit!  This is by no means an end-all guide to Hong Kong — it’s simply what we did during our time in the Kong.

1.  Victoria’s Peak

This is the mountain that towers over the central district of Hong Kong.  The views from here are unreal.  If you plan on taking the tram up ($6 US), make sure you get there before 10:30am — otherwise the crowds really line up and it’s frankly not worth the wait for the tram.  If you encounter a long line for the tram, just take a cab up to the peak.  While on the peak, take your obligatory pictures, and grab a meal and/or drinks at Cafe Deco.   We had dinner here this trip and were treated so some awesome Himalayan Tandoori dishes.  This is also an ideal place to take in the nightly light show — the city lights up in an orchestrated light show every night at 8pm.  There are a number of other restaurants and bars up on the peak — most of which have some high prices, but the view is worth it.

Me at Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong

Me at Victoria’s Peak, Hong Kong

Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong

Victoria’s Peak, Hong Kong

Victoria's Peak

Victoria’s Peak

Victoria's Peak at night

Victoria’s Peak at night

2.  Star Ferry from Central to Kowloon (or vice versa)

It’s a scenic way to see the beautiful harbor, and a VERY cheap form of transportation ($.30 US!).

Central from the Star Ferry

Central from the Star Ferry

3.  Ozone at the Ritz Carlton

Situated atop the Ritz-Carlton in Kowloon, Ozone is the tallest bar on earth — 118 stories up there.  Make sure it’s a clear day before you go there.  The bar opens at 4pm, so I’d suggest getting there around then to ensure a good seat to take in the view.   Drinks are expensive, but it’s worth it for the experience.   The three of us spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon up at Ozone on a perfectly clear day!  We really enjoyed it.

View from Ozon

View from Ozone

Central Hong Kong from Ozone

Central Hong Kong from Ozone

Happy Hour at Hong Kong

Happy Hour in Hong Kong

Late Afternoon over Victoria Harbor

Late Afternoon over Victoria Harbor

4.  Walk the Avenue of the Stars in Kowloon

Stretching from the Star Ferry Terminal to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), the Avenue of the Stars is a great place to take in the nightly light show.   One of my fondest memories of this place was in 2009 during my MBA trip, we found a place there to grab some beers and chill on the porch while we watched the Queen Mary 2 sail out of Hong Kong. The place is called Deck n Beer and offers a nice view of Central.   Because of these memories, I always make it a point to come here for a beer or two.

The Hong Kong Skyline from Kowloon's Avenue of the Stars

The Hong Kong Skyline from Kowloon’s Avenue of the Stars

The most amazing skyline in the World

The most amazing skyline in the World

HKG Festival of Lights

HKG Festival of Lights

5.  Lan Kwai Fong

In one of Hong Kong’s main bar districts, Lan Kwai Fong, one can expect hundreds of Hong Kongers and expats drinking on the streets (on the weekend) into the early hours of the morning.  Venture up the stairs to Wyndham street to some more bars and restaurants up the hill.  Tell any cab driver Lan Kwai Fong, and they will get you there.  Drinks are reasonable most places, though some are fancier than others.  We particularly enjoyed Azure at Hotel LKF.  We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the new Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, by Gordon Ramsay.

Lan Kwai Fong crowds

Lan Kwai Fong crowds

6.  Mid-Level Escalators and Soho

We enjoyed the trek halfway up the mid-level escalators to the Soho area in Hong Kong.  This area, between Hennessey and Hollywood streets features an array of bars and restaurants and an overall relaxing, casual atmosphere.  We enjoyed a few drinks here before heading to dinner in LKF one night.  Another night, we had dinner at an outstanding noodle shop called Mak Man Kee (Mak’s Noodles).  The noodles with beef brisket were just phenomenal.

7.  Markets Around Hong Kong

We took a stroll around the open air food markets in Causeway Bay.  Located between Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, there are some crazy cool open air meat / seafood / food markets where the locals come to buy food.  It’s a pretty cool experience.  Also check out the open air markets in the Mong Kok district of Kowloon.

8.  Dim Sum

Hong Kong is basically the birthplace of Dim Sum, and as such, the best in the World can be found here.  On this trip, we went to a one of my go-to places — a more traditional dim sum place that I was introduced to by a friend called Lei Garden.  There are several locations around Hong Kong, and we ate at the Causeway Bay / Times Square location.  It’s a little more pricey and fancier, but the dim sum is pretty darned good.
Another option would be Tim Ho Wan in the Mong Kok district of Kowloon, as well as in the IFC Mall at the Hong Kong Station MTR.  This is place is the cheapest Michelen star restaurant on earth.  We missed it after repeated attempts to get there (we got there too late), but wish I had a chance to check it out.

9.  Stanley Market

Take a cab out to Stanley Market (~$80-100HKG).  This will be a cool cab ride because you get away from the densely populated Central district and go to the other side of Victoria’s Peak.   There are really nice beaches over by Repulse Bay.  Stanley Market is an open air market where you can find all sorts of junk / souvenirs.  Make sure you haggle with them on prices.    The area surrounding Stanley has grown up since the last time I was there, and there are now a variety of bars and restaurants lining the bay.  This area has more of an islands feel than a major city!

Stanley

Stanley

10.  The Beaches

Hong Kong is home to a number of pretty reputable beaches.  The island is lined with a number of fantastic beaches that feature some pretty nice amenities along with crystal clear water.  Combine this with the green hills that ascend from the water, and these beaches feel more like the Virgin Islands than Hong Kong.  We stopped by Repulse Bay on the way back from Stanley to walk the beach and take in the views.  The beaches of Hong Kong are a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay

Dusk at Repulse Bay

Dusk at Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay

Transportation

From HKG, the easiest way to get to the city is to take the Airport Express.  This is a direct train from HKG to Kowloon and Central Hong Kong.   It’s a 24 minute ride that costs ~$100 HK each way.  The train leaves every ten minutes and will drop you off right where you need to be — Kowloon or Central.  We bought a combo pack that included a round trip on the Hong Kong Express and three days of unlimited MTR rides for $300HKG, which was well worth it.  It was available at the MTR kiosks located just after immigration.

The MTR (subway) is very clean, efficient, cheap, and easy to use.  On this trip, we heavily utilized the MTR, as we were staying in Tsim Sha Tsui, right by the MTR station, and the little detail that traffic was somewhat snarled in Central due to the Hong Kong protests.

The only sign of the Hong Kong protests while we were there... not nearly as bad as portrayed by the media

The only sign of the Hong Kong protests while we were there… not nearly as bad as portrayed by the media

Speaking of cabs, usually, one can get pretty much anywhere in Hong Kong using cabs easier than MTR (and not expensive).  The base rate for a cab is $20 HK ($3-4 USD).  I’ve NEVER had more than a $80 HKD cab rate anywhere in Hong Kong other than cabbing to Stanley.

Overall

We loved Hong Kong, as per usual.  During our time here, we really went non-stop.  We were able to see the sights and enjoy some great drinks and meals in environments with amazing views to match.  Though I did like Shanghai, I would not have been heartbroken if we just spent the entire week in Hong Kong!  I can’t wait to return.

7 Thoughts on “A Weekend in Hong Kong – Ten Highlights

  1. I love Hong Kong as well, but New York City is still my favorite city. Hong Kong has a lot going for it and it’s great to see it booming after 1997 (I grew up there back in the early 90s but my parents were unsure what would happen to HKG after 1997 so we moved back to the USA.)

    BTW, what does P2B stand for? It’s the image showing on BoardingArea for this blog post. I would have thought your image would have been PPP? lmao.

    • P2B is the Prior2Boarding logo. I don’t have a logo designed yet for my blog, so the P2P logo replaces said non-existent PPP logo. I’d prefer my featured image to be displayed, but whatever…

  2. Good read. Next time… happy valley races!

    • Yup… there were no Happy Valley races the weekend we were there. They were going on in Sha Tin, but we decided against it since we had lots of other things we wanted to do that Sunday.

  3. There is definitely a Victoria’s Secret, but the tourist site in Hong Kong is Victoria Peak. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt to prove it.

  4. get yourself a HK gf and you ll have a reason to be there every month, haha

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