About three years ago my dad moved to the impressive metropolis that is Hong Kong for a once in a lifetime job opportunity. In the years since I have been fortunate enough to visit him on several occasions and each time I have fallen a little more in love with the place.
I have to admit, I was completely overwhelmed when I first arrived in the city. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The narrow streets are constantly teeming with people and you feel as though you could be swept away at any minute by a sea of bodies. It was hard not to feel slightly claustrophobic and engulfed by the concrete jungle at first, but this feeling didn’t last long as I quickly came to appreciate the unfamiliarity of it all.
To me, Hong Kong embodies the idea of contrast. It is a melting pot of cultures with expats from all parts of the world making it a temporary (or permanent) place of residence. The city itself is home to hundreds of glamorous high-rise buildings, but amongst them, you will find alleyways dotted with shabby stalls selling tawdry trinkets and various other kinds of knickknacks. You’ll pass by quaint, age-old temples and stroll through local markets filled with exotic foods and smiling locals.
There is no doubt that one of the most iconic things about Hong Kong is its nightlife. Every evening you will be left in awe by a spectacular light show that illuminates the city. Across the harbour, you’ll find the streets of Kowloon ablaze with bright neon lights as the vibrant Temple Street Market comes to life. With an abundance of eateries to choose from, you’ll struggle to decide which gastronomic craving you wish to satisfy. But, whether it be a traditional egg tart purchased from a little street stall or an authentic plate of dim sum made by a culinary master, you’ll be left feeling all kinds of content.
Hong Kong is a truly remarkable city, and while there is still so much I am yet to experience, here are a few of my top recommendations if you ever get the chance to travel there for yourself.
My top recommendations for Hong Kong
Take a trip on the Aqua Luna. Kick back and relax with an alcoholic beverage of your choice as the traditional Chinese fishing boat – also known as a junk boat – cruises around the harbour. It’s a good opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and a perfect way to view the breathtaking light show that Hong Kong is known for.
Catch the star ferry to Kowloon and head to the award-winning Northern Chinese restaurant, Hutong, on a Sunday for an extravagant 18 course Feng Wei brunch. The restaurant is situated in the One Being building in Tsim Sha Tsui on the 28 floor (the view over the harbour looking back across Hong Kong island is pretty magnificent). You’ll be introduced to some Northern Chinese inspired delicacies such as the seared foie gras with Osmanthus-smoked coddled egg or the steamed bao filled with egg yolk custard. If you can manage, it’s definitely worth trying at least a bite of every dish, but some clear standouts for me included the sliced squid with freshly grated wasabi – the wasabi hits you when you least expect it and all of a sudden you feel as though someone has set a fire up your nostrils; and the Kung Po French cod fillet. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free flow, so drink up buttercup!
Perhaps after you’ve ingested a week’s worth of food at Hutong, take a walk up the peak. At 552m above sea level, it boasts some truly stunning views of the vibrant city. If you’re not quite feeling like you can manage the walk, there is also the option to take the rickety peak tram to the top. Though given that it’s 125 years old I think I’d rather walk!
If you get the chance I would highly recommend heading to Repulse Bay on the other side of Hong Kong Island. The trip will only take about 15 minutes and yet you’ll feel like you’re in a completely different part of the world. The bay boasts some fine restaurants such as Lime-wood and Classified which are located right on the water’s edge so you can take in the glorious sunset while sipping on a mojito.
Finally, for some of the finest dim sum you will ever experience, make a booking for Dim Sum Library in Pacific Place on Hong Kong Island. Definitely try the Dan dan xiaolong bao, an explosion of flavour followed by a party in your mouth is guaranteed.