It’s a sleepless city, restless and thrumming with energy from the cosmopolitan districts to the nearby suburban districts. A few days in Hong Kong left me breathless with adventure and developing an insatiable craving for Michelin starred dim sum.
Go perch yourself high up on a rooftop bar and watch the Symphony of Lights unfold. Wander along the long street of Tsim Sha Tsui lined with boutique shops and designer brands retailing at a ridiculously cheap tax free price. How could one walk around and not feel enticed by what the city has to offer. It’s a melting pot of cultures, and the diverse cuisine offering is a testament of that. Whether you’re up for the high life, or you’re chasing a more localised experience, Hong Kong is the place to be.
Sheraton Hong Kong:
Situated by the harbour, if you’re after a five star stay overlooking the skyline, I’d highly recommend the Sheraton or any of the nice hotels close by. While our view was obstructed by nearby construction going on, if you’re after five star service with a view, the Sheraton’s always a good choice.
Nan Lian Garden
A tranquil garden inspired by the architecture of the Tang Dynasty. Following a circular route, the exhibition of rocks, bodies of water, plant and timber structure can be enjoyed through this trail. If you feel like removing yourself from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, I’d highly recommend coming for a stroll here. It’s the perfect spot for a little city detox. Make sure to visit the nearby Chi Lin Nunnery
Chi Lin Nunnery
Another Tang Dynasty inspired creation, this arrestingly serene complex is just a few short steps from the Nan Lian Garden. The construction of the wooden temple, the lotus pond, immaculately trimmed bonsai plants has earned its deserving spot as the top choice buddhist monastery in Hong Kong. Side note, don’t make the same rookie mistake I made by wearing a sleeveless top when trying to enter the temple grounds. Even if it is boiling summer, opt for something that covers the shoulders if you want to explore the temple grounds.
Perhaps regarded as Hong Kong’s most visually appealing shopping spots, it’s a beautiful complex housing some of the world’s most highly regarded fashion brands. The mall conveniently rests above the transport centre and it’s well connected with gourmet dining spots to round off your shopping experience. Being a cash strapped student restricted by shopping indulgence but nevertheless I enjoyed the window shopping experience and treated myself to a dinner at a Thai restaurant within the complex.
The Peninsula for High Tea
Hong Kong is renowned for their selection of high tea. If you’re looking for one area to indulge, do high tea. It’s a unique experience that has survived past its colonial days. For the most iconic experience, I recommend heading to the Peninsula. Get there early so you won’t have to wait in line for too long. The lobby evokes a British colonial era interior, the ambience is completed with a live orchestra playing while you dine. We were spoilt with a selection of scones with clotted cream and jam to start. The second tier involved sandwiches and buttered pastries. Finally the experience was completed with a selection of beautifully crafted desserts. The tea was aromatic and complimented the whole experience. After all – what is high tea without the tea.
Hong Kong Victoria Peak
As nauseating as the drive up the peak was for me, the panoramic post card view was well worth the journey. I would recommend going up by a taxi, especially during peak season if your budget allows. While I would’ve enjoyed a much more tranquil experience at the top (note: peak season, people are literally lining up behind one another to get a quick photo of the view), nonetheless you can’t say you’ve really “seen” Hong Kong without seeing it from its most famous vantage point. Looking down onto the city was an enthralling experience; audaciously tall buildings looming across the horizon coupled with a restless cosmopolitan energy that alluded the air.
Aqua Spirit is definitely one of the hottest and trendiest rooftop bars located in the Tsim Sha Tsui district. Put on those special occasion heels and enjoy a cocktail surrendering to the glittering panoramic evening view of Victoria Harbour. The staff were attentive, the cocktails were exquisite and the interior was beautifully designed with an air of sleek sophistication.
The harbour is always bustling with ferries shuttling back and forth and a parade of vessels dotted across the water. Strolling across the promenade, we could admire the uninterrupted view of Hong Kong skyline clustered with striking skyscrapers framing our view.
Tim Ho Wan
Hong Kong is the city to break your Michelin star virginity if you have not done so yet. You can sample some of the world’s best cuisine without anywhere near breaking your bank. My friend and I ventured into the more suburban Sham Shui Po district (there are numerous Tim Ho Wan stores around Hong Kong so it doesn’t have to be this one) and scouted out Tim Ho Wan for my first authentic dim sum experience. The menu is short and I couldn’t believe how ridiculously cheap everything was. It seemed almost unfair that food could taste this good with such a cheap bill. The Steam Egg Cake is a must try, delicate and fluffy, every bite melted on my tongue.
Din Tai Fung Dim Sum
For another affordable Michelin star experience Din Tai Fung won my heart with their delectable offering of dumplings and xiao long bao. A good bao and dumpling is hard to come across these days. I was already salivating before the waiters produced our steamy dumplings and bao ready for my friends and I to demolish.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
While we arrived too late to make our way up,I would recommend going for a visit if you have the time. One word of warning, remember to cover up or use lots of insect repellant. I left the place with both legs covered completely with swelling mosquito bites. We walked alongside the buddhas and I have to admit it was quite the experience – a little intimidating and frightening if you were alone. Surrounded by a very long row of gold plated buddha statues, I was fascinated by the detailed efforts that were put into crafting each and individually unique statue. Well, that was before I discovered my legs were itching like crazy.