With a tumultuous and complex political history, Hong Kong (derived from the Chinese translation of ‘fragrant harbour’), is an influential city and one of the most important financial centres in the world. While deeply rooted in commerce, trade and industry, you’ll find that Hong Kong streets are orchestrated chaos and the city is anything but rigid. Cultural offerings in Hong Kong are plentiful and becoming increasingly so.

 

The basics — Hong Kong is a city on the move. With plenty to see, do and taste, choose a few neighbourhoods and attractions, and factor in plenty of time for spontaneous sightseeing along the way. In summer, the city sweats; humid air and temperatures in the early thirties require plenty of water and breathable clothes. In winter, temperatures sit around 17 degrees, but sudden bursts of rain can leave you shivering so be prepared with a warm coat and a sturdy umbrella.

 

01. The airport

Hong-Kong-International-Airport-Aerostorie.jpg

With an incredible geometric ceiling and huge curved windows showing off the surrounding mountains, Hong Kong International Airport delivers an impressive introduction to your new destination.

Surely one of the most attractive airports in the world, things here are run efficiently, with many staff on hand to help keep (the few) queues moving along quickly.

Those travelling with local carrier Cathay Pacific or its partners will also enjoy some of the best designed lounges in the world before boarding their onward flight.

To get to or from the airport, you have several options: buses, taxis and limos are on offer. However, hopping aboard the Airport Express is usually the best option, a 24-minute train journey which will take you directly to the heart of the city. Even better, you can check your luggage and pick up your boarding pass in-town up to 48 hours prior your flight for many airlines.


02. Getting around

Transport-Aerostorie.jpg

Hong Kong is one of the easier cities to navigate as a visitor, with a world-leading public transport system. When out and about, you can expect to become familiar with the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). With trains arriving every few minutes, the MTR is a hassle-free and affordable way to travel.

If your route isn’t covered by track, the city’s bus services fill the gaps with an extensive route network.

To cross the harbour, the Star Ferry also shuttles residents and visitors from Central to Kowloon, while offering passengers another angle to the city.

Taxis are also on hand, just steel yourself for some breakneck driving styles and carry cash. Uber and other car-hailing apps also operate in the city.

In order to pay for your fares in on buses, ferries, trams and the MTR (but unfortunately not taxies), you’ll need to pick up an Octopus card from a 7-Eleven or MTR station. Don’t be afraid to add extra money to your Octopus card; you can use it to pay for many other things around the city, including supermarkets, parking meters and fast food restaurants.


03. Keeping fit

Fitness.jpg

With plenty of beautiful mountains and stunning parks to explore, there are many choice spots to get your blood pumping in the city. Hiking trails will offer you breathtaking (and short of breath) views of the city.

The highest point of Hong Kong can be reached by climbing Victoria Peak, one of the city’s best known attractions. Surrounded by greenery and offering a fairly intensive work out, on a clear day, walking The Peak reveals stunning views of the city.

Parks and public spaces are also jogger-friendly, so you can easily find a spot to work out. Depending on your disposition and the time of year, you could take part in the annual Hong Kong marathon. Held in January or February every year, participants can take part in a full marathon, 10 km run or a half marathon. Or you could just eat something delicious and spicy and feel the burn that way.


 
TUVE

TUVE

Sleep — Finding a quiet retreat from the hectic streets is important when you’re looking for a space to stay. After a long day exploring, you'll find Hong Kong hospitality efficient and consistently well-executed.

 

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Just a five minute walk to the heart of Wan Chai, the Grand Hyatt is in prime location. With inspiring harbour views, generous space and interiors by Melbourne-based BAR Studio, the Grand Hyatt provides a solid base for those who might be balancing work commitments with their travel. The generous club lounge offers a quiet space to catch up on reading or fire off some emails, while a trip to the pool will help you relax.

1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai


TUVE

With hard-wearing, moody interiors paired with polished concrete and timber, TUVE is a hotel for lovers of detailed-orientated design. Warm furnishings are juxtaposed against pale and almost austere materials while handsome windows frame the busy city below. The space succeeds in being inventive and stylish, but infinitely comfortable and homely at the same time.

16 Tsing Fung Street, Tin Hau


The Upper House

A small boutique hotel in a massive high rise, The Upper House offers a polished experience. The interior is one of honeyed wooden paneling and a stunning green perspective; akin to an urban treehouse. Warm, intimate communal spaces hint at the emphasis the hotel places on discretion over grandeur, and serves as the perfect space to catch up on work or share a coffee. Well-lit and comfortable, the hotel also features a noteworthy wall, entitled Stone Curtain, designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty


 
The Restaurant, Duddell’s

The Restaurant, Duddell’s

Eat — Hong Kong is a city that both sets trends and picks up on new inventions quickly. Good food is one of the city’s many assets. Neon-lit impressions can be misleading; sometimes the most barebones exteriors offer the best experiences. High-end dining is also well done (but not over-cooked), offering a different experience altogether. Those in pursuit of a hearty burger will also not be disappointed.

 

Ho Lee Fook

A modern Chinese restaurant, this quirkily-titled spot focuses on the details. Balancing experimental flavours  with more traditional favourites, Ho Lee Fook has continued to pick up positive reviews and enjoy a full house. With fantastic service, inventive cocktails (think chilled watermelon, ginger beer and lychee) and a beautiful, dark and cosy interior, this restaurant lives up to its hype. 

1 Elgin Street, Central


Wing Wah Noodle Shop

Wing Wah Noodle Shop consistently ranks as one of the best spots for wonton noodles in the city. The literal translation for wonton, or dumplings, is “swallowing a cloud”, and Wing Wah Noodle Shop offers an almost heavenly experience. Humble interior aside, you’ll find the quality of food generally consistent and served quickly. The staff take pride in their business, and you’ll spy faded photos which reveal the noodle-making process in detail.

89 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai


The Restaurant, Duddell’s

Duddell’s reputation precedes it, both in Hong Kong and internationally. Boasting two Michelin stars and interiors designed by the adored Ilse Crawford, you’ll feel like you’ve been invited into someone’s perfect living room. Homely and intimate, the restaurant has several spaces catering to different groups. The service is incredibly attentive and a reflection on the overall quality of the restaurant. Food is a sensory experience, with several menus to choose from. Duddell’s is an arts club at heart and boasts a members library, highlighting the emphasis placed on making their guests feel at home.

Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central


 
Coffee.jpg

Coffee — While finding good coffee in Hong Kong takes some research, you rarely have to travel far. Coffee culture is certainly growing, as overseas-trained baristas return to the city with international expertise. Much like coffee-fueled Melbourne, many of the best baristas here take the pursuit of excellence very seriously.

 

Omotesando Koffee

Just stepping through the front door is enough to tell you that Omotesando Koffee’s roots stem from Japan. After the business closed in Tokyo, Hong Kong gladly received a new addition to their growing coffee scene. Offering sharp, heady flavors, Omotesando Koffee boasts a beautiful wooden and serene interior. This isn’t the place to grab a quick takeaway. Instead, pull up a seat, sip your coffee slowly and have a moment of peace right in the middle of the city.

Shop 24-25, 200 Lee Tung Avenue, Wan Chai


{sfs} Cafe

Hidden on one of Wan Chai’s most charming streets, {sfs} Cafe is a leafy hole-in-the-wall with top-notch coffee. Attached to the charming Odd One Out shop, you can sip coffee and feast your eyes on beautiful curios at the same time. The floors here are notable; gold shapes are juxtaposed through the tiling, while the fittings and decorations are simple, ensuring that the small space doesn’t feel too crowded. The outdoor seating is edged with wild plants and charmingly ramshackle.

14 St Francis Street, Wan Chai


Urban Coffee Roaster

Adored by its regulars, Urban Coffee Roaster brings together an impressive selection of coffees and semi-regular live music. With cute furnishings, at first glance the space could easily be based in Berlin or Kyoto. Also offering solid food offerings, this place gets busy quickly. Urban Coffee Roaster also have free Wi-Fi and opens at 08:00, notably early in Hong Kong. This is the perfect spot to grab your coffee fix before heading over to the ferry or MTR into Central.

7 Bristol Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui


 
Drink.jpg

Drink — Whether you’re planning a late one, or just an afternoon tipple, Hong Kong has you covered. The city’s thriving nightlife is well sated, offering an international selection of beverages for every palate. The best wine bars are intimate and warm. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations or suggestions — their expertise is offered happily.

 

Salon, Duddell’s

We tried not to overdo it, but Duddell’s deserves another mention. Upstairs from the stunning restaurant you’ll find the equally attractive bar, Salon. With a good selection of well-titled cocktails (including some quirky blends — beetroot juice and mushroom oil), wines, beers and spirits, Salon has cosy indoor seating, and for mild days, a leafy terrace nestled amongst the high-rises. With a different dining options to downstairs, and a more relaxed atmosphere, settle in and make friends with the menu.

Level 4, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central


I Know John

Pale concrete, rich timber and black metal fittings, this unique bar takes inspiration from speakeasy style. In fact, it earns its name from the famous password phrase which was uttered to gain access to genuine speakeasies during the era of prohibition. Serving high-end wines, whiskeys and bespoke cocktails, I Know John is an intimate drinking den.

9/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington Street, Central


Salon No 10

With dark wooden floors, dim lighting and a full bookshelf, stepping foot into Salon No 10 is fitted out with the attention to detail of a movie set. With cosy furnishings, a Rousseau-esk mural, and a sci-fi exterior, this inviting little spot is well-established as a local favourite, and one that offers a venue for both quiet conversations and larger, slightly louder groups.

10 Arbuthnot Road, Central


 
Shop.jpg

Shop — There is no shortage of shopping spaces in the city. From towering malls laden with the expensive labels of Chanel, Prada, Givenchy and Coach, to the plant-sellers and cheap clothing vendors in alleys, in this competitive city, streets are full of people out hustling. Shopping here isn’t about negotiating bargains, instead, it’s about finding something special within the medley.

 

Odd One Out

A treasure trove of local art, zines and hand-made design, Odd One Out is a cool space tucked away in the Wan Chai precinct. Climbing a steep staircase, you’ll spy the orange building with green tiles, draped in rebellious wild plants. Products here have a minimal, illustrative style with some representing different Hong Kong locations and abstractions. You’ll find this the perfect spot to pick up a trip memento.

14 St Francis Street, Wan Chai


Kanamono Hardware Store

A charming, tiny space packed to the brim with trinkets, tools, hardware, decorations, accessories and homewares, Kanamono Hardware Store feels a bit like rummaging through a friend’s garage (albeit, a well-curated one). Every inch of space displays something unique, and with standing room for just a few people, this micro-store is endlessly charming.

30 Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang


Think Silly

Think Silly is a gem tucked away in generally industrial part of the city. With an incredible ceiling of recycled glass light bulbs and polished wooden floors, the space itself is worthy of a visit. Stocking a range of independent labels and local publications (such as Blackbird — the most stylish car periodical you will ever see), as well as the stunning design magazine produced by the store; Obscura, Think Silly is the perfect space to replenish your wardrobe and magazine collection simultaneously.

Shop 8, Block B, 18 Ka Yip Street, Chai Wan


 
See-Aerostorie.jpg

See — If you’re heading to Hong Kong, there is no doubt you’ve already heard of the stunning sights and abundant happenings. While walking the city’s streets is exciting enough, having a few different sights planned out can help give your visit a game-plan.

 

Food markets

There is no shortage of markets in Hong Kong, with many alleys are overflowing. While the flower and plant markets are undoubtedly the more beautiful places, the wet markets are a completely different experience and a uniquely Hong Kong experience. While food and meat is cheap here and the atmosphere is exciting, prepare yourself for some not-so-kind treatment of fish — they’re called ‘wet markets’ due to the messy fish gutting and frequent floor washing, after all. If you’re contemplating vegetarianism, this may tip you over the edge. The Graham Street markets are a highlight have been around for nearly 160 years.


Walks and hikes

Hiking is one of the great Hong Kong outings. With vertical routes edged with wild greenery and noisy birds, the natural beauty of Hong Kong is hard to avoid. There are many well-worn tracks in the city, each giving way to its own breathtaking view. Dragon’s Back and The Peak are probably the most famous routes, which offer a bit of a workout and fantastic sweeping sights. Plenty of other walkers and dogs along the way make the track lively, while the beautiful sights of the bays, mountainous greenery and high reaching buildings are the reward of dedicated hikers.


Clear-Water-Bay-Hong-Kong.jpg

Hong Kong’s beaches

Visitors may be somewhat surprised to learn that Hong Kong is also home to many beautiful beaches. With many beaches to choose from, each has its own strength. Well-known Lantau Island offers good swimming and fishing, and sparkling white sand beaches. Meanwhile, Turtle Beach, which is closed to visitors for a large portion of the year to leave nesting turtles in peace, is fairly isolated, rocky, and large enough to spend some time adventuring across.


 

Families — Those with little ones and an interest in Hong Kong will be happy to learn that there are many family-friendly activities. Make holding-hands a rule so you don’t lose anyone in busier areas and arm kids with disposable cameras or paper and pens so they can record their favourite places in the city.

 

Star Ferry

The thick green paint, white body, exposed engine room and stunning detailing of the Star Ferry has elevated this seafaring mode of transportation to the point of Hong Kong icon. While also being a practical way to get around the city (commuters travel across the harbour between Kowloon and Central) the historic ferry is positively charming. With the trip quick enough to keep even those with short attention span entertained, the ferry shows off the city from one of its most flattering angles: its harbour. 


Zoological and Botanical Gardens

The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens sits on the northern slope of Victoria Peak. As one of the oldest zoological and botanical centres in the world, the location is well-established. Bursting with wild greenery, serene gardens, and more than 1,000 species of plants, the park also boasts many beautiful temples and spots for quiet meditation or some tai chi if you’re game.


Ride a ‘ding ding’

Punctuated by their cheerful ‘dings’, Hong Kong’s charming trams (or ‘ding dings’) are a cheap but memorable way to get around the city. With their jerky movements and views of the city, they are a uniquely Hong Kong experience. Used by locals to span Hong Kong Island, those visiting are advised climb upstairs for better views of the city. Pay for your ride ($2.30 HKD no matter how far you travel) with cash or that ever-useful Octopus card.


 
Art Basel Hong Kong

Art Basel Hong Kong

Events — A global hub for trade fairs and conferences, Hong Kong plays host to many significant events throughout the year. Whether your interest lays in fashion, arts, flowers, or dragon boats (or medical supplies), a well-timed visit to the city abounds with excitement.

 

HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter
January

Art Basel Hong Kong
March

Lunar New Year
March

Hong Kong Arts Month
March

Hong Kong Flower Show
March

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong
May

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival
June

HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer
July

Hong Kong Book Fair
July

International Design Furniture Fair Hong Kong
August

Clockenflap: Hong Kong's Music & Arts Festival
November

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival
October

 

Stories — People, places, ideas and flavours from Hong Kong.