I fell in love with Hong Kong like so many others: quick and effortless. It’s funny how a few months in a city can completely change your perceptions. For whatever reason, Hong Kong was never a city I “needed” to see. Sure, it intrigued me but it wasn’t a place I yearned to explore. Yet, as fate would have it, I’d spend part of 2015 in the heart of Hong Kong Island and loving every minute of it. Every time I think about the life I started to form there, I smile because I know that even though I may never live in Hong Kong again, it will always be a place I call home.
OK, my sappy reminiscence is over! Now, onto the fun stuff. I’ve put together a short guide to exploring Hong Kong in style. Oddly enough, there are many ways to tour this great city and few of them involve a huge bank account. I’m a writer after all and I managed to make it work. Here’s how to make the most of your Hong Kong style adventure.
As one of the world’s biggest international hubs and a top destination for airlines, you’ll have your pick of flights to Hong Kong. That said, I recommend booking with Cathay for a few reasons. Firstly, their staff is friendly and helpful, which goes a long way on a long flight. Speaking of long-haul flights, their seats (even in economy) are as good as coach seats get. This summer when I went home for an emergency, my husband used his miles to upgrade me to business class and let’s just say, I was completely spoiled. If you are flying business, congrats! If not, don’t stress because you’ll still have a pleasant experience. Plus, the food is pretty tasty.
Where to Stay
Even though Hong Kong is a highly populated city, there are plenty of housing options for various budgets. Since we were staying semi long-term, we opted to rent an apartment because that made the most sense. There are also home rentals, luxury hotels and smaller boutique properties as well. If you’re on a tight budget, consider staying somewhere on the Peninsula (like Tsim Sha Tsui or Mongkok) rather than Hong Kong island. There’s still plenty of touristic attractions in these areas and it’s very easy to commute to the island. To be in the center of the action in Hong Kong Island, aim for Central and/or around Sheung Wan.
What to Do
Where do I even begin! There are a ton of amazing aspects of Hong Kong but for the purpose of this post, let’s stick to the most stylish. IMO, the city is most beautiful at night so plan to take full advantage of those gorgeous views. Hike up to the Peak around sunset and celebrate your ascent to the top with a glass of Champagne at one of the many bars and restaurants in the shopping mall, many of which offer spectacular views. Alternatively, splurge on a cocktail at a rooftop bar like Sevva or Wooloomooloo (both are personal favorites of mine). By day, indulge at High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel or tour the city by boat. Art connaisseurs should definitely swing by PMQ to check out wares from local designers.
Getting around Hong Kong is all part of the adventure and you’ll soon learn to love public transportation. In fact, Hong Kong puts most other cities to shame. From the super modern and efficient MTR (their metro system) to double-decker busses that are actually comfortable, you’ll always feel the slightest bit posh when you’re getting around. While Hong Kong is an expensive city in terms of housing, food and entertainment, this rule does not apply to public transit. The MTR, busses, boats and even taxis are dirt cheap compared to most cities in the US and around Europe. If you’ve got the time, take a scenic ride on the tram. The views are unbeatable.
The best way to learn about insider scoop is to befriend locals or, at least, do as the locals do. A good starting point is to learn the local tech lingo. Seamless won’t work here but Foodpanda does; Yelp won’t have a slew of reviews but OpenRice will. Downloading these free apps will help unlock the best restaurants in the city and perhaps a few deals, too. I also became a fan of newish app, Sugar, that helps you unlock hidden gems of Hong Kong. I also found lots of free and fabulous events simply by browsing through Meetup. Mobile apps aside, another way to kick-off the night in style is by taking advantage of one of Hong Kong’s many happy hour deals.
What is the most stylish city you’ve visited? Tell me in the comments below!
This trip is in collaboration with Cathay. I’ve personally flown their airline before (on my own dime) and my positive experience is reflected in this post. All opinions are my own.