Like a shot of adrenalin, Hong Kong quickens the pulse.
Skyscrapers march up jungle-clad slopes by day and blaze neon by night, across
a harbour criss-crossed by freighters and motor junks. Hong Kong can overwhelm
but offers fantastic experiences, especially to visitors who are willing to
step out of their comfort zone.
The Peak Tram rises above skyscrapers, departing from the
lower terminus and climbing to the 552-metre Victoria Peak. On clear days and
at night, the view from the top is amazing (7am-midnight, every 15 minutes;
The largest of Hong Kong’s Man Mo
temples was the hub of civil life on the island in the 19th century. The Taoist
temple was built in 1847 by Chinese merchants and was dedicated to the gods of
literature, ‘man’, and of war, ‘mo’ (24-126 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan; 8am-6pm;
Hong Kong’s first heritage trail, the Ping Shan, includes the territory’s
oldest pagoda, a magnificent ancestral hall and temples. All were built by the
Tang clan, the most powerful of the five clans that settled in the New
Territories around the 11th century (West Rail Tin Shui Wai station, exit E;
10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm; free).
Temple Street Night Market is Hong Kong’s liveliest. Aside from the clothes,
watches and footwear on offer, it’s worth a visit for the smells and tastes of
the open-air street stall and for the occasional Cantonese opera shows. Night
owls should try the fruit market, open from midnight until dawn (Man Ming Lane;
Picturesque Tai O, on Lantau island, is one of the oldest fishing villages. It
is famous for its stilt houses, rope-tow ferry and temple dedicated to the god
of war, Guan Yu. Reach it by bus 1 from the Mui Wo ferry point.
Eat and drink
Dah Wing Wah is the place to go for the village cuisine of the northern New
Territories. Local ingredients are sourced from small farms and food producers.
Try the lemon-steamed mullet and smoked oysters (00 852 2476 9888; 2nd fl, Koon
Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Rd, Yuen Long; lunch and dinner; mains from £3).
Tung Po Seafood Restaurant has revolutionised hawkerstyle cooking. Its novel
menu has featured items such as steamed glutinous rice with duck jus. Beer is
served in big rice bowls, to be downed bandit style. Book ahead or go before
7pm (00 852 2880 9399; 2nd fl, Municipal Services Bldg, 99 Java Rd, North
Point; lunch and dinner; meals from £6).
Famous tea house Luk Yu is known for its dim sum (available from 7am-5pm) and
Cantonese dishes. The delectable food and elegant furnishings make up for the
cavalier service (00 852 2523 5464; 24-26 Stanley St, Central; lunch and
dinner; mains from £8).
Ye Shanghai means ‘Shanghai
nights’ and its interior is romantic. The Shanghainese food, lighter than
traditional Cantonese dishes, is Michelin-starred (00 852 2376 3322; 6th fl,
Marco Polo Hotel, Harbour City, Kowloon; lunch and dinner; mains from £12).
The atmosphere at T’ang Court is plush, the service impeccable and the food
divine. Try sautéed prawns with deep-fried taro puffs (00 852 2375 1133;
Langham Hotel, 8 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; lunch and dinner; mains from £30).
Hop Inn has a youthful vibe and nine small but artful
rooms, each featuring illustrations by a Hong Kong artist. Three rooms have no
windows, but the art on the walls makes this seem like less of a problem (00
852 2881 7331; Flat A, 2nd fl, Hanyee Bldg, 19-21 Hankow Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui;
Given its location in the Central Business District, Ice House is excellent value. It’s styled in contemporary
fashion with lots of white and colourful, contrasting bedspreads and
accessories. Each room has a kitchenette and a work area (00 852 2836 7333; 38
Ice House St, Central; from £80).
Many of the handsomely proportioned rooms at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui feature harbour views. They are modern, with
bamboo flooring, king-size beds and large picture windows. The black-and-white
photographs of Tsim Sha Tsui are a stylish touch (00 852 2311 1234; 18 Hanoi
Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; from £155).
Every corner of Upper House spells luxury, from the glass and marble lobby
to the sleek rooms with rain showers and sculptures. Guests can join free yoga
on the lawn, and a pool is planned. In the meantime, guests can use swimming
facilities in hotels nearby (00 852 2918 1838; Pacific Place, 88 Queensway,
Admiralty; from £265).
The Peninsula Hong Kong is a colonial classic. Erected in 1928, its
interiors are opulent, with heavy silk curtains, porcelain antiques and
dark-wood furniture. The hotel also offers stunning harbour views (00 852 2920
2888; Salisbury Rd, Kowloon; from £350).
When to go
From May to mid-September, temperatures hit the mid-30s and humidity is high.
Go in late September, or between March and May for Asia’s top film festival,
the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the dragon boat races.
How to go
BA, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways operate flights to Hong Kong International from
Heathrow (from £500) and Manchester (from £520). The Airport Express runs to the centre of town (£8); buses connect with Hong Kong Island (£2). Taxis cost around
Hong Kong’s public transport includes buses, ferries, trains and trams. Pay via
an Octopus card, which you can buy and charge up at MRT train
stations. The most convenient is the train, which operates 10 lines (from 30p).
The article 'Mini guide to Hong Kong' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.