I mean, who doesn’t love Hong Kong!? It’s just the coolest city on earth. It’s one of those places that I would love to live in one day. I just wish it didn’t come with giving up luxuries such as living in an apartment bigger than a shoebox… Anyway, visiting HK will have to do for now, which I’m more than happy to do as often as I possibly can. I had the pleasure of spending four action packed days there last week, and here are 5 awesome things that I made sure to include in my Hong Kong itinerary:
1. Check out the markets in Kowloon
So many markets, so little time! Mong Kok is a great area for hitting a few birds with one stone, offering some of Hong Kong’s most famous markets in close proximity to each other. Start with the Flower Market, which is located just a couple of blocks north of the Mong Kok East MTR station. Continue south to Fa Yuen Street to experience Ladies Market where you can find anything from clothes, accessories and shoes to electronics, toys, fruit and much, much more. The Flower Market is my favorite, this is where I would lose all my money if I lived in HK… Anyway, you can spend hours walking around these markets and blocks, or you can move south on Nathan Road for more “normal” shopping and a nice overview of central Kowloon.
2. Enjoy some fresh seafood in a fishing village
Our local friends took us out one night to a fishing village, Lei Yue Mun, located about 30 minutes east of central Hong Kong. It was a lovely break from the extremely busy streets and gigantic high rises of the city. The area is charming and has dozens of restaurants and shops selling fresh fish and seafood. Lei Yue Mun does have a bit of a touristy feel, not being as authentic as I would have hoped, but even so we had a very nice dinner, a “seafood feast”, and it was really great to see a new, more calm and quiet, side of Hong Kong. There are many other fishing villages close to the city, which I will definitely make sure to explore the next time I’m in town.
3. See Hong Kong Island by tram
Forget touristy hop on-hop off -buses and see the busiest and most interesting parts of the island with the famous Hong Kong double-decker tram. Find a seat on the upper level and get excellent views of the busy streets and narrow alleys. Most tram lines stick to the main roads in the central parts of the island, so getting lost will be difficult. If you need help navigating or pinpointing your location, use this excellent Interactive Map from HK Tramways. Unfortunately there’s no AC available, but the open windows help make your ride a comfortable one. The tram will cost you less than 3 HKD per ride. A pretty good deal if you ask me!
4. Hike up Victoria Peak
This was definitely a highlight of my trip! There are easier and faster ways of getting up to the famous peak (like the Peak Tram), but if you love nature and being active like I do, then hiking up the mountain is a must! I went for the Central Green Trail which is probably the most well-known path. I had some bad luck though after reaching about halfway: the upper part of the trail was being fumigated and I was chased off by maintenance workers and told to go back down as the rest of the trail would be closed for a few days. Ugh, not what I wanted to hear… But luckily I only had to backtrack for about 10 minutes to find a new path, and with the help of some friendly locals I was able to get on the Old Peak Road and finish my hike to the top, yay! The whole thing took me about 1 hour 20 minutes in total (including backtracking etc.). I went by myself (did some research before to make sure it was safe) and my weapon of choice was good old Google Maps. Having a map is pretty crucial, as the trails are not clearly marked and often get cut off by roads (without a logical continuation point on the other side of the road). This is an interesting hike with a bizarre combo of city and nature along the way. The views are amazing throughout the trail, and of course you get the mother of all gorgeous views once you make it to the top. Highly recommended!
5. Find yourself a rooftop pool and relax
If the weather is hot and sunny, there’s nothing better than to chill out and relax by a rooftop pool after a long week or day full of activities. You can find nice outdoor pools at many hotels, and most of them welcome outside guests for a fee. Robert and I stayed at New World Millennium Hotel which has a nice pool area on the roof, and we definitely made sure to enjoy the luxury of it. For the best outdoor swimming pools in Hong Kong, check out this list and get your poolside relaxing on asap!
And a few practical tips:
– Get an Octopus Card. This card makes life so much easier with public transportation, just add some value and forget about the headache of buying single tickets or tokens for the MTR, trams, buses and ferries. It also works on the airport train. And don’t forget to get your 50 HKD deposit back when you return your card before leaving Hong Kong.
– Get a local prepaid SIM-card. I bought a 5 day China Mobile card for less than 70 HKD with plenty of data for heavy-ish WeChat, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Facebook and Instagram use.
– Download the app OpenRice for restaurant recommendations by locals (not tourists!). The app is super easy to use (no user registration needed) and makes it easy to find the best restaurants in your proximity. Available for iOS and Android.
What are your best tips for a visit in Hong Kong? Do share in the comments below!