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Don’t expect to get culture–shocked by Hong Kong – the cosmopolitan hub known for its East–West personality split is easy to navigate and love. If your hometown has a Chinatown, chances are the Cantonese cuisine will be familiar comfort food (North America’s early Chinese immigrants hailed from here). When you’ve satisfied your appetite for shumai and skyscrapers, escape to the lush islands and fishing villages next door.
Where to stay
- hong-kong-tuve-hotelTuveFor the minimalist look
- hong-kong-cordis-hotelCordis Hong KongFor a five-star shopping experience
- hong-kong-lanson-place-hotelLanson Place HotelFor a family-friendly getaway
- The Upper HouseThe Upper HouseFor the luxe experience
- hong-kong-the-peninsulaThe Peninsula Hong KongFor old-school charm
- hong-kong-hotel-indigoHotel Indigo Hong Kong IslandFor the downtown setting
Eat & Drink
French tasting menus at Tate Dining Room and Bar Vicky Lau serves ultra–refined French cuisine with an eight–“chapter” tasting menu at her Michelin–starred restaurant in Sheung Wan. Savour dishes like Ode to Paté en Croûte (made with fresh abalone and pork topped with Shaoxing wine jelly) and Ode to Chestnut Sago Soufflé (served with pu’er ice cream) in an intimate dining room, done up in muted pastels.
Open–kitchen dining at Vea Restaurant & Lounge Score a counter seat and watch the action in chef Vicky Cheng’s open kitchen. The internationally celebrated chef – who studied classic French cooking in Toronto – combines Hong Kong flavours with French techniques to create dishes like roasted sea cucumber and female mud crab. Wash it all down with cocktails by award–winning bartender Antonio Lai.
Authentic noodles at Kau Kee Don’t leave Hong Kong without trying a bowl of Kau Kee’s beef brisket with e–fu noodles. The lineup stretches out onto the street but you won’t have to wait long. Expect to share a table with strangers, a common practice in old–style Chinese restaurants.
Korean Fried Cauliflower at Yardbird Show up early at no–reservations Yardbird if you want to be seated swiftly. That said, the yakitori, killer cocktails and KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) are well worth the wait.
Affordable Michelin–starred dim sum at Tim Ho Wan One of the world’s most affordable Michelin–starred restaurant in the world, Tim Ho Wan offers authentic, budget–friendly dim sum. Dig into their signature pork buns, loved for their soft yet crispy exterior and barbecued pork filling, or order the pork dumplings topped with goji berries and served with chili sauce. If you can’t make it there during your stay, grab a quick bite before your flight at their other location in IFC Mall above the Airport Express.
Classic cocktails at Stockton This old–fashioned speakeasy is easy to miss. (Hint: Look for an unmarked entrance below Fish & Meat and walk down the short flight of stairs to a door lit by a single light bulb.) With 150 whisky varieties, it can be hard to make a selection, but the Hawtrey (gin, vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters) is a standout.
Coffee and ice–cream sandwiches at Elephant Grounds Elephant Grounds is one of the few coffee shops in Hong Kong that roasts its own beans. Pair your coffee with one of the café’s ice–cream sandwiches, made with cinnamon buns, waffles or oversize macarons. Check Instagram for the latest flavours.
What to do
Family–friendly attractions at The Mills A cotton–spinning factory gets new life as a cultural complex that is part art gallery, part cultural institution and part shopping destination. Discover the roots of Hong Kong’s textile industry at the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT); shop upcycled goods at Alt; and let the kids run wild at the Big Things, a nature–themed indoor playground.
Upscale shopping at K11 Musea Art meets retail in this Instagrammable shopping complex in the heart of the Victoria Dockside. Ten years in the making, the centre features international fashion houses like Chanel and Alexander McQueen, alongside public art exhibitions and cultural programming. After shopping, head to the on–site Nature Discovery Park, a biodiversity museum and education park.
Hiking on Dragon’s Back Take a break from the bustling city and hike Dragon’s Back, one of Hong Kong’s most popular walking routes. The trail is 8.5 kilometres long and takes roughly four hours to complete. Enjoy views of Hong Kong Island, and finish your day with a picnic at Big Wave Bay.
Colourful souvenirs at Shanghai Tang This upscale chain is the ultimate place to shop in Hong Kong. Its flagship store is in a historical building, full of crazy coloured goods (handbags, leather–bound books, clothing) with an Asian twist. If you really want to splurge, get something custom–made.
Pink dolphins at Tai O Take a taxi (or bus number 11) from Tung Chung Station to this small village on Lantau Island, best known for its stilt houses built over the water. Hop on a boat tour for a rare glimpse of pink dolphins, a type of dolphin that is black before turning a pinkish hue when they become adults.
Indie flicks at Broadway Cinematheque One of Hong Kong’s only remaining art–house theatres runs new releases and independent films from around the world, and hosts festivals throughout the year. After the show, browse the theatre’s bookstore, and have a rose latte at Kubrik café.
Cool kicks on Sneaker Street Stock up on casual footwear, from sneakers and sandals to soccer cleats and golf shoes, on Sneaker Street. Visit Toronto Sport or Walker Shop for deep discounts and rare finds.
Green space in Sai Kung Take a bus from Shatin or Choi Hung subway stations to this fishing village and spend a day enjoying Hong Kong’s oft–overlooked greenery. Hike a section of the MacLehose trail, rent a junk (boat) to a small outlying island, feast on an eye–popping selection of fresh seafood, then cap off the day with a treat at the original location of local mega–chain Honeymoon Dessert.