I'm splitting up my list into a series of "sub-groups" (grouped together by activity type)
View of Hong Kong skyline from Kowloon
Best places to get a view of the city
Hong Kong has some of the best "views" in the world. There are several distinct types of views that people (and hotels) refer to... but all are spectacular (whether it be harbor, city, or island).
1. Kowloon Public Pier. The best view of the best skyline in the world. Suggest brown bagging a bottle of wine to watch the 8PM light show!
2. The Star Ferry!! For the equivalent of US $0.70, you can go on a boat ride from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. Beautiful views from the boat... and a great way to get from Kowloon to Central (and visa versa).
|The Star Ferry to Central|
3. Avenue of the Stars. The avenue of the stars extends for a couple of miles along the waterfront in Kowloon. It features statues of movie celebrities (Hong Kong has a small movie industry). As you walk, you can take in some lovely views of the Hong Kong skylines.
4. The Felix. Go inside the Peninsula Hotel and take the elevator up to the top floor. As you get to the top, the elevator lights will dim... creating a very nice ambiance. The Felix is predominantly a restaurant (expensive), but they also have two bars on the right and left side as you walk in. The left side has a "city view" and the right side as a "harbor view" (everyone will be sitting on the right side). The drinks are expensive here... so I don't recommend staying for more than one drink. However, before you leave, be sure to use the restroom facilities (you'll see why).
5. Aqua- Located at the top of 1 Peking Rd, this establishment has the same view as The Felix. However, I think the atmosphere is a bit nicer... and giant windows surrounding the bar offer more of a panoramic view of the city. I suggest coming here for a pre-dinner drink to watch the light show at 8PM.
|View from the Peak|
Island that you're actually above the buildings. The first time I went here, I stayed for about 5 hours staring in amazement. It's an amazing view of the Hong Kong city skyline and Kowloon. If you go to the Peak, I recommend taking the tram to the top (don't walk the stairs)... the train goes up an insane incline (pretty rad).
7. Azure- at the summit of the Lan Kwai Fong Tower. It has a stunning 270 degree view of the city. This bar is also in the middle of the restaurant/party districts of Soho and Lan Kwai Fong.
8. The Ritz Carlton at Kowloon Station. It hasn't opened... but when it does, this hotel will have one of the best views in the world.
Places to stay
Hong Kong has some very beautiful and luxurious hotels. If you're willing to invest a little money into your stay, you will be staying in pure luxury (if not, you'll be staying in a room where you can reach out your arms and touch both sides of the wall).
|At the Shangri-La... room with a view|
2. Langham Hotel (in Tsim Sha Tsui). Great location... right next to Ashley Rd (good sushi place there), Canton Rd (giant shopping mall), and Star Ferry. The hotel also hip/cool vibe. The price is also a bit less expensive than some of the other hotels on my list.
3. The Peninsula (in Tsim Sha Tsui). Great hotel if you have the budget for it. Right next to the Star Ferry... great views of Hong Kong skyline (if you're high enough in the building).
4. Lan Kwai Fong Hotel. Located at the top of Lan Kwai Fong street... in between LKF and Soho. Great views of the city and a great location to do a bit of partying. If you stay there, it's pretty easy to crawl back home after a long night out.
|The ICC Tower (home to the Ritz Carlton)|
6. The Four Seasons (Hong Kong Island). I haven't stayed here, but the restaurants inside are very good. Nice place to go for dinner if you have some extra cash.
7. Sheraton Hotel (on Nathan Rd). Very good hotel at a convenient location in Kowloon. It's walking distance to everything. This hotel used to have beautiful harbor views... but they've built so many buildings in front of it, that you need to go up quite high in the hotel before you can see the water. There's a nice gym on top of the hotel... and the executive longue is pretty rad.
Things to do when the weather is nice
|Junking it up with friends!|
|One of the more colorful "junk boats"|
2. Wakeboarding at Tai Tam. I was lucky enough to make friends with people in Hong Kong that wakeboard. I thought it would be super easy since I can surf and snowboard... but the most difficult part was standing up (felt like my arms were getting pulled off). Once I figured out how to stand up, everything was great. It took a bit of time though. Great fun!
3. Walk through Victoria Park on a Sunday. Sunday is considered "maids day" in Hong Kong. All of the domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia have Sunday off... and the popular gathering spot for all 200,000+ of them is Victoria Park. It's definitely a unique occurrence from a visual and auditory perspective.
5. Watch people walking their dogs in Sai Kung. Apparently, having a dog in Hong Kong is a bit of a status symbol (they're expensive). Also, since people in Hong Kong tend to have small apartments, the dog will share the tight space with the family... and really become part of it. It's amazing to see how people dress up their dogs.
|A Hiking Trail?|
7. Take the ferry to Lamma Island. If you're by yourself and can't find anyone willing to go on a junk boat ride (but still want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city), you can take a ferry to get to Lamma Island. Hanging out on this island will make you forget that you're in Hong Kong... it reminds me a bit of Indonesia. There are also some amazing seafood restaurants there.
One of the great things about Hong Kong, is that you can eat whatever type of food you want (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, American, Mexican, etc...). This is something that you will greatly appreciate after spending a couple weeks in China.
1. Sushi One on Ashley Rd. Living in Boston, I don't have the best options for purchasing sushi. Therefore, Sushi One is usually my first stop when I get to Hong Kong. The sushi is super fresh and they have a nice selection of specialty rolls. My favorites: peppered tuna, uni, toro, mango/salmon, A5 beef, fatty salmon (they also do a good job of "searing" the sushi). If you get there after 9PM, you'll be waiting in a rather long line. Always sit at the sushi bar... and don't bother bringing a ton of cash because prices are good (the plates are color coded to indicate price).
|View from BLT Steak... not too bad.|
3. Sunday morning Dim Sum. If you like dim sum and have nothing to do on a Sunday... find a sim sum restaurant (and yes, the dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong are much better than the dim sum restaurants in your local "China Town"). I recommend asking a local to suggest a good spot. Below is some advice that I received from a local expert:
|Looking down on Nathan Rd|
5. Stinky Tofu restaurants. I've been to a couple of these restaurants, but have no idea what any were called (names were in Chinese, menus were in Chinese, and everyone inside the restaurant spoke Chinese). Luckily, I had friends take me... so they did all the ordering. A "stinky tofu restaurant" specializes in stinky tofu (which is kind of gross). However, they usually have other Chinese food that is really good.
6. Fish balls! Need I offer more of a description? Fish balls are exactly what the name would suggest... balls of fish. It sounds a little weird/gross, but they're actually quite good. They're usually spiced a bit. You can purchase them at any Chinese restaurant, grocery store, or 7-11.
|Delicious seafood restaurant (aftermath of a meal)|
8. Seafood restaurants on Lamma Island. Lamma Island is a short ferry ride from Hong Kong. It's a nice place to go if you want to get out of the city. There are a lot of hiking trails... but more importantly, there are some really nice seafood restaurants.
|HKG - predawn hours|
Places to party at night
1. Lan Kwai Fong is definitely the most popular place to go out in Hong Kong. It's filled with Europeans, Australians (watch out for the Aussies), Americans, and even locals. The bars close when the people leave (no set closing time) and you can take your beer wherever you want. Lan Kwai Fong street is actually on a bit of a hill... so as the night progresses, you will see more and more beer bottles rolling down the street. It's a fun time, but I can only take so much of it... must be getting old.
2. Soho is just above Lan Kwai Fong (literally). The name is derived from it's location... "south of Hollywood Rd". Soho is a bit more "classy" (when compared to LKF). Between Lan Kwai Fong and Soho, there are hundreds of bars and restaurants mixed into the streets. It can be a lot of fun "bar-hopping"... but if you get separated from your party, you're not going to find them again (which doesn't really matter if you're having a good time).
|TST - nighttime|
4. Outside any 7-11 store. The great thing about Hong Kong (unlike USA), is that you can drink alcohol in public spaces. Therefore, the outside of most 7-11 stores (which sell extremely cheep alcohol) become mini-party zones on weekends. I suggest pre-partying at the 7-11 before going out to a bar/club.
5. Rooftop parties. If you're lucky enough to have a friend with roof access, there's no better place to hang out.
Hong Kong is basically a giant shopping mall. It has literally everything you could ever want (from super high end luxury items to counterfeit knock off goods). The uber-rich from mainland China will flood the markets on the weekends. Hong Kong has more Louis Vuitton stores per square mile than any other place in the world (queues will actually form outside the shops on the weekend). What's also pretty amazing is that stores in Hong Kong will stay open past 10PM (they're actually more crowded in the evening than during the day)... just don't try shopping before 11AM, as nothing will be open.
|Harbor City in the background|
2. Miramar Arcade. This is a smaller mall that I usually go to for Uniqlo, Muji, D-Mop, and Hare. There are some other cool shops in there too. I just like it because it's smaller and less overwhelming.
3. Granville Rd. This is a street in Tsim Sha Tsui that is more known for its factory clothing outlets where you can buy stuff at really cheap prices. However, there are also some really good shops right on the street... or just off of it. Here are a few to be on the look out for: EXIT Double Park, A.P.C., 5cm, Stussy, Take 5 (I'll let you find them yourself).
4. Mong Kok preserves its traditional characteristics with an array of markets, small shops, and food stalls that have disappeared from other areas in Hong Kong over the past several decades of economic development. As such, many of the streets have acquired interesting nicknames reflecting their own characteristics... such as: Sneaker street, Ladies Street (Market), Tile Street, Temple Street (men's market), Goldfish market (can you guess what they sell there??), etc... Wikipedia describes it much better HERE
|Looking up at the IFC in Central|
6. Queens Rd (in Central near LKF)- Joyce, Bape, Coach flagship, Gucci
7. Times Square (at Causeway Bay). Times Square was one of Hong Kong's first "mega malls"... and is still considered to be quite mega. It has 16 floors and over 230 shops inside. The one thing that sets Times Square apart from the other malls is that it has more mid-range shops that the average Hong Kong person can afford.
8. Stanley Market. This is definitely a "tourist trap"... however, if you've never been, it's worth a trip (can cross off all the items to buy on your souvenirs list). Actually, the funnest part about Stanley Market is getting there. I recommend taking a double decker bus and sitting at the first row on the top. The bus drivers are amazing... lanes are super narrow, tires are inches from the cliff... and they're still cruising along at top speed. I think they might be robots?
2. Taxis in Hong Kong are cheap (when compared to the US) and plentiful. It can get a bit annoying if you have to get a cab at 3AM in LKF, but it's not too bad. The taxis are color coded depending on where they are licensed to drive.
3. Double decker bus from Central to Stanley's Market. This is a pretty unique experience that I already described above. Actually, the funnest part about Stanley Market is getting there. I recommend taking a double decker bus and sitting at the first row on the top. The bus drivers are amazing... lanes are super narrow, tires are inches from the cliff... and they're still cruising along at top speed. I think they might be robots?
4. Double decker trams. A cheap and semi-convenient way to cruise around Hong Kong Island. The trams were the first form of public transportation in Hong Kong... and not much has changed since then. They definitely add some character to the modern city.
5. Pedestrian walkways. The highways, speeding taxis, and windy roads can look a bit daunting to the average pedestrian. However, if you know where you're going, you never have to step foot on the road. There are pedestrian walkways that will pretty much take you everywhere. Just follow the signs!
Finally, my favorite thing about Hong Kong (#50 if I counted correctly) is the people. I'm not sure if I just got lucky and met nice people... but most everyone I've met has been super friendly and has opened me up to their life. I'm very grateful for this... and hope to continue the relationships.