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It's a non-stop kind of city, Hong Kong. If you thought you were going to sleep, you're sadly mistaken; you don't want to miss an inch of this steely Asian powerhouse. Here are 20 unmissable HK sights, we could 100 list more, so consider it a taster.
1. Victoria Peak is an oldie but a goodie. For the best views of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Victoria Harbour, take the seven minute ride on the Peak Tram; 1805 feet above sea level. We recommend you visit both day and night because no one can decide which is better.
2. If your visit falls on a wet day, head to Peninsula Spa for the ‘Afternoon Tea and Spa’ package. A 90 minute aromatherapy massage followed by afternoon tea in The Lobby. Relaxation and buttery scones, now that’s just common sense.
3. History buff? Make a bee-line for Hong Kong Museum of History. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Explore the region’s heritage, history, culture and traditions. And if you still have time to kill, The Science Museum is right next door… They have robots. Nuff said.
4. One of the best ways to get to know the local way of life is at the Hong Kong House of Stories. Packed to the rafters with HK objects and artworks by local artists, have a yarn with one of the many elderly residents that congregate here. Fear not, there’s usually a helper to aid with translation.
5. Skyscrapers be gone! Surprisingly, around 40% of Hong Kong is parkland, so outdoor pursuits are always an option. The Tai Tam Reservoir is relatively tame and family friendly. With epic views of the surrounding plains and dazzling reservoir, start at Wong Nai Chung Gap and meander through the shrub land; stopping at beautiful picnic spots en route.
6. Yum cha, please. A resolutely social experience, round up the clan – or a few new-found HK friends – and get ready for a constant offering of small plates, bowls and steamer baskets; packed to over-flowing with bite-sized dumplings, pork buns, rice rolls and of course hot green tea.
7. Keep calm and drink tea. Escape the constant chatter of Hong Kong at Jrink, a cosy little tea shop tucked away from the bustling Causeway Bay area. The tea selection is overwhelming; more than 150 blends on any given day, but it’s the perfect place to escape the crazy HK honking.
Find it: G/F, 21 Ormsby Street, Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang.
8. Temple Street night market possesses enough noodle carts and deep fried fish balls to keep you satisfied until sunrise. Best frequented between 7pm – 10pm, when it’s jostling with food and feistiness, you’re encouraged to haggle - but deliver your negotiations with a smile!
9. Hong Kong's only art-house cinema, Broadway Cinemathèque is a pleasant 5 minute stroll from Temple Street night markets. With films offering both Chinese and English subtitles, pair your movie with some titbits from the cinema’s Kubrick Café and bookstore.
10. Check out the uber-modern financial hub and then walk a further 20 minutes to Sheung Wan. A total contrast, this little burb of age-worn wonder is home to historic houses and narrow alleyways - now transformed into charming cafes, boutiques and galleries.
11. The Big Buddha. But of course. We’re not going to deny it’s touristy, but who cares. A 202-ton bronze Buddhist statue is always worth a look. Head to Lantau Island, home of the Tian Tan Buddha – that’s his official name.
12. The Star Ferry. We know it’s not original, but you still won’t find better views of the city’s dazzling skyline. A rite of passage for any discerning traveller, hop on at Central Harbourfront, and if you can stomach the crowds, depart at sunset. The views just don’t get any better.
13. A little bit of green in a city made of steel, Hong Kong Park is surprisingly tranquil. Between the rock gardens and lush leafy pathways, you’ll be utilising your p-leisure time with HK locals; practicing their tai chi or Mahjong skills.
14. Time for a drink. In a city of skyscrapers, simply head upwards. Ozone is located on the 118th floor of the ICC, as part of the Ritz Carlton HK. It’s also the highest bar in the world. If you need to steady your nerves, the speciality G&T menu will provide assistance.
15. Xiao Long Bao. Dumpling soup. With a gooey outer shell and a sloppy, flavoursome inside, these steaming baskets of a dozen dumplings are to die for. The dining venues are endless but when in doubt, stick with a chain restaurant like Din Tai Fung. There’s no beating their classic minced pork filling.
16. Go shopping. Malls are everywhere, but if you’re looking for a one-stop shopping experience, Times Square is a mammoth 120 storey shopping complex housing 230 shops. As well as all the other usual suspects such as a cinema, restaurants and arcades.
17. One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples is Man Mo Temple. If you’re after an insight into the aesthetics of HK before the gleaming glass and shiny metal, this one’s a 1847 classic; built by wealthy Chinese merchants during the Qing dynasty.
18. Mickey Mouse has been a resident of Hong Kong for 12 years. Magic, mayhem, exhilarating rides and all your fave characters from the golden era of animation to present-day; Hong Kong Disneyland is always a must-see.
19. Sai Ying Pun is a neighbourhood on the up. And Ping Pong 129 is a bar-come-eatery that dresses to impress. Eclectic is an understatement here. Mixing gin with Spanish tapas and ping pong (it’s even in a former table tennis gym) pair your croquetas with one of the 120 globally-sourced gins. Like we said, eclectic.
20. Time to nip into a bakery and indulge in an egg tart. Portuguese in origin, tarts were introduced into Hong Kong during the 1940s by Portuguese colonisers and at that time, mostly in Hong Kong’s Macau. To this day the Macau version is still slightly different, with a caramelised top that’s been slightly scorched. The majority of HK's tarts offer a crumbly short crust or a flaky puff-pastry exterior. Nom.
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