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Hong Kong: Culture, Fun And Endless Surprises

WATER WORKS – Hong Kong often feels overwhelming at first but the city centre is actually quite compact. To navigate like a pro, identify a few key landmarks starting with iconic Victoria Harbour. Flanked by skyscrapers like the International Finance Centre (IFC) and the International Commerce Centre (ICC), the harbour runs between Hong Kong Island and mainland Kowloon.

KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURHOODS – Central is a business hub by day and epicentre of entertainment by night This is where you’ll find the city’s hottest restaurants, nightclubs, cocktail bars and even the world’s longest outdoor escalator, running up through SoHo. If it’s shopping you’re after, head to Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay, both home to never-ending labyrinths of mega malls and designer shops.

Tsim Sha Tsui

PEAK CONDITION – It’s not a trip to Hong Kong without a visit to The Peak, which offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across the Hong Kong Island. Start with a morning ride aboard the historic Peak Tram. For the best views, visit the free viewing platform atop Peak Galleria Mall or take the Circle Walk around the mountain.

HISTORY HOUNDS – Spend an afternoon exploring the city’s gorgeous historic buildings, such as the Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan or the Blue House in Wan Chai. And don’t miss the Star Ferry, which has been cruising the harbour for over a century.

GO EXPLORING – A venture to artsy districts like Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Yau Ma Tei and Wong Chuk Hang will reward travellers with intimate coffee houses, boutique shops, saucy speakeasies, and private kitchens – plus a peek at everyday life in Hong Kong.

OLD SCHOOL EATS – Step into Mido Cafe in Yau Ma Tei for an authentic cha chaon teng cafe experience, complete with Hong Kong-style French toast, iced lemon tea, and traditional interiors from the 1960s.

JOIN THE FESTIVITIES – Hong Kong comes alive during its annual festivals. In January and February, Lunar New Year sees dragon dances and fireworks. During Art Month in March, Art Basel Hong Kong touches down, alongside several other festivals. And every June, the entire territory takes part in the International Dragon Boat Festival.

International Dragon Boat Festival
International Dragon Boat Festival

SET YOUR SIGHTS HIGH – Like… 118 stories high. The world’s highest bar, Ozone at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong offers excellent views, but it’s not the only player in town. A few winning alternatives include Sugar at East hotel, Ce La Vi in Lan Kwai Fong and Maison Eight in Tsim Sha Tsui – each features a unique angle of the city. Or simply BYOB and head to the public area on the IFC rooftop to soak up the harbour views.

EAT YOUR ART OUT – Ever since Art Basel debuted in 2012, the city has seen a growing local contemporary art movement. When it comes to indie efforts, don’t miss galleries like Above Second and Para Site. For great gifts, head to the Cat Street Market (Upper Lascar Row) to snap up quirky Mao memorabilia, vintage-style photographs, ornate jewellery boxes, old-school knives, hand-painted Mahjong tiles and jade jewellery.

DIM SUM MORE – Down for dim sum? Tim Ho Wan made its name as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant and lives up to the reputation – you can try half the menu for about HKD50 a person. Don’t leave without tasting the signature chorsiu boo (BBQ pork buns).

HIGH TEA – A blast from the past, The Peninsula Hong Kong does an elaborate high tea, featuring three tiers of petite sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and flaky scones. Get there early as there’s always a line.

The Peninsula Hong Kong
The Peninsula Hong Kong

INDIE RAGS – Explore the charming Tal Ping Shan neighbourhood if you’re after indie boutiques – look for Scandinavian-inspired Squarestreet, French wine-bar-slash-shop Chateau Zoobeetle and In Between vintage shop. Nearby at PMQ, a heritage revitalisation project which is now a creative hub of design studios, shops and offices for local design talents, have a slew of local jewellery and accessories brands like Kapok.

CRAFTY CHARACTERS – Hong Kong has quickly become a haven for craft beer enthusiasts – connoisseurs will want to visit pocket-sized TAP – The Ale Project to try new flavours from Young Master Ales. The pioneering local brewery also just opened Second Draft bar in Tai Hang, offering a bit more elbowroom.

SLEEK SLEEPS – Check into one of the city’s new design-driven boutique hotels for a personality-packed experience at a modest price. A few fresh faces include Tuve in Causeway Bay, Tribute in Yau Ma Tei,or Hotel Stage in Jordan.

WALK THE TALK – Led by journalists and chefs, Little Adventures’ in-depth walking tours showcase Hong Kong’s most authentic food experiences. The passionate guides cover everything from cultural faux pas to hidden gems, food history, and even Hong Kong politics.

MEET THE MASTER – Or at least, learn about his life at the ongoing Bruce Lee: Kung Fu, Art, Life exhibition, running through July 20, 2018. The comprehensive collection of memorabilia at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum offers a walk through the martial arts master’s life and passions.

 Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Hong Kong Heritage Museum

TAILORED EXPERIENCE – Need a suit in less than 48 hours? Ask, and it shall be done. Hong Kong tailors have long been praised for crafting expertly made clothes in a hustle. Though a bit pricey, travellers can expect quick turnarounds from respected names like Ascott Chang, Raja Fashion or Sam’s Tailor.

TEA’S COMPANY – Right next door to the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea ware, Lock Cha Tea House is a popular spot for vegetarian dl m sum. The restaurant has a shop inside so you can take home Chinese Tea leaves and handcrafted ceramics to match.

JAZZ IT UP – After a hectic day, a laid-back Jazz bar will soothe the soul. Find your way into Foxglove, a speakeasy serving up classy cocktails or snag a stool at the historic Fringe Club. For something a little edgier, try Visage One – a barber shop by day and jazz bar by night.

IMPRESSIVE POURS – Looking for a sundowner to remember? Award-winning Quinary serves up creative tipples, like the picture-perfect Earl Grey Caviar Martini. Newcomer VEA is also worth a try. Order the Cleopatra Formosa – served in an inverted golden pineapple goblet – for a touch of drama.

LIP SERVICE – While English is widely spoken, if you can’t speak Cantonese, it may be difficult to communicate at wet markets, local restaurants, in small villages or with some taxi drivers.

Sai Kung
Sai Kung

TAKE A HIKE – Believe it or not, public parks make up 40 percent of the territory – and a panoramic hike is never far away. For an easy outing, take Dragon’s Back trek down to Shek O beach. If time is of no concern, make your way to Sai Kung and hike along Tai Long Wan’s pristine coastline.

DAY TRIPPER – Craving some fresh air? Make the most of it with a day trip to La mm a Island where the Family Walk and Power Station Beach makes for a low-key adventure. Farther afield, Lantau Island is home to several worthy outings, including the towering Tian Tan Buddha, Tai 0 fishing village, and Pui O Beach.

WEATHER OR NOT – Hong Kong has four distinct seasons but don’t expect any fall foliage. From September to November, autumn means soft sunshine and clear blue skies. Winter cools down to around 15-degrees Celsius, while spring sees frequent rain. Skip the summer unless you love to sweat – temperatures soar from June to September.

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