Hong Kong has always felt like a third home to me – following Toronto and New York. Hong Kong is where my family is from and one of the cities I visit the most. I remember visiting Hong Kong for the first time when I was a teenager and I instantly fell in love with the city – the great mix of cultures, the great food, and amazing people. The best part is that I always find something new to discover.
This time, I was there for 5 days. I got to visit friends and family, and discover some of the hottest new hotels and restaurants. If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong, look no further. Here are my picks for the top places to stay, where to eat, and things to do!
Where to Stay
There were a few new awesome hotels that opened in the city since I last visited – here are two of the best ones to check out!
With its debut about a year ago, the Kerry Hotel – Hong Kong brings a dynamic approach to hospitality to the shores of Victoria Harbour. The first newly built hotel to open on the Kowloon waterfront in over two decades, the Kerry Hotel is the city’s first urban resort, which is amazing given the hustle and bustle of the city. You can fully unwind in tranquility after a long day of work (if you are traveling for business) or after a busy day of sightseeing (if you are visiting). The Kerry Hotel is a five star brand in the Shangri-La family of hotels, and is a bit more vibrant and casual in nature, which was perfect for me!
The Kerry also has a bunch of restaurants and bars on site, including Hung Tong, the traditional Chinese restaurant, and the Red Sugar bar featuring a stunning 270-degree wrap-around terrace.
Check out the amazing pool at the Kerry Hotel and more, here!
The Murray, part of the Niccolo Hotel group, opened its doors in January 2018, welcoming guests to enjoy their contemporary urban sanctuary within the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong! This former government office building has been transformed into a stunning five-star hotel with amazing attention to detail in its design and aesthetics. The architecture and interior design are spectacular and are truly a photographer’s paradise!
The Murray features a contemporary look with plush carpets on beautiful hardwood floors, but the best part of it is the luxurious bathroom with its beautiful stone bathtub and separate rain shower. It is like having a mini spa within your own room.
Click here to read more about my stay at The Murray.
Where to Eat
Hong Kong is renowned for its food scene – it is a foodie’s paradise with options from street side snacks to high-end five star restaurants. From Chinese food to western food, and everything in between.
Street food and Cha Chaan Teng
Make sure you try some of the local street food, which includes items such as stinky tofu, curry fish balls, squid or octopus tentacles, egg waffles, egg tarts, Chinese buns, and pastries. Also, you must try a local Cha Chaan Teng (translates to “tea restaurant”) where you will find fuss-free affordable comfort food. This is also where you will find my favorite Hong Kong-style milk tea! You can find these throughout Hong Kong, but the best ones are on the Kowloon side of the city.
Zuma is a restaurant founded by chef Rainer Becker, inspired by informal izakaya-style Japanese dining. The Zuma concept originated in London, and has since spread to 3 continents with 11 individual outlets in top cities around the world. In Hong Kong, Zuma is located at one of the city’s most prestigious address, the landmark, in the heart of central.
The restaurant itself is beautiful, with an upstairs lounge that is sophisticated and sleek – a place to see and be seen. There is a grand spiral staircase leading down to a spacious and warmly lit dining room complete with lofty ceilings, open kitchens and private dining areas.
If you’re in Hong Kong over the weekend, you must try the much-loved champagne brunch ritual! Somewhat of an institution when it comes to brunch in Hong Kong, Zuma hits the spot, and you won’t be disappointed.
We were fortunate enough to go during their sakura celebration, where the restaurant was transformed to celebrate Japan’s world-famous sakura season and Hong Kong’s art month in March/April of each year. They had sakura inspired decorations, cocktails and menu items – it was definitely something worth checking out.
Overlooking the spectacular Victoria Harbour, Tao Li is celebrated for its elegant selection of dim sum and authentic Cantonese dishes that bring together traditional flavours and original presentations. The best part is that they offer an all you can eat dim sum set lunch with more than 20 kinds of appetizers and freshly steamed homemade dim sum. You can choose from traditional items such as shrimp dumplings and pork dumplings, to steamed pork trip and intestines. Make sure you try it all!
Tucked away in the InterContinental Hong Kong is the first outpost of Paris’s most famous seafood restaurant, Rech by Alain Ducasse, a Michelin Star restaurant. As per Alain Ducasse, “To appreciate beautiful seafood is to appreciate its personality by knowing how to adapt the cooking process to reveal all the subtlety of flavours, unique to its own.” An authentically French seafood experience, Rech showcases the best fish, shellfish, and oysters from France with Chef Ducasse’s personal interpretation and contemporary cuisine. The new Rush to Rech 3-course set menu is the perfect way to try out the restaurant for a quick dinner before or after a concert or day of sightseeing.
Ham and Sherry is super cute Spanish restaurant with distinctive blue and white tiles lining the inside and outside of the restaurant in the trendy Wan Chai area of Hong Kong. Michelin starred Chef Jason Atherton serves some of the city’s best aged Spanish hams and tapas items. Ham & Sherry is, of course, known for its impressively large selection of sherry, which is often paired throughout your meal. We started with Iberico Bellota Jabugo, a super high quality cut of ham that’s imported straight from Spain, and we ended with mini churros dusted in cinnamon sugar with a yummy chocolate dip.
The Optimist is a three-story restaurant in Wan Chai, delivering rustic flavours from Northern Spain. The restaurant is Asador-inspired with Barcelona style influences, and is part of the same group of restaurants as the popular Italian restaurant – Pirata in Kong Kong. They are known for their grilled items including fresh seafood, grilled prime cuts and sharing dishes.
Things To Do
There are endless things to see and do in Hong Kong. Here are a few top picks if you are limited on time, especially since you have to try out all the good food and restaurants I listed above!
If a single view could encapsulate Hong Kong, it would be the panorama view from Victoria Peak. Looking down at the city from this famous point, you’ll see one of the most amazing skylines.
If you want a day trip out of the busy city and into nature, Hong Kong offers many options with its surrounding islands. Each has its own character – for example, Lantau Island, is the biggest and is where you can take the cable car to Ngong Ping to visit the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. There’s also Hong Kong Disneyland and the quaint Tai O fishing village. Lamma Island is popular for hikes and little shops selling Hong Kong street-food and snacks. Cheung Chau is busier with lots of food and shops, but still retains the charm of a small village. Did you know there are more than 200 little islands in Hong Kong? Make time to discover a few!
Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
The Big Buddha is located on Lantau Island and you can get there easily on the Ngong Ping Cable Car from the Tung Chung MTR Station. The Cable Car journey itself features great views of the surrounding islands and sweeping mountain, and sea views. The Buddha is impressive sitting 34 metres high. Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums where you can also enjoy a meal at its popular vegetarian restaurant.
Junk and Star Ferry
The red sails of junks are considered one of the iconic symbols of Hong Kong. Consider riding one to see both sides of the harbor, taking in views of both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Alternatively, a cheaper option is to take the commuter Star Ferry across the same harbour. It runs every few minutes and is super inexpensive. Consider taking it in the evening during the Symphony of Lights – a multimedia show that has set the harbour ablaze every night with lights and lasers.
Even if you are not looking to buy anything, you have to check out the markets of Kowloon. Temple Street Night Market is an enduring example of old Hong Kong and has been the backdrop of many memorable movies filmed in the area. Make sure you check out the street around the night market with rows of fortune-tellers – you can discover what your future holds or just watch the ancient practice of palm reading.
With over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs, the Ladies’ Market is a kilometer stretch of stands, selling everything from clothing to watches and trinkets.
There are also the flower market, goldfish market, bird garden, and jade market, just to name a few.
If you are looking for a longer day trip or even a weekend trip, consider going to Macau. It is another special region of China and is only about one-hour ferry ride away. Macau seamlessly blends Portuguese and Chinese culture and the historic centre is an UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also well known for its luxurious hotels, shopping malls and casinos – it is often called the Vegas of the East!
With so many to see and do, make a priority list to visit as many of these places as possible. Have you been to Hong Kong? I would love to hear about the places you discovered!