Hong Kong is an intense symphony of colours, scents, foods, sights, and skyscrapers. Melding parks, hiking trails, and temples with the fast-paced bustle of a metropolis—an endless maze of people, neon lights, and countless restaurants—a quick visit to the region can be overwhelming unless you have a plan.
How to get there.
With the help of celebrity ambassador Jackie Chan, Hong Kong Airlines has recently launched a new direct route from Vancouver to Hong Kong. Given that the flight is 14 hours, you may wish to opt for business class, which features full lie-flat beds. An amenity kit filled with L’Occitane products, and a menu (colourfully illustrated by artist Victo Ngai) of drinks like Hong Kong–style milk tea sweetens the deal, as does the option of dim sum for breakfast.
The airline’s newly opened VIP lounge, Club Autus in Hong Kong airport, is also a cut above the when it comes to design and service. Ergonomic chairs, a sleeping area, corners for families, and even nature sounds are all part of the design.
Where to eat.
Hong Kong is all about the bao—Asia’s quintessential comfort food. At Little Bao, an intimate restaurant with creations by rising star chef May Chow, foodies line up for a unique take on the infamous bao. Try the Szechuan fried chicken bao with Chinese black vinegar glaze, Szechuan mayo, and coleslaw, or the flavour-packed vegetarian Sloppy Chan filled with Taiwanese braised shiitake tempeh, truffle mayo, sweet pickled daikon, and fried shallots. In the mood for a sweet ending? A hybrid of bao meets doughnut meets ice cream sandwich is on offer in either green tea or salted caramel flavour.
Next up is the unmissable Tim Ho Wan. Opened by a former dim sun master of Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel, Tim Ho Wan is one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in the world and serves simple but delicious fare, with three locations in the region, including one tucked away at Central metro station. Fans rave about the cha siu bao, a barbecue pork steamed bun. Be warned: waits can be long.
For vegetarian dim sum that even meat-eaters will love, stop by Vegelink Vegetarian Cuisine for a round of barbecue buns and unbelievable truffle dumplings.
Hong Kong has no shortage of hot pot spots, but Megan’s Kitchen serves up some unconventional broths, such as an onion soup base with a cheese soufflé finish and several interesting additions to toss into it, plus, complimentary “thousand year” eggs with pickled ginger.
For a drink, head over to the chef Philippe Orrico’s Michelin-starred ON Dining for a stunning rooftop view of the city, a signature cocktail designed by Giancarlo Mancino (who also happens to be the beverage consultant for Rosewood Hotels), and an internationally renowned cheeseboard featuring 48-month-old Comté.
What to do.
Care for a short trip? Hop on the scenic 25-minute Ngong Ping 360 gondola to Lantau Island to see the gigantic 34-metre high, 250-tonne bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue—commonly referred to as “Big Buddha”—which took 12 years to create. Stroll past the boutiques, restaurants, and cattle (yes, cattle) of Ngong Ping Village, then climb 268 steps to not only enjoy Big Buddha up-close, but also the views of the lush mountains from atop. From there, head to the colourful Po Lin Monastery, one of the first traditional temples to be built during the colonial era. One of the region’s oldest temples, Man Mo Temple, can be found back in Hong Kong, where lingering smoke and large coils of incense suspended from the roof create a mystical atmosphere. It is named after two deities: Man Tai, the god of literature, and Mo Tai, the god of war.
Travel a bit further out into the east-Kowloon Diamond Hill neighbourhood, and find a beautiful, serene oasis in Chi Lin Nunnery, a Tang Dynasty-style building (which features interlocking sections of wood joined without any nails) with treasured relics, lotus ponds, statues of divinities, and bonsai trees.
Follow the bridge, to the adjacent 35,000-square-metre Nan Lian Garden where every element is placed according to the rules of Tang style and is designed to be followed in a one-way circular route. There are several ponds, a rock garden, lush green trees, a vegetarian restaurant, and a traditional tea house.
At night, for less than the cost of a metro ride, you can take a cruise on the historical Star Ferry, a colonial relic. Take in the stunning urbanscape of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour, then make your way to Central district for the free nightly Symphony of Lights Show, featuring lights and music projected onto the skyline and skyscrapers of Hong Kong.
Where to shop.
Although the Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market are worth a visit, if only to experience the gritty atmosphere of street kitchens, psychics, sex toys, and endless knock-offs, there are much better places to shop in Hong Kong.
You’ll want to stop at PMQ, which once served as a dormitory for police officers, and has since been transformed into a mall for up-and-coming designers and creative types. The building has a pop-up feel, with plenty of greenery, open spaces, and design-forward elements. It’s a great spot to pick up gifts, bespoke eyewear, furniture, accessories, and fashions. PMQ even occasionally hosts exhibits and flea markets.
Where to stay.
The spacious and luxurious Regal Hongkong Hotel is centrally located at the heart of Causeway Bay, within a five-minute walk from the subway. It features elegant rooms with an eighties vibe, white leather furnishings, and views of the Victoria Harbour. Most settings in the room can be controlled from a digital panel on the nightstand and music plays in the bathroom with the flick of a switch. Tip: book a stay at an executive club room to get complimentary access to the mini bar.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter, here.