Authored by Charlotte Sutcliffe
Hong Kong is known by many as the Asian New York, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This incredibly stimulating city boasts a stunning skyline, mouth-watering morsels and some of the best and most diverse shopping in the world.
However, with so much to offer, it is difficult to know where to start and what to prioritize spending your money on.
You probably want variety, right? To sit atop the famous Hong Kong hills sipping a delicious beverage whilst taking in the breath-taking landscape?
Or would you rather dance the night away with the stars at one of the city’s exclusive clubs?
Being a transient, international city with a great history, your options aren’t at all limited. So let’s just start with where you can stay.
Getting Bang for Your Buck in Hong Kong
You’ll find all the usual suspects here: the Ritz Carlton, Conrad, Mandarin Oriental. If you have the cash, then go for it, and certainly exercise some class and enjoy one of their famous high teas while you’re at it.
But, if you’re like me and have to wise up and spend carefully, your options aren’t at all limited either.
The best value you’re going to get is actually right in the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui. Tsim Sha Tsui is a central shopping and eatery district in the island of Kowloon, so you don’t need to worry about walking any dodgy roads to get home. The hotels there are called ‘The Mansions’, which is a bit of a funny thing to call a set of one-star hotels.
For roughly AU$50 per night, you get a safe, secure and clean private room. It’s perfect for those wanting to spend their money on the more important things Hong Kong has to offer – and they are aplenty.
Don’t expect any luxuries or even niceties, though. I assure you, The Mansions do not live up to their name, so take it with a pinch of salt and consider it in light of some irony.
Food Experience in Hong Kong
It is 100% the case that Hong Kong is a foodie’s dream. It has hands down the best Chinese food in the world.
When you first arrive, you’ll probably want to travel as high as you can, right above the city, in order to have a look at that incredible view. The best way to do that is on the Peak Train.
When you get there, you’ll be able to visit the Sky Terrace 428 which stands 428 metres above sea level and is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong.
There are a multitude of restaurants around, including Wildfire, which offers delicious and inventive cocktails for all flavour preferences. This pairs perfectly with the picturesque display of New York – Asia in all its breath-taking glory.
Afterwards, I suggest a stroll down the mountain – this will take approx. 30 mins. It will give you an opportunity to breath in some fresh mountain dew oxygen as you head into the late afternoon.
Michelin Star Food on a Budget
You may have heard that Hong Kong has some of the most accessible Michelin starred restaurants around, so I guess you’re just going to have to try them. One in particular offers deliciously cheap dumplings.
It’s called Tim Ho Wan and it was started by Chef Mak Kwai Pui, formerly of the prestigious three Michelin starred Lung King Heen restaurant in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel.
Tim Ho Wan has a no-nonesense approach to its delivery. The line is long, but fast, and you get to pick your dishes and order whilst waiting for a table. Succulent and divine dishes, this restaurant does not disappoint.
After that, you should walk up Aberdeen Street and take a look at all the eclectic bars founded by the coolest in Hong Kong. As you make your way up the street, you’ll notice the vibrancy and variety of the people and think to yourself ‘something is definitely going on here.’
There is just such an atmosphere that’s incredibly unique, and so alluring you can almost taste it.
From 80 year old white women dressed head to toe in latest season Chanel to 6 foot 6, bald, ex-SAS looking men in leather taking their twin dobermans for a walk, you’ll be afraid to blink in case you miss something.
Hong Kong’s Truffle Fries
At the top of Aberdeen comes the real shocker for your taste-buds. I must warn you, you’ll likely never be able to eat bao again.
Enter Little Bao, serving hands down the best bao and truffle fries in the world. Your tongue will want to scream as you drive your teeth into the sweet, juicy pork, and their loaded truffle fries are second to none.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Shopping in Hong Kong
Also along Aberdeen are off the cuff boutiques with quality rejects from designer labels. Truly unique and very fitting, you won’t want to leave Hong Kong without at least a couple garments.
If you do, how are you going to see the look on your friends’ faces when they ask you where you got such a fabulous dress and you reply ‘Hong Kong, darling.’
If you head back into Central or Hollywood Road generally, once again there are the usual suspects. There’s a fully stocked Chanel, Dior and a Ralph Lauren so big they have a bar for the gentleman accompanying their wives or vice versa.
Keep going and you’ll come along some discount gems. High quality wools and unique, highly noticeable items; you certainly don’t have to break the bank just because you’re shopping in Hong Kong.
If you’ve still got it in you, make sure to visit an authentic teahouse along Stanley St, and make sure to admire the fabulously talented street art while you do.
Luk Yu has incredible pork buns and of course, a refreshing variety of Chinese teas, it also gives such an authentic feel with beautiful décor.
Nightlife in Hong Kong
Given that Hong Kong is a transient and international, sophisticated city, you never really know who you’re going to bump into.
For a glamorous night, go for a drink at Aqua, an incredibly slick and sophisticated bar with panoramic views of the skyline. You can even watch the lightshow from here.
After you’re feeling jazzed, head to dinner at Dragon-i (pre-book to ensure entry), one of the city’s most exclusive clubs, and you may be pleasantly surprised. The place is famous for attracting models; even providing free meal nights for them once a week.
After devouring some delicious dumplings and soft-shell crab salad (be prepared to spend around AU$70 a head for dinner here), you may want to order a bottle of Moet and sit outside to admire whoever has walked in.
While I was there, Leonardo DiCaprio and his entourage were partying alongside me, and we spent half the night chatting with the director of ‘A Plastic Ocean’ who even treated us to some dirty martinis and advice on how to save the world.
Whatever they say, Hong Kong is one for everyone. A cool, laid back cosmos one minute, and next you turn a corner and you’re transported back in time to the epitome of traditional China.
Don’t sleep, eat a lot and splash out (or don’t) on a beautiful new outfit.
Hong Kong will be one for your history books.
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