A brief guide to Hong Kong

Another friend asked me about what to see and do in Hong Kong, so here you go Phileas Hong Kong…

First things first, the airport, and take your time at the airport, there are showers, food and touristy stuff you might need. If you are coming in late then you might consider in staying around the airport for the first night and there are some really close and nice hotels such as Marriott and Novotel but there is plenty hotels around and you do stay at the airport then you can start your Hong Kong exploring by taking the cable car from Tung Chung to the Big Buddha which gives you an amazing view over Hong Kong as well.

The airport also has a great tourist information so go and get some of their maps and buy an Octopus card for the MTR. If you are two persons then it as about the same price if you take a taxi or you use the Airport Express and/or the MTR, if you are on a budget then don’t forget about the buses which are reasonably cheap. The bonus with the airport express is the speed and if you are staying around central then it takes you there straight away, on the other hand you get to see a little of the myriad roads that is Hong Kong and you see the harbour on your way in.

I have a couple of favourite hotels in Hong Kong depending on what part you need to spend time in. If you are based in central, then the best one is the Conrad, a great location and with fantastic service, however if it is beyond your price point then I can also recommend the Indigo hotel, which is also well located with a top floor bar as well. However if your day is spent on Kowloon then the Intercontinental Grand Stanford is a great choice with a great rooftop pool and lots of attractions and TST within walking distance.

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On the Hong Kong side, I would start the day heading towards the Peak tram, however the because there is often fog and clouds in the morning I would stop at the Visual Art centre in the former Victoria Barracks and have a look at their exhibitions, they open at 10am. If the clouds still haven’t lifted then walk over to the botanical gardens and zoo for a visit, even the areas around are nice so if you are just looking for a walk then it is worth doing.

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Then take the Peak tram up to Victoria Peak and the fantastic view over Hong Kong and the harbour. Have a coffee in one of the coffee shops and enjoy the view, once you soaked up the atmosphere, then either take the tram down again, or you can take the bus from the shopping centre.

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When you are down I would recommend walking through Hong Kong Park and enjoy the scenery and make a pit stop at the Flagstaff house, which in itself is a legacy from the colony times, but it also has a Museum of Tea Ware which is a little bit fun to walk through. Walk down to Admiralty and have a look at the heritage and buildings on the way, and grab lunch somewhere on the way. There is several shopping centres on the way as well if you fancy. Now head for Queensway and get on a tram to the Western Markets, the tram terminates at the markets so it is an easy ride.

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Remember you pay when you exit the tram. The Western markets are a maze of everything you can imagine in shopping so you might have to have a drink afterward, and luckily the Ping Pong Gintonería is only a 5 minute walk away! Now there is the option of calling it a day and have your dinner here and go back to the hotel, or if it is a race day at Happy Valley then get on the tram and enjoy a great night at the races, and if you have time pop in and see the museum as well.

If you have time for a second day around central, then there is free Tai Chi between 7-9 in Chater Garden, however if you feel like a more modest start I would head down to the Convention Centre, and if you go up to the 7th floor you have an amazing view of the harbour, have a coffee and enjoy the view, then backtrack a block and go for a visit to the Hong Kong Arts centre, and don’t miss the Pao galleries. From this point you can either have a look around Central and Admiralty, or check out the harbour and the shopping around Causeway Bay, or if you feel you would like to see the south side of Hong Kong Island. The south is much less touristy and is mostly about beaches and they have one of the best aquariums in the world. If you have time take bus number 6 to Stanley and walk around the harbour and seafront. Then get on the 73 which will take the scenic route to Aberdeen through Repulse Bay, and when you are there take a sampan tour around the floating city and have a seafood dinner, and when you are tired the take bus number 7 back to where you started. You can also go for Dolphin watching for the elusive Pink Hong Kong Dolphins

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Another off the beaten track attraction to look at is the Hong Kong Coastal defence museum which is a real gem if you have time.

When you are ready for Kowloon then get down to the Star ferries and take the trip over whilst enjoying the views, you can use the Octopus card for the ticket, on the other site, walk over to the Ocean terminal and have a coffee at the Moomin Café, then walk through the TST promenade, have a look at the views and the movie star section.

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You can also stop for a coffee and a chat at Mariners club and all the international seaman’s churches that is nearby. You are now close to the Science Museum and the Hong Kong History museum, both are nice to visit, but if you are short of time I suggest having a look at the history museum as it is very good and covers Hong Kong through times and it has a great restaurant when you finish.

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When you are done then head towards Mong Kok and the markets, the ladies market is a good starting point. I would suggest you try a Chinese foot massage at this point as your feet will thank you for it, and invest in 30 minutes!

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When you are done with the markets, then head towards Jordan and have a good Dim Sum, my favourite is the Dim Sum Specialty store. Finish the day at the ICC Tower, you have two options, either you go to the viewing platform on 100th floor which is £20, or you head for the top floor bar on the 118th floor and get a cocktail for £20 and have a look at the open air terrace.

If you have time for a second day in and around Kowloon, then I would go and have a look at the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, and spend some time enjoying the Kowloon park and have a look at the aviary and the discovery centre. If you are around on a Friday they have a free Feng Shui class at 10.30, and if you are there on a Sunday they have Kung Fu demonstration in Kowloon Park at 2.30 pm.

When you are in Hong Kong, don’t miss the New Territories, there are a couple of must see attractions, one is the Hong Kong Heritage museum, and don’t miss the Bruce Lee exhibition, it is excellent.

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If you started the day at the Heritage museum then go back to the shopping centres and do your shopping and have a coffee and then head of to the Art museum at the Chinese museum, and then head for Tai Po for the farmers markets, and don’t miss the wine. If you want a nature walk then take a bus tour out to Tai Mo Shan, which is a massive nature reserve with Hong Kong’s highest peak on an old volcano. Another good walk is on the Grass island, Tap Mun or Sai Kung.

Finally, if the night is your game then start with drinks with a view at either Grand Hyatt Champagne bar on Harbour Road, Wanchai, normally have some great champagne offers, alternatively try Aqua Spirit it is also very good or Ozone at Ritz Carlton. Then move on to the nightclubs, and the best one hands down is Volar on D’Aguilar St, with Play on Hing Terrace and Dragon I on Wyndham St are close seconds.