The beginner's guide to Hong Kong: What to see and what to skip (Pt. 1)
Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike , friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and were we are rejected.-Roman Payne
If the love of your life could be a place, Hong Kong would be mine, without a doubt. There's simply no other place that compares to it! I'll be the first to admit, I'm irrationally attached to it and I want everyone else to love it just as much as I do, and that begins with going to the right places. So let's get started, shall we?
Definitely go to Victoria Peak, the views are insane and a perfect introduction to the city. 99% of Hong Kong tour guides will tell you to take the Peak tram but for me its a skip because the line is super long (like more than an hour) and even if it wasn't, I'd still skip it because quite frankly, the tram is boring. If you're short on time and energy, take a taxi to the top then walk the perimeter. If you're up for a little workout, you can start in Admiralty and hike your way to the top. This is my personal favorite way to experience the peak!
When you've had enough of the views, take a double decker bus down and get off in Central. Yes, I mean bus. They're super cheap and if you're able to snag a seat on the of the front of the second level you're in for a treat! Walk down Queen's Road Central and hit a few shops, then hop on the Midlevels escalator. It is the longest, outdoor, covered escalator in the world and a central part of life in the city, especially for expats who live mainly in this area and the lower parts of the Peak. Hop off when you see a restaurant that looks appetizing, Nepal and Le Souk are two of my favorites!
After lunch, wander over to PMQ (formerly the Police Married Quarters), a creative hub and event space. Here you'll find artist studios, clothing and homeware shops selling products by local designers, offices, exhibits, and chic cafes. They are also known for hosting TED style lectures and musical performances so check online to see what may be happening while you're there.
Walk a few blocks downhill and you'll find Gough Street, a trendy area filled with clothing boutiques, casual restaurants, street art and quirky furniture stores. If you're looking to shop, this is the place to do it. Most guides will tell you to hit Stanley Market in Repulse and the Ladies Market in Mong Kok, but I say skip 'em. If you're set on hitting one, go to the Ladies Market because it can be entertaining/photo worthy but you're unlikely to find good deals or anything worth lugging home.
After all of that walking, you're feet are probably tired so give yourself a chance to rest by testing out one of the foot reflexology stores that are on every corner. The prices are dirt cheap and they're generally all good, but be warned this can be quite a painful experience, (the good kind, I promise!).
Post foot massage, take a walk through the malls. Life in Hong Kong revolves around 3 things: eating, drinking, and shopping. Even if you aren't interested in shopping (and honestly, I don't recommend buying in HK as prices are more expensive) they're worth a visit just for the people watching and to see the elaborate holiday displays.
When you're totally shopped out, have a cocktail with a view at either Sevva or Cafe Grey (their Earl Gray Martini can't be beat!) .
Hong Kong is a fashionable place where dress codes definitely matter (unlike someplaces *cough cough San Francisco cough*) so make time to freshen up at your hotel and change before dinner at Mott 32, a chic Cantonese restaurant in the heart of Central. Plus, you're going to need look fabulous for last activity of the day, a visit to Hong Kong's legendary clubbing district Lan Kwai Fong.
gravHong Kong has the longest working hours in the Western world, but that doesn't mean they've forgotten how to play. Everyone in the city has a 'carpe diem' mentality, its not uncommon to for locals to leave work at 10, go party for a few hours, sleep, then back to work. On a Tuesday. Literally the only day LKF isn't crowded with people is Buddha's birthday.
LKF can be quite a ruckus but there's something for everyone. Younger people like to take advantage of HK's open container laws, buying cheap drinks at 7-11 and drinking them with friends in the street. The more sophisticated (albeit no less hard partying) crowd tends to prefer the likes of Dragon I and Tasmanian Ballroom while hipsters gravitate to the likes of Rummin' Tings and Bibo. Honestly I think it's worth giving them all a try and being open to wherever the night takes you.
And there you have it, your first 24 hours in HK! Pt. 2 coming soon...