Hidden amongst the fog and mists of the South China Sea is Hong Kong, a city of a million faces and personalities. It’s Chinese, but it’s not China. It’s British, but no longer part of the Commonwealth. It’s Asia, but more diverse than most western cities.
This port city, which is made up primarily of Hong Kong Island and mainland Kowloon, serves as many travelers’ first foray into Asia and is perfect for those seeking a taste of the colonial old with a large spoonful of the new—on steroids. Without a doubt, Hong Kong is the ideal destination for anyone with a keen eye and an adventurous appetite.
1. Victoria Peak
Hong Kong is a city of hills overlooking the stunning and always changing Victoria Harbour. Although you can find good views of the skyline and harbor throughout the city, the greatest of them can be seen from Victoria Peak (pictured at top). Located atop Mount Austin on Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak’s view is the postcard shot of the city. Millions flock to the top—accessible via the ancient peak tram—to take in Hong Kong’s impressive skyline at sunrise, sunset, and at night once the city’s billions of lights have been turned on. This being Hong Kong there are tons of restaurants, along with a multistory mall, available for you to enjoy once you’ve taken your photos, but don’t fill up, there’s way too much good food in Hong Kong for you to waste any meals.
2. The Dragon’s Back
Hong Kong is a mega-city in the most literal sense. It’s made up of sprawling concrete, glass, and steel, with spots of greenery thrown in like sprinkles atop a scoop of ice cream. However, what many visitors ignore is Hong Kong’s proximity to beautiful hiking trails, none of which are more popular than The Dragon’s Back. By spending an afternoon on the trail, which is easily accessible via Hong Kong’s freakishly efficient public transit, you’ll get incredible panoramic views of neighboring islands, along with one thing that’s certainly hard to come by in Hong Kong: quiet. Take a walk on The Dragon’s Back and you’ll feel less guilty about ordering that that second (or third) plate of noodles that you’re sure to get later on in the day.
3. Little Bao
Photo by Max Bonem
There are too many restaurants in Hong Kong for one to ever visit all of them—too many incredible dumplings, too many delicious roast geese, too many options. What makes it even harder is that Hong Kong’s dining scene doesn’t stand still, it’s always evolving. One such example is Little Bao, located in the SoHo section of Hong Kong Island’s Central district. The restaurant itself is set up like a pint-sized American diner, if your local diner was in Brooklyn or Portland, of course. The kitchen is completely open air and everything is made fresh right before your eyes. The fried chicken bao is delicious, served with the caramelized brussel sprouts. Everything smells like truffles due to their popular fries that are tastefully tossed with truffle oil. Serving casual western staples prepared with traditional Chinese ingredients, Little Bao represents where Hong Kong is going. Or maybe, it’s the other way around. Regardless, it’s a great spot to soak up the previous night’s questionable decision making.
4. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Located on the north side of Victoria Harbour, the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is one of Hong Kong’s most scenic walks. It is also home to some of Hong Kong’s most active residents and visitors. Made up of miles of pedestrian-only traffic, the promenade is a popular haunt for runners, joggers, and elderly locals practicing their tai chi as the city just starts to arise from the previous night. Go for a run and take in the epic view of the harbor or use the promenade as a means for post-dinner digestion. Regardless, if you’re staying anywhere in the southern part of Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is there for the taking.