HONG KONG CITY GUIDE
Within a few days of living in Hong Kong (back then I was just on a 2 month modelling contract) it felt like home. Something told me I'd be in this city for a long time; I pretty much instantly went to register for a Hong Kong ID, and opened a local bank account to prepare for my future (the fact that I was able to so easily tells a lot about Hong Kong and how accessible and welcoming it is to foreigners). Something felt different about this place, like I belonged here. I wanted to stay here... I needed to stay here. So take this article as a 'City Guide' but also as sort of a love letter to the city that stole my heart.
If I had to pin-point why I felt so captivated by this city it wouldn't be the tourist spots, or anything you can buy, it's the atmosphere- and how it makes you feel, whether you're an insider, or outsider. So please keep this in mind as you read though this. I will share all the spots I like, but it's more than than that, there's an essence I can't really explain or capture through photos.
Let's go way back.. because thinking back it makes perfect sense that I ended up here. When I was 10 years old, a family from Hong Kong moved across the street from me. I remember receiving strange fruit baskets when they moved in and at Christmas. That was the first time I had tried an Asian pear. They'd also host the most lavish parties at their home with tons of Cantonese food. I loved going to try new foods, but also to see their nephew. He was a bit older than me, always made me laugh, and taught me how to play Chinese card games; I definitely had a little crush on him. This family treated everyone on the street unbelievably kindly; letting us try new things, learn more about their culture, all while giving us interesting fruit baskets and slippers.
Fast forward 9 years to when I was working in Tokyo. I remember this night so clearly because one of the low points in my modelling career happened this day. I was booked for a 3 day job that was pretty big, where I had to travel hours outside the city. I took the long train ride and arrived at the hotel. The client looked at me, called my agency without me knowing, and cancelled me because I had a big pimple on my chin (still have those, but it's way more than one now😅). I remember feeling so embarrassed, upset because I lost a lot of money (they would pay me for only 1/3 days), and just so frustrated because it was really out of my control. I figured, I mine as well have the nice dinner the company offered while I was there before leaving, so I sat at the table with the other model. We talked about how much we both loved Japan. She said she also loved Hong Kong, but I hadn't been there yet. She then told me it was actually her favourite place to live and work, and that I should try it. Out of all the places she had been (she was much more experienced than I was) she only highly recommended Hong Kong, so I added it to my list.
When I got back from Japan, my neighbour also told me that I should try to go to Hong Kong for work. I decided to ask my mother agency to reach out to agencies to try to get me a contract, and arrived in Hong Kong at the beginning of 2009. When I arrived I saw an interesting mix of people and cultures, old mixed with new, English signs, people speaking in English (which helped me to make friends faster and feel less homesick), and like Japan, I lived in a model apartment with 5 other girls from all around the world, which was fun and exciting.
Like I said, I loved it instantly for so many reasons, but it's not exactly a picture perfect city. To really experience it you have to go deeper beyond the facade.
It's family. It's the family owned businesses, passed on for generations keeping the cultures and traditions alive. You can get this notion by walking into local restaurants or shops. You're treated like a family member, in a loving but no bull-shit kind of way. They'll take care of you but also tell you what they think, and won't hide their true feelings. Everything just feels relaxed and authentic. I appreciate that. You share food in the middle of the table at home dinners or at Chinese restaurants. You share the same table with strangers at local restaurants. It's awkward at first, but then it makes you feel included, especially when you're alone in a city. I think one way to capture this essence is to eat outside at a Dai Pai Dong (they're a dying breed so catch them before their gone). They're family-run, always have interesting stories, and you eat amongst everyone outside (sometimes at the same table). The fried rice at those places is my favourite!
It's those pockets of calm there when you need it. The rugged beautiful hiking trails, the quaint fishing villages, beaches, remote islands, and the Global Geopark. For the most part, you can reach nature within a 30 minute drive (water or mountains).
The various districts each offering something a little different. There's hidden treasures everywhere really, if you just explore. Be sure to look up because there's not only interesting things on the ground level! Some of the best shops and cafés to discover are upstairs. They're kind of hard to find but are severely underrated and usually provide more than just food, or drinks, or items for sale (events, readings, live music).
Also, the markets in those vaerious districts, which always offer more than what meets the eye. You can find the best michelin recommended but cheap cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) in the middle of an electronics street market! In Hong Kong there's markets for everything; clothing, flowers, electronics, food, etc.
Inside the districts you'll also see different estates filled with small communities that are so colourful both inside and out. Some have their own little malls within it including everything from food to clothing to doctors offices. It's like their own fully functioning village, within a building.
THE FOOD. Hong Kong is probably the best place in the world to live for food...or Tokyo, I don't know, they're tied for me for different reasons. From the street food to high-end Michelin starred restaurants, it has some of the best restaurants in the world giving it the acclaimed "food paradise" title. In Hong Kong you can get any kind of food from anywhere in the world and it's really authentic (since there's so so many cultures here). The local Cantonese food is delectable, delicate, and flavourful. There's so many new flavours and textures that were added to my palate, for example; Curry Fishballs are daan nga (bouncy), heung laat (aromatic spicy), yuen (soft/tender)-if any one of those textures or tastes are off, it doesn't taste as good. Another example is noodles, they have to be alkaline (gaan) because alkaline water gives egg-based noodles their springiness (I now use alkaline water for my potatoes too and it makes all the difference).
My favourite dishes in Hong Kong are dim sum and hot pot (I recommend some places later in this article). I did a whole food series on my YouTube channel; which gave me so many new experiences, knowledge, and an even deeper connection to this city.
It's the perfect mix of nostalgia and new. The best example of this is; there's modern high speed boats right next to the ferry that hasn't changed since the 1950's. There's skyscrapers right next to old temples. The taxis haven't changed in forever, and they drive next to the shiny new Ubers. There's tradition mixed in with the modern times everywhere you look. From the food, traditional dances and crafts (mostly seen at festivals), games (mahjong to horse races), transportation, and buildings. Hong Kong has such a rich culture that has me continuously discovering things both from the past and present.
Now that you know generally what to look out for, I'll go into more details of what to do, see, and eat (but please look around/pop into places of interest/talk to people!)
If you start at central mtr station, take exit D2, turn right outside the station exit, then left at the small street and go to the main road (Queen's Road), and turn left. Walk down to the escalator (you'll see it running above the street), the is the world's longest covered escalator. Ride it up to Hollywood road where you'll spot Tai Kwun.
According to their website, "Tai Kwun is the Centre for Heritage and Arts, a place of inspiration, stimulation and enjoyment for all Hong Kong people. Tai Kwun aspires to offer the best heritage and arts experiences, and to cultivate knowledge and appreciation of contemporary art, performing arts and history in the community."
It's located in the former central police station and jail (you can walk through actual jail cells), where you can see beautiful architecture and artefacts, as well as the people of that time and their stories.
Besides exploring the history and heritage of this area, there's also boutique shops and cafés, as well as many events and exhibitions. They have a branch of my favourite vegetarian/vegan teahouse in Tai Kwun, Lock Cha (serving veggie/vegan dim sum and a crazy long list of incredible teas).
After Tai Kwun go down the stairs and head down towards Hollywood Road (stay under the escalator). If you go one more street down (Lyndhurst Terrace) you'll see a market called Gage street. There you'll find a booth/restaurant called Lan Fong Yuen selling Hong Kong's most famous milk tea. It's more than 52 years old and their secret to their silly milk tea is straining it through panty hose. You can line up to get take-away or go into their restaurant to order in. They also serve a good local Hong Kong breakfast.
Head back up to Hollywood road and turn left. You'll pass Tai Cheong Bakery (grab an egg tart if they interest you, these ones are famous), followed by the shop G.O.D. across the street. This is my favourite shop for Hong Kong style homeware and souvenirs. They also have a famous graffiti wall outside of their shop where you'll see instagrammers lining up to take photos.
MAN MO TEMPLE
If you continue walking down Hollywood road you'll see Man Mo Temple. This is probably my favourite temple in Hong Kong. It's dedicated to the God of Literature and the God of Martial Arts.
Across the street from the temple, if you walk down the stairs you'll see an alleyway called Cat Street where you can find antiques, vintage items, and one of my favourite coffee shops (Halfway Coffee).
After that walk back towards the escalator and head to SOHO area. There's a lot of cute boutique shops and restaurants/cafés there. (Peel St/Elgin St/Gough St- if you head up even higher on the escalator my fav café in SOHO, Elephant grounds is there).
Finally, I'd walk on the escalator downwards (it's just easier because there's no streetlights/cars) all the way down to the water. Here you'll find the Star Ferry, which was founded in 1888 and still looks the same. For about USD$0.35, you can jump on the ferry and cross the Victoria Harbour (amazing views of the skyline both day and night) to Tsim Tsa Tsui.
This area is just above central. You can take an old tram or a bus up to mountain to reach it. Lunch at The Peak Lookout is really nice, followed by a trip up the Peak Tower to take in the fascinating skyline at the Sky Terrace 428, before hitting the Peak Market at the P1 level (Chinese artwork, silk collectibles, souvenirs). Finally, walk along Hong Kong Trail (40-60 minute leisure walk) to take in some nature and more views.
LAN KWAI FONG
If you want to hit Hong Kong's nightclub scene, this is your place. Bars and clubs line these streets, while people hang out inside and outside of them (no cars can go inside this area and you're allowed to drink alcohol in public).
TSIM TSA TSUI
TST has some really nice malls to explore (Harbour City (the biggest), K11 Musea (Most luxurious), The One (more unique finds from local/international brands-mostly Japanese/HK)) at any time of the day but in my opinion, this area really comes alive at night. Besides shopping you can also walk along the promenade.
TSIM TSA TSUI PROMENADE
Take a walk along the harbour front and take in the breathtaking views of Hong Kong's skyline (there's a laser show every night at 8pm). You'll pass the Avenue of Stars, The Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and the Hong Kong Space Museum. You'll also spot Hong Kong's newest and most luxurious mall, K11 Musea.
Whenever people visit me I always take them to Hutong for dinner. It has amazing views, great Northern Chinese food, and historic charm.
THE BIG BUDDHA (LANTAU ISLAND)
Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station, when you exit you will see the Ngong Pong Cable car. Hop on that and it will take you up the mountain with stunning views as you approach the Ngong Ping Village in 25 minutes. After you exit the cable car, as you make your way over to the Big Buddha, you will walk up an old street where you'll see many boutique/souvenir shops and can try local snacks. On your right you'll see the Big Buddha (you'll need to climb 268 steps to visit it up close), or if you go straight you'll see the Po Lin Monastery. This world-renowned Buddhist establishment is divided into several parts; the main axis, San Men (Mountain Gate), the Hall of Skanda Bodhisattva, the Main Shrine Hall of Buddha, and the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You can get a good inexpensive vegan/vegetarian buddhist lunch here too! You also may be able to spot some wild cows roaming around.
10,000 BUDDHAS (SHA TIN)
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a 13,000 Buddha statue/temple/nine-storey pagoda/several shrines and pavillions complex, near Sha Tin station. You have to hike up a mountain (it can be quite steep at times so please be aware that it's difficult for people with mobility issues), passing by all the unique Buddhas that are each representing a form of enlightenment. After about a 20 minute walk you'll reach the top where the main colourful buildings, temples, and shrines exist (as well as spectacular views).
After you walk back down, you'll spot Grand Central Plaza Mall, which is a great mall for homeware. You can find local and international furniture/homeware shops (my personal favourite is Tree because they make really cool up-cycled items).
Stanley is a combination of one of Hong Kong's most popular markets (clothing, souvenirs, Chinese paintings, jewellery, cards, seals, etc), restaurants, and a beach (but if you're mostly going for the beach I recommend heading to the neighbouring one, Repulse Bay, after you visit the market). The market is much quieter and more laid-back than the night street market or Ladies' Street (also a lot cooler in temperature because it's covered and the shops have air conditioning), but similarly, be sure to bargain here!
Inside the market there's a really nice pottery shop where you can get unique, colourful, affordable finds.
Grab lunch or dinner at Ocean Rock where you can sit on their covered patio, look out to the water, and eat some great seafood & tapas (they have a lot of other options on the menu- their afternoon buffet is also really nice). *The patio is dog friendly, they even offer pets water & a brunch discount for bringing them!
YAU MA TEI
YAU MA TEI FRUIT MARKET
Start the afternoon out at the Yau Ma Tei fruit market located at Waterloo Road. Here you can taste some really fresh exotic fruit at over 200 stalls. Since the market is wholesale, you get great prices as well as lots of samples. (see my fruit market video here).
MUM's NOT HOME
Head one of my favourite upstairs cafés, MUM's NOT HOME for a drink. It's an eclectic colourful mix of items for sale, art, plants, and food/drinks. They also host a lot of events and live bands. *Be sure to check their hours on their instagram account because they aren't always open. I suggest you head here later because their open 2-8pm, if you go around 6-7 you'll be able to hit the night market right after (market is open from 7pm onwards). If you're feeling more like a café/bookstore then head to KUBRICK instead.
TIN HAU TEMPLE
This famous temple is dedicated to the God of fishermen and the sea. It was built in the 1860's and is one Hong Hong's Grade I Historic Buildings. The Temple Street Night Market surrounds it.
TEMPLE ST NIGHT MARKET
This area is a mixture of a market, opera singers, restaurants, and fortune tellers. The market is similar to the famous Ladies Street Market selling souvenirs, tea ware, electronics, watches, clothing, jade, and paintings. However, it's not as big and is usually less crowded. At the end of the market you'll see a whole street of fortune tellers set-up in their individual tents. They do tarot card readings, palm readings, and face readings.
*If you're looking for cheaper hair products (tools, dyes, accessories, wigs) you can find many wholesale shops where HK hairdressers shop at the beginning of Temple Street (you don't need a license to shop here & be aware that they aren't open late).
Causeway bay is one of Hong Kong's best shopping districts because you have a great mix of high-end and budget-friendly shops, as well as international and local brands. THERE'S A LOT OF MALLS/SHOPS HERE..all in a very small condensed area, it's a shopaholics dream.
Hong Kong's biggest department store (13 floors) selling mostly Japanese brands. With a nice Japanese supermarket/cooked food section in the basement.
Behind/across the small street (towards WTC more mall) you'll find La Foret (look for the big escalators going up- it starts at the second floor). Here you can find affordable, local and Korean unique items (clothing, shoes, accessories, beauty, food).
Just down the street (back towards SOGO at the corner) you'll see another escalator leading up into Island Beverly. Similar to La Foret this building has a lot of budget-friendly local fashion and accessory brands spanning over several floors.
This area (along a few streets-Kingston St, George St, Paterson St) includes some of the most younger hip/trendy local shops in Hong Kong. Kniq, a streetwear shopped named one of the best independent stores in Hong Kong, is located here.
With 230 shops over 16 floors, this mall has something for everyone. It's mix of mid-priced local and international brands, as well as luxury brands, has excellent restaurants, a cinema on the top, and a good supermarket in the basement.
LEE GARDENS (One/Two/Three)
Lee Gardens One and Two are smaller luxury malls with more expensive high-end designer shops, and good restaurants (The Vietnamese restaurant on the 4th floor of Lee Gardens One is my favourite in Hong Kong).
Lee Garden's Three has more streetwear brands (Bape, Mastermind, Undefeated) and homeware shops. As well as John Anthony (one of my favourite restaurants), A Happy Pancake (the best fluffy thick pancakes in HK from Japan), and the most luxurious Starbucks in Hong Kong (they have an incredible tea bar and alcoholic beverages). Oh and a really nice nail salon!
JARDINE'S BAZAAR AND JARDINE'S CRESCENT
This street is packed with a market and budget-friendly clothing/accessory shops. You can also find a lot of street food here and around Causeway Bay.
*Be sure to look up, there's a lot of lesser-known small shops, restaurants and cafés upstairs.
Mong Kok is one of my favourite places to be in Hong Kong, I film a lot of my videos here. It's busy, offers a different side of Hong Kong culture, and there's so much to do. It's where you go for a good bargain and delicious cheap local food.
You can't leave Hong Kong without visiting the famous Ladies Street Market. It's mostly known for the large amount of counterfeit designer items it has available, but also sells a lot of accessories, electronics, toys, art, jade, and souvenirs. Check out Safiya Nygaard's video that we did together on this market here. Be sure to bargain A LOT!
Around the market you can also find Sneaker Street (Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kok) where you can find new/rare/collectible/limited edition/discount sneakers.
Around the ladies market (across the street from Mong Kok Station exit A1) you'll spot the Argyle Centre on 65 Argyle Street. This is a multi-level mall comprised of small boutiques selling woman's fashion and accessories at unbeatable prices (you can also bargain here).
Argyle Centre, 65 Argyle Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
At Trendy Zone you'll find great deals on younger fashion/accessories/toys/random things. You can find a lot of great gifts and as the name suggests, get a good idea of what is trending amongst the youth of Hong Kong.
Trendy Zone, 580 Nathan Road, Mong Kok (entrance on Dundas Street), Kowloon, Hong Kong.
This was my husband's favourite mall when he was younger. I think you can best describe it as an Otaku's Paradise. Collectible toys, figures, hobby items, electronics, movies, games, and stationary are mostly what you find here. They also have a lot of special pre-order or special limited items available to buy.
CTMA Centre, Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
You'll see a lot of Street Food stalls around Mong Kok. One of Hong Kong's most famous ones for skewered delicacies, Fei Jie, is located here (this place was featured on the late Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations: Hong Kong” TV show in 2007). Along this street you'll also find other yummy street food options.
See my street food video here.
*Note: most smaller shops/street food stalls open later here (after 2pm until late) so take your time in the morning having breakfast and getting ready.
This is the 'Tokyu Hands' of Hong Kong. It has a few floors of crafty items and stationary. During Christmas it turns into a winter wonderland where you can buy the best Christmas trees and decorations (at good prices) in Hong Kong. There's also the flower market nearby!
Brighten Floriculture, 28 Flower Market Rd, Prince Edward, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
SHAM SHUI PO
Go to this area for crafty stuff. If you need fabric, buttons, sewing stuff, beads, you'll find a lot of great options here.
FABRIC- there are tons of wholesale and smaller quantity fabric stores along Yen Chow St.
CRAFTING ACCESSORIES- for sewing stuff, beads, buttons, ribbon, and jewellery head to Yu Chau Street.
MARKET- Around Cheung Sha Wan Road you'll find markets selling clothing, accessories, electronics, and food.
CAMERA GEAR/LIGHTING/ELECTRONICS- If you're a photographer/blogger/youtuber Ap Liu Street is your area for a good deal on camera gear and lighting.
DAI PAI DONG
In my opinion, Sham Shui Po (Shek Kip Mei) has the best Dai Pai Dongs. They are outdoor no-frills eateries that are steadily decreasing in numbers due to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department not renewing any Dai Pai Dong licenses. The food is good, cheap, run by local families, and gives you a great taste of Hong Kong's local history while eating amongst strangers.
You can see massage/foot massage places all around Hong Kong, marked by flashing lights usually containing a foot. There's places for all budgets and I definitely recommend that you try a foot massage while you're here. The Chinese believe that certain pressure points of your feet link to all different areas of your body. Either way, after all of the walking around you'll do here (a lot being up and down hill), your feet will be in need of a little TLC. You can add in a neck and shoulder massage at the same time and you'll leave feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to take on the bustling city again.
My favourite massage place is 10 Feet Tall because it's clean, has nice decor, friendly staff, and I have never had a bad massage there. They also have private rooms available with Apple TV and have a great menu of different juices, smoothies, teas and froyo.
10 Feet Tall, 20/f & 21/f, L place, 139 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2971 1010. *They also have a location in Happy Valley.
My list of favourite restaurants in Hong Kong is extremely large. For that reason, I will keep this section more dedicated to local, Cantonese, and Chinese restaurants/foods (I will make more Hong Kong restaurant articles later) because I believe that one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through the food.
The first thing I suggest you to try is YUM CHA. Yum cha translates into "drink tea" and dim sum literally translates to "touch the heart". Together this act is where people mostly eat small morsels of food steamed in a bamboo basket and drink tea. There's 3 kinds of dim sum experiences you can consider, a local no-frills, a budget Michelin star, a high-end more expensive place, and cute modern places perfect for instagram.
LOCAL NO FRILL- Luk You Teahouse
An old-fashioned very long running teahouse serving dim sum the nostalgic way. You'll be sharing tables with strangers, choosing food from moving trolleys (and may get into a fight while doing so if others are trying to get the same item), and getting some well-priced delicious dim sum.
Luk Yu, 24-26 Stanley St, Central, Hong Kong.
BUDGET FRIENDLY MICHELIN STAR- Tim Ho Wan
This place has won praise from foodies all over the world. It was started by Chef Mak Kwai Pui, whom previously worked at the famous three Michelin starred Lung King Heen restaurant in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel. Tim Ho Wan is often called the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in the world because it serves great food at affordable prices. They have a small menu consisting of the most popular Hong Kong dim sum items, and everything on it is delicious!
Tim Ho Wan, various locations around Hong Kong. The Michelin starred one is located in Mong Kok.
HIGH END LUXURIOUS- Shang Palace (Kowloon)
Located inside the exquisite Shangri-La Kowloon hotel, Shang Palace has superb food, excellent service, and gorgeous decor. Their prestigious large tea selection is unparalleled, and their dim sum selection is distinguished. I love their XO Cheung fan (rice rolls) and their assorted mushroom dumplings. This restaurant has two Michelin Stars.
*Dim sum is only available for lunch, 12pm – 2.30pm (Mon - Fri- last order at 2pm).
Cute/Instagrammable- Yum Cha or Dim Sum Icon
Both of these places offer cute dim sum that also tastes delicious. They often have special collaborations with famous characters, so check their website/instagram to see what's on before you go. *There's various locations for both.
My favourite food in Hong Kong. It's best done with a big group of people so you can order many items, sit around a table, and just hangout/talk/eat for hours. My husband and I (with friends occasionally) do this every Sunday with a few episodes of Netflix or a movie on the TV.
Basically, you choose your soup broth (some pots can have up to 5 choices with dividers inside), then different items to cook inside (meats, vegetables, tofu, noodles, etc), and prepare your own dipping sauce (choose from things like soy sauce, XO sauce, peanuts, onions, garlic, chillies, etc to make a mixture). Once the soup is boiling, you throw in whatever ingredients you want, let it cook, then take it out and place it in your bowl to cool down to eat.
This is my favourite hot pot place in Hong Kong. It has nice decor, amazing views (Causeway bay location), and delicious homemade soup broths/ingredients. Their soup pots also have 5 soup choices inside (which is rare, you can usually only do 2). They also have private rooms available for booking (I hosted my husband's birthday party here once!), and offer delivery around Hong Kong.
JOHN ANTHONY- For superb Cantonese food and decor (they pride themselves in setting a new standard of eco-consciousness in Hong Kong restaurant design- and it's beautiful!)
"JOHN ANTHONY FOSTERS A PROGRESSIVE BLEND OF CULINARY DIVERSITY WITH CHARCOAL GRILL-ROASTED MEATS AND HANDMADE DIM SUM PAIRED WITH BOLD INFLUENCES FROM REGIONS ALONG THE SPICE ROUTES, SUCH AS SZECHUAN."
It really encapsulates Hong Kong because the decor and food are inspired by a very East meets West cultural diversity. Must order: Iberico Pork Presa Char Siu, Fried Homemade Tofu with Charcoal Powder, various dim sum.
This is an iconic giant floating restaurant that is majestically lit up at night and serves some of the city's best Cantonese cuisine and seafood. It's been around since the 1950's, has appeared in many movies, and is dined at by both locals and tourists. Queen Elizabeth II once ate there, as well as Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Jumbo, Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen (MTR Wong Chuk Hang Station Exit B).
Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world for street food because there's just so many different kinds available at really affordable prices.
Must try items:
Hong Kong's iconic Curry fishballs are found all over. I highly suggest you grab a sewer to try! You can get spicy or non-spicy.
Siu mai is my husband's favourite snack and is made from flour mixed with fish meat, then steamed and doused in soy sauce/chilli sauce (optional).
EGG WAFFLES (GAI DAAN ZAI IN CANTONESE)
These sweet or savoury, crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside egg-ball things come in various flavours with toppings inside and out (chocolate, matcha, fruit, ice cream, sauces, etc). This is the safest bet for most foreigners, I've never met someone who doesn't like them.
My personal favourite. It's fresh, steamed, silky-smooth rice flour rolls chopped into bite sized pieces served with various sauces (some savoury, some sweet -try them all, they're all good!) and toppings. You can also get different meats and vegetables inside if you want. The texture is similar to a smooth al-dente noodle. Some places even fry it after in your choice of sauce to give it a different, crispier texture. YUM!
You'll see (and smell) many stalls selling these bright-orange meats and organs in Hong Kong. It took me 8 years to try this because it didn't look so appetising to me, but when I finally did I really liked it (the octopus one, I haven't tried any organs yet). It's one of the lighter street food choices as it's not fried or oily. The meats are just boiled then dipped in a soy-based marinade before being chilled and served. The result is a bouncy, tender, flavourful skewer.
Dai Pai Dong
I wrote a lot about Dai Pai Dongs in my intro and the Sham Shui Po section of this article, so I won't repeat myself BUT if I haven't convinced you yet, then I'll try again. GO. JUST ONE TIME IN YOUR LIFE AT LEAST. BEFORE THEIR GONE. EXPERIENCE IT. TRY THE FRIED RICE.
My favourite area once again is in Sham Shui Po on Shek Kip Mei St or Yiu Tong Street. There's a couple of good ones in Central on Stanley Street and Staveley Street.
My husband craves a good wonton noodle soup every now and then and he always goes to the same place (he's been going for years now), Mak's Noodle. This shop was opened in 1968 in Hong Kong (it was started in Guangzhou just before the Second World War). What makes their wontons so good is each piece has a big whole shrimp, and a bit of minced pork, with a thin delicate noodle wrapped around it (some places opt to earn more money by skimping out on the meat and adding flour to thicken it/a thicker noodle around it). The noodles below the wontons are thin, and since they use alkaline water, are a perfectly-cooked springy texture.
Mak's Noodle, various locations around Hong Kong.
For fresh seafood head to Sai Kung. The waterfront is lined with restaurants where you can pick your fresh seafood, then choose from a variety of ways to cook it. *they have other items on their menus for those who don't like seafood. *Pets are welcome.
If you're feeling under the weather, or want something on the lighter, comforting side, choose congee!! It's a classic Chinese breakfast dish (but you can eat it at any time of the day) and is similar to the western world's chicken soup. It's made from rice and water and you can choose from all different toppings ranging from meats to vegetables to nuts. I reccomend Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop for delicious congee and excellent XO cheung fun.
Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop, various locations around Hong Kong.
To see a list of my favourite cafés in Hong Kong click here.
For Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants click here.
Paul Gerrard, Central. This is the salon I go to because they are great with foreign/blonde hair and have international well-experienced staff. My stylist: Sandy.
Paul Gerrard, 1& 2/F, Wah Hing House, 35 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong.
Cactus- my beloved, talented nail artist that I've put through hell by making the weirdest, most detailed, difficult nails. She's in a tiny space inside a hair salon, so if you want something bigger and quieter then you might want to opt for her in-home service (what's app her to ask- she usually just does the central area). Cactus, 10/f, Wellington Place, 2-4 Wellington St, call or msg +852 6120 6822.
EightyEight- A luxurious stylish nail salon where you'll get the trendiest manicures. EightyEight, G/F &1/F, Number 53, Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2350 9618.
*Various Locations but I've been to the admiralty one: Nail Me, 1st Floor, 1 Wing Fung Street, Admiralty, Hong Kong. Tel: 852-2529 8166
Jessica Beauty- For facials/lasers. Jessica opened this clinic recently and just one look at her complexion on her instagram account will have you sold on this place (she has a glowing clear complexion). Their website is currently only in Chinese but if you're interested, DM her any questions she will definitely help! She also demonstrates a lot of their machines in English on their instagram (click below to see).
Jessica Beauty, Mangan Building, 18-20 Cameron Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: +852 2806-2727.
EAST HOTEL (Taikoo Shing): The best quality for price hotel in Hong Kong. It makes the perfect business hotel and is where my husband and I would always stay when we visited Hong Kong while living in Tokyo. It's located in a great area with a mall, many restaurants, a cinema, and convenient MTR Station attached to it. It also has great views (of the harbour), delicious room service, and a superb brunch buffet.
East Hotel, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing. Tel: +852 3968 3968.
THE UPPER HOUSE (Admiralty): One of Hong Kong's most luxurious 5-star hotels. We stayed here for 1 night on our wedding day. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated in a slightly traditional, minimalistic kind of way.
The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2918 1838.
THE PENINSULA (Tsim Tsa Tsui): Opened in 1928, this iconic 5-star hotel represents Hong Kong's heritage. It features 8 award-winning restaurants, as well as their famous lobby café where you have have high tea (the place to be on a weekend afternoon).
The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2820 2888.
LANSON PLACE (Causeway Bay)- An award-winning boutique hotel with contemporary decor and a great location (close to some of the best restaurants and shops in the city).
Lanson Place, 133 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3477 6888.
-Get an Octopus card (costs a refundable HKD$50). These are used here for transportation (buses/trains), and to buy things in convenience stores, supermarkets, and many other shops. It will save you a lot of time. You can also find Octopus discount machines all over Hong Kong, where if you tap your card you get up to a $2 discount on your next MTR ride. Here's the detailed location of those.
-Shops open later in Hong Kong (most after 11am, and many after 2pm) but also close later.
-Restaurants and shops often close down (the turnover is quite fast in Hong Kong for newer places) so call ahead or check online first to be sure you don't waste time and money travelling to the place you want.
-DISCOUNTS: Most cinemas offer discounts on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays the Museum of Art, the Science Museum, the Space Museum, and all other public museums are free. Wednesday is Laddie's night in many Wan Chai bars. For Hong Kong Residents- On your birthday you can get into Ocean Park for free with your HKID, plus half price for a guest.
-711's are everywhere and offer more than food. You can top up your octopus here, charge your phone, photocopy things, and pay your bills.
-APPS; For food- use OpenRice or Sugar. They both show you what's popular, and offer promotions and discounts.
For Transportation- HK Taxi, Uber or MTR Tourist (makes visiting the tourist attractions via the MTR easy). Google maps also works well in Hong Kong and includes the MTR/buses.
For tourist information/guides- My Hong Kong Guide (this app is done by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and includes 18,000 attractions).
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Also if I've missed any of your favourite things to do/see/eat please let me know so I can include them in a part 2!