Ready for takeoff? This week Frequent Flier is heading to Hong Kong. Part glittering metropolis, part well-oiled (and ordered) machine, part cultural melting pot and all parts fascinating place, Hong Kong had us at hello.
From mega malls and five-star dining to traditional shop houses, sprawling markets and tasty food stalls, Hong Kong is an intriguing place with many personalities — all of which will grab you and pull you in upon arrival.
Situated on Hong Hong’s famed Victoria Harbour, the Harbour Grand Hong Kong is an ideal spot to base yourself for any stay in the area. Contemporary, well-appointed rooms (all featuring stunning views of the harbor below) are comfortable and offer a relaxing respite between bouts of sightseeing. Aside from stylish rooms and helpful, friendly service, the Harbour Grand boasts an elegant swimming pool overlooking the waterfront, five restaurants and a great location within walking distance to three MTR stops, Hong Kong’s efficient metro system.
Stock up on souvenirs, crafts, T-shirts, knickknacks, jewelry and anything else you might need (or just want) at the bustling Ladies’ Market. Over 100 stalls line either side of the street and proprietors shout out descriptions of their wares, along with promises of good prices, as you walk by. Be prepared to bargain.
If you don’t get your retail therapy fix during the day, head to the lively Temple Street Night Market in the evening, which starts at 4 p.m. but doesn’t really get rolling until after the sun goes down. Search (and bargain) for all of the usual market wares, from watches and tea sets to iPad cases, shoes and children’s toys.
Both markets are easily accessible by public transit and feature numerous options to grab a bite to eat should all that shopping work up an appetite.
While other destinations might be known for their coffee consumption, Hong Kong is all about the tea. You can get a cuppa everywhere from street side stalls to upscale cafes and it’s a great way to experience the local culture. We were lucky enough to nab a table at quaint LockCha Tea House, nestled in a corner of sprawling Hong Kong Park. Choose from pages of over 100 teas and pair your choice (ask for suggestions from the helpful staff if you’re stumped) with some delicious vegetarian dim sum. Ordered a la carte, the fresh and flavorful creations are an ideal accompaniment to the tea.
We were instantly charmed by Kowloon Walled City Park, a Chinese-style park complete with pagodas, waterfalls, ponds, bridges and pretty paths for aimless wandering. If you’re feeling the need for a break from the city, this is the place to take a breather. A lovely spot to get lost with your thoughts, the photo-worthy park makes for an ideal escape from central Hong Kong. If you’re in the area long enough and get hungry, head across the street to the Kowloon City Food District, a group of about 10 streets that house local, family-run restaurants. These simple eateries (serving anything from Chinese to Thai) start getting busy around 5 p.m.
One of the quintessential Hong Kong experiences — getting a closer look at Victoria Harbour via a ferry ride — is fun and a great way to get the perfect shot of one of the world’s most photographed harbors. Forgo a pricey harbor cruise and hop a ride on the Star Ferry, which costs the equivalent of about 30 cents for a one-way journey. The ferry runs between three main piers and you can also buy a hop-on/hop-off ticket should you want to stay and explore at each spot.
Pack your bags and join us next time when Frequent Flier heads to sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida.