Here is my “THINGS TO DO IN HONG KONG” list from a resident’s point of view – for old people who haven’t got much time and want to get a real mixture of new and old. Just to be clear – my “old” reference is because 4 days in Hong Kong was a birthday treat with several girlfriends – so we were not looking for wild entertainment and clubs till dawn (sadly) or sunbathing galore (although the weather was gorgeous) or even too much shopping. We were looking for a mixture of new restaurants and authentic old ones and as ever, it always feels like coming home when I land in Hong Kong so I was keen to get under the skin of the place as soon as possible, that I have known and loved for nearly half a century. Nothing like being shown around by a resident to get to the best places straight away (thanks Angie!).
Notwithstanding the protesters who were peaceful when we were there and hopefully will be again, we were lucky enough to be taken around by a local resident so got the inside knowledge on what is currently hot in Hong Kong. It wasn’t that we were ignoring the plight of the students or the issues at hand – we stopped and chatted on a number of occasions to them – they wanted to spread the word in a peaceful way and they certainly wanted tourists to continue to come to Hong Kong. “What we hope for the future is harmony and stability for Hong Kong and this requires people like you to still come and enjoy what Hong Kong has to offer. We want it to remain a democratic and free district for as long as possible to be enjoyed by all”.
So here we are then, a list below of places we went to, regardless of the occupation, because we all need tourism to flourish and it certainly wasn’t affecting the day to day running of the place. Having lived there for a large part of my childhood, I had to go back and do some of the things I loved most so my suggestions are a mixture of new bars and restaurants and also activities.
To get around, I recommend that you get used to their underground train network – the MTR, as quickly as possible, as it is second to none and by far the quickest way to get around the city (especially at the moment with all the blockades). Get an Octopus card which is an electronic currency that uses the stored value format – like the UK Oyster card. Most public transport accepts it and it’s very easy to use and much quicker than buying a ticket every time.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
SEVVA: Princes Building Roof Terrace Bar
Amazing roof terrace bar and restaurants with fabulous views of the city
EXCELSIOR HOTEL: Roof Top restaurant
A smaller outdoor space, but once again fabulous views to behold and we had a BBQ and lots of delicious things on the menu
CAPTAIN’S BAR: Mandarin Oriental Hotel
An old favourite of mine where we just had to go and have a cocktail
HUTONG CHINESE RESTAURANT & AQUA BAR
In number one somewhere – Kowloon side – same as the one in the Shard, but Hutong is one of the best chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to. It’s very cool, portions are small and well presented and it is certainly not cheap.
We didn’t get here either but if you want to say you’ve had a drink in the highest bar in the world then you need to go to the Ozone bar in the ICC Building in Kowloon – and probably quickly before another building tops it!
THAI RESTAURANT IN SHEK O
Plastic tables and chairs and excellent food. Ridiculously cheap. If you happen to know anyone who is a member of the Shek O club – one of the most exclusive and exceptionally beautiful golf clubs in the world then try and get an invite.
LAN KWAI FONG
Very lively and lots of bars and restaurants. We didn’t get there this time. Gutted. It was where I spent all my teenage years.
CAFE GRAY: In Upper House
Upper House seems to be the cool hotel of choice in Admiralty. Very “wellness” feel about it. Expensive and classy. The cafe has fantastic views and excellent food and you HAVE to go to the Loo – they have views to die for.
GORDON RAMSAY’S in Bread Street
Fine British comfort food – didn’t go there, but it was recommended.
DIM SUM – Crystal Jade or in City Hall
VG – get there by 11.45am
COCOCABANA AND BEN’S BACK BAR IN SHEK O
For something a little different off the beaten track check out a few beach bars in Shek O. Well worth going to as very cool.
Peking restaurant in the basement of St George’s Building
For authentic Chinese food
American Restaurant in Wanchai
Not sure why it’s called the American restaurant given that it serves authentic Chinese food in a lively atmosphere. It was the one we always went to as a family 40 years ago!! Still as busy and as good as ever.
INTERCONTINENTAL for cocktails
We didn’t get here, but if you’re on Kowloon side it’s meant to be good. DON’T bother to go to the Peninsula Bar – it’s disappointingly small and uninviting. The restaurant is good apparently, but the bar was hopeless for such an iconic hotel.
We were only in HK for four days so couldn’t do everything. So much to do depending on your taste – November is a lovely time of year to go – we had sunshine and 25 degree heat!
Go on a boat if you can. The views are stunning. Have lunch at one of the many restaurants on Lamma island
DRAGON’S BACK WALK
Arguably one of the most stunning walks to do worldwide. It’s in Tai Tam/Shek O area. There are many fantastic walks to go on in HK but this was exceptional – took a couple of hours and quite hilly – nearly killed us. But the views….
An old favourite to take you up the Peak to see the views (if you’re not in cloud).
Central and Causeway Bay.
Great market – friendly and you get to see the South side of the island. Good “fake” bags there these days – especially Mulberry who I gather don’t have a patent out on their products so it’s entirely legitimate…can that be true? (although not the real deal like you get in Shenzhen)
To see the Big Buddha
If you’ve got some time it’s worth a visit
Only takes you three hours to get into Shenzhen these days and you can get a permit on the border apparently – but check it out properly first. If you want cheap goods, this is the place.
SOHO AREA IN CENTRAL
Go up on the big elevator to Hollywood road and wander around, walk back via lots of bars and restaurants and Lang Kwai Fong
Make sure you wander around there – red light district – all fascinating.