Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, it's no surprise that Hong Kong is one of the world's most popular travel destinations.
The city fascinates with its cultural and culinary delights, diverse population, impressive skyline and vibrant shopping destinations.
Hong Kong is divided into districts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories that stretch to mainland China. My base was The Luxe Manor, a stylish boutique hotel nestled in the heart Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, that's teaming with European grandeur and quirky charm.
The hotel boasts a selection of stylish suites and studios. On-site restaurant FINDS serves up Nordic cuisine created by Finnish celebrity chef Jaakko Sorsa, while the Dada Bar and Lounge is the perfect retreat for an evening tipple.
Around Hong Kong in 48 Hours
Victoria Peak is one of Hong Kong’s most popular destinations with spectacular views and wooded walks. Ride the Peak Tram - a funicular railway built in 1888 - up the steep ascent to Victoria Peak, the view of Hong Kong from the Sky Terrace is not to be missed. While there, try to fit in a visit to the well-tended gardens at Victoria Peak Garden. Enjoy the views of Lamma Island from the viewing platform and if time is on your side, explore the Old Peak Road, a footpath to the Peak built before the Tram arrived. Visitors arrive at the Peak Tram in bus loads so be sure to get there early to avoid long queues.
The Night Markets
Kowloon is well known for its night markets - an experience that's not to be missed. Head to the Jordan district to get lost in Temple Street Night market. When bartering with the market traders, start at 40% less than the asking price, which is deemed reasonable. After a bit of shopping, head to one of the local restaurants or visit the street food vendors, which sell a variety of delicious dishes from rice and noodle dishes to deep fried delicacies. Other markets worth visiting include the Ladies Market near Mong Kok and Jade Market, Yau Ma Tei or Stanley Market.
Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Take the Metro an hour out of Hong Kong to ride the 5.7km Ngong Ping 360 cable car, a spectacular journey that leads to Ngog Ping village, Tung Chung Bay, Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.
Once there, climb the 260 steps to the Big Buddha and enjoy the views of the nearby Monastery, Lantau Park and the China Sea. Take some time out from the crowds and wander the Wisdom Path into the Ngong Ping Hills, a green wooded path that leads to 38 wooden steles carved with Chinese symbols. These symbols are versus from the centuries old Heart Sutra, a well known prayer revered by Buddhists and Taoists alike.
Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferry
The Star Ferry is one of Hong Kong’s much-loved institutions and has made the crossing from Hong Kong to Kowloon since 1888. Hop on and explore the impressive skyline by water. Enjoy an evening trip or take stock in one of Victoria Harbour’s many bars and enjoy the spectacular light show that’s on every day at 8pm.
What to eat
With more than 14,000 restaurants in the city, the hungry traveller will be spoilt for choice. Enjoy one of the many Michelin star restaurants, from three star Sushi Shikon, T’ang Court to one star Tim ho Wan. Create an exclusive ramen at Butai, Mindan Avenue, authentic shrimp and pork wanton noodle at Mak’s Noodle or delicious Dim Sum Din Tai Fung at the Mira mall. When out sightseeing, there are an abundance of food places that serve up tasty morsals from fried fish balls, pineapple buns, bubble tea, kimchee to the traditional local milk tea enjoyed with a hot egg tart.
Shopping in Hong Kong
If the night markets aren't your thing, and you prefer to pay by card rather than haggle for your goods, head to one of Hong Kong’s many shopping precincts. The Central district offers malls and endless rows of well-known shops from Gucci to COS. Take a stroll down Nathan Road ‘the Golden Mile’ and dive into a number of shopping choices from international designers to local crafts. Splash the cash in Admiralty and Soho, and enjoy an abundance of bazaars and shops in Kowloon East and West.
Where to relax
There are plenty of health and beauty services on offer in Hong Kong and a good selection of hotels offer spa and wellness experiences. For something a little different, take the weight of your feet, literally, in FLOAX’s anti-gravity flotation tanks. This restful environment can help de-stress, get rid of fatigue and help fight jet lag. An hour of floating has the effect of 4 to 8 hours of sleep, while the magnesium in the salt is wonderful for your body and skin.
We'd also recommend a traditional reflexology and massage experience in one of Hong Kong’s many beauty zones. Visit Body Tune in Tsim Sha Tsui to experience real Chinese reflexology and massage experience, leave feeling brand new and ready to explore the city.
With so many things to see and do, it's impossible to see everything in a weekend, but you'll be able to take in the highlights and will leave feeling inspired and ready to start planning your next visit.
Rosanna J. Head
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