Sorry for my long hiatus! The last couple of months of 2018 have been very hectic for me with loads of studying and revision for my final professional exam (which I passed yayy), and lots of travelling both for work and leisure. In fact, the last 5 weeks of 2018 were spent travelling to 4 different countries culminating with my trip to Hong Kong.
Since I have received many questions from my IG Stories in Hong Kong about places to eat, where to visit, where to shop, I thought it will be helpful to some if I jot down my favourite things/places/food in Hong Kong.
In total we spent 2 weeks here and 1 week in Vietnam this time to visit friends and families while also trying to squeeze in as much chill time in between meetings as possible. My favourite kind of holiday often involves wandering around the streets, finding yummy street food and exploring gems frequented by locals. Considering that, both Hong Kong and Vietnam fit the bill perfectly.
This was not my first time in Hong Kong. My first was many years ago on a tour with my parents. I recalled doing lots of sightseeing, hiking to The Peak and visiting all the obvious tourist attractions Hong Kong has to offer. As such, this time we had the luxury to relax and ‘do as the locals do’ without the stress of ticking off attractions to visit.
Street food/ food court
To me, the best kind of food in Hong Kong can often be found in the most random, unassuming local places you can stumble into.
We were jetlagged for the first couple of days and kept waking up hungry at 4 am. We were in luck as we stayed in Causeway Bay area in central Hong Kong island and there are an abundance of little porridge/ noodle shops that stay open 24/7. By the third time we came down at 4 am to buy pork porridge, the auntie even threw in some free snack to go with!
I recommend walking into these little noodle stores on the streets (you can tell them by the Cantonese written and spoken throughout, there’s little to none English writing anywhere, tiny little tables in cafeteria style, they often don’t bother with any sort of decor). My usual orders are dumpling soup noodles or with char siu pork.
There are also tons of cheap street snacks every corner – definitely try the famous egg waffle but best if you can find one freshly made. Many bigger stores have them pre-made and ready to go the moment you order – these are often cold and tasteless!
If you are hungry after shopping in one of Hong Kong’s gazillion malls, there is usually a big food court in the mall itself. Don’t confuse these with your typical bad, overpriced mall food though – often you can find extremely tasty food for reasonable prices here. My all time favourite is Pepper Lunch (a lunch chain I fell in love with ten years ago while living in Singapore, imagine how ecstatic I was to find them here).
The dessert scene in Hong Kong is very impressive and often just as important (if not more) than the main meal. Try the traditional desserts like ‘tangyuan’ (sesame glutinous rice balls in hot ginger soup) and soya beancurd (tofu pudding in syrup) plus the more hip and trendy ones like matcha-everything or multi-flavoured froyo (pictured).
Boba (because it deserves to be talked about in its own category)
Are you even in Asia if you don’t drink bubble tea?
Are you even Asian if you are not a boba-addict??
There are many many different bubble tea chains at every corner of Hong Kong. I’ve tried like 10 of them and most can do a very decent classic milk tea with pearls. Note that the hot new craze is this black sugar tea which is extremely sweet, so try with caution!
My personal favourite has always been Koi tea (hopeless addict back in my Singapore days), try their Koi tea latte if you get a chance to visit!
So dimsum is also as ubiquitous in Hong Kong as bubble tea. The famous chains are the likes of Din Tai Fung, Crystal Jade etc which are all good (I personally prefer Crystal Jade) but I would absolutely recommend trying the traditional dimsum places where the little old ladies push around carts full of preciously fresh dimsum and you always have to be on alert to snatch your favourite dimsum before it’s gone!
The one we went to was City Hall Maxim’s Palace (pictured) – very interesting experience with great quality dimsum. Watch out for the horrendous queue and infamously long wait though! My friends and I had to download an app to get electronic tickets and luckily it was our number just as we arrived so no wait at all.
We were also fortunate enough to visit a number of outrageously good restaurants while in Hong Kong, these are pricier but worth the splurge if you are a foodie!
A few places that we have been to and thoroughly enjoyed are:
The Drunken Pot (modern Guandong style hotpot) – Tsim Sha Tsui
Fu Ho restaurant (Michelin star for their Cantonese style dimsum) – Tsim Sha Tsui
Putien (Michelin star, Singaporean cuisine) – Tsim Sha Tsui
Matsubishi (Japanese teppanyaki) – Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Wanchai
Dynasty (traditional Chinese food) – Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Wanchai
Lei Yue Mun fishing village (can’t remember name of restaurant but here you pick fresh seafood and the many restaurants there will cook them for you – I had about 10 courses of seafood and enjoyed every bite!)
Hong Kong boasts many many shopping malls holding every brand you can possibly think of, from your normal high street brands like Zara, H&M and their Asian counterparts such as Muji, CottonOn, Aland to high end luxury designers like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes etc. There is something for everyone, you just have to have the will to walk and explore!
I am especially amazed by the impressive Christmas decorations at some malls – pictured below is Langham Place.
Check out Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui for many malls with affordable high street brands. For this purpose, I especially like Hysan Place, Misa Place, Langham Place, Central area, and K11 mall.
If you love high end designer shopping then Hong Kong is paradise for you!
Check out Times Square, Lee Gardens and Sogo in Causeway Bay area for everything-under-one-roof kinda places. Or go to Tsim Sha Tsui where there are massive standalone designer boutiques. My favourites also include Landmark at Central (pictured above) and Elements.
I notice that Hong Kong people are very brand conscious and love their designer accessories (bag spotting has become a fun activity while people watching on the streets of Hong Kong). This is also the reason why secondhand designer shopping scene flourishes here. Check out Milan station’s various branches for used or brand new luxuries from Chanel to Hermes.
You have been waiting for a Hermes Birkin for years and can’t play the Hermes games anymore? Hong Kong is the place for you but also watch out for the occasional superfakes being disguised among authentic finds.
Eclectic local designers
PMQ in Central area is an absolute must-visit!
Two buildings connected by a sky garden each full of local surprises, what can be better?! There is everything from clothes to shoes to jewellery (both for guys and girls), we spent hours here wandering around and even got lost!
Korean/ Japanese style
If you are like me and have a soft spot for good quality Korean/ Japanese clothing, do visit Island Beverly Centre, Causeway Bay Plaza, LaForet and Fashion Walk, all within 2 minutes walk of each other in Causeway Bay area.
Here reside the smaller, independent boutiques with imported clothing and accessories from Korea and Japan. I keep coming back every other day to hunt for treasures, so much that the shop owners recognise me and my boyfriend. Do try to bargain here, the shop owners often expect you to.
As most touristy attractions have been covered by my previous trip to Hong Kong with my family, this time I actively avoid the popular attractions. However, if it’s your first time in Hong Kong, do take up some hiking, go to Victoria Peak for the great view of Hong Kong skyline.
Try the harbour front at Tsim Sha Tsui where you have a great view of Hong Kong island. Take a ferry and enjoy the breeze on the top deck.
If all the above are not enough, simply take a walk down Central area, take the escalator up the hill and start wandering down the slopes to explore Hong Kong at its best. Or go to Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok to be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. During the weekends especially, it will be difficult even to braze the crowds as all Hong Kong-ers and tourists alike pour to the streets for some shopping, some dimsum, some streetfood and of course some boba!