Hong Kong Travel Guide

Hong Kong Travel Guide

A series of island territories south of Mainland China, Hong Kong creaks with a sort of compact chaos, where towering high-rises compete for space amid sprawling shopping malls, sparkling skyscrapers and ant-like crowds. Bespoke suit-wearing ants, that is. Slow down long enough however and you’ll discover that Asia’s most cosmopolitan city brims with old-world traditions and international cultural influences just waiting to win you over. Whether its Bamboo-scaffolding fronting a Nike Store or the awesome Tai Mo Shan mountain peak foregrounded by a world-class skyline, Hong Kong’s rich merchant history and east-meets-west culture will always keep you guessing. The veritable birthplace of dim sum, this foodie paradise also offers a heady mix of Michelin-starred eateries and no-frills street food. As for Hong Kong’s gay scene; while there is plenty of it dotted throughout the city, the Pride Parade and Pride Run are annual LGBTQ+ highlights. Looking for inspiration on what to see in Hong Kong? Mr Hudson’s Hong Kong gay scene guide is here for you.

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The best hotels in Hong Kong

Perhaps the hardest part of trip planning will be choosing a location close to all of Hong Kong’s best bits. There are countless hotels throughout the city, but for this Hong Kong gay travel guide, we’ve picked out a few of our favourites. The stylish and well-located Hotel ICON not only features a stunning view of the Kowloon Harbour, but it also boasts some of the finest service and hospitality in all of Hong Kong. Run by a local university, Hotel ICON is more affordable than most, also offering a selection of Hong Kong books in their 28/F Club Lounge and market-style dining at The Market restaurant. Its vertical garden in the lobby is another marvel. Our next choice is The Upper House, a luxurious 5-star hotel located in Hong Kong’s Central District and a prime spot for exploring the highlights of the city. You may not even want to leave the hotel, thanks to the thrilling panoramic views of Victoria Harbours at the on-site Cafe Grey Deluxe.

Combining modern maritime chic with a retro-industrial design is The Fleming, inspired by the city’s iconic Star Ferry and easily spotted thanks to its Broadway-esque signage and tall post-war factory windows. Inside however is a world of nautical styles, featuring porthole mirrors and brushed glass amid curving structures. Based in the once-gritty Wan Chai district, now one of Hong Kong’s hippest locales, The Fleming is a real gem. For more minimalist vibes, try Tuve, a design boutique hotel right in the centre of one of the island’s foodie hotspots, Tin Hau. The hotel itself has no sign, only a sparse arrangement of steel, marble and concrete, giving the space a clean, cool aesthetic. Despite the minimal feel, Tuve has all the creature comforts, including rain showers, plasma TVs and even rentable smartphones. Last but not least is an international meeting place Tung Nam Lou, a hotel and social hub that encourages art as a medium for communication. As well as being crammed with art and inspired individuals, the hotel often organises various cultural events to get involved in.

TUVE Hotel

TUVE Hotel

TUVE Hotel

TUVE Hotel

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Recommended hotels in Hong Kong
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The Chi Lin Nunnery and adjacent Chinese classical-style Nan Lian Gardens are absolute bliss

Things to do in Hong Kong

Of the many answers regarding what to do in Hong Kong, immersing yourself in the chaos of a night market has got to be top of the list. Although Temple Street starts moving about in the early afternoon, it’s not until the sun has set that the area really comes alive. With the Tin Hau Temple sitting pride of place in the centre of the main drag, the market remains an authentic piece of local life, featured as the noisy backdrop in many great Hong Kong movies. While you’re there expect to see the usual tacky souvenirs mixed in with watches, menswear, jade and antiques, all of which are open to haggling – although the savvy traders may have other ideas! In amongst the commerce, you can also refuel from various street food vendors serving beer and seafood.

When you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city—but you don’t want to travel too far—stop at Chi Lin Nunnery. A tranquil refuge in the middle of high-rise apartments, the Chi Lin Nunnery and adjacent Chinese classical-style Nan Lian Gardens are absolute bliss. The nunnery is, in fact, a Buddhist temple complex, with unique architectural details that sit in stark contrast to the skyscrapers that tower behind it. Grab a bite at the on-site tea house to fully enjoy this inner-city oasis before heading back out into the concrete jungle. If this little slice of Buddhist zen is not enough, consider taking a Tai Chi class at one of the many public parks around town. This is a common custom among locals, particularly the older generation, who come early in the morning to stretch their muscles and relax while balancing their Yin and Yang. Although now there are no free classes, you can easily find a group to join for a small entry fee.

Chi Lin Nunnery | Photo: Jamie Street

Chi Lin Nunnery | Photo: Jamie Street

Dubbed by TIME magazine as ‘Asia’s Best Urban Hike’ and by me as the only Hong Kong sightseeing spot not to be missed, is a hike up Dragon’s Back. Truly stunning even on days when cloud cover shrouds the view, the trail at Dragon’s Back is both challenging enough and accessible enough to make for a memorable day trip. Check the weather report before leaving to experience the best of Hong Kong’s rugged mountain trails. Another short trip outside of the city will bring you to The Peak, an infamous viewpoint at the island’s highest point, now one of the must-see Hong Kong points of interest. As well as affording the best panoramas that stretch from the skyline of the city centre to the mountains of the New Territories, The Peak also has its own mall, with a number of restaurants and boutiques perfect for a post-sundown treat. If you have more time, you can also consider doing the 3.5 kilometre Peak Circle Walk.

On the seashore of Tsim Sha Tsui lies the Hong Kong Space Museum, home of Hong Kong’s first planetarium. Inside the recognisable egg-shaped dome, visitors will find astronomical action, gadgetry and interactive exhibits across a space of 8,000 square meters. Noteworthy attractions include the virtual space station and occasional movie screenings on the curved planetarium ceiling. If gazing at stars has you yawning, take a visit across to the neighbouring Special Administrative Region known as Macau, Asia’s version of Las Vegas. Just a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong Island, a day trip to Macau is as easy as pie. In addition to world-class casinos and extensive malls such as The Venetian and The Parisian, Macau is also famous for its local delicacies; including egg tarts and pork chop buns. While you’re here, don’t leave without snapping the colourful shuttered terraces on old-world Rua dos Ervanarios or catching sight of the historic ruins of St Paul’s.

Photo: Denys Nevozhai

Photo: Denys Nevozhai

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Photo: JJ Ying

Photo: JJ Ying

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What to see in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s districts are as diverse as they come, so spending time finding your favourite is a worthwhile pursuit! If you want to discover up-and-coming Chinese artists, browse exclusive boutiques, or relax at trendy restaurants and coffee shops, then check out Chai Wan. This corner of Hong Kong has emerged as one of the city’s premier creative hubs, and it’s the perfect place to discover local talent and energy. The neighbourhood is also host to the annual Chai Wan Mei arts festival. While you’re here, hop over to 10 Chancery Lane, one of the first galleries to realise the burgeoning potential of Chai Wan and boasting riveting exhibitions by emerging contemporary Southeast Asian artists. If you’re still craving for more, then be sure to head to Wong Chuk Hang, where former warehouses and industrial buildings have been commandeered by designers, artists, coffee shops and restaurants. Don’t miss Casa Capriz to discover one-of-a-kind vintage furniture pieces of all shapes and sizes.

All the way out in the New Territories, an unexpected sight awaits. This is where the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is located, accessible via a steep hill climb. The view once you’re up there, however, is plenty worth it, as this temple complex features a nine-story pagoda, several shrines and various pavilions and halls, all centred on a main temple. If the stairs don’t see you reaching for your asthma inhaler, the natural views and countless Buddha statues will surely take your breath away! After awakening your inner zen monk, next you’ll want to visit the Tian Tan Buddha monument in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island. This 112-foot tall bronze statue was built near the Po Lin monastery and is said to symbolise the relationship between man and nature. While perfectly visible at ground level, the sizeable Buddha is best viewed from the top of a steep (268-step) stairway.

Rather than sticking to street level, the best way to experience Hong Kong’s world-class skyline is to get a bit of distance from it, which is why we recommend a visit to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. This seaside walkway is the perfect place for a stroll and to marvel at the city’s bright lights, also within walking distance of the Garden of Stars, Hong Kong’s cultural centre. You’ll have to re-enter the concrete jungle to catch sight of this next one, however. The Alex Croft x G.O.D. graffiti wall is a hugely popular art mural in central Hong Kong depicting the city’s iconic old tenement buildings. It’s definitely worth hunting down and the surrounding area is also a prime spot for more beautiful graffiti.

Buda Tian Tan

Buda Tian Tan

Photo: Nuno Antunes

Photo: Nuno Antunes

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We recommend heading to One Dim Sum, another Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant. Don’t miss the Barbecued Pork Buns

Where to eat in Hong Kong

Food lovers cannot miss the opportunity to explore the best local eateries in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po district with a Hong Kong Street Food Feasting. Sham Shui Po is an enclave for tasty bites and genuine Cantonese cuisine, where even the most frequent Hong Kong traveller can expect to taste something new and unexpected. No trip to Hong Kong is complete without also enjoying ‘yum cha.’ This tradition involves drinking tea while savouring dim sum, or Cantonese snacks, typically consisting of steaming baskets of dumplings, buns, rice rolls and vegetables. Most tourists head to the well-known Tim Ho Wan to binge on dim sum, but its popularity means long lines of tourists. Instead, we recommend heading to One Dim Sum, another Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant with an equally mouth-watering menu. Don’t miss the Barbecued Pork Buns.

If you decide to head to The Peak to snap a few photos of the panoramic Victoria Harbour, don’t get sucked into scurrying around the walking paths and then rushing back down once again. Instead, linger a while and enjoy a meal at Tien Yi. This Chinese restaurant at The Peak boasts excellent food and even better views. Finally, if exclusivity is what you’re after, head to Twenty Six by Liberty. You’ll have to plan a month in advance for a chance at a booking but if you’re lucky enough to snag a coveted seat, then you’ll be rewarded with a divine 10-course set menu prepared by the executive chef before your very eyes.

Photo: Dan Moore

Photo: Dan Moore

Hotel ICON

Hotel ICON

Shopping in Hong Kong

The sheer number of shopping malls can be overwhelming for the discerning traveller looking to escape the chain stores and designer labels available back at home. For a unique shopping experience, head to Empire International Tailors for an investment in style. A good suit is hard to come by, but this shop is known for its perfect fits and friendly service.

Looking for an off-the-beaten-track souvenir, that isn’t a kitschy knick-knack? Bondi Books is the place to go first. This boutique shop features rare-edition photography, art, and literature. Viewing is by appointment only; inquiries can be made here.

And if you are after that fantastic shopping mall experience, head to ELEMENTS. The mall is divided into five sections based on the five Chinese elements: wood, water, fire, earth and metal. Expect high-end international brands as well as Hong Kong’s largest natural and organic food shop: ThreeSixty.

One of Hong Kong’s oldest streets, today Hollywood Road is the place to search for antiques and collectables. Allow plenty of time to meander at leisure and hop into the galleries that call to you. Tibetan rugs, Buddha sculptures, and Chinese furniture are just a few of the items to keep an eye out for.

Photo: Florian Wehde

Photo: Florian Wehde

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Our top recommendation for this Hong Kong gay nightlife guide is Sevva Hong Kong, a classy rooftop bar, conveniently located, with stunning views over the Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and the whole of Hong Kong island

Hong Kong nightlife

Whether it’s at Causeway Bay and SoHo on Hong Kong island, or across the harbour in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon, Hong Kong nightlife will not disappoint. Our top recommendation for this Hong Kong gay nightlife guide is Sevva Hong Kong, a classy rooftop bar, conveniently located, with stunning views over the Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and the whole of Hong Kong island. With impeccable cocktails and sleek design, Sevva is a great place to catch the 8 pm Symphony of Lights. In addition to its open-air terrace and lounge areas, serving tapas and eclectic cocktails, Sevva also claims two on-site restaurants; Bankside and Harbourside, each offering great international cuisine with distinct design and wide-ranging views. Another one for its panoramic rooftop is Ozone @ Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, one of the most famed sky bars in the city, run by the world-renowned hotel group. Inside the blue-hued OZONE bar, guests can enjoy Asian tapas, inventive cocktails and a neat atmosphere, surrounded by unmatched views.

Mizunara

Mizunara

The atmosphere of Hong Kong nightlife gets gloriously moody at street level. Firstly we have sultry cocktail and jazz bar Darkside which prides itself on its collection of rare dark and aged spirits, including oak-aged cognac and single-harvest tawny port, some of which dates back to the early 19th century. The bar also offers a concise cocktail list drawing inspiration from Kowloon’s ‘dark side’. Then there’s Mizunara, an upscale Japanese cocktail and whisky bar just above Lockhart Road in Hong Kong’s once seedy centre, Wan Chai. Low-key and tucked away on the fourth floor, Mizunara, run by ‘bartender-in-chief’ Masahiko Endo, provides an impressive range of over 600 whiskies, as well as Japan-, India- and Taiwan- distilled liquors. While the mouth-watering cocktails can fetch upwards of $200 USD, the sleek interiors and high-end experience is one for the books.

As the night wears on, Hong Kong’s gay bars come out to play. The trendy, 22nd-floor bar, Bing Bing HK in Causeway Bay is a weekend hotspot for young and local clientele, boasting good views and relatively low prices. Another gay bar in central is the lively Petticoat Lane known for its quality drag performances, mixed crowds and outdoor spaces. Pencil in your visit for a Wednesday to enjoy the free Vodka Hour and topless bartenders. Lastly, to top off your crazy weekend, make your way to F.L.M., a 2-storey gay club popular among a mixed international and local crowd who come to dance (on the ground floor) and chat (upstairs). While the weekends are always stellar, with various drag and other events, weekdays at F.L.M. are also interesting, thanks to its bingo and karaoke nights.

Photo: Anatoliy Gromov

Photo: Anatoliy Gromov

Photo: Dan Moore

Photo: Dan Moore

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