Leaving Vietnam in the early morning we boarded a direct flight to Hong Kong. A city that has similar vibes to New York, with hills you may find in San Francisco. More importantly it was our first Disney stop in Asia. As avid fans of Walt’s work, we were excited to venture to our first overseas Disney!
Our first full day in Hong Kong was spent at the park, we will be filling you in on all the Disney Parks in Asia in a later post. (Don’t worry, we wont leave anything out!)
Hong Kong is divided a bit and it took us a while to figure it out, here is a quick guide for you. Several Islands make up Hong Kong, the largest being Lantau – where Disneyland is located. However, Hong Kong Island is the center of it all and holds the name ‘Central’ (this is where you will want to spend most of your time). Hong Kong mainland is attached to China and is directly north of Hong Kong Island (attached by a bridge).
Hong Kong has a huge range of food options, from local street vendors offering dishes for a few dollars, to others feeling like they could be in the Bay Area. Having tried several restaurants and a variety of dishes, we share our highlights with you (as well as a one to skip).
1. Dim Sum
Dim Sum is everywhere and available at all times of the day in Hong Kong. You can even jump into the local 7/11 and grab some in the middle of the night – not recommended, we tried it. Our two favorite spots were Dim Sum Square
and Tim Ho Wan
. Both of these spots had english menus and were easy to order from, although they did not serve it in the traditional style with a cart.
Tim Ho Wan has a few locations in Hong Kong and proudly holds a Michelin star. This restaurant is said to be “the cheapest Michelin star restaurant” with a full meal costing around $10. Don’t miss the pork BBQ buns and gluttonous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf!
Dim Sum Square has one location and often has a line out front. I also loved their pork BBQ buns as well as their custard buns for dessert.
2. Tong Po – Iconic Street Food Venue
A unique dinning experience with traditional street food (from the comfort of the indoors), located above a wet food market is Tung Po
. Several restaurants and hundreds of people pile into this upstairs space each night to enjoy great food at packed community tables. We had the owner of ‘Tung Po Seafood Restaurant’ order for us, so we are not sure exactly what the dishes were. Each one was packed with flavor and from the looks of it you couldn’t go wrong, as long as you feel a bit adventurous. (Watch Anthony Bourdain’s experience here
3. Modern Hong Kong
Ho Lee Fook
(say that one more time…) adds a bit of urban spice to their otherwise traditional dishes. Enjoy a bottle of wine and brussel sprouts before your meal arrives and soak in the calm surroundings. Order the ‘Hong Kong french toast’ served with condensed milk and peanut butter, a treat not to be missed!
serves up a mean dessert and also has multiple locations. Their specialty is egg waffles (popular in Hong Kong) famous for their crisp outside and soft chewy inside, paired with rich gelato, a perfect match! Enjoy them together or separately, you can’t go wrong. We opted for the ‘Night Wolf’, recommended to us by a local foodie, it was full of yummy chocolate bits.
Skip: With so many great places to choose we recommend skipping one of the more popular spots. Yardbird, offering pricey food with an overly helpful staff. We went here based on several recommendations. Although the food is delicious it is expected that you will be ordering a lot and eating family style. David and I felt belittled for ordering smaller portions and received over the top unwanted service making it impossible to have a conversation.
1. Hike the Peak
For being in a big city, Hong Kong has a few options for great hikes. The most popular is ‘The Peak’. This hike is located right in the middle of the city and is a must do. They offer a tram service where you can take in the impressive pameramic views of the city with a two mile loop at the top. We opted to hike up instead and then tram down, a great way to get a workout in! Wear your running shoes and enjoy the winding trek up. You can expect it to take about 1.5 hours, unless you plan to jog it. Enjoy the loop at the top with a Starbucks in hand, located by the trams top entrance (what a treat!). Taking the iconic tram down is a fun experience and known as one of the top attractions in Hong Kong.
2. Big Buddha
We ventured out the next day to see Hong Kong’s big buddha. It is fun to do with a family but if you are time constrained we would recommend skipping. Big Buddha has become quite the tourist destination, with long lines for aerial trams the adventure quickly turns into a whole day trip. If you are looking for a fun challenge – take a hike on Dragons back, located a couple of hours from the city. Unfortunately we didn’t do this one but have been told it is phenomenal, guess we will have to go back.
I have fallen in love with the variety of beauty products you can find in Asia. I will fill you in on my favorites in a later post. The go to store in Hong Kong for all your makeup needs (and so much more) is Sasa. This chain is located all over Hong Kong, and you cant miss it with their bright pink neon signs and overly stuffed pathways. Grab a few things to try (even if you can’t read the label), you wont be disappointed with the fun options and cheap prices.
3. Public Transportation
Hong Kong has a variety of public transportation options, the easiest and most affordable is their subway system. You can also jump on a bus if you want to check out the sites while you are getting from point a to point b. Make sure to take a ride on a ding ding tram (above). They are cute double decker electric buses that are shorter and narrower then they average tram.
There are several outdoor markets to choose from in Hong Kong. Ladies market is a great place to buy souvenirs and catch a bite to eat. We recommend taking a trek off the main strip to experience other local markets that spiral around the main drag. With a variety of cheap food vendors and long streets filled with similar items the prices are competitive. Don’t miss the fish market just a few blocks away. Here you will see the cutest puppies in the window, lots of reptiles, and a variety of other pets for sale.
Hong Kong has an interesting history. Originally ruled by China, then under Britain control until they were handed back to China in 1997. Now Hong Kong is governed as “one country, two systems”. We had a lot of questions, so to get answers – we opted for a local walking tour. (We enjoyed Hong Kong Free Tours
, be sure to ask for food tips – they had great ones)
6. Victoria Harbor at Night
Victoria Harbor has a nightly light show that’s listed as one of the top attractions in Hong Kong. We will save you the hassle and tell you it is not worth bearing through the crowds to make it there. Several times during the show David and I asked each other “do you think this is it?”, “are we in the right place?”. See the skyline at night, but don’t worry about making the light show.
Tip: If you are thinking about heading to mainland China after Hong Kong, there are many booths that can help arrange your visa at the airport. These booths are located right inside the arrival terminal and are ready to make all the arrangements for you. You could be China visa-ready within 48 hours, available for pickup before your departure. (Around $250 USD/person)