My Official Hong Kong Top 10
Updated: Mar 7, 2018
“Life in Hong Kong transcends cultural and culinary borders, such that nothing is truly foreign and nothing doesn’t belong.” – Peter Jon Lindberg
Recently, I have spent a significant chunk of my time working out of Hong Kong and so have had ample opportunity to explore what has got to be one of the most eclectic cities in the world. Split largely into mainland Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, the city comes jam packed with the perfect balance of foreign mystery and homely comfort, and with it's diverse mix of city, beaches, mountains and parks (all in a country smaller than London), it deserves a place on your bucket list!
In no particular order, here are my top 10 must-visits in Hong Kong:
(1) The Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery -
Hidden up in the mountains of Lantau Island sits a 34 metre tall bronze statue of Buddha in all their majestic glory! 30 minutes from the centre, the most exciting way to get there is by boarding the glass-bottomed Ngong Ping 360 cable car for a thrilling 25- minute climb to the top during which you can enjoy breathtaking 360° views. At the top, and once you've climbed the 268 steps for a better look at this looming treasure, head over to the adjacent Po Lin Monastery, one of Asia's most popular Buddhist sanctums!
(2) The Man Mo Temple -
Built in 1847, the Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, now seemingly out of place amongst a myriad of towering concrete apartment blocks, remains the largest Taoist temple dedicated to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). With it's array of burning incense coils and its rows of prayer lanterns, this temple may be small but it's fantastically mesmerising.
(3) Victoria Peak -
I'd argue that you've not really done Hong Kong if you've not boarded the terrifyingly steep Peak Tram Car and ventured up to Victoria Peak, the highest 360° viewing platform in the city. Overlooking the entire city skyline, visit in the afternoon so you can enjoy the view by day and then by night!
(4) Ho Lee Fook -
Located on the bustling expat-heavy Elgin Avenue on Hong Kong Island, this must visit restaurant serves mouthwatering contemporary takes on Chinese dishes and flavours that is easily some of the best food I've ever eaten. Do yourself a favour and get the wagyu short-rib...*slobbers everywhere*.
(5) The Dragon's Back Trail -
For those wanting to escape the chaos of city living, it may surprise you that Hong Kong offers some of the best hiking trails in all of Asia. None seem to be as infamous as the 8.5KM Dragon's Back Trail; with its stunning coastal scenery backdrop and the option to finish up drinking ice cold beer on the beach in Big Wave Bay, this is a must for those that way inclined. Fun fact: completing this trail is meant to bring you good fortune (twofold if, like me, you're born in the year of the Dragon!).
(6) OZONE Bar -
Cited as being the highest bar in the world, OZONE sits atop the Kowloon-side Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong's tallest skyscraper, the ICC. At a whopping height of 484m, on a clear day the city views are amazing but they come at a hefty price tag if you drink anything other than beer, wine or even better...soda. Not sure they'd love you but nothing would stop you nipping up for a peek and a cheeky picture sans purchase, before heading down and worry not, at least by day, the dress code is casual!
(7) Little Bao -
Yet another foodie haven, Little Bao is a self-confessed modern Chinese diner serving up an original take on the classic comfort food that is the bao bun. It is always busy and as you can't book, do expect to wait, though there are tons of bars nearby should you want to leave your name and number and wait for a call. The brussel sprout starter is very good, as is the pork bao, but the piece de resistance is their salt ice cream bao with caramel...to.die.for.
(8) The Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery -
It needs to be said that there a few monasteries that go by this name, but none are as unique as the one in Kowloon's Sha Tin District. The 400-step climb is adorned on both sides by, you guessed it, golden Buddhas each with their own fabulous pose and facial expression! I would say, with no offence intended, that this is equal parts fascinating as it is slightly creepy but 100% worth a visit should you have the time! Try to find the alternate route down to the right of the towering pagoda to enjoy playing monkeys and a visit to a local tiered cemetery!
(9) Unicorn Ridge & Lion’s Rock Hike –
If, like me, you're a bugger for a skyline view, this alternative hiking trail is on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and so gives you the opposite cityscape to that of Victoria Peak. Whilst the general trek is not as scenic as the Dragon's Back trail (and much steeper), you can't deny its unbeatable urban view. My recommendations? Taxi to the trail start as other wise you add an ugly 1-hour trek to an already tricky hike AND should you go all the way over Beacon Hill down to the reservoir, do not smile at the monkeys or show your teeth...turns out they don't like that...RUN!
(10) The Star Ferry -
By no means spectacular in and of itself, what makes the charming Star Ferry worth the ride is the views it offers of Victoria Harbour at the measly equivalent of 20p. Take it both ways for spanning cityscapes of both sides of the water! NB: if glamour is what you're after the Aqua Luna junk boat tour of the harbour might be more up your alley!
And just for luck, here's a cheeky number 11; a favourite of mine which may come as a surprise...
(11) The Happy Valley Races
Nestled amidst a concrete block jungle is a horse racing course that comes alive every Wednesday. With sponsored beer tents and food on the go, intermission entertainment and beginner-friendly betting facilities, Happy Valley is a surprisingly fun night out!
And that's my official Hong Kong top 10 (well 11); Hong Kong has in an electric and diverse energy that is honestly unmissable.