One of the great things about living in such an awesome city is that people love to come visit. But with all the fun comes the inevitable worry of what you should actually do with them… endless hours to fill, a desperate need to impress and the pressure of appearing like a true HK expert. Yet again, it’s Sassy to the rescue! Here’s our Visitors’ Guide to Hong Kong – your go-to checklist of what to do, where to eat and where to stay.
WHAT TO DO
Below are our top picks of places to go and things to do with visitors; pick and mix depending on the season and type of visitor!
- An obligatory visit to the markets – yes it’s exhausting but everyone loves a bargain. We suggest heading to Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok late afternoon on a weekday (weekends are just too busy) and then refreshing yourselves with a sun-downer drink at Wooloomooloo Prime in TST’s The One Mall; there’s no dress code so it’s perfect for post-market fatigue revival. Alternatively, try Temple Street Night Market (exit at either Yau Ma Tei or Jordan MTR), and enjoy a seafood dinner at one of the popular food stalls lining the streets after your shopping.
- The Peak. Ok, so we’re starting off with the obvious ones but they’re obvious for a reason! Don’t bother with the tram unless your visitors are really desperate, or only go one way; it’s not worth the queue. Grab a cab or bus (number 15 from Exchange Square in Central) to the top and time it so you get there about 20 minutes before sunset, showcasing the awesome HK skyline by day and night. If you have more time to spare, do the circular walk around Lugard Road before sunset, allowing about an hour.
- A day trip to Lamma Island. Get the ferry from Central Pier over to the main town of Yung Shue Wan and then follow signs for Sok Kwu Wan. This takes you over the centre of Lamma on a mini hike (all paved but with some hills), which takes about an hour. Then grab a seafood lunch in Sok Kwu Wan before getting the ferry back. A gentle insight into HK’s more rural side.
- A night on the town. It goes without saying that for the younger visitor, it wouldn’t be fair to introduce them to HK without showcasing its nightlife. Start your evening in a civilised manner at a Soho restaurant then wander along Wyndham, eventually losing yourselves in LKF – check out our City Guide for the best bars and clubs, or get yourself some freebies with these fab ladies night offers!
- The Symphony Of Lights show, cheesy as it is, is pretty impressive… but not from a squished walkway with hundreds of others! Skip the crowds and book yourselves a slot on Aqua Luna’s light show cruising. Enjoy the lights whilst floating in Victoria Harbour, drink in hand (you can also enjoy a luxury bar hop Aqua Luna style with their Cruising Cocktails too).
- We all know the obvious places with a view, but one that never ceases to amaze HK virgins is Wooloomooloo in Wan Chai. This is HK’s skyline at its best without exorbitant prices (Sevva – we love you but our wallets don’t!). Check out some of our other fave alfresco bars here.
- Happy Valley Races. If it’s the right season, then you have to head to the races on a Wednesday night. Have a large group dinner in a Chinese restaurant beforehand (we suggest Red Pepper in Causeway Bay), build up your betting courage with some beers and then get your gamble on!
- Weekend brunch is a HK staple. For brunch with a bit of heritage, book a table at Hullett House for a lingering Sunday meal with a distinctly colonial feel; check out a few more of our fave brunches here.
- We’ve also discovered handy Hong Kong – a cool new smartphone rental service that costs only $68 a day and is jam-packed with over 200 tourist suggestions from local experts. Arm your guests with this and they can go explore, no clunky guide books required!
WHERE TO EAT
This is by no means a comprehensive guide to HK’s top restaurants (have a look at our City Guide for that!), but here are our top 10 places for showing your tag-alongs the range and diversity of HK’s dining scene.
2 & 3. Simple Chinese food.
- Save room one lunch to grab a quick snack from a dai pai dong (open air street stall). Cheap, delicious and quintessentially Hong Kong. We recommend the ones on Stanley Street under the escalators by Shelley Street.
- Get together a group, make a booking, don’t wear white and head to Tung Po at Java Road Food Centre in North Point. Communal dining in a typical food centre setting with dancing waiters and beer drunk out of bowls guarantees a good time!
4. Chinese food in a grand setting. Pull in favours with all your contacts to get a table at The China Club. The food is delicious, the Peking duck unmissable and all of it served in a distinctly romantic, colonial and memorable environment.
5. Spicy Chinese food. There are a wealth of options to set your taste buds on fire but for ambiance and guaranteed mouth burning, make a reservation at Chilli Fagara on Graham Street.
6. A breath of fresh air. When the weather is right, sometimes you just want to eat al fresco; our top pick is Spices at Repulse Bay. Not only does it serve up a delicious and affordable array of Asian cuisine, but it also boasts wonderful views over the South China Sea. Check out our other fave alfresco restaurants here.
7, 8 & 9. Dinner with a view. This option depends on budget and cuisine preferences but our top options have to be:
- Hutong. The Chinese food is tasty (though perhaps overpriced) and the harbourside views over the Island are awe-inspiring.
- Café Gray. European food done phenomenally well. The best views are from the bar section so get there in time for an aperitif!
- View 62. The Hopewell Centre’s newest offering by star chef Paco Roncero will not only give you a view but spin you round at the same time.
10. Fine Dining. After filling up on dim sum, it’s worth showing guests the quality and diversity of Hong Kong’s dining scene. With some of the best restaurants in the world it may be worth saving up and splashing out – and our top pick is Liberty Private Works. This was quite possibly the best meal we have ever eaten; although it’s on the 27th floor, you’ll be so amazed by the amazing food and open kitchen that you’ll simply forget to notice the view!
WHERE TO STAY
The obvious answer is always “with you”… but beware of the pitfalls! Family houseguests inevitably require desperate attempts to tidy up, sacrificing your personal space and the reversion back to our argumentative childlike selves. Friends may be happy to kip on your messy floor but dealing with their HK virgin hangovers in the mornings is no fun and leaving them alone whilst you’re at work is always slightly unnerving!
Sassy has learnt over the years that the best solution is outsourcing. Keeping price, convenience and fun in mind, we searched high and low for the best places to lodge your guests in HK.
- The budget blowing option: Upper House. Whilst it may not have the heritage or history of The Peninsula or Mandarin Oriental, it has the cool factor, oozes style and possibly boasts some of the best bath-side views in HK.
- The penny pinching option: the YMCA in TST. Smart neat rooms, a great view of the Island and rock bottom prices. Book early as they are often full.
- The happy middle ground: Studio serviced apartments too small, five star hotels too expensive and the YMCA already full? The answer: Ovolo 2AR, the Ovolo group’s newest hotel. Located conveniently on Arburthnot Road in Central, visitors are perfectly located to explore and can thus be self-sufficient. At prices much lower than 5 star hotels, the rooms don’t sacrifice on luxury with free mini bars, an on-site gym, Nespresso machines, Malin & Goetz toiletries, free breakfast and happy hour drinks – that’s a lot of bang for your buck! They’ve also paired up with Club Nation, ensuring all guests have free concierge service to get them bookings at the hottest clubs and restaurants.
So, there you have it – our guide to coping with visitors! Of course, there is lots we haven’t dealt with (how to explain to American guests that the tipping culture is different, chopsticks training and much more!) but we’ll save that for another time. For now, start sending out those invites, print out our checklist and get all your visitors loving HK as much as we do!