Hong Kong – A city of contrasts
By Liz Sullivan
When it came to choosing a destination to celebrate 40th birthdays it was a tough decision for my friends and I, but with a heady mix of culture and history with great shopping and vibrant nightlife, Hong Kong won the vote hands down!!
After a comfortable 12 hour night flight we arrived late afternoon. Public transport is cheap and reliable in Hong Kong and we bought Octopus Cards which can be used on the trains, trams, buses and metro. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo in Wanchai for its great location and more importantly for its 32nd floor rooftop pool with a glass bottom that juts out over the road below! The rooms were spacious and comfortable and the rooftop bar served as a great meeting point throughout the trip.
The next morning we boarded the funicular tram to view one of the most iconic skylines in the world – Victoria Peak. The top of the peak has become a bit of a tourist trap but there are ways of avoiding paying for the privilege (it’s worth a google!). After taking in the breathtaking view we set off on a 3.5km circular walk around the peak offering views across the island. Being under the trees was a welcome break from the sun and humidity – Hong Kong is not a city for sleek hair!
Shopping is a major pastime in Hong Kong and you can find malls on every corner. We visited the mega malls of Causeway Bay where designer shops prevail – a Louis Vuitton on every corner! Luxury goods are more expensive than in the UK, but the markets and smaller shops selling jewellery, stationery and accessories were reasonable and quirky.
The famous Ladies Market on Temple Street was a must-see and although the goods were not of high quality it had a great atmosphere and we also ate some fantastic street food washed down with Tsing Tao beer for less than £4 each!
In stark contrast to the plastic chairs of Temple street we visited the highest bar in the World – Ozone at the Ritz Carlton in Kowloon where your head is literally in the clouds. Here a bottle of wine set us back a hefty £80 but the views it afforded were once in a lifetime! After witnessing the famous Lightshow (we found an excellent vantage point – the car park of the cruise terminal!) we took the iconic Star Ferry back from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. These are two experiences I will never forget!
Another tick off my bucket list was sampling authentic Dim Sum. We visited the worlds cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant – Tim Ho Wan. We have no idea what we ordered but the food was delicious – and cheap!
Most of our evenings were spent in the lively district of Lan Kwai Fong. Live music is plentiful and there is an excellent atmosphere here – especially on a Saturday! The infamous “Rat Alley” is also close by and here I ate the best massamam curry I have ever tasted!
On our last day we took the bus to Stanley – around 30 minutes out of the centre. On a beautiful sunny day we scoured the markets (the best we visited) for art, leather goods and souvenirs, and sat on the rocks to watch the dragon boat racing – a perfect end to an incredible holiday.
4 days in Hong Kong just wasn’t enough. It’s much more than a stopover destination – It’s a diverse city of east meets west, technology and tradition, haute cuisine and paper plates, and by far my favourite city in the world… so far!