City life and beach life in Hong Kong
Watching the news recently and seeing Hong Kong’s peaceful protests turn into violent riots made me sad. The people of Hong Kong are slowly losing their rights as China increases its control. I visited Hong Kong many times while I was working in nearby Macau and this is not how I remember it. I don’t know what the outcome will be, nor do I want to go into politics I don’t fully understand, this is a travel blog after all. But what follows is based on my experiences of a beautiful, vibrant city with friendly people in 2017/2018. I hope to go back there.
I love a city. I also love a beach. When I can combine the two, that’s ideal, and Hong Kong delivers both.
I stayed in two in Hong Kong and recommend both. It’s worth noting that space is at a premium there so rooms are generally smaller than your average size.
Ovolo Central is perfectly located and very close to Petticoat Lane, a gay bar. If you book direct through Ovolo, you get some added extras thrown in like free mini bar access, breakfast and a goodie bag with snacks.
Butterfly on Wellington is again in a great location: I could see the mid-level escalators from my hotel room. Cheaper than Ovolo, you don’t get the extras thrown in, but the room I booked came with a 4G pocket Wi-Fi device that I could take out and about with me.
Both Ovolo and Butterfly have other locations in Hong Kong that I imagine are pretty similar.
I’ve heard The Upperhouse is nice but didn’t stay there. It’s not cheap but I think this is a case of you get what you pay for: I had drinks in the bar which were excellent, as was the service.
There are so many options for eating in Hong Kong I can’t even begin to name them all. Here are some of my recommendations, but you don’t have to go far to find others.
Yardbird is my favourite restaurant in Hong Kong. They do great yakitori and the staff are always helpful and will give recommendations. Like a lot of places in Hong Kong, they don’t take bookings so either go early or be prepared to wait. I always have the KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) and a margarita on the rocks there. Delicious.
Oolaa is western style and great for breakfast and brunch at the weekend.
Pici does amazing Italian food at affordable prices and doesn’t skimp on quality.
Uma Nota is Brazilian-Japanese fusion. Yes, really. This works. The octopus salad is delicious.
I was taken on a date by a local to Bep in the Alley, which is Vietnamese and does lovely noodles.
Big Sur Beer & Barbeque. The food is good in this western-style restaurant and bar, but the reason I’m mentioning it is because I wrote “lots of fit men walk past” in Mapstr. So if that’s your thing, get a seat at the bar in the window!
There’s plenty to see and do in Hong Kong. When I was there I went to:
- The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. It’s a massive bronze Buddha at the top of a lot of steps. Get the MTR part way there and then a cable car.
- The Peak. There’s a great view of Hong Kong from the top. You can get a tram up there but be prepared to queue. A taxi is quicker and not very expensive.
- This is a great beach with a little market and a few bars and restaurants. I got a bus there, which goes along the coast and past a few other beaches. This is a really good opportunity to escape the city.
- There’s lots of massage parlours and I had some nice foot massages and pedicures.
Getting around Hong Kong is very easy. You can get an Octopus card (like an Oyster) for the MTR, which is simple to navigate. Taxis are good too and aren’t expensive. Walking is a great way to explore but be aware, it’s humid all the time. City Mapper works in Hong Kong and is a great way to figure out how to get to where you need to be.
The airport system is also really good. You can check your bags in at Central Station and don’t have to take them to the airport. And when you do need to go to the airport, jump on the MTR which is much quicker than a taxi.
Once you’re at the airport you’ll probably want to head to a lounge. If you’re flying with BA (and let’s face it, if Huben booked your trip there’s a good chance you will be) and you have lounge access, head to the Cathay Pacific lounges. As part of the OneWorld alliance, you can use them even if you aren’t flying with BA. I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re nicer than my flat. The showers are a dream and are stocked with Aesop products. Food options include freshly made dim sum, western food, pastries and snacks and there’s a stocked bar and tea lounge. I always used The Pier; it’s a bit further away and quieter. You won’t be disappointed.
Ferries from Hong Kong to Macau run regularly from the main terminal and take an hour. Macau is like an Asian Vegas. It’s the only place in China where you’re legally allowed to gamble. It’s nice for a day trip if you’ve done everything Hong Kong has to offer, mainly to see a show called ‘The House of Dancing Water’ which is a resident water and circus show at City Of Dreams in Cotai. We don’t have, nor can I imagine us ever having, a show like this in the UK. It’s technically amazing with acrobatics and even motorbikes at one point. Oh and don’t sit in the first three rows. They say you might get slightly wet, but that’s a lie. You get soaked.