From the best dumplings to the best coffee, blogger Geneva Vanderzeil reveals the delights of her home city.
Hong Kong is a city that never sleeps, and you’ll be hard pressed to get any at all while you’re here. If you’re interested in adding a bit of an edge to Hong Kong’s more traditional sights, here’s a perfect top 10 itinerary.
1: Get your caffeine hit
Starting a new day in a new city? Chances are you’re going to need some energy to fuel a long day of walking, eating and shopping. Although coffee culture is relatively new to Hong Kong, there are a few hidden spots that have opened up recently.
Common Ground, on a quiet alleyway above Central, serves top-notch coffee and a simple all-day brunch menu, guaranteed to get you ready for a packed day ahead.
19 Shing Wong Street, mid-levels
2: Wake up with the flower and bird markets
Although somewhat of a perennial favourite, to me the flower markets are a must-do for all visitors to Hong Kong. But instead of simply wandering the streets, take a seat in the nearbybird garden and watch as elderly men from all over the city come to hang out with their friends, usually with their songbird cages in hand.
It’s a rarely seen slice of Hong Kong culture that is perfect in its simplicity.
Both market and garden are in the district of Mong Kok.
3: Load up with porcelain
If there’s one brand I love it’s Loveramics, a home-grown ceramics store. Drawing on traditional Chinese techniques, they create the most amazing modern pieces – perfect for a little gift for a friend, or even yourself.
97 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay
4: Find yourself a speakeasy
At the end of a long day in this hectic city, you may be tempted to pull up stumps at the closest pub. However, if your energy levels allow, I highly recommend seeking out Stockton, a weird and wonderful speakeasy-style bar hidden in an alleyway in Central.
With taxidermy, a vault-turned-private-room and big leather couches, chances are you’ll while away at least a few hours here.
32 Wyndham Street, Central
5: Try some traditional egg waffles
Hong Kong isn’t known for its street food like a few other Asian cities, but it does have a delicious egg waffle tradition, perfect for a late-afternoon carbohydrate hit.
Rather than sample the traditional version, I suggest seeking out Oddies Foodies, a shop in Wan Chai that creates out-of-this-world desserts – my favourite being a chocolate-filled egg waffle wedged in a chocolate gelato cup. The shop is so small you have to eat on the street, but I’m telling you, it won’t matter.
Shop 1F, G/F
149 Wan Chai Road
6: Take tea in an alley
Looking for that perfect cup of masala chai? Look no further than Teakha. Vaguely Japanese in style, this little teahouse turns out the most divine green tea cheesecake. Don’t expect your tea to come in a hurry (it’s freshly brewed), so use this as an opportunity to take a breath and relax.
Shop B, 18 Tai Ping Shan Street
7: Gobble Grandma’s dumplings
Dumplings, and buns, prevail in Hong Kong. In my opinion, the best dumplings in Hong Kong are served up by chef Jowett Yu, previously of Mr Wong and Ms G’s in Sydney, at Ho Lee Fook using his grandmother’s recipe. Words cannot describe the deliciousness. Just go to this curiously named gem.
Ho Lee Fook
1 Elgin Street, Central
8: Try out some craft
The traditional craft district of Sham Shui Po is becoming gentrified, as younger generations of the hip and creative move their studios and businesses in. Nam Cheong Street is now home to a number of stores that will walk you through the leather-making process. You’ll be a handbag designer before you know it!
9: See how the other half lives
Hong Kong is a shopper’s heaven, that goes without saying, with malls as far as the eye can see. For a glimpse of how the other half lives, make sure you stop at Joyce on Queens Road, a boutique department store with a highly curated collection of designer wares, from couture gowns to confusingly chic accessories.
10: Hit the beach
I’m not going to pretend that Hong Kong’s beaches are up there with Australia’s, but visitors are often surprised by how gorgeous they are. Although it’s a serious trip (an hour by taxi and then an hour’s hike), a visit to Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung will surprise and delight you.
If the thought of such an adventure scares you, opt for one of the beaches on Hong Kong Island, such as South Bay. If you like, take a dip at Repulse Bay, after lunch at the gorgeous restaurant, Limewood.
Words by Geneva Vanderzeil