Hard to believe, but it’s been six months since I moved from Singapore to Hong Kong. Time flies when you’re busy settling in, making friends, and generally having fun! It’s almost harder to believe that I’ve had nine friends visit me since the move. All this means I’ve had a crash course in being both a host and tourist in this wonderful city.
The Pearl of the Orient, as Hong Kong is sometimes referred to, has something for everyone. Fancy yourself a foodie? Whether you’re into Michelin-starred or hole in the wall, Western or Asian, there are what feels like limitless options to choose from. More into Mother Nature than city slickers? Maybe you’re into both? In this city, you can have your cake and eat it too – head out for a day hike before polishing up for a night out in Sai Ying Pun. Interested in people watching at a neighbourhood wet market or from a rooftop bar? You get the picture. No matter what you want to do, eat or see, Hong Kong has you covered.
That said, while there are options galore, there are some Hong Kong experiences that stun new expats and tourists. These spots take your breath away and give you that ‘Hong Kong is magic, I love my life right now’ feeling. Here are a few of my favourites…so far!
Embrace the ‘no reservations’ rule
In this city, a line outside a restaurant is a good thing. Many of the city’s hippest, hottest places have a no reservations policy so nights need to be planned accordingly. Once you finally get your seat, no matter where it’s located – booth, table, bar – you’ll have a front-row view to a sliver of the city’s social scene. I’m an unashamed people watcher and love taking in the atmosphere while chowing down. Top picks so far include Chachawan and Mrs Pound in Sheung Wan and Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships in Wan Chai.
Pretend you’re in a movie
If you’ve flown Cathay lately, chances are you’re aware there’s a new movie about Hongkers. It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong spotlights two expats in Hong Kong who fall in love while exploring our pretty city. Their first date was at the picture perfect Ping Pong 129 in Sai Ying Pun. I went for the first time for a friend’s birthday party and a second time with a visitor – it’s just as lovely for both big groups on a Saturday night as it is for catch-up drinks on a weeknight.
Before I moved, all of my friends who’d lived here previously told me about the wonderfulness of junk boat trips. A sun-drenched party on a boat with friends, food and frosty beverages galore – what better way to experience the city’s best beaches and bays? Moving during the fall last year meant I missed the summer junks, so I’m on pins and needles waiting for the first one of 2016. I did go on an evening junk cruise this past winter though, which was wonderful. Think singing Christmas carols, snacking on mince pies, and making new friends while taking in the twinkling lights of Victoria Harbour.
Of course, you don’t need to be on a boat to experience the beaches and bays. While it might be too chilly to swim in the winter, the current spring weather is perfect for hikes. So far I’ve been on ones that are more leisurely walks (Lamma Island Family Trail, Dragon’s Back), ones known for 1,000 steps (Twin Peaks and Violet Hill), and ones that are real, real rugged (MacLehose Stage 2 and Sunset Peak are not for the faint of heart). I’m biased towards Twin Peaks and Violet Hill right now because I’ve had perfect blue skies both of the times I’ve been, but more hikes are to come.
Have tea and scenery
For a little something special, there’s nothing I love more than enjoying one of the city’s afternoon tea spots with a view. There’s something about putting on your best face for a few hours of indulgence with your girlfriends or significant other that helps real-world cares melt away. The tea set at The Lounge & Bar at the Ritz-Carlton can’t be beat. Sitting by the window soaking in the ‘Hong Kong is magic’ feeling, it’s hard not to dream and believe there will be many more magic moments to come.
See the lights
Yes, it’s crowded and very touristy but seeing the light show from Tsim Sha Tsui promenade is breathtaking. Or forget the light show, and just sit and stare at the skyline either at night or during the day. For me, seeing this view reminds me of how much I have yet to learn about this city, and leaves me excited for all the adventures that are waiting to happen.
All photos are my own, except the header photo which was taken by my friend John Beck.