Fact:Hong Kong is the most visited city in the world -27.6 million per year-(Euromonitor 2016)
What is all the buzz about: An Asian city where China and Britain have mingled(British colony from 1841-1997) , where the glitz meets the less shiny,where financial capital meets the arts( Hosts Art Basel every spring) , and where rural urban meets maritime
Hong Kong in three words: Market madness ,financial powerhouse and where the West meets the East
In what Island does it all begin?
If you arrive via air to Hong Kong International Airport you will land at Chep Lak Lok, an island mainly comprised of the airport and north of Lantau Island(considered the New Territories), home to the famous Buddha-Tian Tan- and the houses on stilts of Tai-O fishing village, a side of Hong Kong I have only seen in pictures. A local recommended me to visit the Rainfood Seafood Restaurant in Lantau Island where you can pick your dinner from tanks.
What about Kowloon?
Directly from the airport, I took the train to Kowloon Station and a taxi to the Madera Hotel , an oasis located between Mongkok-the dark side of Kowloon where you can still get a glimpse of what the city must have been decades ago and the glitzy side of Tsim Sha Tsui.
Lit up in a neon glow, the streets parallel to Nathan road close to the Jordan MTR station is a great point to stay for a few nights to explore the market madness and night food stalls.If you venture further North, Do try the claypot rice served after 6 pm at Tim Lok Yuen Eating House. A 10 minute walk from this restaurant is the Kowloon Walled City , a former military stronghold now turned to a park with an ornamental Chinese garden.
And the Glitzy side of Kowloon?
Tsim Sha Tsui is where the designer stores and fine dining is located. I was able to stay here for a night by getting a great deal on a hotel on lastminute.com.
If you head to the Avenue of the Stars, this is where most museums are located and where every night at 8pm the Symphony of Lights laser show takes place . West of this promenade, is standing proud the tallest building in Hong Kong, International House of Commerce, where I had an early breakfast buffet at the 102nd floor of The Lounge and Bar Ritz Carlton . The splurge was worth it for the view and the food compensates the price tag.
And what about the highest point in Hong Kong Island?
From Kowloon, a fun way to get to Hong Kong Island ,where Victoria peak and Causeway Bay(Shibuya of HK) are located ,is to take the historic Star Ferry. Central Hong Kong is where the urban meets the rural.
My favorite part of the city is Sheung Wan , the cool kid on the block. Local modern shops mingle with Man Mo Temple and flea markets. A great way to wind down is to sit down in an outdoor coffee shop and have a slice of chiffon matcha sponge cake paired with jasmine blossom tea at Teak Ha.
Also located in Central Hong Kong in Sheung Wan is a retro dim sum, Lin Heung Tea House, where i had my Asian first faux pas. Upon arrival I was greeted by a house full of local elders and woman pushing traditional dim sum carts through the dining halls. I proceeded to pick a table and sit with a stranger where i learned to recycle a used tea cup and clean it with a bowl of water set on the table . Besides this inconvenience, the steamed-barbecue pork-stuffed buns were delish.
Moving South of Central Hong Kong Island is Aberdeen, where I stayed for 3 nights on a boathouse. Its a bit further from the buzz, yet the good transport in the city makes it easy to get everywhere. In less than 15 minutes you get to Causeway Bay, the busiest shopping area in Hong Kong, and close to the aquatic park, Ocean Park . Staying in a harbor anchored on a Chinese teak wood boat was a highlight of the trip. Another activity I enjoyed ,close to Aberdeen ,was hiking the Dragons Back at She O Country Park.
I am not a fan of using the hop -on-hop off busses, as I prefer to walk around and get a better sense of a place, but in Hong Kong it was a great option to get an overview of the diversity that each island has to offer. This is a great option to get an overview and decide what areas you would like to further explore.