An Honest Guide for Things to do in HongKong
1. Pop by the Goldfish Market
I was never a huge fan of fishes because they seem to make the most useless pets, but Asians love them because of fengshui and all that. I chanced upon the Goldish Market in the middle of my quest to hunt down the Flower Market and surprisingly, spent a good hour walking along the streets and admiring the aquatic life. There’s an astounding variety of fishes for sale but I’m inclined to think tourists wouldn’t be interested in purchasing any of these – there’s no way you’re bringing them back, is there? Still, they make for really gorgeous photos, and pet shops are around the corner as well, so look out for adorable puppies and kittens, as well as pet food and accessories.
2. Visit the Flower Market
I was flying back in a couple of days and it made no sense to buy any flowers here, but it was hard not to frivolously spend all of my cash at the Flower Market. I had to be dragged out of each shop because the flowers were just so gorgeous – I wanted everything. My favourite flower’s the Tiger Lily, and I was so taken by the buckets of huge, fresh Tiger Lilies on sale. Side note; I’ve probably never seen such beautiful Tiger Lilies in Singapore. From gold-painted baby’s breath to beautifully wrapped cotton bouquets, you’re bound to find something you like.
3. Stop by the Stone Slab Street
Flea markets are aplenty in Hong Kong, but this street stood out by a mile. The shopping selection is mediocre at best, but what I loved was the pavement – the streets are lined with uneven stone steps. Walking gets a little difficult so it’s best to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Expect to climb a significant amount of stairs – the street extends up a hill, and you can find obscure bars near the top. The street makes for a beautiful backdrop, so you can expect to find circles of teenage girls loitering around taking photos. It also seems to be a popular choice amongst the locals for wedding photoshoots, so be prepared for that!
4. Drop by the Temple Street Night Market
This night market is great for walking off a huge lunch or high tea session. The stall vendors set up shop at dusk and there’s a large variety of items you can find. You can find imitation goods, underwear, toys, accessories and household items. Don’t just restrict yourself to this specific street though; the neighbouring streets are also filled with vendors that sell an assortment of things - from tobacco pipes to sex toys (Now some of you are really interested, I’m betting). Seafood restaurants line one end of the street, and the spicy crabs seem to be the specialty. If seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of street food stalls around as well.
Tip: Street food is a must-try in Hong Kong!
5. Hit up Lan Kwai Fong
Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong is Singapore’s Clarke Quay – the nightlife is crazy and the streets are filled with bars and clubs. What I absolutely love about LKF is the fact that most bars have shisha available – just make sure to ask for it. Ladies night falls on either Wednesday or Thursday depending on the clubs, so make sure you check that out before heading down. The drinks are relatively cheap for Happy Hour prices – a decent Old Fashioned costs SGD9. Don’t just stay at one bar though – the fun’s in bar hopping and checking out all the live bands.
6. Visit The Peak
One of the most touristy places to visit in Hong Kong because the view is said to be breathtakingly beautiful, so we woke up early to take a cab to The Peak. The view was shit – it was a crazy foggy morning so we could barely see anything.
Tip: Check the weather forecast before making your way down. Don’t spend your money visiting The Peak if all you’re going to see is the crap fog I saw.
A must-do is to take the Peak Tram! It brings you up and down the crazy slope the Peak is located, and the tram is angled at a crazy (almost) 30 degrees, so it’s a constant internal battle of whether you might die on this tram – I love it.
Sidenote: The postcards sold at The Peak are beautiful, so make sure to buy a few and send it out to your friends. If you’re up for something more, visit the basement of the Peak Tower – they have an exhibition for postcards you can have delivered on a designated date. It runs all year round, so you can choose to drop off a card to have it delivered specifically on Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion.
6. Spend a Day at Disneyland
If you’ve been to Disneyland in the States, Hong Kong Disneyland will be an utter letdown. The only thing I really enjoyed was the crowd – or lack there of. Disneyland in the states is packed all year round – the queue for a ride can take hours. In stark contrast, the longest queue I had to endure for a ride at Hong Kong Disneyland was a slightly painful 15 minutes (I hate queuing).
The magical experience of Disneyland was also slightly tainted by the fact that everything was in Cantonese – think Iron Man speaking in Cantonese, or Buzz Lightyear thanking you in Cantonese.
Tip: Make sure to pack some food if you’re spending all day there. The food at Hong Kong Disneyland sucked. We visited a few restaurants before deciding on the Main Street Corner Café by Coca-Cola. The food was expensive and a complete letdown. If you’re Asian AF, be sure to hunt down the cart that sells grilled squid.
7. Explore a 3D Museum
The Peak was a complete letdown, but there was a 3D Museum nearby, so we headed there to mull away some time. The museum was almost completely empty, which was great for us, because it gave us the opportunity to snap as many photos as we wanted without having to rush off for other people.
Is this a must-try? No. I’m pretty sure most of us have already visited 3D Museums, be it in Singapore or in other countries. But if you’ve got time to waste and nothing better to do, it’s not a bad idea to check it out - I probably had one of the best times in Hong Kong here.
8. Make a Trip Down to Macau
You cannot go to Hong Kong without spending a day in Macau. It’s easy enough – take a ferry across. If you’re up for gambling, the casinos in every hotel will be more than enough to satisfy. If not, take the time to appreciate the architecture of the buildings and do some sight-seeing.
If you’ve never been to Paris, visit Macau’s Eiffel Tower. It really isn’t quite the same as being in Paris, but it’s a decent attempt. If you’re there with your partner, buy a lock and partake in the Love lock thingamajig – write down sappy love messages that promise eternity and lock it on the grills placed along the walkway leading to the Eiffel Tower.
9. Catch the House of Dancing Water Show in Macau
This was honestly a fantastic show – despite the fact that I was completely tired from a full day of walking and getting lost in Macau. It has a stellar cast with multiple talents from acrobatics to the ability to not die while performing crazy motorbike stunts. The storyline tends to get fuzzy because the show tries its damnedest to showcase every single stunt they can think of, regardless of its relevance. But if you’re willing to overlook that, this is a must-watch.
Side note: They have Shinji by Kanesaka in the same building – a must-try for sushi lovers. It’s pricey but you’re paying for great stuff at a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you’re stuck in Singapore, great news is that we also have Shinji here!
10. Have lunch at Tim Ho Wan
But you already know this, don’t you? Tim Ho Wan has got to be one of, if not the most famous Dim Sum places in Hong Kong. Surprisingly, only two branches in Hong Kong have been awarded the Michelin Star, so do your research and make sure you check out the ones that have the award. The wait time for lunch took us slightly over half an hour, but food was served almost immediately. The menu is very limited; don’t expect to find a wide variety that you’re accustomed to at other dim sum restaurants (or Swee Choon). Must try dishes are the Baked Buns with Barbeque Pork and the Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf.
Tip: Don’t take too long snapping photos of your food – these dishes are best enjoyed when they’re piping hot.
11. Have High Tea at The Lobby, Peninsula
The Lobby at Peninsula is one of the most raved about places to have high tea at in Hong Kong. The interior design is stunning, which we highly appreciated because it gave us something to admire while idling away the ridiculous queue time for a table. The Lobby does not take reservations, and the walk in queue for a table can take up to an hour.
The scones were delicious, and I must have inhaled several servings of their homemade Strawberry preserve. The finger sandwiches were light but not the best we’ve had for high tea. The pastries were adorable, but we hardly touched them because we were too full from the scones.
We asked the staff to pack the untouched pastries and sandwiches for us, and that service took two reminders and a painful half an hour wait. When we’d finally received the take home box, we opened it at the table to realize they had given us some other table’s leftovers. It was horrifying. The manager apologized and new pastries were packed, but the experience left a horrid taste. If you think about it, some couple out there took home our leftovers as well.
12. Have High Tea at the Clipper Lounge, Mandarin Oriental
We were severely disappointed with our first high tea experience at the Peninsula, and decided to head elsewhere for high tea a couple of days later. We called our hotel concierge and The Clipper Lounge came highly recommended.
High tea starts at 2.30pm, and reservations are taken. The lounge was rather empty but most tables were reserved when we arrived at 2.15pm. The high tea set came with scones, finger sandwiches and pastries, much like the one at The Lobby. The scones were fantastic but their signature rose-petal jam was not to my liking. Make sure to ask for a bottle (or two) of their Strawberry jam as well.
The server at the Clipper Lounge took the time to go through every item in the spread – something that was skipped at the Peninsula.
Overall, a much better afternoon tea experience here.
13. Buy a load of biscuits back from Jenny’s Bakery
If you’re visiting the Stone Slab Street, make sure you pop by Jenny’s Bakery. They’re known for their butter biscuits amongst others, but it’s best to buy a box of assorted cookies. There’s also a limit on how many boxes one person can buy, and it’s best to head early because some items sell out fast. The shop is hidden away, and only a small sign gives anyone a heads up as to where the entrance of the bakery is. Only cash is accepted here, so make sure you’re carrying enough on you.
14. Have Dim Sum at Fu Sing
The best dim sum I had in Hong Kong was at Fu Sing. They have several outlets, but my hotel was a convenient 5-minute walk from the outlet at Causeway Bay. The restaurant has a Michelin star, and it’s really quite well deserved. The barbeque pork buns were amazing and had me instantly converted to a fan with the first bite. Their steamed rice rolls were amazing, but the portion is rather huge – much more than what 2 people can handle. The other dishes ordered were consistently fantastic, like the Siew Mai, Har Gow, and carrot cake.
15. Explore the local eateries/bakeries
You cannot visit Hong Kong without having a single egg tart, and the local bakeries do a fine job with their egg tarts. If you’re picky about egg tarts, give Tai Cheong Bakery’s egg tarts a try. I personally prefer the Tai Cheong egg tarts in Singapore – we have outlets in Ngee Ann City and Holland. But Tai Cheong egg tarts originated from Hong Kong, so it doesn’t hurt to give the original bakery a try.
Roasted duck rice stalls can be found around every corner in Hong Kong, and ones we tries on a whim did not let us down. Roasted goose is also a popular dish in Hong Kong, but it’s a dish we didn’t find time to try.
16. Get a Massage
We did a lot of walking in Hong Kong, so it was no surprise that we were completely exhausted in the evenings. A massage parlour came highly recommended on our Handy device*, so we did the 10 minute walk to check it out. It was expensive – over SGD150 for an hour’s massage.
Heads up: Hong Kong full-body massages typically don’t include the feet, so if you’re tired from walking, opt for a foot massage rather than a full-body massage.
17 and irrelevant. Get a Handy Device
So. Fucking. Handy.
The Handy device is a given in every room in the hotel we stayed at, so try looking for a hotel that provides you with one. The handy device was a lifesaver. It was our 24/7 hotspot, GPS and tour guide. The only down side is that the battery runs out pretty fast when you’re tethered to it constantly, so make sure you have a phone charger and a suitable cable.