If you enjoy shopping, eating, bustling cities or all of the above, then Hong Kong’s your destination.
With towering state-of-the-art skyscrapers and authentic Southern Chinese culture, Hong Kong is the manifestation of East meets West. It’s sectioned off into two parts: the Kowloon side, which is mainland China, and Hong Kong Island. I recommend utilizing the Star Ferry to shuttle back and forth between each side: a ticket costs less than $1 USD and it’s an excellent way to admire the city’s skyline.
Lantau Island makes a nice day trip outside of Hong Kong. The island has a cable car ride up to the Tian Tan Buddha right outside the metro station – one of Hong Kong’s most famous scenic spots. The fake “authentic village” is not worth noting and has a Disneyland-like feel to it, but Tian Tan Buddha itself makes for great photo-ops.
For those of you wishing to avoid the chaotic nature of Hong Kong, there are a few options. A mere 15-minute public bus ride away from Central, Repulse Bay is shockingly nice for being so close to such a dirty, chaotic city. The beach is relaxing and not too crowded during the week. Additionally, the Dragon Back’s hiking trail is famed as one of Asia’s most popular hikes, and the views are quite impressive.
A trip to Hong Kong is not worth the trip at all without indulging in the popular Cantonese pastime, dim sum. I went to great lengths to visit the famous Luk Yu Teahouse in the Central district of Hong Kong Island, and the service was dismal and the dim sum was nothing special. In fact, the best dim sum I had during my time in Hong Kong was a local place I chanced upon.
I also recommend visiting the Taiwanese chain Din Tai Feng, known for its soup dumplings and other specialty dishes. It’s located near the Happy Valley racetrack, which can amount to a pleasant day of Taiwanese snacks and racehorse gambling. Be sure to check the racetrack schedule!
Finally, one cannot visit Hong Kong without shopping. Hong Kong has over 600 malls, ranging from luxury to affordable. The malls also house some of the city’s best eating spots. Night markets, such as the Ladies’ Market in Kowloon, are excellent venues for picking up cheap souvenirs for loved ones.
Hong Kong’s prices are high compared to the rest of Asia; however, there’s a wide range. You can spend a buck on a bowl of noodles street-side, or several hundred dollars on a multi-course meal.
A former British colony, Hong Kong definitely has a different feel from mainland China and should be added to your travel itinerary.