Spend a day hiking on Lantau Island. // © 2018 Creative Commons user rollercoasterphilosphy
Feature image (above): Hong Kong is famous for its cityscape. // © 2018 Creative Commons user aotaro
Picture this: An electric burst of neon light hovers over a seemingly endless crowd navigating through skyscraper-paved boulevards in hectic streams.
This is Hong Kong — some 1,000 square miles that offer travelers and locals alike an infinite number of things to see and do. But though it may seem overwhelming, first-time visitors shouldn’t shy away from soaking up all this cosmopolitan city has to offer.
Here’s our guide on what to eat, where to sleep and how to spend your first trip in Hong Kong.
WHERE TO EAT
It’s hardly fair to limit your culinary options in an epicurean city like Hong Kong, but being armed with a few locally approved and internationally renowned names is a great way to whet the appetite.
Michelin-starred Duddell’s is one such name, thanks to its truly authentic Cantonese fare presented with a modern, high-end twist in a beautiful, art-imbued space. The crispy barbecued iberico pork is blissful, but it is the luscious roasted duck that takes the cake. After dinner, cocktails on the Garden Terrace are certainly in order.
Man Mo Dim Sum
Hidden in the heart of chaotic Cat Street — where antique stores and jade shops fraternize with secondhand street vendors — Man Mo Dim Sum seems curiously out of place. Yet its concept of merging the East and the West is as “Hong Kong” as it gets. The five-spices lamb bun, the crispy shrimp wonton and the duck fried rice are shoulder-dropping. But be sure to save room for the truffle brie dim sum.
Although it may not be considered typical Hong Kong cuisine, the food at Kaum is, without a doubt, a central part of the city’s culinary experience. Its menu of delectable dishes will immerse diners in many indigenous cooking methods and flavors of southern neighbor Indonesia. Dishes to try include the braised beef dressed in Sumatra spices, the crispy duck with fermented durian chili sauce and the grilled chicken satay. For dessert, try the Pandan roll with bananas and caramelized sugar.
WHERE TO STAY
After a total overhaul late last year, The Fleming might just be one of the hippest hotels in town. In fact, it’s just the ticket for travelers who are tired of staying in the same zero-personality, homogeneous guestrooms.
These days, the appeal of this stylish, 66-room boutique property stems from its unique character, which is irrefutably reminiscent of Hong Kong. The hotel is nestled in the city’s Wan Chai District, and its design is essentially a throwback to the city’s affinity for Streamline Moderne architecture. It’s also fitted with bespoke furnishings inspired by the city’s nautical roots, with just a hint of steampunk.
But more importantly, the rooms are cozy, with inviting beds, elegant bathrooms, lovely toiletries and surprisingly excellent coffee.
WHAT TO DO
Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark
Get a heavy dose of retail therapy at all the usual tourist spots, but also be sure to carve out some time for the city’s lesser known attractions, including Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark.
Hidden away on the Sai Kung peninsula are striking hexagonal volcanic rock formations that are herculean in height and massive in numbers. Collectively, they make up the centerpiece of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, which is unique to explore — especially on a clear day.
While there, be sure to visit the town of Sai Kung, where seafood restaurants abound. And before heading back to town, dine in or stop at the floating market to feast on local pineapple buns.
Another day is best spent on beautiful Lantau Island, where awe-inspiring coastal panoramas are matched only by the majestic views of the lush mountains enveloped in fog. Take a hard-yet-rewarding hike to the Tian Tan Buddha for a spectacular sunset, and see the stilt houses in Tai O Fishing Village, one of only a few remaining traditional fishing villages in Hong Kong.