Hong Kong is one of my favorite countries in the world and I feel blessed that I could visit Hong Kong more than once. It gave me the opportunity to explore everything this beautiful country has to offer!
In our previous blog we took you to Kowloon, the area where you can experience the everyday life of Hong Kong. In this blog we take you to Hong Kong Island, the business district of Hong Kong and the place to be for foodies!
Hong Kong Island is just one ferry away
Hong Kong Island can easily be reached within a few minutes by using the Star Ferry from the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tui (Kowloon). After arriving you will immediately notice the differences. Hong Kong Island is the complete opposite of Kowloon! In this area you find high skyscapers, men in three-pieces suits and the big internationals. The financial heart of Hong Kong can be found in the neighborhoods Admiralty and Central.
Walking around is the best way to explore Hong Kong Island. You discover so much more! One day I accidentally ended up in SoHo, I discovered a cute temple called Man Mo and I bumped into the funniest restaurant ever! Even more important, by wandering around you become part of the local life. And that’s exactly what we need as travelers!
SoHo – the best neighborhood in Hong Kong Island
You can wake me up in the middle of the night to go to SoHo. SoHo, abbreviation of SOuth HOllywood Road, is an upcoming neighborhood. Authentic restaurants, hipster coffeeshops, markets, healthy shops and smoothie corners found their way to SoH0 and made it the place to be for foodies.
Two shops I truly love are Catch and The Cupping Room. Catch serves superfood dishes and the healthiest smoothies, The Cupping Room made my day more than once with their delicious cappuccino!
A must visit when you visit Hong Kong Island is Victoria Peak. An old tram (The Peak Tram) takes you to the “peak” within eight minutes where you will have an amazing 360 degrees view over the city!
It is possible to travel to the peak by bus and by tram. The first time I decided to take the bus; the queues were too long and I didn’t feel like waiting for the tram. An advantage of the bus is that you see more of the area. Disadvantage is that it will take at least 30 minutes to reach the top.
Another thing I learned during one of my visits is to check the tv screen at the cash desks before taking the tram or bus. The TV screens show you the most recent pictures that have been taken at the top; if the background is too cloudy, come back another day!
Man Mo temple
The Man Mo temple is the oldest temple of Hong Kong and is dedicated to the gods of literature (Man) and war (Mo). The temple is built in 1848, right after the British took over. Nowadays it is a declared monument which can be found between the skyscrapers in the financial heart of Hong Kong.
When you enter the temple you will immediately notice the interesting interior; red coloured spirals suspended from the roof and incense and smoke everywhere. In the next hall you can find some fortune tellers as well; their rule is “the more you pay, the more they will tell you”!
Hong Kong Park
Hong Kong has several parks and the one that is really worth a visit is Hong Kong Park. It is such a large and beautiful park! You can walk around, spot tropical birds in the Aviary or relax at one of the restaurants. The two restaurants which are highly recommended are LockCha Tea House and L16 Cafe and Bar. LockCha Tea House serves traditional tea and the most delicious dimsum! You can also take a look at the Tea museum where the oldest teapot is exhibited. During the weekends you can join a tea workshop as well. L16 is a great Thai restaurant with a nice garden where you can have your food or drinks, including WiFi.
I loved relaxing here after a (long) walk in the park!
The Mid-Levels Escalators have a total length of 792 meter and is one of the longest escalators in the world. In the mornings, from 6-10AM, the escalators only go down and after 10AM they only go up. The government wants to support the people and want to avoid that they have to walk hundreds of stairs before their working day even got started!
The Mid-Escalators give you some great views; every time you reach the next level, you see a new piece of this lovely neighborhood. By using The Mid-Level Escalators we discovered Emack & Bolios, the place to be for ice cream lovers!
When you are in this neighborhood, please don’t forget to visit Tai Cheong Bakery. This is the place where they sell the best, famous egg tart of Hong Kong.
Sheung Wan used to be a neighborhood for the poorest people, but since the infrastructure has been improved, this part developed itself as well. I had a blast when I stayed in this area; immediately you become part of the local life due all these Chinese shops and restaurants around you.
A great way to explore this area is by tram. For a few Hong Kong Dollars you hop on the Hong Kong Tramways; cute, old trams that will take you through Hong Kong Central.
Sheung Wan is actually famous because of the dried seafood stores. Most stores are located in Des Voeux Road, better known as the Dried Seafood Street.
Oh my.. you can find here some crazy and interesting things! Dried fish, sea cucumbers, sea horses, starfish, bird nests and much more! These ingredients are used in the Chinese kitchen for special holidays, because these products are quite expensive. You easily pay thousands of Hong Kong Dollars for these products!
In the same neighborhood you can find another interesting street, called Wing Lok Street. Stores that are located here, sell dried sea food and other exotic products that are used for medication. Beware of the smell though, it can be every strong.
More time? Visit Lantau Island!
Lantau Island is the biggest island of Hong Kong and is mainly inhabited by the elderly. The island itself is known for its beautiful nature, traditional fishing villages (Tai O), authentic villages and beaches. It is the ideal location to escape the city!
To reach Lantau Island you take the ferry from Tsim Sha Tui (Star Ferry Pier) or Hong Kong Island. There are busses on arrival, waiting to take you to any place.
The main reason to go to Lantau Island is because it’s home to the biggest outside sitting Buddha of the world, better known as Tian Tan. Tian Tan can be found in the little village Ngong Ping. Climb the 268 steps to enjoy the beautiful and peaceful view!
One tip; it isn’t a crazy idea to bring an umbrella with you. It can be raining at the top.
From Tian Tan you can easily walk to the colorful Po Lin Monastery or the Wisdom Path.
The Po Lin Monastery is a colorful and beautifully decorated temple. It is nice to walk around, take some pictures or light some candles or incense. If you could use some food; there is a restaurant next to the monastery. A bathroom can be found here as well.
The Wisdom Path is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life. It is like you are walking in an Avatar scene! The view, the silence and the tree trunks with Heart Sutra prayers (very important in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism) make this a magical place.
Where to stay in Hong Kong Island
During this trip I stayed in the hotel Ibis Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan. The area is completely different than the one I stayed in during my first trip to Hong Kong. Kowloon takes you back to the traditional part of Hong Kong and Sheung Wan takes you straight to the food culture. This hotel is located in the dried sea food area.
The tram is in front of the hotel and gives you the opportunity to hop on and explore the neighborhood after waking up.
The hotel itself is a nice hotel, clean rooms, good WiFi and an amazing view if you are lucky. The room can be experienced as small, but this is normal in Asia.
Restaurant recommendations – Where to eat in Hong Kong
Even though there a thousands of restaurants in Hong Kong, the following are definately worth the visit when you are in Hong Kong (some of the restaurants are mentioned above as well):
Koon Thai Cuisine
Even though the staff barely speaks English, the food is really good. Try the lemongrass and ginger lemonade and of course the rice with chicken.
Good to know for travelers; there is free WiFi.
Lock Cha Tea House
I read about this place and I had to visit the Lock Cha Tea House myself. If you love tea and dimsum, this is the place for you to visit. The tea can be very expensive so be careful what to choose. Regarding the dimsum; this is vegetarian and tastes so good!
There is WiFi available and there is also a small shop where you can buy tea or other souvenirs.
L16 Cafe and Bar
Close to Lock Cha Tea House you can find the L16 Cafe and Bar. L16 is an amazing place to relax and eat or drink something. The atmosphere is amazing, the food and drinks are good and there is free WiFi. There is a big terrace outside where we could sit the whole day. Definately a place to recommend!
This is a Chinese / Asian restaurant that serves the best dimsum in Hong Kong. The service is good and the food is delicious. During the week this place is visited by business men and women, during the weekend it is a place for families.
Island Shangri-La Hong Kong
The locals love their western breakfast. Island Shangri-La Hong Kong is a hotel, but you are welcome to join for breakfast. If you could use an amazing breakfast, make sure you add this place to your list.
There are so many options, it is a paradise for the health freaks among us!
Corner Kitchen Café
This is another breakfast place. Since my hotel didn’t offer breakfast, I had to find new breakfast places every day.
Corner Kitchen Café is a small place with an amazing atmosphere and great breakfast options. We had an omelet (approx. € 9,00) and pancakes (approx. € 8,50) and we highly recommend them!
For the travelers; there is free WiFi.
Tai Cheong Bakery
Egg tart is something special in Hong Kong and there is no better place to buy and try them than at the Tai Cheong Bakery. They are all over Hong Kong, so make sure you visit one of the restaurants to try the famous egg tarts. They are delicious!
The Cupping Room
For the best coffee in Hong Kong you go to The Cupping Room. The coffee is freshly made and is so good that I went back every day. This place is also good for a delicious lunch.
Crafty Cow Gastro Pub
For beef and burger lovers, this is the place to be! The food (and especially the burgers) are made of high quality products and this is something you taste.
Emack & Bolio’s
Like we describe above, this place is famous for its ice creams. Honestly I have never visited a place like this before. The combinations and options are unbelievable! It is a little bit more expensive than the “normal” ice creams we are used to, but the creation that you get is pure art.
Double Happiness Cafe
We accidentally bumped into this place when walking around. This place is so colorful and beautifully decorated that we became so curious and had to visit this place. The food that is served here is typically Chinese and the quality is very good. Try the dumplings, chicken with vegetables, rice with vegetables or a fish curry and end with the red bean soup as dessert.
When I was in Hong Kong, Catch served superfood dishes and the healthiest smoothies. Nowadays they serve the prettiest meals made of the best and freshest ingredients.
Hong Kong Island restaurant special – Kobitos
The funniest and weirdest restaurant I have ever been to is definately Kobitos. This is the famous restaurant where you can play with food.
The Kobitos concept is actually founded in Japan in 2006. Nobody knows exactly what a Kobito is; it’s no human, no insect. Nevertheless, a whole Kobito world has been created and you can find them everywhere! In Hong Kong they got their own restaurant and OMG.. this place is so hilarious! When you are in Hong Kong, please don’t skip this place. Trust me, it will be one of the best days of your life!
I love wandering in Hong Kong and even though I have been here twice, I know for sure that I will come back!
If you have plans to visit Hong Kong as well, make sure you read our other blog as well! This blog is filled with tips and must visits for Kowloon, the traditional part of Hong Kong.
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