Primary Languages: English, Cantonese
Currency: Hong Kong Dollar
Overview of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a large city under 7 million located on the South East coast of China. It was a former British colony until the handover to China. Before ChicVoyage decided to visit we had heard that Hong Kong was a fast paced international city that had a lot of offer for those interested in food, good shopping, careers, and nightlife. We spent the majority of our time in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but also ventured out to the Stanley waterfront in South Hong Kong Island.
As soon as I set foot in the airport I could feel the international energy. Similar to Singapore you will find that you can get by with ease speaking only English. The other main language is Cantonese, which you will also hear during your time here. Also like Singapore, Hong Kong has an excellent subway metro system called the MTR. It is uncommon for locals and visitors to drive a car in the main areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong will not look and feel as clean, but the trade-off is that it is a more liberal city.
In Hong Kong I arrived in New Years Eve so we wanted to fully experience the nightlife energy of Hong Kong Island the first couple of days. The first couple of nights did not disappoint. I arrived Friday night and very soon after arriving my local friend Gordon picked me up at my hotel for dinner at Soho. Soho is the entertainment district in Hong Kong Island located within the Central area. Our next stop was Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), which is a popular expat hangout for nightlife, clubbing, and dining. LKF was packed with people on the street that looked ready to party.
You can expect hookah lounges, and member only multilevel clubs that offer great music, international crowds, and roof top terraces. Our New Years Eve was spent at the Hyde, a 2 level bar located in Central, Hong Kong. Celebrating a new years countdown at a good club with friends in a city like Hong Kong is highly recommended for those that especially enjoy a good time and unique experiences . The music was great and kept the crowd dancing, people were friendly and international, and there was a plethora of different experiences and activities one different floors and spaces in the venue. We were lucky the Hong Kong crowd gave plenty of love to the camera that will be showcased in “ChicVoyage in Hong Kong New Years Eve”.
If you enjoy colorful international lounges as much as we do you will enjoy checking out the Ozone sky bar, located in the Ritz Carlton in Kowloon. The Ritz Carlton claims this is the highest bar in the world. It is located 18 floors higher than 100th floor observatory deck in the ICC building so this is one indication that is indeed closer to the sky than most bars. This bar offers a colorful dynamic atmosphere, an international crowd, and a great view of Hong Kong Island
To get a good feel of Hong Kong we recommend doing the double decker bus ride experience. You can catch it from the West side of Hong Kong Island and head to the east. It is an experience in itself and will allow you to soak in more of Hong Kong at a digestible pace.
Tip: go on the 2nd level in the front seat for the best seat in the house
Other experiences that are worth trying are the star ferry that crosses from Victoria harbor to Kowloon. You will get to see the famous skyline of Hong Kong from both Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and it is low cost. If you enjoy fireworks then check out the evening daily show known as the "Symphony of Lights" that is set against the skyline. The show holds a Guinness World record for the world's largest permanent light and sounds show. To find a natural elevated view of Hong Kong head up to the Victoria peak and snap some pictures.
I have heard from people in Vancouver, South Africa, and Mainland China that Hong Kong is a great destination for shopping. Shopping is a broad category in itself, and we would love to get some input on this area. For camera equipment I did not find any bargains; however I did get custom tailored shirts made to order in 1 day. There are companies such as Maxwell that will travel through major cities in Canada during certain dates during the year, but take several months to arrive with an added cost of customs tax. In Hong Kong, you will most likely find more patterns, faster service, and more customization options. (For example: different patterns on the inner cuff). A friend referred me to Jantzen tailor. I had a very good experience and have no problem recommending them
Our expectations for food were very high. I sampled Trip Advisors #1 restaurant as of Dec 2011 Din Tai Fung. This experience lived up to expectations where you can see some of what we ate in the pictures, and more coverage in the film. I also sampled some Xiao Long Bao for a snack from a restaurant called “Crystal Jade La Mian Xia Long Bao”. This was ordered to go due to a very long line up and enjoyed at the Star bucks next door. Delicious. There is no “Yelp” service available at the time of our visit, but I was adventurous one night and went to a Chinese name only restaurant across the Dorsett Regency hotel in Kennedy town and managed to figure out how to order dumpling noodle soup. The price was great, the food delicious, and although it wasn’t a fancy restaurant it was clean and I was alone at the time and was seated at a round table with a stranger. This is not unusual in Hong Kong, and I treasured this authentic experience in Hong Kong. I recommend picking a sure bet or two and also being adventurous by trying different types of food while you’re in Hong Kong and shaping your own food experience.
Our local insider Gordon gave me a choice of the Big Buddha, a famous tourist attraction or the Stanley waterfront. I opted for the Stanley Waterfront as I love the water and I wanted to show the world a side of Hong Kong that hasn’t received much attention. The Stanley waterfront did not disappoint. Expect to find a quiet and relaxing vibe with families and couples walking their kids and dogs. European style patio side dining with plenty of people watching opportunities and if you head close to the water you can enjoy the beach. A highly recommend surprise in Hong Kong.
I planned to take the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and stay overnight. I would recommend two nights to give yourself more time to look around and extend the rest between train trips if you are carry luggage.
Tip: When you get off at the stop for Guangzhou walk a bit further to look for an official taxi. Do not go with the first guy that takes your luggage and leads you to a car in the parking lot. He will quote you a much more expensive trip to get to your destination
The Shamian island is a tranquil island that is relaxing to walk around and enjoy the neo classical architecture. If you walk until the edge of the island you may find some people performing Tai chi or martial arts. The Pearl River is worth seeing if you are already on the island. A metro stop is under 10 minutes walk away and if you are familiar with the Hong Kong metro you will not have a problem understanding how to get around. If you enjoy culture and history the Sun Yat Sen Memorial is worth your time. The Yuexiu park is very large and can consume a large amount of your time if you are not focused. The Five Goats is challenging to find and is worthwhile if you have value finding the symbol of the city. The Canton Tower is also accessible via the Metro and is worth the visit to see and take photos of this sexy colorful tower as well as to enjoy the views that is offers. It was getting late on Shamian island and I managed to find a late night snack at Lucy’s. Lucy’s is well viewed on Trip Advisor at #8 out of 197 restaurants in Guanghzou and offers Chinese and Western dishes. I opted for a dish of some of the best rice beef noodles I have ever had.
Tip: Although only about 2.5 hours away from Hong Kong Guangzhou uses the Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) as their currency. Remember to purchase Chinese Yuan dollars.
Our time in Guangzhou was short, but we enjoyed our stay here. If you are in Hong Kong it is definitely worth your while to come and visit the third largest city (12.78 million) in China for a day or two. Guangzhou does not get as much global attention as Shanghai and Beijing, but the view of the modern colorful skyline will raise your awareness of how large this city actually is. The video below is a trailer for "ChicVoyage in Hong Kong NYE 2011 Featuring Guangzhou". It is short and fun glimpse of footage you can expect in the film. Enjoy.
Trip Duration: 5 nights
This itinerary is to provide some guidance to help you visualize and plan your trip. Modify as needed.
|Day 1||• Taxi from airport to hotel
• Check-in and change
• Dinner at Restaurant in Soho. Recommendation Ricos Spanish restaurant
• Walk through Soho to Lan Kwai Fong
• Sample bars and clubs in LKF
|Day 2||• Breakfast
•Take Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon
•Visit the 1881 Heritage area and walk about Tsim Sha Tsui
•Dinner in Central. Frites Recommendation. Frites Belgium on Tap
•Walk to Central and sample a club on Lyndhurst Terrace
|Day 3||• Breakfast
• Double Decker Bus across Hong Kong Island
• Shopping/Fitting for tailored shirt
• Lunch and drinks at Pawn Bar
• Walk around Wan-Chai
• View Mid-level escalator
• Victoria Harbour, Avenue of the stars for laser and light show
|Day 4||• Breakfast
• Bus to Stanley
• Walk and sight see at the Stanley
• Late lunch at Stanley Waterfront
• Bus Back
• Dinner Din Tai Fung
• Sky 100 Observatory Deck
• Ozone Sky Bar for drinks
|Day 5||• Early morning train to Guangzhou
• Check-in at Shamian Island
• Walk around Island and have lunch at Lucy's
• Metro to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
• Yuexiu Park to see Five Goats Statue
• Canton Tower Observatory Deck
• Pearl River ride and dinner
Map & Highlights
View Hong Kong & Guangzhou in a larger map