How To Do Hong Kong Like A Local, According To Condé Nast Traveller’s Editor
Divia Thani, the intrepid Editor-In-Chief of Condé Nast Traveller India, is not only passionate about travelling, but really knows how to live it up when she’s on the go. She chats with Hauterfly about one of her favourite cities in the world, and gives you an insider guide that will ensure you miss nothing during your visit.
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities in the world. For a quick break, you can’t beat this chic city — it really does have everything you’d expect — from incredible food and hip bars, to excellent shopping and luxe hotels. But it also has things you wouldn’t expect, including a buzzing art and culture scene, a fantastic harbour for sailing, and mountains for hiking. All this in a fantastically fashionable area of 1,104 square kilometres! I’ve been to Hong Kong dozens of times, and have never been disappointed.
Eat At: China Club
Location: 13/F, The Old Bank of China Building, Bank Street, Central
Why it’s great: An exclusive, members-only restaurant with a ridiculously good wine list, live entertainment, fantastic music, 1930s décor, incredible Chinese art, and, oh yes, fantastic food — China Club is an experience. If you’re staying at a fancy hotel, your concierge will be able to get you in.
If not, head instead to Mott 32 for exquisite Chinese fare, or to Missy Ho’s for killer cocktails and casual but excellent sushi, tacos, and other small plates in a really fun atmosphere — I won’t tell you everything, but rest assured, you’ll take lots of selfies!
Shop At: Linva Tailor
Location: G/F, 38 Cochrane St., Central
Why it’s great: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have a cheongsam (also known as a qipao) tailored to you. If you’ve never worn one, trust me, it’s the Chinese equivalent of wearing a sari –these exquisite dresses are modest yet ultra-sexy, feminine, and flattering thanks to their slim fits and side slits. At Linva Tailor, you can have them made-to-measure; at Shanghai Tang — arguably Hong Kong’s best-known luxury brand — you can buy them off the shelf. Don’t come home without one.
Hong Kong Museum Of Art
Hang Out At: Top-Notch Art Galleries In Central
Like… 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Axel Vervoordt, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Edouard Malingue, Galerie Du Monde, Hanart TZ, Massimo De Carlo, and more!
Why it’s great: Hong Kong is now undoubtedly Asia’s gateway to — and hub for — contemporary art from across the world. Artists from across China now sell for millions around the world, and Chinese collectors are acquiring coveted pieces at auctions everywhere. You’ll find lots of buzzing galleries in Central, exhibiting established and emerging talent from everywhere. Make a special effort to see Chinese artists show at Hanart TZ and Massimo De Carlo — you won’t regret it. If you’re a real aficionado, try and time your visit to Art Basel Hong Kong.
Do Coffee At: Skip Coffee For Tea And Dim Sum!
At… Lin Heung Tea House
Location: 160-164 Wellington Street, Central
Why it’s great: This is a Hong Kong die-hard foodie experience — you won’t find anything like it anywhere else! The no-frills tea house dates back to 1926, and is always busy and bustling with locals choosing steaming dim sums from carts loaded with bamboo baskets. Despite its fame, they aren’t necessarily patient with tourists, so be prepared to share your table with strangers — and for chaos!
The moon cakes are especially good. If this is far too adventurous for you (or if you’re vegetarian, or just looking for peace and quiet), head on over instead to 18 Grams in Sheung Wan, Mong Kok, or Causeway Bay, where they take their coffee seriously enough to obsess about the beans and the roasting — but are fun enough to have just launched coffee beers, stout, and IPA!
The Peak Tram
Be A Tourist At: The Peak
Location: Take the Peak Tram, the 120-year-old funicular railway, which departs from its terminus on Garden Road (nearest MTR: Central).
Why it’s great: Hong Kong has, perhaps, the most dazzling skyline in the world, and this is the best spot to take it all in. The Sky Terrace 428, standing at 428 metres above sea level, is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong, offering a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across the city. Touristy? Yes. Worth it? Hell, yeah.
Spend The Night Dancing At: Dragon-I
Location: Lan Kwai Fong (LKF)
Why it’s great: Lan Kwai Fong, or LKF, is where Hong Kong goes bar hopping. You’ll find everything from rowdy pubs to sleek bars, with crowds spilling out on to the street on Saturday nights. The nightlife is intense on nearby Wyndham Street, where you can head to spots like Tasmanian Ballroom or, the eternal favourite, Dragon-I, to dance until dawn. Wear comfortable heels, and make sure you’ve downloaded Uber on your phone.
Sleep At: Upper House, Queensway (Luxe); Ovolo, Central (Affordable)
Why it’s great: The Upper House hotel is so chic, it hurts. It’s super contemporary and minimal, but manages to be warm and glamorous at the same time. The views from its Cafe Gray Bar are incredible. Dress nice; the crowd here is always super hip.
Meanwhile, Ovolo — owned by Girish Jhunjhunwala — is located in Central, next to all the happening nightspots, and is young and trendy.
Cure Your Hangover At: Tsui Wah
Location: G/F-2/F, Hong Kong House, 17-19 Wellington St, Central, Central and Western District
Why it’s great: This 24-hour eatery is one of the most popular food chains in Hong Kong — and for good reason. Head here pre-drinks or post-clubbing and order off their ‘Top 10 Dishes’ menu, which includes everything from delicious fried noodles with sizzling king prawns, pork fried rice, crispy buns with sweet condensed milk and, of course, Hainanese Chicken Rice. Hangover, be gone.
Unwind On: The Hong Kong Harbour In A Junk Boat
Why it’s great: Sailing around Hong Kong’s natural harbours and islands in a traditional ‘junk’ or sailboat that gives you a panoramic view of this dazzling city is a fantastic experience. These days, junks range from basic, Chinese wooden sailboats to ultra-luxe yachts offering spa treatments and champagne. Choose from 45-minute sightseeing tours and 10-course romantic candlelight dinners to party boats with cocktails, karaoke, dance floors, and DJs. Do it your way, but do it!
Find Epic Stuff At: Mong Kok
Location: Mong Kok, Kowloon
Why it’s great: In the market for goldfish, limited edition vintage keds, alligator skin iPhone covers, or a bamboo basket to take home? Or then just for good, old-fashioned cheap but chic dresses? No matter what, head to Mong Kok, a bustling district that’s a shoppers’ paradise. There’s a Ladies Market for affordable fashion, the aptly named Sneaker Street, a flower market, a toy market, and lots more. Prepare to bargain. Hard.
Work Up A Sweat At: Tai Mo Shan
Few tourists know that Hong Kong isn’t all sexy skyscrapers; there are lovely green areas, great mountains, and even beaches. Big Hat Mountain is Hong Kong’s tallest peak and a favourite for hiking. The 957-metre mountain is surrounded by a nature park covering 1,440 acres, and boasts numerous waterfalls. For an easier hike, try the 1 km practice trail.