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Help Me Plan My Asia Trip: Hong Kong

by on March 29, 2012 · 41 comments

in Trip Reports

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I’m currently in Cambodia where I’ve wandered the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and am embarking today to experience the newly revitalized Phnom Penh. It’s such a beautiful country and I know there is so much more to explore here—I’ll just have to come back one day and hit up Kep and Sihanoukville.

TPG reader suggestions for my trip so far, and especially for Cambodia, have been extremely valuable, so thanks to all you who have commented on these posts (I mean – Touich restaurant in Siem Reap was one of my favorite dining experiences ever), and stay tuned for trips reports and videos of all the places I’ve gotten to see and the things I’ve gotten to do.

Tomorrow I leave for Hong Kong for the weekend and I want your suggestions on what else I should see, do and eat while I’m there. I am going to be compiling all of your suggestions and my own experiences into organized city guides so we can all benefit from the depth of knowledge shared each time I put a call out for suggestions.

You can follow my journey on Twitter, Facebook, and right here on the blog. As always – I appreciate your advice, so please leave your comments below! In the meantime, check out a few sneak pics from the Cambodia leg of my trip…

The Bayon temple...one of my favorites

Beef Battambang appetizer at Touich restaurant...one of my top dining experiences

Shooting an M16 at a military training base...not nearly as scary as the automatic M18 that I shot minutes before

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • James

    I’m not familiar with an M-18. Picture?

  • ClearedandReadyforTakeoff

    We ate at Touich last week–what a great restaurant. When we talked to the family who runs it, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the cook was trained in Paris. In Hong Kong, I like to grab a coffee and spend the morning in Kowloon Park before heading over to the fantastic Hong Kong History Museum. Otherwise, all the standard stuff rocks. If you like a bit of trivia, head to the Old China Hand for a pint and trivia on Hong Kong Island. By the way, my trip was thanks to your advice of the BA 100k credit card deal last year, as well as advice on how to use the miles before devaluation, so thanks!

  • Jmansour

    You MUST MUST visit victorias peak which gives you views of hong kong side and the kowloon side it is aboslutely awesome! I also reccomend walking nathan road on the kowloon side and make sure to take the subway it is nice and clean. I also reccomend visiting lan kuai fung at night which is the happening area. If you enjoy italian food va bene is an exceelent choice

  • cjpat44

    Aggh, TPG, you’re making a huge mistake. I lived in Phnom Penh and it is totally skip-able. Despite what other commentors have said, Kep and Kampot (at least when i was there 3 years ago) were absolute paradise. You have hills covered in rainforest butting up against the ocean. The NYTimes recently ran an article on this area, so I’m afraid if you don’t go now, you’ll miss out on any remaining sleepyness and charm before the developers come in!

  • http://zmievski.org/ Andrei

    Take a ride on the Star Ferry across the Victoria Harbor to Kowloon. Walk along the Avenue of the Stars at night and marvel at the light display across the water. Go eat at the Temple Street Night Market.

  • Jprec805

    You need to do the star ferry and cross the harbor, check out temple street night market as well as the peak for amazing views. Be sure to see the light show …they have it every night – best views are from the kow loon side from star walk

  • http://twitter.com/MECarreno Marcos Carreño

    You must go to Fernando’s in Macau and Macau’s historic district. The fast ferry is comfortable – just buy the upgrade!

    Take the ferry to Lamma Island for lovely day hike.

  • Ray

    TPG – All the standard guidebook stuff are great – Victoria’s Peak, the tram up to the peak, IFC Mall, afternoon tea at the Peninsula hotel, shopping on Nathan Road (starting the walk on TST), LKF at night, viewing the light show at 8PM on the TST side, take the Star Ferry across the harbor, Mongkok at night, dim sum, wonton noodles, walking up the midlevel escalators (but stopping for a bar at Soho) – but the thing that stood out to me the most last time was my trip to Lamma Island for seafood. Restaurants on the island will schedule a boat to take you there for free. The one I used was Rainbow seafood restaurant. They picked up my group near the star ferry terminal and we sped off to the island. After the most delicious seafood meal I ever had (you pick and chose how you like everything to be cooked – or you can order a set), we hiked across the island to the other side of the island, where we took the public ferry back to Central. Highly recommended.

  • Sean

    Obviously go to the Peak, cross on the Star Ferry, and walk down the Avenue of the Stars (a great spot to get a beer and take in the skyline or light show at 8pm from the patio is Deck n Beer on the avenue of the stars). Of course get a drink at Ozone atop the Ritz (opens at 4pm daily). I’ve had some fantastic dim sum (bbq rolls!) in a more traditional environment at Lei Garden (there are several locations in Hong Kong). For a great view for dinner or drinks on the peak, check out Cafe Deco. It’s asian / western food (more western than Asian), but the view from the peak during the light show is phenomenal. Another of my favorites is Aqua Roma / Aqua Tokyo / Aqua spirit. It is an italian-asian fusion restaurant along with a high end bar in Kowloon with fantastic views of the harbor.

    Some other things not to miss are strolling through the open markets of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. Also check out Nathan Road in Kowloon. Lots of fantastic noodle shops all throughout Hong Kong. In general, if there’s a line, it’s probably pretty good. Stanley Market is worth the trip over there as you get to see some areas of Hong Kong island that are not just skyscrapers. It’s really a nice drive along Repulse Bay on the way out to Stanley. If you want to rage like you’re in college again, Lan Kwai Fong in Central is the district to visit. Some of the “better” bars and clubs (Tonic and Solas are fun) are located up the hill from LKF along Wyndham St. Expect hundreds of Hong Kongers and expats drinking clubs and bars spilling out into the street with blaring music.

    For transportation, take the Airport Express from HKG to Hong Kong station. It’s simply the best way to get to Central or Kowloon from HKG. Once in the city, the MTR is very easy, cheap, and clean, but cabs are extremely cheap too. MTR can get overwhelming during rush hour, and I generally find cabbing it is easier and more convenience for me. I have NEVER had a fare >$60HK.

    Not sure where you’re staying, but I was at the Conrad last month. Great hotel, but the rooms were a bit small. Nice setup in the executive lounge. The best part is the location. At Pacific Place Mall, the Conrad is accessible to MTR, and is a quick cab ride to anywhere on Hong Kong Island, and not too far from anywhere in Kowloon.

    I could go on… it’s probably my favorite city in the world. Have fun!

  • CDiddy

    I’m headed to Hong Kong in June and staying at the Conrad, so all of your comments/suggestions are extremely helpful. Thanks!

  • Andrew H

    Definitely visit Tim Ho Wan (in Sham Shui Po district, less waiting as tourists don’t frequent this location) for the best dim sum in HK. http://wishihadafoodpun.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/tim-ho-wan-hong-kong/
    And if you are going up to the Peak, skip the tram… take the 15 Peak bus instead, the ride is way more fun as you wind your way up the mountain road and you see how the rich and famous truly lives in HK. Also, try Stinky Tofu sold by open air snack stalls in Jordan Districts (near temple street). Just follow your nose, hold your breath and bite in! :)

  • Andrew H

    Almost forgot to mention that you should also try the Snake soup at Se Wong Yee in Causeway Bay… it is the best in HK.
    http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/asia/china/hong-kong/74552/se-wong-yee/restaurant-detail.html
    Also, hop on the tram in the evening and travel from Sheung Wan district to Causeway Bay. Get on the top deck and sit up front… it is an experience you will never forget! http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/things-to-do/tramguide.html

  • Charles Thor

    All great recommendations so far but I would also include the following:
    Shopping in Wan Chai and Central
    Ride the trams
    Hong Kong Park

    For eating try the following:
    Maxim’s Palace for Dim Sum (a little touristy but fun)
    Lin Heung Teahouse for dim sum (very local and crazy but great food and fun)
    Luk Yu Teahouse for dim sum
    Hutong for an upscale dinner with a view

  • http://www.facebook.com/tahsir21 Tahsir Ahsan

    Brian!
    I’m going to hong kong on the 31st and leaving on the 1st
    any chance you’re on cathay cx 882? lol

  • http://fieldofburch.com/ Bryce

    As others have said, absolutley Victoria Peak. Maybe check out the Hong Kong Convention Centre–amazing architecture, and one of the best views in the world from the bay windows.

  • http://twitter.com/ex_flexitarian Chris H

    - Milk pudding and Condensed Milk Toast (literally toast covered with condensed milk) at the Australia Milk Company
    - Private Kitchen dinner – I liked Kin’s Kitchen but there a lot of private kitchen options there
    - Wonton noodles at Mak’s noodles
    - Egg tarts from Tai Cheong
    - Fish ball noodles from Mun Fai Cuttlefish Ball King

  • Rachel

    Each night in Hong Kong, the buildings on the HK and Kowloon Side of the Harbour (about 40 in total) put on a light show at 8pm: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/attractions/kln-symphony-lights.html You can view it for free from either side of the Harbour, but one spectacular way to see it is from a “junk” on the harbour. One trendy bar in HK called Aqua has a beautifully restored junk called Aqua Luna. They have special sailings during the light show. You can get tickets online:http://www.aqua.com.hk/#/eng/global/hongKong/aquaLuna/harbourCruises

  • http://twitter.com/angelinaaucello Angelina Aucello

    I’m here in HK now for the weekend too – let’s try some of these dim sum places?

  • AJM

    What others have said PLUS:
    Kowloon Walled City Park (very interesting)
    Hong Kong Museum of History (a world class museum, even my 19-year old son loved it)
    Chi Lin Nunnery (a beautiful oasis in the middle of a bustling city)
    Nan Lian Gardens (across the street from the nunnery)
    Big Buddha on Lantau Island

  • MrAOK

    A lot of people going to the peak just go to the top. The walking path has a nice view

  • Scott U.

    Hey Brian – I was just in HK in August 2011 so here are a few suggestions.
    1) Tim Ho Wan – Michelin starred dim sum restaurant thats pretty cheap! ($-$$)
    2) Lan Kwai Fong – nightlife area for foreigners and native HK’s. Really fun and can get crazy. Drinks aren’t cheap though!
    3) Victoria Peak – I’d recommend going at night. We went in the daytime and it was a bit cloudy/smoggy. At night you can see all the buidings lit up and its really nice.

    Hope this helps! Have fun!

  • Gdiharce

    Grab a drink and use the bathroom at the FELIX in the Peninsula. You will know why once your there.

  • Rado

    The China Club is a great experience for dinner. It’s styled like 1930′s Shanghai. I was a private club – not sure if it still is. If you are Amex Platinum/ Centurion, get Amex to book it. Otherwise ask the concierge at the hotel. Enjoy you trip!

  • Dfdddd

    I’ve stayed at the Marriott connected to the convention centre. Very clean. great pool (shared with the much more expensive Grand Hyatt next door). Room was small. In Wan Chai, which has its pros and cons.

    The crown plaza in Causeway Bay is excellent. Big clean rooms, great rooftop pool, the bar on the roof has great views. Not my thing, but also close to the shopping.

    Check out the restaurants in the escalator mid-level area.

  • Smitty06

    I would say a visit to the Wednesday night races at the Hong Kong Jockey club is great fun. Bring your passport to get a visitor pass into the owner’s section.

  • Rachel

    I agree with Maxim’s Place in City Hall for Dim Sum. One of the last remaining places that still pushes the carts around.

  • Trevor

    Awesome on the M16/M18 — will have to do that!

    For Hong Kong — Hit up the Night Market (Its not as off the wall as Bangkok looks, but its certainly cool to check out). Also, if you have the time, head over to Macao, its under an hour by high speed ferry – remember to bring your passport, as its a Separately Administered Republic (SAR) like Hong Kong, except Macao was a Portuguese Colony. The Sands Casino was cool… but more culturally — Senado Square is cool, The Ruins of St. Paul are cool… you can actually see them from a distance from the fort (Mount fortress I think?), which offers about as good a view of Macao as you’ll get.

  • thepointsguy

    Awesome- lets meet up!

  • thepointsguy

    Yea Phnom Penh isn’t great, but Im about to go see the Killing Fields and SR-21, which I think is an important part of the Cambodian experience, even if it is totally depressing.

  • Doug

    Brian, you absolutely must have dinner at TBLS, which is on Hollywood Rd, right near the Escalator: http://tbls-kitchenstudio.com/ The food is amazing and the location is unique. It’s on the 7th floor of this building with no signs and it getting in feels a bit like you’re going to a speakeasy, but it’s legit. The chef, Que, used to work in NYC. Make a reservation NOW.

  • http://twitter.com/bry_ng Bryan Ng

    You have to try the egg tarts from Tai Cheong on Wyndham and Hollyroad Rd. in Central

  • http://twitter.com/SOLTATIO SHAUN DELL

    Hong Kong is an amazing city and there are hundreds of things to do and see. There is however one place that I highly recommend you put on your “food experiences” list, especially if you want to eat like the locals.

    LIN HEUNG TEA HOUSE at 160-164 Wellington Str (Downtown Hong Kong), serves mainly Dim Sum and while I am sure there might be some restaurants that serve more “premium” Dim Sum, this one will give you an authentic experience. The restaurant is huge, and filled with large tables seating between 2 and 10 people. It is always packed and you generally share a large table with other patrons and locals reading the paper. This is a great way to meet people or at least just experience the culture first hand.

    Ladies who speak absolutely no English push carts of bamboo baskets around with two or three pieces of Dim Sum in each. You can try many different varieties, generally by pointing at something and she will hand it to you. Take 2 or 3 baskets at a time for variety. She stamps your little “bingo-like” card and you pay at the end. Tea is also served in copious amounts and you can have as much as you like.

    DEFINITELY try the giant square slices of pumpkin cake. It is generally considered the dessert to your meal and this restaurant is famous for it.

    Prices are ridiculously cheap and for two people we stuffed ourselves and paid just over US$11 each. Go Before 3pm as they stop serving at 4pm and after 3pm, they will send less and less baskets out of the kitchen. HAVE FUN!

  • Hodgie

    Ok, I avoided Bangkok (been there a bunch, but can’t ever remember places) and Cambodia (never been), but Hong Kong I know (since I live there). I didn’t put exact addresses for all these places, but I’m sure you can get Google to do that. Also shoot me an email if you need more recommendations.

    To see – basically what everyone else said…

    To eat:
    1. Dim Sum – Someone mentioned Tim Ho Wan, which is excellent, but I would recommend the Mong Kok location. Yes, more touristy, but the original, and having eaten at all three locations, the best (SSP would be second, avoid the IFC location). Most of it is very good, but make sure to get the Fried BBQ Pork Buns. Other excellent dim sum is Maxim’s Palace City Hall, Lei Garden (again, Mongkok location is best), and on the higher end Fook Lam Moon (Wan Chai location, TST one is good not great)
    2. Peking Duck – Best options are Spring Deer (very ‘local’) and Peking Garden (book a table by the window around 7:30 and you can see the light show from here too). Make sure you book the duck 24 hours in advance.
    3. Other food – Bloom (5/F, LKF Tower), Yardbird, 208 Duecento Otto, FINDS, Anywhere in the IC-HK, Most of the places in the IFC, Bo Innovation… too many more to name.

    To drink:
    Kowloon Side
    1. Ozone (1 Austin Road, top of the RC) previously mentioned
    2. Aqua (1 Peking Road, 30/F) – previously mentioned… try to go around 7:30 to catch the light show.
    3. Felix and Salon de Ning (top floor and basement of The Peninsula)
    4. Knutsford Terrace – strip of bars and restaurants near Kimberley Road. Restaurants tend to be a tad overpriced (and touristy), but bars are local-ish and a good time.

    HK Side
    1. LKF – Azure (29/F, LKF Tower), Tonic (Wyndham St), Dragon-i (Wyndham Street), Fly (Ice House Street), Lily (6/F, LKF Tower), Volar (D’Agular Street), Kee Club (Wellington Street),
    2. SoHo – Feather Boa (speakeasy type place, at 38 Staunton – no signage – try the Chocolate Strawberry Daquiri)
    3. Wan Chai – Generally everywhere is the same (just stay out of the places with the neon signs…hah), but Mes Amis and Carnegies are especially fun on Wednesday Nights (fun in that back in college type way)
    4. Other – Wooloomooloo (steakhouse with multiple locations. Steaks are ok, but rooftop bars at both the Wan Chai and TST locations are awesome.), Sevva (another rooftop bar in Central), Red Bar, Halo… too many more to name.

  • http://www.clarkecomputer.com/ Charles Clarke

    *laugh* Shooting an M-16 and M-18 with your ear protection on the counter. No more need for noise cancelling headphones. :-)

  • davidcaitpe

    go to the Victoria Peak twice: one during daytime, one during night time. You’ll get the best views of Hong Kong. You can go there by cable car or bus / taxi (I recommend the cable car).
    There is also a path that allows you to climb all the way up, in a kind of jungle forest between the most expensive houses / buildings of Hong Kong: strange feeling. If you’re a James Bond fan, watch “the man with the golden gun” then go to the Jumbo restaurant in Aberdeen

  • Greg

    @thepointsguy, will you go to mainland China after Hong Kong? One interesting thing I observed is that when visiting China, Westerners almost always visit only Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai or Xi’an but not anywhere else. I’m looking forward to seeing some trip reports from you other than these cities some day. :)

  • thepointsguy

    Lol I only needed them for the m18. The m16 outdoors wasn’t very loud

  • Andrew L

    I agree with most of the dimsum recommendations here, in particular Maxim’s at City Hall and Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok.

    I’m a huge sucker for Cantonese style roast pork, and would HIGHLY recommend this whole in the wall place called Joy Hing. It’s been around since the Qing Dynasty and does the traditional roast meats over rice meals for about 4-5 USD a plate. AMAZING! Here’s the wiki article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_Hing%27s_Roasted_Meat

    Also a fan of mango desserts at any Hui Lau Shan or steamed milk at a Yee Shun Dairy company outlet (look for a cow on the sign). Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula is great, but you might have to queue a bit if you’re not a guest.

    I put together a google map for my own trip back in Feb and would be more than happy to share it with me. Just drop me a line and I’ll send it over.

    Enjoy! :)

  • http://twitter.com/angelinaaucello Angelina Aucello

    Just saw this now!! ahh. Any chance you’re in Macau tonight? We are here now and it’s pretty awesome.

  • John

    If you are still in town tomorrow (Monday) and near the Airport Express station in Central, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to take you out to lunch to Mak’s Noodles, Maxims City Hall or the best pizza by the slice in this neck of the woods.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=710977371 David Hickey

    you’ll also notice that his eye protection is on top of this head.

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