This former Brit enclave is now under the helm of China, but the bustling city-state continues to be known for its heaving streets, encompassing harbour and flashy skyline. Often the next place Dubai’s expats flock to, chances are you will have a few mates on its shores.
Read on for what to do when you visit them (and impress them with your insider knowledge).
Shopping & Style editor Kawai Wong
Hong Kong’s status as a shopping paradise is a signed-and-sealed deal. There are your usual must sees – Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui (think Champs-Elysées sans grandeur), Times Square (1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, +852 2118 8900) and the markets in Mong Kok if you’re on a budget – but don’t forget the edgy independent shops dotted around the rest of the city. Neoclassic & Open Sesame (6 Stewart Road, Wan Chai, +852 3114 1313) is a barbershop and antiques store. Featuring green walls and aged furniture from all over the world, you can buy whimsical hand-soldered lights from Dhs1,000. Select 18 and Mido Glasses are chock-a-block with vintage items (18 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, +852 9127 3657), Hatwoman (Man Yee Arcade, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, +852 2167 8337) specialises in quality millinery sourced globally, and don’t forget to check out St Francis Street and Star Street (www.starstreet.com.hk) for more independent shops. Hollywood and Lok Ku Road are also famous for vintage finds and contemporary galleries.
Food editor Dorothy So
Hong Kong’s eclectic dining scene in a nutshell? At one end of the spectrum you have the super local eats that make up the backbone of this city’s culinary tradition. Go for old-school dim sum from metal trolleys at Lin Heung Tea House (160-164 Wellington Street, Central, +852 2544 4556) or hit up the Mong Kok area in Kowloon for some down-and-dirty street food. Hong Kong is also great for seafood. Forget the tourist traps such as Sai Kung and head out to the Aberdeen Fish Market (lunch only; 102 Shek Pai Wan Road, Aberdeen, +852 2552 7555) where you choose your sea-dwelling prey mere hours after it’s been caught. On the other hand, if you want to try some high-end international cuisine, go for Michelin-starred, Time Out Hong Kong’s 2010 Restaurant of the Year, Amber (The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road, Central, +852 2132 0066). Alternatively, if you visit during October, the famous white truffle menu at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo (Alexandra House,18 Chater Road, Central, +852 2537 8859) is worth the splurge.
Nightlife editor Oliver Clasper
The unavoidable cacophony of Top 40 music that consumes most of Central makes it hard to find real clubland, but it does exist if you know where to go. Two small and highly dedicated drum ’n’ bass and dubstep crews, Kongkretebass and Heavy, ply their trade at Backstage Live (Sompteaux Centre, 52-54 Wellington Street, Central, +852 2167 8985). Also watch out for their collaborative outdoor parties throughout the year. For cutting-edge techno (minimal or tech house, mainly), mainstay Yumla (79 Wyndham Street, Central, +852 2147 2383) and newcomer Fly (24-30 Ice House Street, Central, +852 2810 9902) serve it up every weekend, while Volar (44 D’Aguilar Street, Central, +852 2810 1272) pushes the latest electro and international acts – though it’s pricier and with a much younger crowd. For after-hours clubbing of the grittier kind (on weekends the above venues shut at around 5am), head down to Homebase (Au’s Building, 17-19 Hollywood Road, Central, +852 2537 1000).
Around Town editor Andrew James
Don’t let the suits fool you – Hong Kong rivals most major cities when it comes to outdoor pursuits. Beaches? Pak Tam Au to Tai Long Wan is Thailand without tourists. Cool waterfalls and cliff jumping? Trek to Sheung Luk Stream. Tall, tough summits? Wind your way up Lantau Island’s Sunset Peak (for hiking details, maps, photos and more preferred hikes, see www.tinyurl.com/TOHKhikes). Want to get wet? The city’s scuba shops will take you to the best dive locations in Sai Kung for day or night-time dives (contact Mandarin Divers for info and prices, +852 2554 7110). And don’t miss the nearby Nine Pin Islands, with awe-inspiring volcanic formations rivalling the best in the world (www.geopark.gov.hk). Want to get high? Indoor climbing and bolted crags are everywhere – there’s even Central Crag in the middle of downtown. Project X Team hosts weekly meet-ups (www.projectxteam.org). Got the need for speed? Surf and kiteboard rentals and lessons are also available at several beaches (contact XGame on +852 2890 2321).
In search of culture
Art editor Edmund Lee
There are some great scattered cultural hotspots to be found around the city. High-profile performing arts groups from around the world regularly grace the Cultural Centre (10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2734 2009). International and local music acts are also regulars at Hidden Agenda – the indie bar that was declared Time Out Hong Kong’s best music venue in 2010 (Ko Leung Industrial Building, 25 Dai Yip Street,Kwun Tong, +852 9651 8567). Artier pursuits can be found at the nearby Osage Kwun Tong (Kian Dai Industrial Building, 73-75 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, +852 2793 4817), a gallery showcasing a wide range of Asian contemporary art. On the Hong Kong Island side, art lovers can make a brief visit to the non-profit Para/Site Art Space (4 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan, +852 2517 4620), a tiny curator-run space, the vision of which remains extraordinarily grand.
Need to know
Cathay Pacific flies direct from Dubai to Hong Kong from Dhs2,520 return including taxes (www.cathaypacific.com; 04 204 2888)
Where to stay
The Peninsula: Often considered one of the finest luxury hotels in the world, this Kowloon property boasts classic interiors, old-school good service and harbour views. Rooms from Dhs2,100 until March 2012.
www.peninsula.com (+852 2920 2888).
Hello Inn: Also in bustling Kowloon, this small, colourful guest house is a very affordable option. All rooms are en suite but, being in Hong Kong where space is premium, you wouldn’t be able to swing your suitcase in any of them without hitting all four walls. Rooms from Dhs180.
helloinn.mysinablog.com (+852 3995 4171).