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Escape To: Hong Kong

Where to go, what to do and what to eat

by Michaela Fulton | Fri, June 30, 2017

Hong Kong is renowned for being a great urban playground – a concrete jungle and shopping haven. Take a break from the hustle and bustle by exploring the city’s natural side and indulging on some wholesome Cantonese cuisine. From the hiking trails to the beaches, join us as we explore a different side of the city.

Explore

Unless you’re visiting in the height of summer, when the weather turns outrageously hot and humid, try your hand at conquering the Dragon’s Back trail. A 20-30 minute bus ride from Shau Kei Wan MTR Station on Hong Kong Island, it’s easy to get to and makes for the perfect day trip that the whole family can enjoy. The walk up may be a bit of a struggle to begin with, but the sweeping views and rolling hills are worth every second. You’ll end the trail at Big Wave Bay beach, where you can lie on the sand, play in the waves, or enjoy some grub at the local seaside restaurant.

Victoria Peak is also a well-trodden attraction to visit when in the city. However, take a short stroll away from the main viewing platform (yes, you heard). Instead, make your way towards Lugard Road which follows the Hong Kong Trail. After around 10-15 minutes of strolling through a luscious tree-lined path, where buildings glimmer through the gaps, you’ll discover a stunning panoramic view of Hong Kong from above that sweeps right across the length of Kowloon – and less of a crowd!

If looking to explore more of Hong Kong's culture, temples make a fascinating choice. Built in 1847, Man Mo Temple is a picturesque tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). Take a moment to pause amongst the incense coils, for as long as your nostrils can stand the smell and smoke.

Get ready to start counting. Further north, towards Sha Tin in the New Territories, is one of Hong Kong's most famous Buddhist temples – Man Fat Tsz, otherwise known as the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. Be prepared to walk more than 430 steps on a steep concrete path, accompanied by dozens of life-sized Buddha statues, each with a unique expression, that lead you up the mountain. You'll arrive at the top and be rewarded with a view of the surrounding countryside and the Main Hall, which is actually said to house 12,800 small golden Buddha figures! 

Find it:

Dragon's Back Trail: Shek O Road, near to Tei Wan Village

Victoria Peak: Victoria Peak, Mid-Levels

Man Mo Temple: 124-126 Hollywood Road, Tai Ping Shan

Man Fat Tsz: Po Fook Hill, Sha Tin, New Territories

Food and drink

Indulging on Cantonese dim sum is a must. This Chinese cuisine served in bamboo steamers are bite-sized dishes that range from soft barbecue pork buns (char siu bau) and prawn dumplings (siu mai) to beef noodles (hor fun), delectable egg tarts (dan taat) and much more. Maxim’s Palace at City Hall houses one of the more traditional tea houses complete with trolley ladies who cart dishes around for your choosing.

Over the years, modern takes on local fare have crept in through various restaurants. One such is Yum Cha, whose name derives directly from the Cantonese for the act of drinking tea. They serve up a playful twist on traditional fare whilst maintaining authentic flavors in each dish. No matter if you're an adult or child, we're sure that their vomiting steamed custard dumplings will bring out your inner child.

Dinner at The Peak holds many merits for travellers and, with a number of options available alongside the fantastic views from the top, you’ll be sure to find something to please everyone. Getting up couldn't be easier with the help of the Peak Tram from Central (HK$45/adult, HK$20/child), which has quietly witnessed 120 years of the city’s changes. If you haven’t yet had your fill of dumplings, head to Lu Feng for all-day dim sum in a nostalgic 60s and 70s setting. Or, if your kids are craving anything but, Wildfire+ makes freshly cooked, open-flame thin crust pizzas that are the ultimate crowdpleaser.

Find it:

Maxim's Palace: City Hall, Central

Yum Cha: 2/F, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road, Central

Peak Tram: Garden Road, Central

Lu Feng: Old Peak Road, The Peak

Wildfire+: The Peak, Victoria Peak

Drink

Tucked away in Sai Ying Pun is a red-doored Gintonería that feels far too spacious for Hong Kong Island. With its high ceiling and industrial, cement flooring, Ping Pong 129 solidifies that this city is full of surprises. At around HK$120-150 for a goblet of G&T, you can easily sip for hours in this adult decorated, neon laden, cocktail cave. For those with more of an Eastern palette, Yardbird in Sheung Wan carries some of the best sake, whiskey and shochu around, even brewing their own under the name Sunday’s Grocery (though mind that they're closed on Sunday). But if you’re feeling a seaside beer and casual fare for the family, take the tram to Kennedy Town and have a sampler at Little Creatures – their french fries won’t disappoint you.

Find it:

Ping Pong 129: 129 Second Street, L/G Nam Cheong House, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Yardbird: G/F, 33-35 Bridges Street, Sheing Wan, Hong Kong

Little Creatures: G/F New Fortune House, 5A New Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Sleep

Set in a charming colonial building, Tai O Heritage Hotel overlooks panoramic views of the South China Sea and sits on Lantau Island in a very atmospheric fishing village, Tai O. Minimizing the impact of renovation on the existing structure, the building’s beauty lies in every room that tells a tale of its past as a former police station – cannons, corner turrets, cells and all.

Looking for ease when traversing the streets of Hong Kong instead? Check out Hong Kong's first artsy boutique hotel, Yoo by J Plus located in Causeway Bay, for a vibrant home away from home with suites that reflect dynamic color themes and graffiti-inspired artwork. You'll be centred in the midst of all the action – so be prepared for crowds when out and about! However, the hotel itself has all the amenities you could want, including a terrace, surrounded by high-rises, to gaze at whilst sipping a morning coffee.

Find it:

Tai O Heritage Hotel: 14 Shek Tsai Po Street, Shek Tsai Po

Yoo by J Plus: 1 Irving Street, East Point, Causeway Bay