My first ever overseas trip was as a teenager to Hong Kong, where I spent 10 days dragging my Mum to every shopping mall and market possible. Luckily my love for shopping during my travels has declined significantly as I’ve gotten older, so my return to Hong Kong this time around involved no markets or malls. Instead I spent my days seeing the Hong Kong skyline from as many different angles as possible. After arriving here on a quick Jetstar flight from Singapore, I was also incredibly relieved to be somewhere with little humidity. Last time I was here it was summer and the weather felt like much of S.E Asia – hot, humid and almost unbearable. Needless to say winter in Hong Kong might be my favourite season, but is it really winter when it’s still 20°C?!
You can’t come to Hong Kong and not visit Victoria Peak. It really is the only way to see just how big and tall this skyscraper city is. How far you see of course will depend on the weather and how clear the skies are. Apparently the best time to visit Hong Kong (and probably much of China) is during Chinese New Year when all the factories shut up shop and the skies have a moment to clear from the pollution. Unfortunately it was a little hazy for much of our time in Hong Kong, so just be sure to have your expectations in check, as daily clear skies unfortunately aren’t a reality here.
Choi Hung Estate
Translating to ‘Rainbow Estate’, this place really couldn’t be more perfectly named. The public housing estate has been put on the map thanks to millennials and Instagram, but the locals I encountered didn’t seem to hate us too much for that. Everyone heads straight to the basketball courts (located on the top floor of a car park) for their pastel hued photos. There was a good dozen or so tourists taking photos when I visited (even at 10am), and even more locals on the court going about their morning exercise. While I’m sure they once found it interesting having this new influx of young tourists coming to their homes and taking photos, now they barely seem to notice us. If you do visit, remember you’re in their home so be respectful and don’t get in the way of their tai chi class.
Montane Mansion in Quarry Bay
Hong Kong is famous for being over-populated and this becomes abundantly clear when you visit any of the local residential estates. Montane Mansion is another one that’s become a hit with the tourists. The main courtyard is surrounded by apartments each and every side and it’s hard to imagine the residents not feeling claustrophobic at times. Looking up you’ll start to comprehend just how many people live in this city, all side by side.
There’s plenty of exploring to be done in Central Hong Kong. You can start at Man Mo Temple (prepare for an incense overload), then head right next door to Yue Po Chai Curios Store for antiques and an impressive storefront. Spend the rest of your time walking along Hollywood Road but keep an eye out for the different street art along the intersecting roads and alleys.
Now THIS is what people come to Hong Kong for! There really is no better time to see Victoria Harbour than during the nightly 8pm Symphony of Lights show. They use searchlights, lasers and LED screens to light up dozens and dozens of the city skyscrapers, which has become a nightly tradition since 2004. There’s also a soundtrack performed to the light show if you head down to the harbour front area of Tsum Sha Tsui to listen.
Where to Stay to be Up in the Clouds: EAST, Hong Kong
As long as you don’t have a fear of heights, then sleeping high amongst the Hong Kong skyline has to be on your bucket list. EAST, Hong Kong is located in the business hub of Hong Kong Island, so it’s not far if you’re wanting to explore the shops and street art around Central or even head up to Victoria Peak. The best thing about its location is that it’s only a 5-minute walk from Montane Mansion, which has fast become one of the coolest photo ops in the city thanks to it going viral on social media. The view from the hotel rooms here can easily be described as epic and you’ll have a hard time wanting to close those blinds at night. I slept with the blinds open both nights because I couldn’t bare to shut that view off. Even if you’re not staying here I highly recommend paying a visit to the rooftop bar Sugar on the 32nd floor of the hotel. It’s really popular with the local after work crowd and is the perfect place to watch the sunset over cocktails and tapas above the Hong Kong skyline and beautiful harbour.
Where to Stay for Victoria Harbour Views: The Kerry, Hong Kong
Stepping out of the taxi and into the lobby of Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong the first thing you’ll realize is that this is not your average city hotel. With sprawling gardens, outdoor patios and an infinity pool with endless views of Victoria Harbour, Kerry Hotel isn’t just a hotel but a world-class urban resort and the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Having been open for less than a year, it’s actually the first hotel to open on the Kowloon waterfront in more than two decades! If you’ve been to Hong Kong, then you know this is prime real estate and one of the best views in the city.
Located in the emerging Hung Hom Bay, it’s not in the main tourist zone but only a short taxi or train ride away from all the action. I personally found this to be a good thing, particularly in a city as busy and at times claustrophobic as Hong Kong. Having all this space and resort surroundings was a welcome retreat to come home to after a long day of sightseeing, (that is if you even make it out of the hotel). The daily breakfast buffet had me in so much of a food coma that I just wanted to lay by the heated infinity pool and sightsee from my daybed. If you’re not much of a morning person, no problem, because they also have a lunch and dinner buffet, basically you can have a buffet for every meal of the day. Having sampled my fair share of buffets around the world, it’s safe to say Kerry Hotel has one of the largest food selections you’re likely to ever see. So it’s clearly no surprise that I want to return to Hong Kong purely for an eating holiday to sample more of the amazing food here. In keeping with the urban resort theme, all five restaurants have landscaped patios and outdoor dining (a rare experience in Hong Kong), but it’s their Red Sugar bar that has the best view of Victoria Harbour come sunset time. It’s also the perfect place to watch the nightly Symphony of Lights show, though if you have a harbour view room you may as well watch the light show from the comfort of your own bed! So whether you’re visiting on a quick stopover or spending the week, Kerry Hotel makes sure a resort holiday is possible in Hong Kong, which is a very exciting change to city travel.
With thanks to Jetstar for making this trip possible. As always, all opinions expressed remain my own.