With it’s eclectic mash-up of cultures, international shopping mecca status, and cutting edge art and style vultures, there are more reasons to visit Hong Kong than ever in the Year of the Dragon.
Here are our shopping, food and nightlife picks:
Nothing says shopping like Hong Kong! It’s always been a famed global shopping destination, with the lure of duty-free and bargain electronics, but Hong Kong shopping is not all Nintendos and Gucci knock-offs. From luxury shopping malls, cutting-edge art and fashion boutiques, to antiques and collectibles and the iconic bustling street markets that it's renowned for, shopping in Hong Kong is everything you want it to be. Here are a couple of not-to-be-missed shopping strips...
Once home to "ma and pa" printing presses and noodle shops in the central district of Hong Kong, Gough Street runs for just two blocks between Shing Wong and Aberdeen Streets. It's recently become a hip new alternative enclave for, among other things, design and fashion boutiques. The rustic colonial-era old Hong Kong backdrop, is a cooler alternative to the nearby, expat-hub of Soho with design boutiques such as Raneek, known for the designer's modern interpretations of traditional cheongsam dresses, and the design concept store Homeless which sells cutting-edge designer homewares and design novelties like mirrored ashtrays and oversized writing utensils.
Mongkok Ladies Market
A visit to one of Hong Kong’s famed street markets is still a must on your shopping itinerary so why not make it Hong Kong’s and the world’s busiest piece of real estate. The famous Ladies Market at Mong Kok. Mongkok is not only Hong Kong’s most populated area, but the world’s. Once the headquarters for the notorious Hong Kong Triads, it’s now one of Hong Kong’s liveliest districts, packed with eclectic shops and food stalls. Get amongst the Mongkok Ladies Market to get a taste of the ‘real’ Hong Kong, and possibly bag a bargain as well. The Ladies Market, despite the name, sells anything and everything, from fake Louis Voitton handbags to electronic toilet seat musak.
Hong Kong’s melting pot of cultures and ethnicities has made it an absolute smorgasbord for eating and drinking – everything from home grown Hong Kong ‘stinky tofu’, traditional Cantonese delicacies to African curries, amazing Thai, mouthwatering Sashimi and al a carte Italian cuisine.
Yun Fu in Central Hong Kong pays homage to the ethnic communities of northern China and Tibet with its unique fusion cuisine. You enter down a staircase lined with Buddhas into a dungeon filled with red lanterns, antique furniture, ethnic baskets and exotic silks. A curved projection screen on the wall of the bar shows silent scenes from vintage Chinese martial arts movies.
The infamous Chung King Mansions in Kowloon is a labyrinth of budget guesthouses, Indian restaurants, and cheap malls all within the walls of one monolithic building. It's also one of the best places to experience the cultural melting pot of Hong Kong and the cheap and tasty world cuisine on offer thanks to its huge immigrant population from all corners of the world. You’ll find some of the dodgiest characters and some of the best and cheapest food Hong Kong has to offer in Chung King Mansions. Pick up a fake Rolex while you’re there!
Lin Heung Tea House
Lin Heung, a 70 year old Hong Kong insitution is simply the best place to eat Dim Sum, if you can get a seat that is. this place is always full - and doesn't take reservations but nothing compares to the authentically no-frills Hong Kong experience of lunching on Dim Sum at Lin Heungs so it’s worth the wait for a table.
From vodka ice bars with complimentary fur coats on arrival, to Shisha lounges and luxurious sky-bars, Hong Kong night life has it all.
The world’s highest bar
Those preferring to have a drink rather than be in it should head to Ozone. On the top floor of the Ritz-Carlton, the dazzle factor is so high that you can see the roof reflected in the polished floor. But the views out over Hong Kong Island are what you really come for. The work on the West Kowloon Cultural District has finally started in front of the hotel, so get in now before those views change.
Baby Buddha Bar
A small alley hideaway, squeezed between a building an old Chinese incense temple, Baby Buddha has a uniquely organic urban atmosphere. The bar feels like it could almost be a set fronm Blade Runner or Mad Max. There are festive red fairy lights strung along a naked cement wall and red light emanates from behind the bar. The eclectic crowd of artists, DJs, hipsters, bohemians, travellers, writers makes for great mingling and people watching over a cocktail or two.
The Flying Winemaker
The winemaker from Hong Kong’s first winery is behind the new Flying Winemaker shop and tasting room. A cool wine concept bar that’s all about taking the snob factor out of wine by encouraging customers to try Lebanese, Chinese and Swiss wines (amongst others) out of plastic cups.
Dragon-i is an uber-hip legendary hang-out for global glitterati of the likes of international soccer stars, models and artists. Put your best threads on to get past the door-nazis or hit happy hour from 5pm – 8pm if you want to avoid burning a hole in your fake Gucci wallet.
No-one should leave Hong Kong without hitting a karaoke lounge at least once. The Red Box/Green Box chain of private karaoke rooms has a great selection of English songs, and the sound systems and service are the best in Hong Kong. Pay for the night (rather than by the hour), and have your private room until after 5am!
What's your favourite place to hang out in Hong Kong? Tell us about it in the comments section below or head to twitter and Facebook to share your stories and images with other travellers.
If you want to hit the streets of Hong Kong why not check out all our trips. There's bound to be something that gets your heart racing!
Don't forget, for the month of April we are taking 15% of all trips departing by 31 December 2012. So check out the web for details!