HELLO HONG KONG! Officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, I had the pleasure of spending my holiday in one of the world’s most significant and energetic financial centers. Once a British colony, the coastal city of Hong Kong has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy trekking through the jungle, urban exploration, lounging at the beach, shopping, or breathtaking skylines, you’re bound to find so much to enjoy in this epic city.
Say “Hong Kong” and people tend to think business suits, not swimsuits, but under the cities commercial persona, venture beyond and you’ll find world-class coastlines, beautiful beaches, and tropical islands to explore under the sun with friends and family. Besides being an undercover coastal paradise, Hong Kong is also home to so much unique culture, Chinese roots, British colonial connection, show-stopping nightlife, a legendary kitchen cuisine, horse racing, bustling markets, and so much more!
Flying into Hong Kong from Shanghai on a red eye flight Saturday night, me and my buddies Daniel, Mike, and Jake, got in pretty late and checked into our hostel YesInn CauseWay Bay. With prime location, fair price, both dorms and private rooms, friendly and very helpful staff, awesome people, and quick wifi, I would recommend it for every budget traveller and I will definitely be back next time! After getting settled in, we made our way up to the relaxing rooftop bar, cracked open a few Tsingtao beers, and reviewed our plans for the adventure ahead of us!
Upon arrival, we were honestly overwhelmed (mostly because we thought our taxi driver was trying to kill us) so we decided to take our first day in the city relaxing via the top deck of a 1920’s looking trolley tram rolling through the city under towering glass skyscrapers and flashing lights. We saw a lot of neat stuff, including a group of thousands of Filipino women in the downtown area protesting for equal rights in the workforce.
On Monday, I decided to stock up on my dose of ocean (I MISS YOU CALIFORNIA), so we made our way to our friend’s water sports shop at Stanley Beach to rent some kayaks for a wavy day spent on the ocean kayaking to an island and Turtle Cove Beach. If you’re in Hong Kong or planning to visit and are interested in some water sport fun like wake boarding, wind boarding, kite surfing, or kayaking, HK Aqua-Bound Centre is the place to go! Great people, great prices, and its relaxed location tucked into Stanley’s quiet bay just a short taxi ride out of the city is unbeatable.
After getting a bit too sun burnt and enjoying the anchoring revitalization of the open ocean (living in a city of 30 million people gets tiring sometimes), we made our way back to the shore and trekked on foot along the southern coast to check out the famous Stanley Market close by. Located in a quaint coastal village and lined with side-street boutiques, vintage dens, gadget bazaars, and a mix of a little bit of everything else, it boasts a large selection of accessories, designer goods, clothing, souvenirs, and knick-knacks for reasonable prices and offers a very laid back atmosphere, unlike many of mainland China’s stressful shopping areas. Eventually, we ended up stopping along the west side of Repulse Bay at a sea view promenade for some delicious Mexican food on the water, explored some tide pools, and of course snapped some photos. Tucked into the bay on a rooftop with the crew and white wine in hand, sunset was prime here.
Hello Mr. Tuesday! What a freaking day. We woke up pretty late (winos unite), so we hastily threw some clothes on, packed our bags, and headed out around 10am to a dim sum restaurant for one of the most satisfying morning brunches I’ve ever had in my life. Freaking delicious. Dim sum has my heart (foodies unite). As the afternoon sun crept in over the skyscrapers, we hopped on the metro towards Hong Kong’s energy-filled bustling downtown area to do some quick shopping and urban exploration. From there, we grabbed a taxi up to the Ritz Carlton in the International Commerce Center, which I greatly appreciate for its hospitality for the night. Boasting the second largest number of high-rise skyscrapers of any city in the world, we couldn’t leave Hong Kong without checking out ‘the highest bar in the world’, named Ozone and weighing in 490 meters above sea level. Wowzers. It was a sight to see. Featuring a killer 180-degree view of Hong Kong’s entire skyline above the mountains and clouds, we kicked back to relax and talk about Donald Trump and other semi-adult things as the sunset and the sky faded to a beautiful tint of bluish-yellow.
From Ozone, we were too mesmerized by the view to go to sleep just yet, so we headed to the famous panoramic vista Victoria Peak. Seeing what Hong Kong has to offer at night is a must! With rows and rows of endless neon flashing skyscrapers in the city’s coastal Central District below, Victoria Peak is without a doubt the best place to view Hong Kong’s show-stopping night scene. To reach it, just take the Peak Tram (70-90 HKD) or flag a cab. I can’t promise it won’t be extremely crowded, but it’s well worth bumping a few shoulders to see one hell of an award-winning view in one of the greatest cities in Asia (and the world). #ILoveYouHongKong
Fast-forward to Wednesday around 6pm, after we spent a fantastic day exploring everything Causeway Bay has to offer, and we are off to the horse derby! Bets are placed, people stand cheering, a light rain is falling, and the energy is intense yet light-hearted. Afterwards, we headed to a pub-crawl, which was an absolute riot, and spent the night in torrential typhoon rains running pub to pub with beer in hand and trying our best not to spill a drop as we ducked and covered under as many umbrellas and shop coverings as possible. We ended the night soaking wet and freezing, but it was a great time, I met people from all over the world, and I loved the randomness of the whole gig in the pouring rain. If you’re in Hong Kong and have a working liver, a pub-crawl is a must!
The next day, and a very hot one at that, I hopped on the ferry early in the morning to head southwest of Hong Kong to Lamma Island, a peaceful and tranquil island full of natural scenery, beaches, and ancient Chinese fishing villages. As we passed through villages Mo Tat and Sok Kwu Wan on foot, we encountered friendly locals, delicious homemade local food, a spider bigger than my leg, and chirping birds filling the air of the jungle with good muse. Eventually, we made it to a secluded beach tucked in a small bay just 20 minutes walk past Mo Tat. I grabbed the chance to finally strap back on my mask and spent the next few hours free diving in the coastal waters, cliff jumping, and sun bathing with the boys. Lamma is a perfect place to visit for people of all kinds including families and day-trippers, and I couldn’t say enough good things about it. It’s a beautiful, safe, and relaxing place full of history and culture, and I’ll definitely have to make another visit to see the rest of the island’s sites next time I’m in Hong Kong!
All in all, Hong Kong is hands-down one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been and offers so much that’s it’s hard to fully experience in just a week-long holiday. Between it’s dynamic culture, endless sightseeing, delicious Cantonese cuisine, bold iconic skylines, and natural scenery, it’s truly hard to go wrong with whatever you may choose to do when you visit. It’s a bold city that has a complexity that defies definition, and I am so excited to head back soon in the near future! See you again soon Hong Kong!