Our pick of the most authentic things to do, see, eat and drink on one of the world’s most bustling cities.
The panoramic view from Hong Kong’s highest vantage point — 552m high, to be exact — explains why Victoria Peak is the most visited spot in the territory, offering towering views over the iconic skyline and only a short funicular tram ride from the middle of town. As well as the skyscrapers, Hong Kong’s other iconic image is the Chinese fishing boats — called “junks” — traversing the 260-island archipelago, so don’t miss the chance to sail through Victoria Harbour. And although it’s too late this year (the action kicks off on April 7), the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is a sporting event every footy-loving man must add to his bucket list — the official slogan is “Where the world comes to play” but should perhaps be revised to “Where the world comes to guzzle industrial quantities of vodka-Red Bull”, creating a raucous party atmosphere.
Across the harbour in Kowloon, stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade for a different perspective of the impressive skyline — the promenade is also the perfect place to watch the nightly ’Symphony of Lights’ show that illuminates more than 40 buildings on the other side of the water. For a more traditional view of Hong Kong, take the day trip to the Po Lin Buddhist Monastery on Lantau Island — home to a 23-metre-tall bronze statue of Buddha looking down from a hilltop — as well as Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin, a colourful temple just north of Kowloon Bay where fortune tellers predict your fate using bamboo sticks. The glitz and glamour of the Causeway Bay shopping precinct and the dense, winding streets of Wan Chai are also worth checking out.
Any visit to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through Temple Street in central Kowloon — imagine every cliched Chinatown you’ve ever visited pumped up on peptides. The city’s most famous hawker markets host countless street food vendors as well as all the latest Hollywood releases on dodgy DVDs if you fancy a movie for dessert. If a sit-down meal is more your speed, dine at the Luk Yu Tea House — an upscale establishment serving traditional Chinese fare, pairing your pork dumplings with an extensive selection of specialty teas — or the old-school Lin Heung Tea House for a more rustic (read: shabbier) experience.
Catch the Symphony of Lights with a lager in hand at the Deck n Beer on a balmy evening in Kowloon, then wander up to Knutsford Terrace for a quiet night out. But if you really want a taste of Hong Kong’s nightlife then make a beeline to Lan Kwai Fong, a L-shaped precinct of more than 100 bars and nightclubs crammed into two streets in the heart of Hong Kong Island. And as you’d expect in a city with more skyscrapers than a Gold Coast developer’s wet dream, there are dozens of great sky bars to choose from — if you’re looking for a rooftop with champagne views on a beer budget, you can bring your own bottle of wine to the top of the IFC Mall, which boasts lounges overlooking Victoria Harbour that are free to use and BYO drinks.