Holidays have to be about pretty sights and definitely some memorable food experiences. When I do my homework about what to do at a place, I always give equal weightage to both. One without the other always leaves a certain void to a holiday, well with Hong Kong, there were no such voids!
Hong Kong, is a buzzing city, and has the usual excitement of one, which basically translates into shopping and great eating experiences, and frankly Hong Kong has a lot to offer on both these counts. Of course I enjoyed a meal at Jamie’s Italian & Zuma, which I must add were great culinary experiences, but there were a few other experiences that stood out for me, and which if you like the kind of holidays I do, you would enjoy too
Tram Ride to Victoria’s Peak
This is easily one of the best experiences in Hon Kong City. While you wait to get on the happy red tram, you can see the historical gallery in the waiting area. The tram ride itself has existed for 120 years, so you are in a piece of history. When you get on the tram to go up, if you are wondering which side to sit on, grab a seat on the right side, it makes for the best views of the city’s skyline and is an experience like none other. The tram leaves every 15 minutes, so you do not risk endless waiting, but be warned there is no orderly line to get in, but pushing and shoving. If you do have to stand, be prepared that the tram goes up almost at a 60 degree angle, so find something to hold on to.
Once you reach the top, you are welcomed to Shoppping! You can choose to move on the viewing deck, which I did not do, but there is a vantage point, where you can walk down and the view is pretty awesome as well.
The Egg Tart
After much research about what to eat in Hong Kong, I read about Tai Cheong’s Egg tarts. Touted as one of the top bakeries in the world and one of those things you must eat, it found a natural place in my list. I was lucky enough to find one on day one, at Victoria’s Peak. They have a little outlet on the second floor of the mall at Victoria’s Peak. The egg tart is a yummy custard set in between a flaky yet crusty pastry shell. Once I bit in to the tart, I could see custard jiggling invitingly for the second bite. The bakery stocks a lot of goodies, so either take your sweet tooth, or a large group so that you can sample a couple of goodies. We also tried the Melon Cake, which was pretty good. Advice though is that you must enjoy eggs, otherwise the egg tart may be too eggy for you. The tart is priced at a reasonable 8$ so indulge away!
Tian Tan Buddha
Going to see the largest Buddha in the world is quite an experience by itself. You can take the metro to Tung Chung station and the Cable Car station is right opposite the Citygate Mall. You need to get on a cable car, the to and fro ride will cost you about 165$ and the ride is at least 30 mins each way. The last cable car leaves at 6.30 so plan to be there or get out of there accordingly. The cable car ride is gorgeous and you can see the land, sea, and forest below you. There is a glass bottom Cable Car as well so if you feel daring enough maybe you can go for that ride. I am told taking the bus ride back is also a great option, we were pressed for time so opted for the cable car.
You can see the majestic Buddha from a distance and the monastery has an air of serenity around it. A tip is that while you walk to the Buddha watch out for the signs they are pretty howlarious.
You have to climb about 268 steps to get close to the 34 metres high Buddha. It’s a trek, but a trek well worth it. When you do go there, plan to spend some time there. There is also a monastery opposite the Buddha, so feel free to visit that too.
There are several options for eating, starting from local food to Starbucks and Mc Donalds.
LKF – Lan Kwai Fong
This is pretty much a party street, the whole street is abuzz, free for all, and has the most electric vibe. The street has a line of pubs with some crazy deals on shots – Like 10 for 168$ and more. While there are fewer people in the bars and more people on the street, buying their stock from 7/11. There isn’t much food in the vicinity, so be prepared for that. what makes it more fun, is random props that vendors are selling, and in the spirit of the moment, you will see people wearing disco crowns, shades and some crazy headgear.
The best part about the street is the security and how safe the cops keep the scenario, as it can get out of hand in such an atmosphere in terms of safety. There was a lot of security, and while they were not ruining the fun, they were keeping the zone safe.
The best way to get to Stanley Village is to take a cab. The winding roads and gorgeous views of the sea, reminded me of the drive from Nice in France to the village Eze. It is no wonder that Hong Kong is called the Riviera of the East. Stanley Village is like a breath of fresh air, and a far cry from the high rise, hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city. The village has a European Air, and the promenade has a host of restaurants serving European Fare, as well as traditional Cantonese food.
The village also has a bustling market, which opens kind of late around 12 ish and shuts at around 6. You will find great bargains on leather bags, scarves, linen clothes and even paintings.It is a great place to shop and hang around at. It is perfectly okay to bargain and that’s how you are going to get your best deal!
Towards evening the promenade lights up with fairy lights and has a festive surreal feel about it. You can walk up to the pier or walk up to the Murray House. If that doesnt cut ice, after all the shopping you can put your feet up at the Saffron Bakery, which is quite a treat and has lots of place for kids to play and free wifi!
I had read about the “famous french toast” and there was a restaurant named Sei Yik which was apparently really famous for it, but they serve them only till about 4pm, and I went at 6, so obviously I got none. However the place itself was quite small and quite a hole in the wall, so you must really WANT to taste the french toast and look beyond the restaurant to get it. I couldn’t get my hands on one through the trip, so if you do, then you must let me know how that tastes 🙂
Lock Cha Tea House
On most holidays I like to eat local food, but in Hong Kong I managed very few local meals especially because I wanted vegetarian food. This was one place I has read about and definitely wanted to try and I was glad I did it. Lok Cha Tea House is a traditional Cantonese Tea House serving only vegetarian dimsums. The experience kind of flows in sequence because this is in Hong Kong Park, right next to the museum of tea ware. You are already in A “tea state” of mind and Lok Cha is the perfect answer. It is open only until 9 pm, so it is the place for an early dinner and I was told that reservations are always recommended. I happened to walk in and luckily I got a table.
I decided to sample 3 different kinds of dim sums and boy was I satisfied. I had the steamed vegetables dumpling. A sticky rice dumpling in a lotus leaf and a glutinous flour dumpling with peanuts and cashewnuts. Seemed like my own little dumpling – starter- main course and dessert meal. (I dont know if that even makes culinary sense.
I loved the ambience of the tea house and because I had gone alone I had a lot of time for people watching. Because this is in the heart of Hong Kong’s business district lots of men in suits, lots of people on holiday. An ideal way to spend my last afternoon in Hong Kong for me.
My morning cup of Coffee is non negotiable, anywhere I travel I like to make my arrangements for coffee, even if that means carrying a 3-in-1 mix. I abhor the thought of starting my day with bad coffee, especially because after that I am looking for a good cup all day. Having discovered Coffee Academics at Harbor Mall, I decided to go the main cafe for the real thing. The coffee shop is warm and inviting and the coffee better than most one would have had, I bet. I continue being partial to South Indian Filter Coffee, but the Latte I had at Coffee Academics now needs to be topped. The best I have had until now. My Latte with Agave and Pepper was smooth, the ideal temperature and the perfect coffee experience. I really wished the cup was bottomless. I had it with homemade Carrot Cake which was – welll… carrotty and generously filled with walnuts. I’m still thinking about the coffee and frankly I wish I would have discovered it earlier, so that the four days I was there, I could have indulged in it everyday! If you love coffee, I would definitely recommend visit to Coffee Academics, I promise you wont regret it. If you want to know more about them – check this out
Some tips that could help
1. MTR is a great way to travel, ideally buy the day pass which is valid 24 hours from when you buy it and costs about 52-55$.
2. You can go mobile at about 80$, you have unlimited data access and limited talk time. But frankly I did not go mobile, but used wifi at most of the places which is freely available.
3. Restaurants shut early, so finish your meal by 10.30 at night, you are unlikley to get proper meals post that