Hong Kong was a very interesting place. Not at all what I was expecting. The only other place in Asia that I have visited is Thailand, and expectedly, HK was completely different.
I did have certain assumptions about HK, which I think are more appropriately attributed to mainland China. I live in Australia, which has a huge Chinese population and a big Chinatown in the CBD, so China wasn’t an entirely foreign place. My fam and I stayed at the beautiful Luxe Manor hotel, just off Nathan Road, which was a great location as we were in the middle of everything. Heaps of shopping (though predominantly not the sort of shopping that my yet-to-start-full-time-work budget could support), food, tailors, street vendors and, above all things, people.
Luckily, HK has some great markets to offer another dimension of shopping – my fave was the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok (which also had some cheaper local clothing stores lining the streets), and I also enjoyed the famous Temple Street Night Market.
Apart from the shopping, other things to do in Hong Kong include:
(a) visiting the Peak for an epic view of the HK skyline.
(b) riding the longest outdoor escalator in the world (about 800 metres long) – make sure you walk around at each interval in the escalator to see the area!
(c) going on the Ngong Ping cable car – this is a 25-minute cable car ride through the mountains. It is definitely the coolest cable car I’ve ever been on.
(d) visiting the Tian Tan Buddha (at the top of the Ngong Ping cable car) – climb the 268 steps to reach the big Buddha and have an awesome view!
(e) visiting Disneyland Hong Kong or Ocean Park for some fun.
(f) visiting the Avenue of the Stars at the harbour, which is the HK equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame – from here you can also view the beautiful harbour and skyline.
(g) watching the lights show, ‘A Symphony of Lights’ on the harbour – every night at 8pm. The best place to watch it is on the Avenue of the Stars, near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
(h) going on a harbour cruise, where you can see the different islands that form HK, as well as fishing villages.
Now, more importantly, let talk about food.
By the time we had arrived at our hotel from the airport, I knew that I would be fine for the next 6 days. There were 7/11s on almost every corner (literally, like 3 in one small street) and McDonalds/KFC/Burger King were just as prevalent. Phew. I might not eat particularly well, but I certainly wouldn’t starve. There were lots of Marks & Spencer supermarkets too, although most of their products say ‘not suitable for nut allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods’.
The problem with Hong Kong if you are travelling with multiple people who wish to eat different foods is that we couldn’t seem to find (although that wasn’t due to lack of trying) many typical “food court” venues as Australians may understand it (the only one we found was at the Ngong Ping cable car, however it was pretty much only Asian cuisines). Every mall had food, but these comprised solely of restaurants that spanned across numerous floors where (obviously) you couldn’t bring outside food in. Even where referred to as a “food loft”, we excitedly expected a group of take away places with lots of tables and chairs, but this was unfortunately not the case. This made it extremely difficult for my family to find a place we could all eat – me, with all my dietaries; my dad – anaphylactic allergy to fish; my mum – a vegetarian; and my brother – a vacuum cleaner, willing (and keen) to eat almost anything and everything.
I stumbled upon two areas in particular that housed a lot of different cuisines. Elgin Street on Hong Kong Island (and the surrounding streets in SoHo) is filled with restaurants of all different cuisines – there were so many options to choose from. However, the food in this area is generally quite expensive. I went with the Mexican option, since it’s my fave.
We also discovered a strip of restaurants behind our hotel, Knutsford Terrace (what an ironic name), comprising all different cuisines with nice outdoor terraces. When you walk along the strip, look at the menu boards rather than the actual restaurants, as we discovered that some restaurants were hidden away inside buildings behind. My fave restaurant there was on the third floor of a building behind, so you don’t want to miss out on a winner!
Overall, in Hong Kong, I came across Greek, Spanish, Italian, British, American, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Nepalese, French, Japanese, Korean, Vegetarian and plenty more cuisines. There is something for everyone, you just have to find it! Though predominantly the food is Asian in some form or another, I did manage to eat 4 different cuisines in Hong Kong, which is a great turn out for me! I ate Japanese (once), Mexican (three times), Italian (twice) and American (ok that doesn’t really count).
I did, however, often resort to good ol’ Maccas, which was usually when we were out touring and had a late lunch (and the effort of looking around was too high given our hunger levels). I ate way more Maccas than I’d like to admit, and I neverrrrr eat it at home. Nevertheless, it’s always an option, and a reliable one at that!
Therefore, if you are travelling to Hong Kong with friends or family who have different dietary requirements, be prepared to eat in shifts. Often, 2 or 3 of us would eat in one restaurant [hungrily eyeing off the other people’s foods], and then the rest would eat in another. Luckily, restaurants didn’t seem to mind if only some of us ate.
Stay tuned for some more from Hong Kong!
Until next time…請享用!
The Allergian Abroad