Posts tagged ‘gastronomy’

Find the best view in Hong Kong. Twice.

By Chris K

Today’s Itinerary

  • we reveal the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant
  • what else can you do in Hong Kong? That’s right – shop
  • there’s more to our hotel than just amazing food
  • find the most incredible view of Hong Kong
  • and then beat it with an even better view!
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Photo by Roger Price, Licensed under CC.

Yesterday our expectations were changed by a surprising experience in Hong Kong that we didn’t know you could do in such an urbanised, cosmopolitan city. Today, we’re going to throw ourselves into the intensity of Hong Kong’s cuisine and shopping experiences – because when a city does something well, it’s a shame to miss out.

There’s a secret that we don’t want to tell you

You know the place – everyone’s got one. That little cafe or pizzeria, just around the corner, down the alleyway, past the mean-looking bikers (they’re actually really nice), right at the abandoned liquor store – there it is – that hidden place; your secret.

We all have that little place we like to think is our own, and we pass it on in whispers to our friends and family – because we want to share the secret (but not too widely).

Goodness – it might become popular! And then the tourists will come, and the queues will get longer, and it just won’t feel quite the same.

We feel a little bit like that about our first recommendation today. It’s been passed along to us through that grapevine, that circle-of-keeping-awesome-places-to-ourselves, with the implicit bond to “Keep it secret! Keep it safe!”.

But we have to break that bond today. This place is just too good.

And let’s be honest – once CNN Travel covers a place, it isn’t so secret anymore.

The cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant in the world

Tim Ho Wan is the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world - right in Hong Kong. Sign up for our travel email!

Photo by Chika Watanabe, Licensed under CC.

So here it is.

Tim Ho Wan is not only the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant, but also has possibly the best dumplings in the world – and it’s our first stop today.

We’re here at 9:15 AM (yes, that’s in the morning) because the secret is clearly out. The queue starts building before the restaurant opens at 10AM, and we don’t want to get stuck in the rush – there’s too much to do today.

How good are the dumplings at Tim Ho Wan’s?

Tim Ho Wan’s is so good that Lady Iron Chef had this to say;

Can you imagine paying just SGD$12 for top quality dim sum? It’s dirt cheap! Is Tim Ho Wan really worth the hype? Yes, I’ll willingly queue up for their dim sum every time I’m in Hong Kong.

For the full blow-by-blow account of just how amazing Tim Ho Wan restaurant is, read Lady Iron Chef’s amazing Hong Kong article.

And for a visual reference (don’t get lost – there’s dumplings to be eaten!) have a look at this Hong Kong article from artofbackpacking.com.

Oh, we’re in Mong Kok? I suppose we may as well get some shopping in while we’re here


As our intrepid Hong Kong travel advisor Gabriele mentioned yesterday, Mong Kok is not only the location of those incredible dumplings we just ate in frightening quantities (we don’t feel so good. But they were so tasty!) – Mong Kok is also the home of markets, open day and night.

Shangai local Nick, who makes frequent trips to Hong Kong, had this to say about why Mong Kok markets are so good;

they block the streets off and sell just about anything – clothes, bags, watches, shoes, hats, electronics – and at a fraction of the price of the air conditioned shopping malls in TST.

Personally, we’re suckers for discounted photography equipment, so that’s what we’re looking for – what would you hope to find?

Hong Kong Shopping

Some other options for Hong Kong shopping are;

  • the Landmark shopping mall – take at look at their website and be gobsmacked by the assortment of brands
  • the Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, for basically everything
  • the Temple Street Night Market, for a display of a typical Chinese market
  • the Page One bookstore chain, recommended by the BBC, as “one of Hong Kong’s best selections of art and design magazines and books”

Really – you won’t have to look too hard to find an incredible assortment of shopping options in Hong Kong.

But remember to bargain!

Now find the most beautiful view of Hong Kong

Yesterday we said there were lots of reasons why we chose to stay in the Intercontinental Hong Kong. One of them was obviously the incredible variety and quality of their restaurant offerings. But there was another reason, and today we intend to enjoy it – weather be damned!

That secret is this – a pool with an most incredible view of Hong Kong. Although it’s typically not swimming weather in Hong Kong in January, some days hover around 18 degrees Celsius, and even relaxing by the pool deck is a pleasant experience.

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Is that boat sailing into the pool? An amazing optical illusion. Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Licensed under CC.

We can’t linger here too long though – there’s somewhere we have to be for sundown.

The cocktails will have to wait.

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What a dream destination! Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Licensed under CC.

Or the cocktails can come early. It’s really no problem either way.

Waiter?

That was a pretty good view. But we can do better

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Photo by Ryan Li, Licensed under CC.

Better?

Surely not.

That’s what we thought – and then we made it to the top of the The Peak (that’s right – THE Peak).

Just have a look at this spectacular view of Hong Kong. We’re looking down onto this city of seven million people and from up here, it feels like you could walk out onto those skyscrapers.

Can you just imagine how beautiful this would be at sunset…

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Photo by Mike Behnken, Licensed under CC.

Wow. That is actually really beautiful. Thankyou, photographer Mike Behnken.

One last tip for Hong Kong

Finally, one last tip from Shanghai local, Nick, who says;

ok….a MUST DO IN HK – take the 2.2HKD Star Ferry from TST to Central. (or vice versa, but I much prefer the TST to Central route). The view is spectacular on the ferry, especially at night. The ferry closes at 11pm.

What. A. Trip.

There aren’t many cities that so effortlessly combine such effortless culture, cuisine, and commerce, as does Hong Kong. There are so many places that we didn’t have time to fit it, we’re going to have to come back. This really is a city you could explore for weeks on end.

Luckily – we’re on an endless vacation. So we’ve got time.

Hong Kong Travel Tweeps to Follow

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Evocative Hong Kong at night. Photo by Mitch Altman, Licensed under CC.

HEY!

NEXT TIME we’re in Hong Kong – where should we go? What should we do?

Tell us in the comments, or on Twitter!

Eat. Shop. Cruise? A surprising day in Hong Kong.



By Chris K

Today’s Itinerary

The contrast between our week in New Zealand and Hong Kong couldn’t be more stark. In New Zealand, we experienced some heart-stopping adventure thrills in breathtaking scenery and took part in an epic rail-journey that we won’t soon forget.

Here in Hong Kong, we’re going to experience what life is like in one of the most densely populated places on Earth.

And it’s quite a change. Hong Kong has a population of almost 1.6 times that of New Zealand, packed into an area of roughly 1,100 km2. This density has lead to Hong Kong becoming the world’s most vertical city, ranking number one on the list of cities with the most skyscrapers.

From all of our research, it is clear that there is so much to do in Hong Kong; two days is just not going to cut it. Knowing this, we’re going to fit in as much as possible in our two days here in Hong Kong – and we’ll surely make it back soon.

So what’s on the agenda?

Eating.

Shopping.

A bit of sightseeing.

But mainly eating. And shopping. That’s the plan.

And yet…

Is there more to Hong Kong than just stuffing our faces and our luggage full?

7AM : Arriving in Hong Kong

It’s really hard to like long flights (unless you’re in first class). It is much easier to endure them, though, when you know that just on the other end of the flight is something special.

And our hotel in Hong Kong is really something special.

We’ve chosen to stay at the Hotel Intercontinental on 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon (email / website) for a great number of reasons – it’s really central, most rooms have stunning views of the city and the harbour, it’s very well regarded by other travellers…

There are a couple of other reasons, but we’ll get to those.

For now, all you need to know is this.

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Stunning. Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Licensed under CC.

All agreed?

 Flying into Hong Kong

To catch a view of Hong Kong from above, you can watch this video showing the approach of an international flight.

It’s a bit long so we recommend you skip ahead to 3:26, to see the wonderful view of Hong Kong as it appears from behind the cloud cover.

11AM: Cruise the Hong Kong harbour and visit Hong Kong’s Islands

Our day has been planned by Will, a Hong Kong local for the last three years, and in the spirit of all great local guides he’s defying our expectations of what Hong Kong is like and taking us on a completely different experience.

Will has gathered an impressively eclectic group of HK locals, expats, and fly-ins for our four-hour cruise. Most of his friends work in one of the many global institutions powering Hong Kong’s financial centre, which has lead it to become one of the major financial trading centres of the world.

Duk Ling in the Hong Kong harbour evokes memories of distant travellers and long journeys. Sign up to our travel newsletter and escape with us.

Old and New, when the Duk Ling cruises the Hong Kong harbour. Photo by Nick Stenning, Licensed under CC.

Packing the eskies (iceboxes) with some choice wine, beer, and local specialities (particularly seafood), we clamber aboard. Will promises a tour of secluded coves and beaches, far away from the mad pace of cosmopolitan Hong Kong – and for the brave ones, perhaps some impromptu diving off the boat before a refreshing drink over lunch.

As we sail out of the harbour, we cross paths with the mighty Duk Ling – apparently the last authentic Chinese-style junk still in service. The Duk Ling usually roams the harbour for short sight-seeing trips – you can pick up tickets at the HK tourist office.

We pull up alongside her, and it’s clear that the vessel is magnificent. Immediately we’re transported back to an era of smoke-filled gambling dens, lotus flowers and silk, illegal trading and piracy.

There’s almost a small mutiny aboard our humbler vessel, everyone keen for a chance to stand at the helm of the Duk Ling and fantasise – until someone mentioned the price for chartering the Duk Ling. Lacking the sort of treasure that would need to be exchanged, legal or otherwise, we choose to stay aboard and sail on to our island destination.

According to Wikipedia, the name “Hong Kong” is a phonetic rendering of the pronunciation of the spoken Cantonese or Hakka name meaning “fragrant harbour”. Around the dock this isn’t necessarily the case, but with as we sail further out of the harbour the meaning becomes more clear.

With the sea breeze in our hair we sail out of the Hong Kong harbour, the skyscrapers towering above us and gradually receding in the distance. Out on the water it’s a completely different experience of Hong Kong.

The January sun in our faces (the average is about 18 degress Celsius), we make our way to many unnamed coves on a wonderful tour of the islands of Hong Kong harbour. There’s no man overboard until a hidden signal from Will puts a less fortunate member of our crew into the water. No one is game to join them in January, although by March the water would be pleasantly swimmable. For everyone else, lunch is calling.

It’s a completely different experience of Hong Kong than what we were expecting, and it’s so pleasant to see a different side to the famous city that most people just miss out on.

Want to cruise the Hong Kong harbour?

If you want to organise your own charter on the Hong Kong harbour, you can try the following providers;

Finally, if you don’t want to charter a cruise, you can actually ride the Duk Ling on a short trip around the Hong Kong harbour.

5PM: enjoy an early, but epic, dinner at the Hotel Intercontinental

We are eating fairly early on in the evening, but we have somewhere to be at 8PM.

Hong Kong is famous for it’s cuisine, with around two hundred restaurants achieving a Michelin star (or two, or three!).

Will had a list as long as his arm of places for us to try, but unfortunately, we’d already made our minds up. Dinner was going to be at the Intercontinental.

And it isn’t like we are restricting ourselves with our choice – in fact, we can eat at four choices of restaurants and eight choices of locations. The restaurants include Spoon by Alain Ducasse, the world’s most acclaimed Japanese restaurant in Nobu, and Yan Toh Heen, an acclaimed Chinese restaurant.

You can’t really blame us for wanting to eat in our hotel with the calibre of these restaurants, especially with some of the crazy dishes they have served up in the past.

Experience cuisine heaven in Hong Kong, with so many Michelin star restaurants to choose from - it's a must-visit travel destination. Learn more on our daily travel email newsletter.

We’ve no idea what this is and we don’t care – we want it. Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, licensed under CC.

So. Hungry. For. Cuisine.

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Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Licensed under CC.

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Photo by Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Licensed under CC.

Find some more inspiring dishes here.

8PM: marvelling at the Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong

If anything is going to emphasise the contract between Hong Kong and New Zealand, it is this. A spectacular light show that involves basically the entire city. Lasers, neon, more lasers, even more lights.

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Photo by Barbara Willi, Licensed under CC.

We’re down on the street for this, wandering along the Avenue of the Stars and trying to find a good spot to see the light display. We don’t really have to struggle too hard, given that the show involves around forty-four buildings in Hong Kong and Kowloon.

We’re lucky to have a pleasant evening with no rain.

The show won’t run during a category three typhoon, which makes sense. Because, you know – typhoon. No time to watch pretty lights in a typhoon.

Here’s a brief video submitted by one of our readers that gives just a little taste to the incredible light show.

One day in Hong Kong

So that’s all for our first day in Hong Kong. Yes, we’ve barely even scratched the surface, but it has been an easy introduction to a city that can easily become overwhelming. We’ll throw ourselves into the fray tomorrow and fit in some of the famed Hong Kong shopping – and we’ll also continue to work our way through the cuisine heaven that is Honkers.

Tweet us Travel Tips!

We’re working hard on building a travel community on Twitter, and you can get in on the action yourself – we’d love to hear from you.

And in case you missed it, here are some great travel tips from Gabriele Baljak. Let us know your travel tips on Twitter, too!

Thanks to Gabriele for those travel tips!

What are your Hong Kong tips?

We know we’ve missed something – what else could we see?