Hong Kong Ultimate Guide – All You Need to Know for Your Trip to Fragrant Harbour
Hong Kong – also called Fragrant Harbour – is one of my favourite, favourite cities. In this guide I share all my insider’s tips. I tried to keep it short and simple and realized how many things there are to see and that the options for dining are endless. I pinned it down to my personal highlights and included some pro-tips for getting around as well. Check out the map at the bottom of the post!
Eat at …
There are so many options for dining, coffee and drinking in Hong Kong. It was really hard to choose from all the places. Furthermore, it really depends on the area you stay in. This is just a brief list of recommendations. I think I will have to write separate posts about all my favourite places.
Dim Sum refers to assortment of small dishes. It is similar to the tapas or mezze concepts.
Dim Sum Square is my favourite place for Dim Sum in Hong Kong. Be prepared to wait in line for about half an hour, if you go at peak lunch times. I recommend a late lunch at around 2 pm. (88 Jervois Street)
If you get hooked on dim sum, I also recommend the “all you can eat”-lunch at Dragon-i. Their vegetable dumplings are delicious. I recommend booking a table in advance. (The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street)
Breakfast and Brunch
Oolaa is an oldie but goldie. I still love going there for coffee or brunch. (1-9 Bridges Street)
Apart from the obvious delicious coffee, Coffee Academics also serves tasty breakfast/brunch. I really like their muesli and pancakes. (35-46 Johnston Road)
More Things to Eat
One of my favourite Vietnamese places is BEP Vietnamese Kitchen. (88-90 Wellington Street; there is also branch off the escalator on Shelley Street)
If you are in the mood for steak, I recommend La Vache! (48 Peel Street)
Hooked – hole in the wall with the best fish and chips in town. (80-88 Caine Road)
Try Maison Libanaise for Lebanese food. (10 Shelley Street)
Fish Bar at the JW Marriott in Admiralty has the best deep fried squid in town.
208 Duecento Otto is a great place for set lunch. They offer an antipasti buffet and you can order mains of your choice. (208 Hollywood Road)
If you have a late night, Ebeneezer’s (G/F, 5 Lan Kwai Fong) and The Flying Pan (9 Old Bailey Street) are the go-to places.
Coffee at …
I have written a separate post with a ranking of the best places for coffee in Hong Kong.
Drinks at …
Wooloomooloo is my favourite rooftop bar with one of the best views of Hong Kong. (256 Hennessy Road)
Gin, gin, gin at Origin (48 Wyndham Street)
Lily & Bloom at the LKF Tower has a really nice vibe as well. If you are in the mood to escape to France, head to Pastis. (65 Wyndham Street)
Hidden behind street stalls just off Wellington Street, is 001. It is a black door and you have to ring the bell. When the bar openend, it created a lot of buzz around its secret location. Today it is not as secret anymore. But the drinks are really good and they have live music on some days. (97 Wellington Street)
For a “real” Hong Kong experience, I would need to recommend having drinks at a 7/11. (Yes, this is a thing!) If you want to be a bit more civilized – but only a bit – head to Staunton’s (10-12 Staunton Street) or Soho Corner. (Corner of Staunton Street and Elgin Street)
The obvious Victoria Peak should definitely be on your list. I recommend taking the first tram in the morning. The later you go, the longer the queue. My pro-tip is to top up your Octopus Card (see below). You can then skip the line for the tickets. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or walk if you feel like exercising. I recommend Lion’s Pavilion or Lugard Road Lookout as free spots, the Peak Galeria is nice as well, but there is an entrance fee.
Walk along Hollywood Road, visit Man Mo Temple and PMQ. The latter is the former police headquarters and has been turned into a creative space with lots of small boutiques, restaurants and cafés. I also enjoy exploring the antique places off Ladder Street and the typical Chinese pharmacies in Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun.
Of course, Hong Kong’s street art scene is not to be missed. Read more about my Hong Kong Street Art Walking Tour here.
For architecture enthusiasts, walking around Central is a must. There are architectural gems such as the HSBC main building designed by Norman Foster or, my personal favourite, the Lippo Centre. IFC is probably the most iconic modern building.
I also recommend taking the ferry to the Kowloon-side and enjoy the view of Hong Kong island from there. Furthermore, visit Mong Kok – one of the most densely populated places in the world.
A (half-)day trip to Stanley and Repulse Bay on the South side of Hong Kong island or Sai Kung will totally change your view about the city. Hong Kong is not all about concrete and skyscrapers. There are national parks and plenty of peaceful green oases. However, I do have to mention here that Stanley and Repulse Bay have become more and more crowded with bus tourists recently…
Also check out my post about the most “Instagrammable” places in Hong Kong and if they are worth visiting.
Shop at …
Hong Kong is often considered a shopping paradise. However, I think this applies for tourists who shop for big brands which are taxed heavily in their home countries. There are a lot of small independent shops as well. Unfortunately, a lot of these small places open and close all the time due to the high real estate prices. Therefore, I decided to keep this section short.
The area off the escalator at Shelley Street (and Elgin, Staunton and Peel Street) is great if you look for small boutiques. Button Hole (58 Peel Street) changes its collection regularly and you can find the latest trends at a reasonable price.
I personally enjoy browsing at the antique market off Ladder Street.
One of my favourite shops for souvenirs with a twist is Goods of Desire. (48 Hollywood Road)
Treat Yourself at …
If you need to spend some me-time or need a quick fix for your nails, I recommend Sense of Touch Spa. It is not the cheapest place, but it is very nice and I really enjoy the ambience. They have several outlets across the city. (52 D’Aguilar Street)
Stay at …
Lang Kwai Fong Hotel at Kau U Fong – The name is confusing, this hotel is not in Lang Kwai Fong. (You would not want to stay there anyways as it is crazy at night.) This boutique hotel is in Sheung Wan, conveniently located near the MTR and I really like the decor of the rooms. (3 Kau U Fong)
Another alternative is Butterfly on Wellington, right off the escalator at Wellington Street. If you do not have heavy luggage, you can walk there from the Airport Express via the elevated walkway. (122-126 Wellington St)
How to Get There and Getting Around
Hong Kong has an international airport serving as a hub connecting Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.
Hong Kong has a great public transport system. I recommend buying an “Octopus Card” which you can use for the Airport Express train, MTR (subway), tram, busses and the Peak Tram. If you stay at Hong Kong Island or Tsim Sha Tsui, definitely take the Airport Express. It takes 24 minutes from the airport to Central – you will never manage to make it as fast by taxi. A one-way ticket with the Airport Express is HKD 85. If you take the Airport Express or if you have an Octopus Card, you can also check in at Central and enjoy the rest of the day without worrying about your luggage. (I wrote more about this “In-Town Check-In” here.)
Uber works in Hong Kong as well.
A special thing about Hong Kong is that there are walkways between the skyscrapers and escalators in the middle of the city. These walkways are at second-floor-level and are designed in a way that you can even walk there during the rain. You can walk from Sheung Wan as far as Pacific Place 3 in Wan Chai via these elevated walkways.
Best Time to Visit
While I do like summers in Hong Kong and all the beach and junk (i.e. boat) fun, it is very, very hot. I think the best time to visit Hong Kong as a tourist is between October and March. It is not as hot and you can comfortably walk around and explore the city. From April onwards, there is heavy rain.
Language, Currency and SIM-Cards
The local language is Cantonese. English and Mandarin Chinese are also spoken. Usually, English is perfectly fine for getting around.
Hong Kong has its own currency, the Hong Kong Dollar.
I recommend buying a prepaid SIM-card right at the airport. Alternatively you can also buy SIM-cards at 7/11 or at the shops of the respective providers.
More about Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) Guide
The Most “Instagrammable” Places in Hong Kong and if They Are Worth Visiting
Seaside Escapes in Repulse Bay and Stanley
Exploring Hong Kong’s Creative Hub at PMQ
All information as of the date of publishing. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.
Looks awesome – I can’t wait to go to Hong Kong and eat my way around town! Not sure if that is a silly question but do you need a VPN for Hong Kong as well? I know I needed one in mainland China but actually not sure how it works here – do you?
No silly question at all. No, you don’t need a VPN atm in Hong Kong. Let me know if you have more questions and have a nice trip!
I know I am going to visit Hong Kong in the coming year and these tips are just great. Always up some foodie tips and wow, the street art is amazing! Thanks so much, gonna bookmark this!
Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you like the guide. Food and street art is great in Hong Kong. There are so many things to explore. Enjoy your trip!
I love Hong Kong’s vibe and the food scene. Your guide is on point regarding the numerous of food options available. We loved dim sum and had it everyday. Can’t wait to go back to spend a longer time there.
I always indulge in dim sum as well!! I totally agree regarding the vibe, it is one of the most interesting places I’ve been to.
It’s awesome to read such insider tips from someone who knows the city so well! I’m definitely saving this post for the next time I go to Hong Kong 🙂
Thank you, I’m happy you like it and hope that you make it to Hong Kong soon!
Hi Liz, thanks for sharing a short yet comprehensive post on Honk Kong. It’s been years since we visited but I remember going up to the Victoria peak and eating at this amazing Indian restaurant. I hope to go back one day. This time (reading your review) I’d love to find a vegan dim sum place and eat to my heart’s content 🙂
Hi Jyoti! Thanks so much for your comment. Do you remember the name of the Indian restaurant? Would love to know if I have been or try it if I haven’t. There are so many great restaurants and I’m sure there’s some great vegan dim sum as well. A lot of the vegetable dumplings I order are vegan most of the time and I love them!