hong kong TRAVEL GUIDE
DATES TRAVELLED | April 2019
Hong Kong is possibly the most photogenic place I have been to in the world! It comes in clusters of primary colours and pastels and it's so densely filled with people (a headcount of 7,490,00 when I last checked, one of the most populated cities on the planet!) mixed with interesting buildings and signage from the very old to the more contemporary. Good shots are all around you here, but it's almost like walking into one of those absolutely packed but unbelievably good op shops - you have to find the treasures that catch your eye and I almost felt anxious I'd miss something good. Pause. Take a moment here, pull over to the side if you have to and take this city in. The city won't stop when you do, in fact, it's known to never sleep. A photographers dream!
When I first started researching Hong Kong, I was immediately intimidated by not so much by the size, but by how just how jam-packed it was. It was obvious there were so many good things to eat, see and do, but they were all spread out over the two main islands and up and within the sprawling skyscrapers. In the beginning, I was thinking there is almost too much choice...like where do I even start and how do I not miss out on those real gems!? So, I put months of planning into our itinerary to ensure we had a truly diverse Hong Kong experience.
The one thing that the rest of the world should take from Hong Kong (apart from more neon) is their beautifully simple train system...this is coming from someone who feels more socially comfortable in a car. Never said this in my life, but I loved the public transport. Many well-travelled people have mentioned that the MTR here is one of the easiest train systems in the world to use. It's air-conditioned, fast, frequent and accessible. So if getting around Hong Kong may seem a little daunting to first-time visitors, the trains, the reasonably priced taxis and a whole lot of walking (like a WHOLE lot!) will have you from point A to Z and every location in between in no time! To see extra content on places we went to, things we ate and room tour videos, see my Hong Kong Stories highlights on Instagram HERE. And for all the details, tips and itinerary planning, click on the boxes below. I hope you enjoy this travel guide xo
ABOVE : I was shooting the blue building behind, and then this blue truck in pretty much the same shade pulled up in front, with a dude who was giving me all the Miyagi vibes, he then opens a newspaper and lights a ciggy. THANK YOU! BELOW : Egg tarts is a very traditional Chinese dessert that you'll find all over Hong Kong. There are two versions of tart shells, one has a puff pastry base and other is more like a cookie. The pic below is a cookie-based egg tart from the famous Tai Cheong bakery. I prefer the pasty ones best.
ABOVE : Red is the cheapest paint pigment to add to white in Hong Kong, which is why so many buildings are pink here!
ABOVE : Lan Fong Yen is a cha chaan teng (Hong Kong style breakfast joint) and is an institution here, and it's said to serve the best milk tea in all of Hong Kong. It started out as a single family-owned dai pai dong (open-air food stall) back in the early ’50s and now they have a permanent shop location. Lan Fong Yen is best known for inventing the Hong Kong style “stocking” milk tea. They use long custom-shaped cloth bags in which the tea is filtered through, and the fabric naturally dyes brown from the tea leaves...making it look like stockings. Hence the name “stocking milk tea”. They use their own blends of tea, and it’s quite strong and fragrant - it’s said you can smell the tea aromas as you walk up to the shop.
Hong Kong style milk tea is one of my all time favourite things, and this one was incredible!
ABOVE & BELOW : Choi Hung, which translates to Rainbow in Cantonese, is one of the oldest housing estates in Hong Kong. Because of its super popular colourful vibes, it has become a ‘must do’ spot for photographers and Instagrammers. The trick is to come here early (around 8:30 am or earlier) and on a weekday. It just started raining and was windy when we came, so there was almost no one here but us!
ABOVE RIGHT : Mrs Pound bar which we stopped in at one afternoon for an air-con break and some tasty cocktails is hidden behind this locksmith shop front. "Inspired by a fictional story of secret lovers, Mrs Pound Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant brings to life the story of Mrs Pound, a former 1950’s Shanghai burlesque dancer, her married lover, Mr Ming and their elaborate clandestine rendezvous space. In stark contrast to the unassuming street front, once inside, a boldly coloured space evidently inspired by the retro-futuristic styling of Wong Kar Wai’s cult cinematic classics comes into view where bright, colourful neon, emerald green and fuchsia read as an intentionally stereotypical, yet playfully kitsch his n’ hers language, representing the dancer and her secret lover." - YATZER.
ABOVE & BELOW : Lunch at 'Little Bao'. The brainchild of Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2017, May Chow’s Little Bao is a hipster haven serving East-meets-West dishes including signature ‘baos’ stuffed with Asian fillings including Szechuan fried chicken (by FAR the best one, pictured below) and slow-braised pork belly. The mini ice cream baos—ice cream drizzled with condensed milk or salted caramel, sandwiched between golden fried buns—are massive crowd pleasers!
ABOVE & BELOW : Temple Street and the crazy neon-lit sights mixed with all the sounds of city life and haggling, tantalising food smells fills the air and you never really know exactly what to expect. Go with it. Let one of the restaurant workers who is calling to you from the fronts of their shops lure you in, but choose somewhere packed...that's always a good sign (the shop above is where we ate, and it was fantastic!). Ask the waiters what their specialties are, order them all but skip the crab (they will always sell you the crab as it's tasty yes, but it's expensive) unless you have the budget for it, and get them to serve it with a bottle of their crate sized beer. Heaven!
ABOVE & BELOW : We stayed at the gorgeous Tuve Hotel and I chose this place because I knew that it’s clean and minimal aesthetic would be calming after a day exploring the crazy (but cool) hectic streets. It was just a 4-minute walk to the local Tin Hau MRT station so it made super easy getting between the two main islands. We absolutely loved our stay here. I’ve put several room tour videos up in Stories on Instagram which you can see HERE.
ABOVE : Barber shop shot found by Aary. Thanks babe :)
ABOVE : Photo I took of a fishmonger at the Sham Shu Po markets. We both saw something funny happen at the same time and we smiled at each other when we realised we shared the same joke. It's not the clearest photo, as I only got the one shot, but I love it all the same. BELOW : This was a place I was looking forward to trying, especially on a hot afternoon. Egg waffles are such a big thing here in Hong Kong and you can pick up inexpensive street versions all over. But I wanted to try Oddies for their creative flavour combos. I love how they stuff the egg waffles with things like cookies and cream custard, chocolate chip brownie chunks, and black sesame mochi to name a few - all served with incredible gelato/parfait combos. We ordered: ‘WOODS’ - which had Italian gelato soft serve, cinnamon and apple pie egg waffle, apple compote, apple jelly, salted caramel gelato and cinnamon crumble. We got a small to share which was $49 HK ($9.20 NZD).
ABOVE & BELOW : Every morning we had breakfast at a cha chaan teng. A cha chaan teng (literally: 'tea restaurant') is a type of restaurant commonly found in Hong Kong. They are known for thier eclectic and affordable menus, which include dishes from Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong-style Western cuisine. I loved the retro asthetic of Mido Cafe (the one above with the stain glass windows) but Sun Hang Yuen (below) in the area of Sham Shui Po had the BEST noodles and also beef and egg sandwiches! Try and go after 11am so you can try their pork knuckles which they are famous for!
ABOVE & BELOW : Hop Yik Tai is a street-side stall (with restaurant around back) that sells Cheong Fun AKA rice noodle rolls which are made fresh every day on site. They are served piping hot and have a perfectly smooth/chewy texture and are paired with signature toppings; a sweet sauce, sesame sauce, soy and a dusting of sesame seeds. You can get it to take away or do like the locals do, stand in the alleyway and eat it, then put your plate in the bucket when done. We had just finished breakfast when we visited, so got the smallest of the 3 portion sizes, and for only $1.80 NZD it was so worth the pit-stop!
ABOVE : Misty and drizzly city view taken through a window from the Central Plaza 'sky lobby', a free viewing area over the city. Details on how to get there in the itinerary section.