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Life

Hong Kong Top 10 Sights and Tastes

Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist Nicole Gow reveals her top ten delicious, indulgent and relaxing reasons to visit Hong Kong 

If you’re looking for a destination with diversity, where one minute you’re in a buzzing city, then just 20 minutes later, hiking and swimming in a national park, Hong Kong is for you. Renowned for its food scene, it requires a healthy appetite and as all that eating is thirsty work, it’s handy that the local bar scene is really thriving. It’s a place where the traffic is bustling, yet still flows, it’s warm and welcoming, clean but not sterile, and quintessentially Asia.

It’s a city where you can have a fabulous family holiday, or indulge in pure enjoyment as a couple. Whatever your purpose for visiting Hong Kong, here are my top 10 things to do:

1. Live Like a Local

Packed with colour, flavour, scents and action, there are food markets to explore in almost every side street. When you’re ready to eat, Lan Fong Yuen in Gage Street, Central, is a popular local haunt. It’s famous for its milk tea, an art unto itself that’s poured through strainers six times and served with evaporated milk, creating a deliciously creamy yet tannic drink. And while you’re there, it’d be rude not to get the French toast and bagel with condensed milk. Then don’t leave the area without a few of the famous egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery.

2. Shop Shop Shop

Hong Kong has long been renowned as a shopper’s paradise, but with its abundance of shops, markets and malls, it can be hard to know where to start. I recommend planning your spree along the city’s shopping districts. On Hong Kong Island, you’ll find Admiralty, Central and Soho, Causeway Bay and Sheung Wan, while Kowloon is home to Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon East and West, and Mong Kok. Within each district, getting from one shopping destination to the next is easy, especially with an Octopus card that gets you on both trams and buses.

3. Good Fortune For Your Mouth

In Hong Kong, more locals eat out than at home, as it’s usually cheaper and with more than 14,000 restaurants, it’s a dining mecca. For a special treat, head to Ho Lee Fook, which translates as ‘Good Fortune for your Mouth’. Taiwanese-born chef Jowett Yu’s Chinese kitchen has a funky bright interior where catchy tunes entertain the throngs of diners. Jowett’s food is a clear celebration of his love of food and travel, encapsulated in the 10 years he spent in Australia at Ms G’s & Mr Wong. With fond memories of shucking fresh oysters in Bateman’s Bay, it’s little wonder his food speaks of freshness. The pork belly and Hong Kong-style French toast served with peanut butter and maple syrup or condensed milk are must haves. He has a great wine list too.

4. Wine & Dine Festival

If you’re lucky enough to visit Hong Kong in late October, the Wine & Dine Festival kicks off the Great November Feast. This month of indulgence includes epicurean culinary events, street carnivals, and wine and dine offers all around town. The Wine and Dine festival is situated next to the stunning Victoria Harbour skyline, so the night time backdrop is particularly spectacular

5. Walk or Run

If you’re looking for more compelling evidence that exercise helps you live longer, a walk or run in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay is a must. A memorable sight are the masses of seniors doing Tai Chi across the park to the meditative chimes of Chinese music boxes. Or for something completely different, get up early on a Sunday morning and run around the famed Happy Valley Racetrack alongside the horses. Giddy up.

Don’t forget, you’re here to eat so keep active to stay food fit!

6. Sharp Island

Part of the Sai Kung District, Sharp Island is a 45-minute journey from Hong Kong city, taking in some regional sights along the way. The short trip from Sai Kung Town Port across to the island on a traditional Chinese junk is a memorable beginning. On arrival at the picturesque national park, you can go on a guided 1.5km walk, taking in the scenic surrounds – an impressive contrast to the city lights and action you left behind less than an hour ago. It can get pretty warm though, so a jump off the pontoon and a swim can be a cool reward – and a great way to burn off a few dumplings.

7. Neighbourhood Night Life

Thanks to its vibrant, world-class nightlife, Hong Kong has become a breeding ground for cocktail mixologists. Cool wine bars are dotted across town – La Cabane a Vin in Hollywood Road is a personal favourite – and the surge in biodynamic and natural wines is pushing things along.

A visit to the Soho district is a must to check out the work of Australia’s award-winning bar designer, Ashley Sutton. Hailing from Fremantle, WA, Ashley used to work in the mining industry, and you can seen this influence in the one-off works of art he’s created in bars and industrial spaces.

The Iron Fairies is Ashley’s third Hong Kong bar and it’s all aflutter. Over 10,000 butterflies on thin copper rods hang from the ceiling in a space that’s dominated by iron, timber and leather features. Around the bar there are 12,000 bottles of fairy dust and in the centre of each table are thousands of iron fairies.

Ashley is also the design brains behind J. Boroski’s, an invitation-only bar hidden off Hollywood Road. Named after the renowned mixologist/owner, it has a windowless, tunnel-like interior where the wall over the bar is decorated with rows of preserved beetles – a nod to Boroski’s fascination with entomology.

8. Repulse Bay

A 20-minute bus ride from the city will bring you to the upmarket yet relaxed, low rise residential seaside resort of Repulse Bay. Popular with both locals and visitors, and home to several super yachts, Repulse Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong.

Soak up the sun on the beach, hit the designer shops or enjoy the many award-winning restaurants. Limewood serves a casual, yet very satisfying lunch – BBQ local seafood in a fusion of Mexican, Hawaiian and Asian flavours. I absolutely recommend the sea urchin guacamole and the freshly shucked oysters with quail egg, calamansi, scallion and ponzu, while pork neck in tamarind, garlic, chilli and charred lime was a crowd favourite. Finish with churros drizzled in caramel sauce and coconut ice-cream.

High up on the hill coming into Repulse Bay is Ocean Park Hong Kong, an award-winning marine-life theme park featuring animal exhibits, thrill rides and shows. A world-class experience, it blends entertainment with education and conservation.

9. Iconic Sites

Nothing beats seeing a city from the air, and the best panoramic view of Hong Kong Island is from its highest point, ‘The Peak’. It has also been the city’s most exclusive neighbourhood since colonial times. It features observation decks, restaurants, a historical gallery and the Peak Tram (the opening and closing scenes of the 1955 movie Soldier of Fortune, starring Clark Gable, were filmed in the Peak Tram).

During the day, the view sweeps from the sparkling skyscrapers and Victoria Harbour all the way to the green hills of the New Territories. By sunset, the panorama shimmers as vivid pinks and oranges bounce off buildings and at night, the light show begins as the city comes alive.

By day or night, board a Chinese junk boat and set sail into Hong Kong’s scenic harbour. Originally owned and manned by Chinese fishermen, the DukLing is typical of the junks that used to crisscross Hong Kong waterways.

This trip sails you past the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, which sits on the spot of the old Hong Kong Kai Tak International Airport, renowned for its dramatic landings over the city.

Back on land yet at altitude, another incredible angle of Hong Kong and probably the best tea selection you’ll ever experience are offered at high tea at 
The Ritz. The view, service, ambience, décor and tiers of sweet delights on offer are memorable and highly recommended.

While you’re there, head up a few more floors for a drink at Hong Kong’s most celebrated roof top skybar, OZONE. It has an impressive wine and Champagne list and the Signature cocktails are extreme.

10. Decent Coffee

For coffee lovers, the scene is really on the improve with plenty of funky new neighbourhoods appealing to locals and visitors alike. Fineprint Espresso and Liquor in the Hollywood Road district is the place to go and I can see why. Not only is the coffee a hit, but it’s the brain child of Aussie husband and wife team, Jamima and Scotty Callaghan. Scotty, a coffee roaster in Australia, set up a similar ‘roasters’ model in Hong Kong and the chefs came in droves for the decent brew and to purchase his Redback beans for their local restaurant and cafes in Hong Kong. The interest led to the coffee shop opening and it’s been a massive hit. Here’s the twist...at night the shop becomes a wine bar, taking just an hour to ‘flip’. It’s a very clever use of space in a city that doesn’t have much, but which has developed a craving for good coffee and wine.

Pack, Plan and Fly

Last few quick tips: bring room in your luggage, room in your stomach or better still, an oversized muumuu.

For more on all there is to do in Hong Kong, visit discoverhongkong.com.

Qantas (qantas.com.au) flies direct from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Fly Business Class to really kick off your culinary journey with Neil Perry’s in-flight menu and superb Aussie wines and Champagne.

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