Hello Hong Kong!
En route to Oz, Saskia lives it up in Hong Kong. Get her hot tips for your next trip to Honkers.
After a two year stint in Europe it was time for me to return to the mother ship: lastminute.com.au’s HQ in Australia. My husband and I have vowed to never do the 21-hour flight from The Netherlands to Australia in one leg, so a stopover is a must. We chose Hong Kong because we were keen to explore this cosmopolitan city ever since we read lastminute lovely Louise’s blog post.
Who did you fly with?
Cathay Pacific took us from Amsterdam to Brisbane via Hong Kong- they had the perfect dates available for an affordable fare. We used our points to upgrade to business class, which was amazing! Being able to lie down flat just makes the flight so much more enjoyable – and the bottomless glass of champagne we sipped the whole way definitely helped as well!
Business class on Cathay Pacific has different a layout for each type of plane. On our first flight we were in a diagonal setting which, while very comfortable, meant we could not see each other without standing up. Do fancy pants business class folk not travel in pairs? Do they not want to gossip, share drinks, show each other magazine articles? Fortunately on the second flight the layout of the cabin was a bit more couple-friendly with seats side-by-side.
Staff on-board were super friendly and address you by name (must be a business class thing) which makes you feel very welcome.
Where did you stay?
We chose The Luxe Manor in Kowloon for our stay – we decided to splurge a little bit as we knew we would be jetlagged so wanted a very nice room in a hotel with lots of comforts – sometimes you just want to pick up the in-house phone and make food appear in your room 15 minutes later!
I loved the design of the hotel; it is very funky and original. Staying in as many hotels as I do (first world problem alert) you get so bored of all the stock-standard beige hotel rooms that it is refreshing to stay somewhere as design-savvy and cool as The Luxe Manor.
The Kowloon location was fabulous, too: close to all the main shopping centres yet away from the real “touristy” vibe of Hong Kong Island.
Any insider tips?
Getting around – Public transport in Hong Kong is great! It is so easy to get around, most signage is in English and services are frequent. A ride on the ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island only costs 25 cents, and a bus ride not much more. Late at night we took taxis to get around, and even then we never paid more than 10 dollars for quite large distances.
Back to nature – I was surprised to find some great green spaces in the city. Kowloon Park is very close to the hotel and a must-see. It is located amongst the high-rises yet you feel very far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is a huge aviary with beautiful birds, and the pond houses a large group of flamingos. Quite surreal, really!
At the bottom of the park you will find the Avenue of Comic Stars, which is a lot of fun.
Shopping – Hong Kong has it all – glitzy malls to funky street markets, and trendy boutiques to traditional Chinese product stores and themed shopping districts. I recommend Yau Ma Tei for some quirky trinket shopping and Tsim Sha Tsui for big brand shopping (both of these districts are in Kowloon).
|Hot tip: Throughout the HK Summer Spectacular period (21 June – 31 August), Visa card holders score extra privileges at selected stores. Plus this just happens to co-incide with the shops summer sales – oh yeah!|
Dumplings – We made it our business to find the best dumplings in this city and we succeeded. Here’s my pick of the crop:
• Din Tai Fung is probably the most famous of all. One of the cheapest Michelin restaurants in the world (it also has an outlet in Sydney’s The Star) it delivers its promise because the Xiao Long Bao are delicious – the broth inside is what makes them so amazing. Try them! There are Din Tai Fung locations all over the city.
• We took our next recommendation from an interview I read with Richard Ekkebus, who is the Culinary Director of the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. After a bit of searching we found Dimdim Sum Dimsum – it is a little out of the way but close to the jade markets. The pineapple buns in particular are to die for, and all the food is so cheap!
What is your best travel tip for visiting Hong Kong?
If you are going to check out the “Symphony of Lights”, the spectacular light show at Victoria Harbour, may I recommend you do this from the comfort of the lobby bar at the InterContinental Hong Kong. You won’t get to hear the music the lights move to (the hotel has a live band playing jazzy tunes instead) but who cares when you can see the amazing light show AND drink delicious cocktails? Beats standing outside with thousands of tourists any day in my book!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love food shopping in Asia and Hong Kong is particularly good if, like me, you enjoy seeing the wonderfully wacky things people eat. In the average supermarket you see the stuff people are always getting in trouble for on Border Security: duck kidney treats, anyone?
How about some weird dried things from the market?
Or would you prefer to spend a fortune on a very old ginseng root, the consumption of which might help you live a little longer? This one can be yours for the bargain price of AUD 27,000…
A trip to Hong Kong is a trip to another world, but with all the modern comforts of big city life. I highly recommend a visit to this exciting city and I know I will be back.