Touch down to my first Asian country! I've been dying to come to Hong Kong ever since meeting Andrew. He was born in this incredible city and to say I'm jealous is an understatement.
The sixteen hour flight direct from NY to Hong Kong was so much easier than I thought (granted I made it through 24 hours of flying to Australia last year). I would highly recommend Cathay Pacific because they fly direct from NY to Hong Kong and the food was delicious (including personal sizes of Haagen Dazs ice cream).
It always so exciting landing at an airport where the signs are in an unknown language and suddenly you're the minority. I loved that feeling and I think it's because I thrive in the unknown. It definitely helped having my right hand travel buddy, but if you're ever hesitant to travel to a country that is so drastically different from your own, you should totally just go for it! You're going to learn so much bit by bit and come away from the experience so much more fulfilled.
After a handful of days in Hong Kong, I could 100% see myself living there for a part of my life (Andrew, lmk when you're up for it and I'll book the flights). Everyone always told me that Hong Kong is the New York of Asia and I definitely see that. It's a very cosmopolitan city split between two main parts: Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. When Andrew and his family lived in HK, they lived on Hong Kong Island which is where the Central Business District is and where a lot of expats live. Kowloon, where our AirBnB was located, felt like we were in Asia rather than a cosmopolitan city. Everyone I have spoken to says to stay in HK Island, but I really enjoyed staying in Kowloon. You'll have a great experience either way.
- Wong Tai Sin Temple: It's home to three leading Chinese religions: Buddhism; Taoism, and Confucianism. You should totally check out as many temples as you can because as someone who doesn't practice any of the religions, I found it to be so interesting to observe how others worship.
- Ladies Market: If you're looking for a killer deal, you'll definitely want to check out this market, night or day. You also may want to set a spending limit or you'll be leaving Hong Kong with a whole lot more than you came with.
- Temple Street Night Market: This is another killer market that lights up at night. Make sure you hold your bag/wallet super close to you.
- Gold Fish Market: The animal markets in Hong Kong are really cool, but don't attempt to take any pictures because you'll get yelled at. If you know anything about fish and aquariums in the US, you'll know that exotic fish are super expensive. Basically you can get all of the same fish here for dirt cheap. On the same street, you'll see tons of puppies, bunnies, and other small animals for sale.
- Symphony of Lights: At 8 p.m. the entire city of Hong Kong lights up for a symphony. Participating buildings coordinate with the music that plays and hundreds of people come out to watch this show. It really is magical.
- Sky 100: Come here for amazing views of the city and drinks at the top of the Ritz Carlton.
- Kowloon Park: We walked through the park on a Sunday morning and it was so peaceful. There were tons of people meditating and exercising. When you're in it, it's easy to forget that you're in a huge city.
hong kong island sights
- Star Ferry: To get from Kowloon to HK Island, take the Star Ferry. It costs less than a dollar and you get beautiful views of both sides of the city. It's a common means of transportation for both locals and tourists.
- Stanley Market: Once you get to HK Island, you'll want to call an Uber and take a 25-minute ride to this market where you can buy tons of local art and other souvenirs. There's great restaurants along the water as well. You'll enjoy the ride on the way there as you pass tons of huge homes and beaches. It's a nice reprieve from the bustling city of Hong Kong.
- Victoria Peak: You absolutely cannot miss Victoria Peak when you come to Hong Kong. It gives you the best view of the city. Lines can get very long, so I recommend getting there first thing in the morning. You'll take a tram all the way up the peak and take more escalators to the highest point of the lookout deck. It's worth getting the full ticket for the lookout because you won't get the same view otherwise.
- World's Longest Escalator: Hong Kong Island is a suuuuper hilly city so this escalator is much needed. When you think it's going to end, it just keeps going. You should definitely ride it just to see what a local's commute is like and all the little restaurants along the way.
- Alto: It's a stunningly beautiful restaurant with a gorgeous view of Hong Kong.
- The Peak Lookout: This is one of the most authentic restaurants at Victoria's Peak. There will be tons of touristy spots, but this has a beautiful view and delicious food.
- One Dim Sum: This is the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant and is so worth going to. Everyone raves about it.
- Take full advantage of all the local restaurants too. The food is so delicious and affordable.
- Ding Ding: You must take this mini tram car ride through the streets of Hong Kong Island. It's so old fashioned but so much fun!
- Star Ferry: The most efficient way to get from Kowloon to Hong Kong and back!
- Uber: It's surprisingly affordable in Asia and often makes the most sense.
- Taxis: They're so retro-looking and also very affordable. Another great option if you're looking to take a car.
- Metro: Buy an "Octopus Card" (I think it's supposed to be a version of the Oyster Card in London) and put $20 or so. The metro is a great way to travel around Kowloon and to and from the airport. It's super easy to understand if you use Google Maps.