Postcards from Hong Kong

If there’s one thing I learned in spending 72 hours in Hong Kong, it’s that 72 hours isn’t enough time in Hong Kong.

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For the second leg of our Tour de Asia, we took the train back to Tokyo (from Kyoto), hopped on a red-eye and all but slept-walked through Chinese customs as sun was rising.

Here, the girls and I were joined by three of the guys in our group. Over the next few days — and in what seemed like a matter of hours — we successfully packed in as much eating, sight-seeing, shopping and partying as possible. As a result, I thought I’d switch up the format my Hong Kong recap with a few recommendations for food, nightlife, shopping and such.

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After arriving to our hotel and taking a quick nap (for the girls – I loaded up on espresso and did some editing), we ventured out in search of food and the need to cure an insatiable shopping itch. Priorities.

We weaved through the congested, hilly streets and crowded alleys of Hong Kong’s Central District, browsing local boutiques, consignment shops and street vendors. This area is mainly a financial hub and home to many of the city’s architectural wonders, but it also just happened to be the ‘hood in which we’re staying. 

We settled into a booth at a quaint-looking dim sum restaurant – Lin Heung Tea House.

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Where to eat in Hong Kong:  I’ve never tasted authentic dim sum prior to this trip, and let’s just say I gained back all that was lost in Japan.

Over the next few days, we had sweet-and-sour pork, fried Kung Pao chicken, steamed BBQ buns and ramen noodle-based dishes. Holy smokes! Aqua was the group’s favorite for dinner — a trendy, Japanese-fusion restaurant with delicious dirty martinis and a 360-degree view of Hong Kong’s legendary skyline.

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Now, if you recall my relationship with food in Kyoto (aka The Hunger Games), you understand why I overcompensated on eating in Hong Kong. Although, as we’ve discussed, non-veggie based binges means there’s a lot going in and not a lot coming out. Ahem.

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Back to Lin Heung: Who’d have thought a table at this decades-old Tea House would be one of the most coveted in Hong Kong’s Central District? For authentic dim sum, this is the place (but Maxim’s Palace is great, too).

Lin Heung makes no concessions to English speakers, so be ready to pantomime (or what we called point-and-order, a method I’m now very accustomed to). Don’t leave without trying the lotus paste buns, BBQ pork bao and glutinous rice dumplings.

Another fun experience is having High Tea – we indulged at the Mandarin Oriental, but The Peninsula and the Four Seasons are also great options. See if your hotel concierge can make you a reservation, as you’ll most likely need one. 

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What to see in Hong Kong: If a single image could encapsulate Hong Kong, it’d be the panoramic view from Victoria Peak (below).

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The Peak is situated atop the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island. From its vantage point, you can see a sprawling skyline that’s so impressive that it makes Manhattan’s look provincial by comparison. Though, admittedly, I’m partial to the latter. Travel tip: You can take a cab to The Peak; don’t bother purchasing a ticket/waiting in the two-hour line to take the tram unless you’re on a tight budget.

After The Peak, we ventured deeper into China to see the Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha, also known as the Tian Tan Buddha — my favorite tourist’y sight on the trip thus far.

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Tian Tan is a large bronze Buddha statue located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. We took a gondola over the mountains to get to it, followed by a quick nature walk and steep hike up 268 stairs. I remember seeing a lot of wild dogs and cows (yes, cows) roaming around. No multitasking/texting and walking, here!

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Hong Kong shopping: One of my favorite memories of Hong Kong was wandering the streets of SoHo, where the rich and famous flash their plastic.

In addition to the big guns (Chanel, Cartier, Prada, etc), there are a number of off-the-beaten-path boutiques and consignment shops that carry familiar designer names, including Joie, J-Brand and more.

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In one of the consignment shops we stopped in, I had a field day. People don’t generally like to shop with me because I can be indecisive, so let’s just say I sent the group ahead. I scored a little black Valentino dress and a fur-and-leather Isabel Marant jacket. Lots of success thrifting on this trip thus far! (Remember the Chanel necklace?)

If we’d had more time (and we weren’t with boys), we would have ventured to Causeaway Bay, which some consider to be the Olympic Games of shopping. My wallet was grateful.

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Lastly, the city’s energy and restlessness is dramatically reaffirmed by its nightlife. This crew likes to party, so we made the most of it – spending many of our night-time hours in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong district. Take caution if you’re teetering precariously in heels!

So, lessons learned from international travel thus far: Pack fiber pills, use your concierge, and go where the locals go. We’re off to Thailand next! More to come this week.

10 comments

  1. Hallie – I’ve now legitimately stalked all of your Asia posts, trying to figure out how you planned the trip. What program did you use, how did you plan/book/schedule everything, did you use a travel agent, etc? I’ve been dying to do a trip like this, but I wouldn’t even KNOW where to start!!! I’m sure you’re getting thousands of emails, but if you have time, will you fill me in!? It looks incredible!!

    -Dana
    http://www.thecasualclassic.com

  2. I’ve never had much interest in traveling to Hong Kong, but after seeing your pictures I have to say I would LOVE to go on tour. It looks like you had an amazing time. What an adventure. – Katy

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