While in a frenzy of planning my own trip to Spain, I realized that I wanted personal recommendations from people I trusted. As much as I love the big travel websites, similar to magazines and other types of sponsored content, they feature advertisers and partners — which is fine — but I wanted recommendations that were more personal and from someone I trusted. So why not get these recommendations from real people who actually live there!? Enter another new column — Local’s Guide.
First up in the column is Wilson Leung, a radiation therapist who primarily treats cancer patients. Wilson is originally from Vancouver but has lived in Hong Kong for almost three years and is fluent in English and Cantonese (a form of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong). Wilson was my tour guide when I went hiking in Hong Kong! I’ve asked him for his favorite spots and best tips about visiting Hong Kong!
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT HONG KONG
Hong Kong is a very magical place. There’s something for everyone here.
Shopaholic? There are street markets for little trinkets to upscale luxury malls and everything in between. Adventurer? There are nature parks, world-renown trails and tons of outdoor and water activities. Foodie? There are endless selections for cuisine, Michelin-starred to the most unique street foods in the world. You won’t be disappointed by the boundless choices for every type of traveler.
WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT HONG KONG
Being a former British colony, Hong Kong is one of the easiest cities to navigate. Locals are always more than happy to assist travelers and English is used in most public signage and everyday interactions.
Also known as “Asia’s World City”, a common perception I noticed would be that Hong Kong is a concrete jungle on an island. Although that’s true, it’s only part of picture. About 40% of Hong Kong’s land area are country parks and reserves. Then on top of that, the territory actually includes hundreds of smaller islands, many of which are easily accessible by ferry or boats for hire.
WHERE TO GO OUTSIDE OF HONG KONG
Getting out of the city is surprisingly easy. Transportation is something I rarely have to worry about when I’m going from A to B, even if it’s on the outskirts of town. Subway, bus, minibus, taxi (and Uber) are the land modes of transportation. Whereas ferries and small boats can take you across the harbor and to the outlying islands.
I would suggest going out to Sai Kung, a fishing village in the northeastern part of Hong Kong. This is the starting point for one of the best trails in the world. Sections 2 and 3 of the MacLehose Trail takes you through the mountains and down across the best beaches in Hong Kong. Aside from the hiking, Sai Kung is seafood heaven and also where you can hop onto a boat to visit some islands. These are usually home to fishing villages or the most famous, Yim Tin Tsai Island, which is known for its salt cultivation fields.
AWESOME THINGS ABOUT HONG KONG
Aside from everything above, Hong Kong’s geographical location makes it the perfect stepping stone to visit every other place in Southeast Asia. Most major airlines and countless budget airlines fly through here and usually a weekend trip is cheap and accessible.
Something else worth mentioning is the Octopus card system. This is a convenient debit system widely used across the territory. Momentary value is stored on a card which can then be used for transportation, convenience stores, restaurants, vending machines, cafes, retail stores, etc. There’s no need to register and these cards can be bought at any subway (MTR) station.
GREAT HONG KONG RESTAURANTS
Visit the wet markets and explore Mong Kok district (Dundas Street)
These articles can help guide the way: A to Z of Hong Kong Street Food and Ten of the Best: Hong Kong Street Food Snacks.
48 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong
Matsubishi Japanese Restaurant — Teppanyaki
3/F, Shopping arcade, Convention Plaza
1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai
GREAT COFFEE SPOTS
Nutsy Coffee Bar
Shop 6B, G/F, Hoi Kwong Court,
13-15 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay
Shop 1A, Level 12, Langham Place
8 Argyle Street, Mong Kok
Brew Note Coffee Roaster
G/F, 19 Fort Street, North Point
ACTIVE THINGS TO DO
PLACES TO SHOP
Mong Kok and Causeway Bay Districts — Explore the area and you’ll find the perfect mix of high-end clothes to random trinkets for shopping.
WHERE TO GO AT NIGHT (DRINKS & DANCING)
Start the evening with creative and amazing cocktails at the following cocktail bars then move onto some cheaper drinks along the streets of Lan Kwan Fong (LKF). Then head up onto Hollywood Road and enjoy the sweet beats on the dance floor of the clubs that line the street.
MORE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM WILSON
Go to The Peak and check out the amazing view of the city.
Take the Star Ferry across the Fragrant Harbour.
Ride the century-old tram system (locals refer to it was the ‘ding-ding’) from one end of the Island City to the other. Start east and go west, ending in Kennedy Town to explore and eat your way through a newly gentrified neighborhood.
TIPS FOR VISITORS
Best way to see the city and make your trip unique? Check out Sam the Local and request a local to take you out and show you the city based on your own interests and things you want to see during your stay.
Meg’s Note: You can even hire Wilson to take you out and about! Find him on Sam the Local!
Photo from The Peak in Hong Kong by Meg Biram