So you’ve decided to stop in Hong Kong and take a 48 hour break. Smart move – there’s tons to see, do, eat and buy here. While newcomers may be under the impression that Hong Kong is all business and skyscrapers, locals and frequent visitors know there’s a variety of activities for all tastes, whether you’re outdoorsy, food-obsessed or a culture vulture. Sure, 48 hours might not sound like a lot to work with, but Hong Kong’s density isn’t legendary for nothing – you can cover a lot of ground in very little time here. By Annette Chan
Photo: The antique stores of Cat Street
Here’s how to spend your 48 hours in Hong Kong
Dive headfirst into the action in Tsim Sha Tsui, where all manner of restaurants can be found, from omakase sushi bars to African food stalls in the labyrinthine Chungking Mansions. Shops in the neighbourhood range from designer to thrift, and the district is world-renowned for tailors who can whip up a bespoke three-piece suit in 24 hours. Get away from the crowds and cross ‘drinking at the world’s highest bar’ off your bucket list by popping into Ozone for seriously high-altitude bevvies (with prices to match).
Hop on the Star Ferry, which will give you both unparalleled views of Victoria Harbour and bring you to Central, where you’ll find Foxglove. This high-concept speakeasy is a triple-threat: excellent cocktails, delectable French-influenced food, and regular live jazz all housed in one glamourous, ‘30s-inspired package. There’s nothing like it.
No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to the Peak. Weather willing, why not take the gentle hike up to the Peak from Bowen Road? Enjoy the view from the top which, on weekends, is vastly improved by the presence of many adorable dogs being walked around the 30-minute Peak Circle Walk.
Now that the South Island Line exists, it takes less than 10 minutes to get from Admiralty to Wong Chuk Hang. Formerly an industrial district, Wong Chuk Hang has recently become known for its growing collection of art galleries, graffitti, cafés, and lifestyle shops. Contemporary art buffs will love Art Statements Gallery for its mix of contemporary Chinese and Western works.
Continue your cultural adventures with a jaunt around Sheung Wan, the OG hipster neighbourhood of Hong Kong Island. Home to the gallery-lined Hollywood Road, Cat Street flea market, creative hub PMQ and more street art than you can shake a stick at, this is the perfect district for art lovers. There are plenty of quirky shops and artisanal cafés around, and more than enough dining options for when you get peckish.
With their hearty food and unpretentious, lively atmosphere, Hong Kong’s cooked food centres are the spiritual successors to the city’s now endangered dai pai dongs, Hong Kong’s once-ubiquitous outdoor food stalls. Pull up a stool at the Queen Street Cooked Food Market in Sheung Wan, which is home to the truly excellent Chautari, an Indian-Nepalese restaurant with a saag paneer that’d win over even the staunchest carnivore. Also popular is the mighty fine Italian restaurant ABC Kitchen, famed for its juicy suckling pig.
If you’re not much for clubbing, eschew the bouncers and bright lights of Lan Kwai Fong for the myriad bars of Soho. Pop into Quinary or 001 for sophisticated cocktails, or get soused on potent daiquiris at Medusa and Varga Lounge. Peel Street is always a safe bet, with friendly service and reasonably priced drinks to be found at craft beer bar 99 Bottles, neighbourhood watering hole Bobby’s Rabble and live music lounge Peel Fresco.
One of the most enduring icons of old Hong Kong was Kowloon Walled City, a former military stronghold turned cramped, lawless enclave. Although the notorious collection of buildings was torn down in the late 1990s, you can learn about its history in the park that was built in its place, a serene, verdant space decorated in the style of a Jiangnan garden.
Though One Dim Sum may look like any other humble neighbourhood yum cha spot, it actually earned a Michelin star back in 2012 for its delicate, flavourful and unbelievably cheap dim sum. Though the restaurant didn’t retain its star, regulars maintain that the food is just as good as ever – and the constant stream of diners speaks for itself. If you somehow leave One Dim Sum with room in your stomach, head around the corner to More Eggettes for fun variations on the classic Hong Kong egg waffle.
Walk off all that food by wandering over to nearby Yau Ma Tei. The neighbourhood is a mix of old and new, with the historic Yau Ma Tei Theatre and Fruit Market coexisting alongside lovable bric-a-brac shop Mum’s Not Home, alternative music haven White Noise Records and Kubrick, a hip café/bookshop attached to the art-house cinema Broadway Cinematheque. Finish the afternoon with a strong cup of tea at old school Hong Kong cha chaan teng Mido Café and browse Temple Street Night Market as vendors set up their stalls in the evening.
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