Get us in your inbox

FWD Stage at Clockenflap

The 11 most over-rated things in Hong Kong

We’re dropping truth bombs

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

We love our city but let’s face it, there are some seriously over-rated things in Hong Kong. Not everything is as amazing as the hype suggests. And yeah, we admit it, sometimes we get caught up in the mania and add to that. But you know what we’re talking about, that supposedly amazing Michelin-starred restaurant that’s actually pretty average or that attraction that’s got a baffling five-star review on TripAdvisor for some inexplicable reason. Well, we’re calling them out here. These sacred cows are goin’ down.

RECOMMENDED: We don’t wanna be too harsh, so here are some things Hong Kong does better than anywhere else and 50 reasons to love this place we call home.

The 11 most over-rated things in Hong Kong

Dragon Boat Festival

1. Dragon Boat Festival

We can’t be too harsh about Dragon Boat Festival – we’re forever grateful for that day off work – but really, who cares? What was once a quaint Hong Kong tradition has been usurped by corporate interests. Remember, it’s the Sun Life Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships. Not to mention, half the teams that enter seem to be comprised of corporates having a jolly and trying in vain to look like they’re not thoroughly disconnected from ‘real’ Hongkongers. Even watching the races is a pain, so excessively crowded are most locations. And why is it women seem frequently to be relegated to the position of mascot on these teams, as drummer girls, and only the attractive ones at that?

Do say: “It’ll be awesome to watch the races with a delicious zhong.”
Don’t say: “Those hot drummer girls can bang my drum any day!”


2. Clockenflap

Ah, Clockenflap. The one weekend of the year Hongkongers act like they care about live music. Given the months of hype that precedes Clockenflap you’d expect it to be like Woodstock all over again. Yet with every year that passes the lineup becomes increasingly mediocre, the food increasingly expensive. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers and we’d rather have Clockenflap than no international music fest, but we’re not hardcore Clocken-fans anymore. The magic has been lost since the fest’s early days – we’re of the opinion that the move from West Kowloon hasn’t helped – and only hope it can get back on the right track.

Do say: “I’ve waited all year for this!”
Don’t say: “I wish I could go to Fuji Rock.”

Photo: Calvin Sit

3. Hikers

We’re not knocking our city’s excellent great outdoors but that individual (and we all know at least one) who lets it be known what an avid hiker they are. They’ll bitch and moan and be out of breath after taking the stairs at a two-storey walk-up but they’ll let it be known on social media that climbing The Twins was a life-affirming experience. Their smug self-satisfaction every Monday morning, when they detail to colleagues where they hiked over the weekend, could power a small country and is so off-putting it makes you only want to stay far away from any trails yourself.

Do say: “So glad you’re keeping up with this active lifestyle.”
Don’t say: “You didn’t invent walking.”

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Jordan

Once upon a time, Australia Dairy Company was once one of the best cha chaan tengs in the city. These days, though, it’s simply not worth the time. There’s a nearly permanent queue brought about by the establishment’s former reputation. Then, once you’re finally sitting down, you get served the sort of scrambled eggs that you could get in almost any other CCT in town and a watery, tasteless macaroni soup. The service is also bad, even by Hong Kong café standards. Do yourself a favour and try somewhere like Yuen Fat instead.

Do say: “Now that’s an authentic Hong Kong dining experience!”
Don’t say: “Actually, I’m not quite finished yet.”

Art Month

5. Art Month

Another of Hong Kong’s annual mega-events, Art Month – the time of year formerly known as March – is when the great and the good of the international art world condescend to bestow their graces on our humble backwater. To claim Art Month is about the art would be foolish when it’s soon apparent there are things of greater importance like getting into the related parties, staying dry in the usually incessant rain, and getting that candid social media snapshot. We wish for a better art scene in Hong Kong. Sadly, the impact of Art Month doesn’t seem to trickle down and contribute much of substance.

Do say: “That sculpture of the naked baby has totally redefined my perception of the discipline.
Don’t say: “Where are the local artists?”

  • Things to do
  • The Peak

Long an enclave of the city’s rich, The Peak is home to some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. And all we can think is: Why? Getting up there is an exercise in tedium – even if you have a driver – as you get stuck behind lumbering buses on narrow roads. When you’re there, you’re far away from everything else. Half of the year you’re living in a cloud of fog or smog and everything seems damp, even with 18 dehumidifiers runnings at the same time. Really, if you’re that rich, why wouldn’t you just live somewhere better? More money than sense?

Do say: “With this property, you’ve hit peak performance!”
Don’t say:This view would be great without the pollution.

Wong Kar-wai

7. Wong Kar-wai

Hong Kong’s most celebrated director is probably its most overrated too. We’re not denying that Wong Kar-wai has made some brilliant movies that deserve significant praise but for every In the Mood for Love there’s a My Blueberry Nights. Then there’s the fact that the director’s last decent movie, In the Mood for Love (don’t even try to argue this one), was made some 18 years ago. Compared to a director like Johnnie To who has made one quality film after another, on an almost annual basis, we definitely feel the praise of Wong could do with a bit more perspective.

Do say:The Grandmaster really earned those 12 Hong Kong Film Awards.”
Don’t say: “Can we watch a Stephen Chow movie instead?”

Tai Cheong Bakery
  • Restaurants
  • Central

Yes, we know these egg tarts are famous for being the ones favoured by ex-governor Chris Patten, but why anyone still queues for these things we don’t know. For starters, they’re double the price (if not more) of most other egg tarts in town. And let’s be honest, they don’t taste any better. Tai Cheong’s offerings aren’t bad but they’re definitely overrated. 

Do say: “You can really taste the difference!”
Don’t say: “My wallet can really feel the difference!”

  • Things to do
  • Wong Tai Sin

Despite being a home to three religions – Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism – Wong Tai Sin Temple feels increasingly profane these days. First, there was the digital prayer room that sought to replace traditional incense sticks with electric deities and fake smoke – supposedly in the name of the environment – but in doing so Wong Tai Sin became the first temple in Hong Kong to charge an entry fee. Then this year came the addition of a function whereby worshippers can now scan a QR code to make a cash payment to their chosen divinity. Whether that makes believers wishes come true sooner or that the temple gets its money sooner, you can decide. If you want an ‘authentic’ temple experience, Hong Kong’s most popular temple is not the best place to start.

Do say: “Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘deus ex machina’.”
Don’t say: “I liked it better before.”

Food Delivery Services

10. Food Delivery Services

Companies like Deliveroo, Food Panda, Uber Eats are all the rage. One wonders why, though. In Hong Kong you’re almost never far from restaurants and why order from a food delivery service when 99 percent of the time it’ll take longer than if you walked down the street to get something yourself. By doing that, your meal won’t be lukewarm when you’re ready to eat and by going to a nearby restaurant you can bring your own container and save on waste packaging. Not to mention, some services don’t even let you order during peak hours, so what’s the point? 

Do say: “I don’t even like warm food, it burns my tongue.”
Don’t say: “Why not get it yourself?”

Lan Kwai Fong
  • Things to do
  • Lan Kwai Fong

An obvious one that many will have sussed by the time they’re out of their teens. Despite its reputation as Hong Kong’s ground zero for partying, Lan Kwai Fong really isn’t all that. Most of the bars are of a low standard, are expensive and heaving with out of towners who don’t know any better and can’t hear the persistent calls of their friends to go somewhere else because of the deafening music. If you want a good time, go elsewhere.

Do say: “You can’t possibly go wrong on a Friday night in LKF!”
Don’t say: “Aren’t you a little old/young to be here?”

    You may also like