Fashion Mumblr’s Guide to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a bustling and beautiful Special Administrative Region go China – a former British colony and a bustling city of towering skyscrapers, millions of busy people, and some incredible experiences to enjoy. It’s a city of contrasts, truly East meets West culture with beautiful temples, bustling streets, incredible food, and yet a relaxed and easy going culture. Last week I returned from a very last minute trip to Hong Kong to visit Rory, one of my best friends from University, who’d moved out to the city with his boyfriend Nathan earlier this year. Rory played city guide for the four days that I was there, and created a full itinerary to make the most of my short visit. Here’s what we got up to, and a few tips if you’re planning on visiting the city!
Before You Travel
If you’re flexible with flight times, it’s worth setting a price alert on the flights which can save you hundreds of pounds. I flew Cathay Pacific and fortunately slept through most of the flight which definitely helped to combat the jet lag (they are 8 hours ahead in Hong Kong). Order Hong Kong dollars before arriving at the airport, I took £200 worth which equated to around$2200 and also used my Post Office credit card in shops and restaurants. Be aware of the weather before you travel, as it varies greatly throughout the year. Their summer months see scorching temperatures and humidity, while I traveled in Spring time and was prepared for their unusually cold spell so packed jumpers and a coat too. While exploring, you will want trainers as it’s very hilly (plus, trainers are very cool out there!) and save your heels for the evening when you can get a (very cheap) taxi to your final location.
In so many ways, Hong Kong reminds me of New York – a city that I absolutely adore. The city is always so busy, the 24 hour culture and hustle and bustle gives the city an exciting pulse. The twinkling sky scrapers make you feel absolutely tiny, and yet they are shadowed by the towering mountains further inland. Once I landed at Hong Kong airport, I met Rory and purchased and topped up my Octopus Card (similar to an Oyster Card) to take the overground train directly into the heart of the city. During the day the city isn’t as glossy as I imagined; with buildings in need of a fresh coat of paint and higgledy piggledy residential buildings with junk on the window ledges and balconies, but I fell in love with Hong Kong when night fell. The clutter was shaded in darkness and your eyes are drawn upwards to the sparkling buildings, glittering with lights.
Where to Stay
I was lucky enough to stay with Rory during my trip, who lives on the mid-levels which are just a short escalator (yes really, the main way of commuting is by outdoor escalators!) from the centre. Hotel accommodation is quite expensive in Hong Kong, on par with London and New York, but also caters for an array of budgets. We visited two beautiful hotels; The Peninsula and The Intercontinental, both on Kowloon (part of mainland china, a 5 minute ferry from Hong Kong island, meaning they have stunning views of the Hong Kong city skyline), both fabulous hotels which ooze old-school British elegance and opulence and offer incredible views of the city.
Things To Do
Whenever I arrive in a new city, I like to go on a little walk and discover the local area. It helps me get to grips with where I am and how to find my way back to the hotel (or Rory’s apartment, in my case!) as well as walking off the post-flight stiff legs. Within fifteen minutes we had made our way down from the mid-levels to the central area, where every road is sprinkled with high end stores (Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada have stores on almost every street!) as well as Western high street stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara. I struggled to find many Asian retailers offering something a little different to what I’d find on Oxford Street, but instead more American stores like Club Monaco can be found in the huge malls like Times Square Mall and the ICC centre. For Beauty lovers, head to SaSa. They can be found on pretty much every street, and the best one, SaSa Supreme at Causeway Bay is absolutely huge, you can eve have breakfast or lunch inside, and there’s an Aveda salon in there too!
I never really associated Hong Kong with street markets (wrongly!) but everyone on social media told me to visit Ladies Market on Kowloon, so on day two Rory and I headed over to the long street on Mong Kok to explore the hundreds of market stalls which sold everything from jewellery to iPhone cases, novelty gifts to counterfeit handbags and purses. The surrounding area is bustling and busy with plenty of shops, so a great area to spend the evening. Also on Hong Kong you’ll hear about the Grey Market. These stores offer a legal way of buying new electronics including iPhones, cameras, laptops etc which have been imported from Japan and China, but at a reduced cost. You don’t get a warranty though, so be careful what you buy!
As well as seeing the designer stores on most of the major fashion streets, there are many stores selling second hand and discounted designer bags. If you followed my Snapchat while I was in Hong Kong, you’ll have seen me visit Issa – a store which honestly looks and feels like a very upmarket counterfeit product store, but is actually selling the real deal but at discounted prices. I scrutinised the Michael Kors, Valentino, Celine bags and could see no signs that they were fake and even the locals (the PR manager for the Intercontinental hotel included) assured me that the products were genuine, but discounted. For even bigger discounts, look out for Milan Station or Italy Station – stores selling second hand designer bags, shoes and accessories.
Places To Go
Every visitor to Hong Kong should experience Victoria Peak and the peak tram. Visit first thing in the morning and use your Octopus card as your ticket to avoid the queues. I’m assured that the views on a clear day are quite breathtaking and you can see the city, the islands and the ocean, however if you’ve watched my Hong Kong vlog you’ll know that it was cloudy the entire time we were in Hong Kong so our view was simply a white blanket! There’s a free viewing platform as well as a more dramatic paid one (not expensive so worth doing) and also a shopping mall up at the peak and, a Starbucks.
Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery
On our third day Rory and I visited Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery, accessible by the Ngong Ping cable car. Before embarking on the cable car, we visited the Tung Chung shopping mall, which is a huge outlet centre with stores including Club Monaco, Kate Spade and many more. The discounts were great but the products were several seasons old. The incredibly scenic cable car gives views of Hong Kong city, the airport island and the outlying islands too. The journey is 25 minutes by cable car and definitely not one for those afraid of heights! Once at the top, the Big Buddha is a site that shouldn’t be missed, although it doesn’t have as much history as you’d imagine, it’s a site that attracts Pilgrims from across the continent. A short walk away is the Po Lin Monastery where you can dine with the Buddhas and get a glimpse into the beautiful meditation rooms.
Visit the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens, Zoo and Aviary.
Offering a small space of calm amongst the madness of the city, the Hong Kong Zoological gardens are home to monkeys, turtles, flamingos and more, it’s completely free – you will feel like you stumbled upon the zoo whilst exploring the city walk ways. The Aviary is within Hong Kong park, a beautiful and surreal oasis surrounded by towering sky scrapers.
Charter a Junk Boat
Hong Kong is in fact an archipelago of 260 islands, and one of the greatest ways to discover the rugged coastlines and dramatic skyline is by boat. If you have longer on the island then hiring a junk boat, loaded with a picnic hamper and cool box would be the perfect way to discover the scattered islands, but with just a few days in town Rory and I opted for a harbour cruise aboard the Aqua Luna. The majestic recommissioned fisherman boat sails the harbour for an hour, while you enjoy a cocktail and enjoy the spectacular views of the city. I would highly recommend taking an Aqua Luna cruise – at around £20 it’s a truly unforgettable experience.
As one of the oldest hotels in all of Hong Kong, the Peninsula is like an entirely different world – with Rolls Royce and Bentley’s lining the driveway, Prada, Cartier and Hermes lining the arcade within and the grand cold and cream lobby with glittering Chandeliers, it truly is a magical spot for Afternoon Tea.
Served between 2 and 6pm, the tea is in very high demand. We were incredibly lucky to be invited to tea by the hotel management, but when we visit next time we will plan to arrive early as the wait for the tea can be up to two hours. Rory and I took our seats in the majestic lobby, and perused the huge tea menu, opting for differing variations of Green Tea. Finger sandwiches were replenished as soon as we had cleared the plate (this happened all too often, they were scrumptious!) before we moved onto the warm scones with jam and clotted cream. We finished with the delicious pastries although couldn’t manage them all (those sandwiches really were too tasty!) so took a selection away with us in a Peninsula Box.
The tea costs around £30 which considering the location and grandeur of the occasion is super value, compared to London prices I thought this was excellent. I feel very spoilt after enjoying some super Afternoon Tea’s in London – but The Peninsula was certainly up there amongst the best I have tried.
The rest of the hotel was equally as stunning, we were given a tour behind the scenes of the hotel – including their kitchens, restaurants and exquisite rooms. The view from the rooms was quite breathtaking, and every small detail had been though of – luxury at it’s finest!
Shop My Outfit
For more on our trip to Hong Kong, check back in a few days time as i’ll be posting more highlights from our trip, and you can follow me around Hong Kong in my Vlog here!
If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong then I’d love to know your recommendations!