A Tourist’s Guide to 3 Days in Hong Kong

With a few local friends and inspired by the New York Times’ recent 36 hours in Hong Kong article, Olivier and I decided to stop through for the weekend to check out the food/art/hiking scene. I fell in love—though it’s a gritty cacophony of colors and sound, Hong Kong is vibrant, lively and creative. I pictured it as New York City in the 1970s, back when the city was an artist enclave…and before it became sterilized, homogenized, spoiled by the wealthy (I still love you NYC!).

We talked to a few locals and added these to our Hong Kong itinerary:

1. Hike Dragon’s Back

You might not think of hikes when you think Hong Kong, but a good portion of the island is actually national park. Our fave activity of the weekend (we also both have a hard time sitting still…), the 8.5 km Dragon’s Back hike takes you along the ridge of mountains overlooking the bay and then through thickly forested paths leading to a beach (swim though at your own risk…the place is not, let’s say, squeaky clean). It takes most of the afternoon and is a refreshing break from the bustle of the city.

 Dragon's Back hike Hong KongView from Dragon's Back hike Hong Kong

2. Shop PMQ

A five-story outdoor mall that used to be dorms for the Chinese military, the shops are nothing but independent artisans selling all sorts of weird, artsy tchotchkes you’ll just HAVE to buy.

Like diorama terrariums complete with plastic people:

PMQ Hong Kong terrarium

Watches made out of Coke cans:

PMQ Hong Kong watch made out of Coke cans

Computer-cut plastic jewelry made to look like whatever photo you give them (like…your dog):

PMQ Hong Kong plastic jewelry of pets

Olivier also found a piano (hooray!…playing time bought me more shopping time…):

playing the piano at PMQ Hong Kong

You can also grab a cake set (pastry + coffee) or a drink at one of the super-hipster cafes; the weekend we were there they were also having a food truck fair selling greasy burgers and dim sum at the center court. Give yourself a good half day for this one!

3. Eat dim sum

I LOVE dim sum. Love love love. Even if it makes me a bit queasy. We gorged ourselves silly on these two options (both of which are in Central Hong Kong):

  • Maxim’s: Overlooking the bay, this is a typical Chinese dim sum restaurant in true form—decked out with gaudy glass chandeliers, white tablecloths and red velvet curtains. Order your entrées from carts pushed down the aisles by middle-aged women who roll their eyes when you wave them over. We ate pork-fish-tofu buns and dumplings (probably full of MSG…but so delish!!) until we couldn’t breathe.

Dim Sum at Maxim's Hong Kong

  • Duddells: This spot is more refined (we found it as it was recommended by the New York Times). The restaurant, perched on the fourth floor in a garden between skyscrapers, has two Michelin stars and can be quite expensive. But on the weekends they offer a bottomless dim sum brunch (~$60 for just food, $80 with Veuve champs)…still expensive but apparently not as pricey as the dinner menu. The food is definitely more refined, but I actually preferred the gooey-greasiness of Maxime’s.

Duddells Hong Kong

4. Spend the night out.

There are lots of places to go out in Hong Kong, many of which are in Sheung Wan (the Brooklyn of Hong Kong). We were lucky the weekend we were in town was the first-ever Dîner en Blanc Hong Kong (started in Paris, the group has held events all over the world, including in New York). The deal: Everyone dresses in all white and brings their own food and wine (we brought red, brilliantly…which, of course, promptly spilled all over Olivier’s pants). Then everyone is were bussed out to a secret location…this time it was at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, a park overlooking the bay and downtown Hong Kong.

West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade fisherman

We danced and ate and drank for hours…and, because it’s Hong Kong, had no problem finding a cab home at midnight.

Diner en Blanc Hong Kong

5. Wander the open-air markets at Central Hong Kong.

Walk just off the streets of Central Hong Kong (near Central subway station) and you’ll run into the street markets—open-air vendors selling loads of fresh fruits, stinking fish and bloody meats hung from hooks…along with pet fish and dragon décor, for good measure. It’s loud, colorful and vibrant—everything you want from a big city.

street market Hong Kong

A couple of other recommendations we got but didn’t have time to try: Take the tram to Victoria Peak for a view of Hong Kong (just be sure to go when it’s not too smoggy or you’ll see squat); and visit Macau (all the grungy gambling you can handle a 1-hour boat ride).

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