Hong Kong: How to Experience the City 5 Ways
Take a Hong Kong stopover and experience the city. As the main hub of Asia, with daily flights from Canada via both Air Canada and Cathay Pacific, the long-haul layover, or even a weekend between flights, makes sense and eases jet lag. Whether you have a 24-hour layover en route to another destination in Asia or days to explore, Hong Kong offers innumerable ways to immerse yourself in its East-meets-West, Old-meets-New fusion of culture.
Click through for where to stay and what to experience Hong Kong now.
Where to Stay:
In town – Mongkok, Kowloon: The Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place
Why: Because when they built this modern/contemporary property, the neighbourhood was still sketchy. Now, it’s a must-go destination that mixes the grit of traditional markets with the new of high-end labels and high-street shopping malls, such as Langham Place and Nathan Road. The hotel itself is a Chinese art gallery – with a collection of sculptures and paintings that would rival the local art museum – and home away from home all in one.
Gorgeous Club Level rooms come with access to the Club Lounge, where you can also check in and check out. On the 36th floor, this is the perfect place to have breakfast, or an afternoon cocktail and canapés respite from the hustle and bustle below, while still taking in a spectacular view of Mong Kok and the city beyond. And, a trend that we hope is here to stay: a “Handy” smartphone in each room that you can take along with to use for Google Maps and other online searches, plus it acts as a WiFi hotspot. Say goodbye to roaming charges!
The spa is an outpost of the Langham Group’s world-renowned Chuan Spa, where you can relax and rejuvenate, under the firm hands of therapists who employ traditional Asian massage, ingredients and techniques. Signature treatments balance the Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of Yin and Yang in their Harmony body and facial treatments.
And, with two Michelin-starred dim sum at Ming Court Cantonese restaurant – who wouldn’t want to try the culinary prowess of a chef with the delicious name Mango Tsang? Oh, and did we mention the Ming Cellar? It’s a standalone wine cellar where you can sip on Champagne and appreciate the Ming Court wine collection. We say cheers to that.
Say cheers, too, to lobster tacos and craft beers on the terrace at Garage Bar, one of the city’s funkiest takes on the street food truck trend, The Cordis has plenty to keep appetites satiated. And when we say food trucks, we mean food trucks – the chef serves craft beer and Western-inspired food truck fare out of two red and black vintage Citroën vans, from 1966 and 1972.
Alibi – Wine Dine Be Social is a hot spot to do exactly that. Part of the draw at this bar/resto is head barman Leo Cheung, the award-winning mixologist who tailors your drink to your mood and, sometimes, your personality. He’s got a flair for the dramatic, but we recommend you just go with it. Your cocktail taste buds will thank you for it. For those who want a more refined experience, Alibi also feature afternoon tea in the British tradition – with an Asian twist, of course.
And, the hotel offers complimentary services, such as Mongkok Market tours, or on site Tai Chi classes, by the rooftop pool. The sky’s the limit. www.cordishotels.com/en/hong-kong/
At the airport: Regal Airport Hotel
Why: Yes, we said airport. If you’ve got an overnighter, you don’t need to go into the city to get a taste of Hong Kong cuisine and hospitality. This outpost of the Regal hotel group has an award-winning record as long as an airport runway, with global flyers like Skytrax, magazines like Business Traveller UK and high-end aficionados such as World Luxury Hotel Awards have all crowned the Regal as the best of the best in Asia and in the world for more than 5 years running.
Of course, you can go into the city, as the Airport Express train, which takes about a half hour, is conveniently located just outside the hotel doors – as is Hong Kong airport a two minute walk. Hong Kong Disneyland is also a short drive away – but we say sleep in, and play as a hotel resident. Book a executive club floor room, where you can watch planes take off and land from your window, and take advantage of the executive lounge for breakfast and afternoon cocktails; go for an easy-walking distance stroll and do some shopping at the SkyPlaza, take a swim in either of the Regal’s indoor or outdoor pools, have a massage or a steam at the spa and then stay in for dinner.
You can dine at one of the six restaurants and bars on local Cantonese dishes, take a taste trip to Shanghai, go to Japan at the in-house izakaya, go American steak house or try a sip–or a bottle – of the house wine. The Regal Margaux, a medium-bodied wine bottled by Château Les Barraillots for the hotel group. You’ll be so relaxed and rested for your onward journey, you may not want to check out.
Now that you’re settled, click through for 5 things to do in Hong Kong now – or anytime!
Eat, eat, and eat! MasterChef Canada’s irreverent co-host Alvin Leung has brought a new currency to the Chinese culinary scene here and around the world. In Canada, the Scarborough, Ont.-raised chef has just partnered with the show’s first winner, chef Eric Chong, to open R&D in Toronto’s Chinatown. But it’s in Hong Kong where this master wields his sharpest knife at Bo Innovation, his three Michelin-starred restaurant. www.boinnovation.com
Dim Sum at Michelin-recognized Tim Ho Wan (the baked BBQ pork buns, above, are worth waiting on line for)
From inhaling wonton soup at local hot spot Mak’s Noodle to savouring the fare at one of the numerous Michelin-starred restaurants – like river shrimp prepared in tea leaves with ginger vinegar at Ye Shanghai, gado gado at MIC Kitchen, dim sum at Tim Ho Wan or braised beef Hong Kong style at Celebrity Cuisine – the city is a veritable foodie paradise. Book a tour with Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours for a walking, eating, cultural morning. Tip: book the Sham Shui Po tour, for authentic tastings of a neighbourhood that’s still www.hongkongfoodietours.com
Take an architecture walking tour that’s part history lesson, part leisurely stroll, Walk Hong Kong (which we booked through The Cordis; www.walkin.hk) takes you through the city ‘s evolution, including historical buildings, like St. John’s Cathedral to modernism designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects, such as the Bank of China building by I.M. Pei.
Go back in time Situated in a former police station, the Tai O Heritage Hotel is a unique option – the lobby gift shop is in an old holding cell. Located on the city’s outskirts, it has easy access to the picturesque Tai O fishing market and village, where the fisherfolk have built their homes on stilts above the tidal flats. Or, if you’re the active type, take the Dragon’s Back Hiking Tour, marvel at Hong Kong’s surprising open green spaces and catch scenic views (above) of the bays and the city below. www.discoverhongkong.com/in/see-do/great-outdoors/great-outdoors-hong-kong.jsp
Sail the harbour at sunset, and take in the city’s skyline while on the Aqua Luna, one of Hong Kong’s remaining traditional red-sail junks. www.discoverhongkong.com; www.cordishotels.com/en/hong-kong/