Hong Kong has got to be one of my favorite big cities in the world.
And this is coming from someone who doesn’t like big cities, you know, as a general rule.
But now that I’ve hidden myself away in a tiny little town at the edge of the world in New Zealand, a place so small we don’t even have traffic lights, I find that I enjoy the occasional getaway to the big smoke.
And Hong Kong is no exception.
About a month ago I was flying back to New Zealand from Europe after taking my parents to Ireland then going on holiday back to my beloved Spain. I thought I would do a stopover in Hong Kong.
Flying between New Zealand and Europe is a long trip guys, usually involving back to back long haul flights. Nowadays to preserve my sanity, I try and stopover in the middle somewhere for a night to sleep, like Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, China, or now, Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific‘s hub is Hong Kong, and they have new flights between Europe and Hong Kong and then to Auckland. Now I had my perfect excuse to go back to Hong Kong.
I first visited a couple of years ago when I was flying to Mongolia for my horseback riding adventure; even then I always tried to build in overnight stops to break up long flights. I can’t really sleep on planes, even after all these years.
Luckily Cathay Pacific has an affordable Premium Economy section on these routes, and I take any extra comforts I can get my hands on!
I was so excited to return and properly explore Hong Kong a few years later with new eyes and an empty stomach. But more on that in a minute.
My flight to Hong Kong started off with a bang with me nearly missing the flight from Madrid. Honestly guys, it was the closest I’ve come to missing a long international flight.
Two and half hours before my flight was going to depart, I sauntered downstairs to check out of my hotel in Madrid and to order a taxi only to be informed that SURPRISE taxi strike day.
Just when I thought I was missing Spain.
Cue me sprinting through the cobbled streets of Madrid with two suitcases (I had shopped the day before – on Premium Economy you get more luggage) dressed in nice business casual to the Atocha train station to grab the one commuter train to the airport.
Barely made it. Barely checked in (PE has it’s own short line, thank you Cathay!) Barely made it to the gate on time. Thank god I always pack a change of clothes in my carry on for the flight because I sweated through everything.
It was a good reminder that I’ve gotten a bit complacent with my travels. Thanks for the reminder, Madrid.
Anywho, it all worked out in the end and 12 hours-ish later I was landing in Hong Kong in the early morning and making my way to my very nice hotel – the Four Seasons Hong Kong.
I had 36 hours to explore Hong Kong. Here is what I got up to. You know, after my big nap.
Smack in the middle of the Finance Center of Hong Kong, the Four Seasons couldn’t have better views or be in a better location to base yourself on a short stopover. It’s business meets luxury, and exactly the kind of place I’ll splurge on an shorter trip where I need to be comfortable and to spoil myself.
Also, it’d be a serious shame to come to Hong Kong and not get a taste of its famous views.
For me, Hong Kong is intense and complex, filled with layers that keeps you coming back for just one more bite. It’s the Pringles of Asia, once you pop, you just can’t stop.
Hong Kong is a place that for me sometimes I can’t tell if I’ve stepped 50 years into the future or somehow wandered back into the 80’s.
Any city that is that interesting is obviously going to appeal to me.
From a Nespresso machine to a bathtub with a TV to dope views of the Hong Kong harbor to fresh fruit delivered throughout the day, my room at the Four Seasons Hong Kong did not disappoint.
And if you only do one thing at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong, it’s eat at their restaurant – Lung King Hee, the first Chinese restaurant in the world to receive three Michelin stars.
Obviously fine dining, you should try and book ahead, but let me tell you it’s worth every penny. It’s absolutely the best Cantonese food I’ve ever eaten. Lobster dim sum? Ruined for life guys.
I valiantly tried to eat jellyfish and failed. There are some cultural divides so wide that 3 Michelin stars can’t even breach, and nomming on jellyfish is one of them.
The more and more I travel, the less I try to tick the top things to do in a new place off a bucketlist, instead trying to wander and just enjoy being there, if that makes any sense.
I enjoy getting lost, wandering around, following the locals. I’m much more interested now in chatting with people and trying to understand what makes a place tick, what makes it special. And holy shit is doing that in Hong Kong opening a can of worms, guys.
Complicated and beautiful, Hong Kong is fascinating.
Probably me being a peak tourist in Hong Kong on this trip was taking the Aqua Luna boat around the harbor at sunset. A cheap and classic way to experience the iconic urban skyline, you cruise up and down Victoria Harbor in a classic Chinese junk boat.
Something else that surprised me about Hong Kong is how mountainous it is. For the first time I took the Peak tram which carries tourists and locals up to the higher areas of the city.
Often covered in cloud, I took the tram up at night (thanks jetlag) only to be clouded in at the very top on the observation deck. But I persevered, sticking around til closing hours, and got enough breaks in the cloud for some moody shots of the city below.
I was also lucky enough to have one of the friendly girls from the Four Seasons spend the whole morning showing me the real foodie side of the city. Oh, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, Hong Kong is a foodie’s paradise.
Skipping my usual western breakfast, I jumped off the deep end with a local brekkie of something noodle related at Lan Fong Yeun, and coffee tea milk, yes all together. It wasn’t bad and it was cheap as chips.
Also you can’t come to Hong Kong and not eat an egg tart from one of the many local bakeries.
I hit up my friend Tara Milk Tea for all the foodie tips for Hong Kong, a place I knew she knew well, and man, she didn’t disappoint!
I planned most of my meals around her suggestions, an my absolute favorite was a late dinner at Little Bao after hopping off the Aqua Luna. I’m obsessed with Bao already so when I heard there is a hipster Hong Kong restaurant, a modern Chinese diner based around Bao burgers, well, you didn’t have to tell me twice. It was absolutely fabulous.
Top it off with desert from Oddies Foodies, iconic HK egg waffles meets gelato, and well oh well did Hong Kong suddenly jump to the tippy top of my favorite places to dine around the world.
And before I knew it, I had no more room in my tummy and it was time to head to the airport. Which, by the way, I just have to mention, Hong Kong has the absolute best way of getting there. You can drop your bags at the Central train station in town and check them all the way to your final destination.
So if you have to check out during the day but don’t fly til night, like me, you can ditch your bags early and keep exploring the city. Boom. Then you can take the easy direct train to the airport, where the Cathay Lounge has its own noodle bar. Ok, there’s always room for noodles.
All I could think about as I was flying out to Auckland was Hong Kong, I’m not done with you yet.
Have you been to Hong Kong before? What are your thoughts about this colorful tasty city? Spill!