Hong Kong is a city of towering skyscrapers with people everywhere you look. The boundaries of the territory extend to hundreds of islands, but seemingly each is overrun by a teeming population that bustles from morning until night. Finding some respite here is difficult, but not impossible, as I found in more than a week of exploring. From dim sum to local markets to a luxurious healthful lunch with an incredible view, my perfect day in Hong Kong mixes local favorites with the kind of high-end pampering you can only get from a five-star hotel.
Start your morning with a Tai Chi class on the outdoor pool terrace of the InterContinental Hong Kong. The hour-long class is free for guests and with the sun rising over Victoria Harbor, Tai Chi Master William Ng will get you centered and ready to begin your day. After class, stay on the pool terrace for a refreshing breakfast from the hotel’s ihealth menu, developed with nutritionists from local hospital Hong Kong Adventist to specifically address the prevention of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and the need for antioxidants. A full line of healthy smoothies are available, but my pick is the “health parfait”: thick, creamy Greek vanilla yogurt with pear compote and granola.
Since you’re already relaxed, schedule a treatment at the I-Spa just steps away from the pool. The private treatment rooms include your own personal sauna, steam showers and jacuzzis. I could have stayed in that jacuzzi all morning, but I’m glad I got out to experience the organic “scrub of the season” with brown sugar, jojoba, macadamia nut, sweet orange and lavender, followed by a truly incredible massage using Kerstin Florian’s Spa Body aromatherapy body oil made with juniper, rosemary, and organic sunflower oil. After two hours of spa time, my body felt refreshed and renewed. Time to take on the city!
Public transportation in Hong Kong is exceptionally easy with ample maps everywhere and signs in English. Hop on the MTR and use it as your (very public) chariot to explore the markets of Hong Kong. First, head out to Sham Shui Po and stop in for lunch at Tim Ho Wan, a dim sum legend and perhaps the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Their baked BBQ bun is known far and wide and you can’t help but feel like a local as Hong Kongers surround you with steaming baskets of dumplings and plates full of spring rolls.
Take some time to walk around the nearby electronics and clothing markets or get back on MTR and go to Mong Kok for fresh produce and street vendors of all types. Cross over the harbor into the aptly named Central on Hong Kong Island and explore the rapidly disappearing Graham Street Wet Market or walk down Des Voeux Street to see copious amounts of dried seafood and Chinese medicinal herbs and tonics.
All that walking will make you hungry, so have dinner at the excellent Lung King Heen inside the Four Seasons Hong Kong, which is the first Chinese restaurant in the world to earn three Michelin stars. Try elegant dishes like sautéed lobster in X.O. chili sauce and wok-fried Australian wagyu beef with morel mushrooms. Their elegant Cantonese food far surpasses anything you can find in the US.
Finally, cross back over to Kowloon and take a late night stroll on the Avenue of Stars (Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame) to enjoy the Symphony of Lights, a synchronized light and sound show featuring over forty brilliantly lit buildings on both sides of the harbor. If you’d prefer to escape the crowds, book one of the harbor view rooms at the InterContinental Hong Kong, which gives you the perfect view of the skyline on Hong Kong Island.
Connect with Jason @TheHungryClown