I had expected the amazing concentration of skyscrapers. The neon lights and crowded streets. To some extent I also had high expectations about the street food scene from my pre trip research. In my dreams I had seen the multitude of beautiful dhow boats ploughing the length and breath of Victoria Harbour.
No matter how many articles you read or videos you see about Hong Kong… nothing prepares you for the real thing.
Like India or Japan, Hong Kong is another parallel universe.
There was a lot of unexpected ‘wow’ moments that will stay with me long after the pictures have been downloaded from the camera and the ink has dried on my Hong Kong immigration stamp on my passport.
I’ve tried to summarise some of those unexpected wow moments in a photo essay below. Hope you enjoy the 40+ pictures and they inspire you to visit Hong Kong soon.
Arrive. Dump my bag in the Pentahotel and head to Mong Kok district. Street food scene in Hong Kong is legendary. This was my first streetfood snack in Hong Kong: the classic curried fish balls. $5 HKD. So simple yet so good.
My cuilnary extravaganza continues somewhere in Temple Street: I have Tsingtao beer and stir fried rice noodles with pork, Chinese broccoli & soy sauce.
I finish my first evening in Hong Kong at 1608 feet above sea level 118th floor. I was drinking a Kowloon Gin & Tonic at the world’s highest bar: Ozone, Ritz Carlton. Because of the clouds I had no view but the drink was fab and so was the vibe. Drink and the view makes it worth every penny so don’t miss this place when visiting Hong Kong.
Dim sum for breakfast? Yes please. Only in Hong Kong. This was my breakfast at Pentahotel Kowloon: Vermicelli, lettuce, octopus and pork-mushroom balls
Toby Inn, Stanley: Beef fried noodles HK style, shrimp dimsum & deep fried black pepper squid.
Girl painting the harbour at Stanley
Old wrinkled chinese lady lighting incense sticks at the Tin Hau temple in Stanley.
Never expected Hong Kong to have so many unspoilt beaches. Repulse Bay was my favourite. Combine it with a trip to Stanley.
Riding the central-mid levels escalator and walkway system in Hong Kong was an amazing experience. At 800 metres long it is the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world + definitely one of the coolest ways to commute in the world. Fun and unique way to observe the daily rhythms of Hong Kong life.
Milk Tea is the most popular of all Hong Kong beverages.Lan Fong Yen is famous for its strong and rich brew ( ¢18 HKD) It is an acquired taste but definitely worth experiencing when visiting Hong Kong.
Tai Cheong bakery: Serving HK’s best egg custard tarts since 1954.
Sidney, my fantastic guide standing in silence and awe at the Man Mo Temple. Air was heavy with burning incense and glowing with written prayers on red. Definitely has to be on your list of must see things in Hong Kong.
People on the street playing chinese checkers.
Despite the high concentration of buildings, there are plenty of open wide green spaces, parks and artificial pitches like this in HK where local kids are being trained to become the next football stars of the nation.
Neon nation: streets of Hong Kong at night
Love the iconic red taxis of Hong Kong. Red is definitely one of the colours that pops into my head when I think of Hong Kong
Whether it taking selfies from skyscrapers or with their ice-cream, Hong Kong teens love their selfies.
One of the curious religious rituals I observed when in Hong Kong was that of ‘villain hitting’ in the Canal Road Flyover. ‘Villain hitters’ earn a living by putting curses on their clients enemies. The ritual will involve writing down the ‘evil spirits’ name on paper and details such as the enemies date of birth. The hitter then picks up some harmless slipper from the corner of her booth and start hitting hard on the paper for 10 minutes, accompanied by the chant of evil curses. There are many ways the ritual is performed. Whichever you see it, it is a unique part of local culture and something that was fascinating to witness.
Hong Kong is a city of many markets. Jade Market is one of the many markets you will come across where vendors line the street selling jade jewellery , accessories and good luck charms.
Packed with antiques and curios, the Antique market or Cat Street market is another very authentic local market to checkout when in Hong Kong.
Chance meeting with local Vincent turned into an impromptu craft beer crawl in Hong Kong checking out the popular haunts like The Beer Room (in picture), Roundhouse & the new BrewDog bar.
The Roundhouse, Hong Kong
Good morning from Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s version of Central Park, Hong Kong Park is an oasis of calm, beautifully laid out with a conservatory, waterfall, taichi garden and the Koi pond which is popular with the young and old kids.
Situated in Hong Kong Park, the Flagstaff House, built in 1846 is the oldest example of Western style architecture in Hong Kong. With renovations happening, the popular tea museum is currently closed but the building itself is beautiful to observe. I love the contrast of old and new especially with the magnificent buildings of Wan Chai and Central in the background.
The world’s most affordable Michelin star diner is in Hong Kong: Tim Ho Wan was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Bit of a queue to get in late morning on a Saturday but very much worth the wait. Dimsum here is superb. Costed only ¢18 HKD.
Baked pork bbq buns at Tim Ho Wan: life will never be the same after eating these delicious jewels. I would go back to Hong Kong now just to eat these again…so good!
Watching the mesmerising incessant flow of traffic from above: despite the population density. found it very easy to get from A to B in Hong Kong. For me Hong Kong has one of the best public transport systems in the world..rivalling Tokyo.
Ride up Victoria Peak on the historic Peak Tram- must do when in Hong Kong.
Definitely one of the most breathtaking views you will see anywhere in the world-hike it or take the Peak Tram: do make a point of visiting Victoria Peak. You won’t regret it.
Riding the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour was definitely one of the highlights of the trip
Equally good fun is watching the people by the harbour watching the boats come and go…
Dhow boats no longer ply the harbour in numbers but you can still see them and even hire one of them for a princely amount. This photograph was my favourite moment: the moment I knew I had finally come to Hong Kong.
Last but not least, I finish with the people of Hong Kong-Sidney my guide and the awesome Vincent were super kind. They showed me their city, the way a friend would show you their city. Ultimately it is the people that make a city great and have to say the people I met in Hong Kong were friendly and really welcoming.
Hope you enjoyed the photoessay. If you have already visited Hong Kong, please share your stories and tips to be in with the chance of winning a luxurious four-day-three-night trip to Hong Kong .Competition finishes on the 24th April 2016. To enter, share with the hashtag #DiscoverHongKong and you will be entered into the daily and weekly prize draw. There are 28 daily prizes and four weekly prizes to be won, from US$1,000 Amazon coupons to luxurious four-day-three-night Hong Kong trips. Share your “I Never Knew” photos and videos on social media or here and one of those prizes could be yours. Good luck!
Disclaimer: I visited Hong Kong thanks to an invitation from the Hong Kong Tourism Board. While the trip is being sponsored by them, the views and opinions I present here are explicitly my own. To find our more Hong Kong, please do visit their website and for latest news and what’s happening in Hong Kong, follow them on Twitter and Facebook
Hi I am Kash aka the BudgetTraveller I'm the Luxury Hostels guy and for the last 10 years are sharing ways of how you can travel in style on a budget. Say hello to me here or on Instagram/Twitter. Lets connect!