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Cicerone’s Reccos for What the Locals Do for Fun in Hong Kong (Hint: We DON’T Go to those Awful Night Markets....) Part I

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A poster had asked me on another thread to pull together my list of favorite “off the beaten path” activities for Hong Kong. After a visit to the Peak, a ride across the harbour on the Star Ferry and a walk along the Esplanade on the Kowloon side, which should be first on your list; there is a ton of stuff to do, none of which involves buying copy watches or fake Prada bags or having bad food at a stall at a night market. IMO a bus trip over to Stanley is a great way to see the back side of the island, do some shopping and have a good meal along the pretty waterfront in town, so that is another touristy but is very worthwhile thing to do (and lots of expats and locals shop and eat in Stanley too, almost all of my Christmas decorations are from there). See below for some ideas on what the “non tourist” might do. Much of this is just a repeat of things I have posted before, I will add to this list from time to time and will add an updated shopping list; and I welcome your additions, as long as they do not include the words “go to the Temple Street Night Market” or “go to the Ladies Night Market”!!!

HIT THE TRAIL

We are great walkers, and we wait in anticipation for the winter when the temperatures, and especially the humidity, drop. A lot of people think of Hong Kong primarily for shopping, but many don’t realize that 40% of Hong Kong is national park, with some excellent easy walks as well as strenuous hikes. There are many well-marked trials on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon/New Territories, including the famous MacLehose Trail and Wilson Trails which are 100 km and 50 km in length respectively, but are broken up into sections which can be done in a few hours. Due to the mountainous terrain, all the walks offer spectacular city, mountain and/or harbour views. Taking one of these walks is, IMO, the best way to see a very different part of Hong Kong than the typical tourist sees.

Walking and hiking are the subject of numerous excellent books, and really this subject is too long for a post. For hiking trial information for all parts of Hong Kong, go to http://www.afcd.gov.hk/english/country/cou_vis/cou_vis_cou/cou_vis_cou.html. The Hong Kong Tourist Board has a free guide which you can pick up at any of their offices called “Exploring Hong Kong’s Countryside: A Visitor’s Companion” which has descriptions of walks and maps; if you are stopping into the HKTB office this would be worthwhile getting. You can get hiking maps for free at the Government Publications Office, located in the Murray Building, 22 Garden Road (tel 2537-1910). This is right next to the bottom station for the Peak Tram, and most tourists will go right by it on the way to the Peak Tram, so it is easy to stop in if you want to pick up maps. They are open 9-6 pm Mon-Fri and 9-12 Sat (confirm the Saturday, the rules recently changed and some government offices are closed on Saturdays). Dymocks, a local chain of bookstores here, has an excellent selection of walking books, go to http://www.dymocks.com.au/contentstatic/stores/region_Hong+Kong.asp for a list of locations in Hong Kong. (The book “Above the City” is particularly good for walks on Hong Kong Island.) A helpful website run by an ex-pat hiking enthusiast in Hong Kong is at http://www.hkcrystal.com/hiking/index.asp. (you can even join one of his hikes). Discover Hong Kong has some suggestions at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/touring/green/ta_walk_natu.jhtml. There is an amateur group of hikers in Hong Kong and you can join walks at http://www.hktrampers.com/Mambo/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/. There are several groups where you can pay for guided hikes, take a look at http://www.walkhongkong.com/pages/940968/index.htm and http://www.kayak-and-hike.com. I don't know anything about them or their walks, but I applaud their effort to make this type of activity available to tourists in Hong Kong.

I have listed some of my favourite walks below, but do get a book or look at one of the websites above for more ideas.

On the Peak, to escape the crowds at the Peak Tram station area you have several choices for walks:

1. Lugard Road/Harlech Road – a flat, 2 mile loop around the lower Peak which affords great views. This is a very easy walk which takes about an hour as it circles from Lugard Road to Harlech Road and back to the Peak Tram station. To start the walk, standing with Victoria Harbor behind you, the Peak Tram station on your right, the brown Peak Galleria Mall on your left, and the Peak Lookout Restaurant in front of you, look to your right and see the three streets leading off to the right of the Peak Lookout Restaurant. Take the road on the furthest right, this is Lugard Road, and just follow it around as it circles back to the Peak Tram station where you started. (At one point during the walk it turns into Harlech Road, but you won’t even notice.)

2. Victoria Peak – most people don’t realize this, but when you get off the Peak Tram and enjoy that great view, you are NOT actually at “the Peak”, you are at Victoria Gap. Victoria Peak is actually another 500 feet or so above you. You get there by taking Mt Austin Road. This is a somewhat stiff climb uphill, takes about 30-40 minutes, and mostly has Southside views, but they are beautiful if you are up on a clear day, and there are some great city views going up as well. Definitely bring a bottle of water or two. To start the walk, standing with Victoria Harbor behind you, the Peak Tram station on your right, the brown Peak Galleria Mall on your left, and the Peak Lookout Restaurant in front of you, look to your right and see the three streets leading off to the right of the Peak Lookout Restaurant. Mt Austin is the one in the middle. (Lugard and Harlech and the other two). Go up Mt Austin Rd, and just keep walking. It winds around and around. There is only one major intersection about 20 minutes up, and there is a huge white stone marker pointing to “Victoria Peak Gardens”, here you stay on the main road and do not bear to the right. When you reach the very top there is a covered pavilion and a few little paths you can take for other views. Then you have to walk down hill again. (You can cheat and take a taxi up or down of course. )

3. Severn Road – this is my very favourite walk. Please search this board under “Severn” and it should come up under “Cicerone’s Favourite Hong Kong Walks: Severn Road, the Peak”.

4. Matilda Hospital – will give you some very good views of the “Southside” of the island, and there is bench when you get to the hospital grounds, which is a good rest point (just over a mile from the Peak to the bench). At the hospital, there are really excellent views of the South China Sea and the little outlying islands, you could almost get vertigo the view is so high and endless, on a clear day you can almost see Japan…. To do this walk, standing with Victoria Harbour behind you, the Peak Tram station on your right, the brown Peak Galleria Mall on your left, and the Peak Lookout Restaurant in front of you, look to your left and take the road leading off the left, this is Peak Road. Stay on the left side of the street on the sidewalk. Follow this as you pass by several entrances to the parking garage and bus station below the Peak Galleria Mall. Just past the last and third such entrance, there will be a brick wall, and there is a staircase on the left here in the wall. Go up the stairs (a short flight). At the top of the stairs, turn right. You will see three streets here in front of you. Take the MIDDLE road. (You don’t want the uphill road which has Plunkett’s Road painted on it, and you don’t want the road leading downhill to the busy road with the white line painted down the middle where the buses are whizzing by.) There is a small black and white sign on the road you want that says “Peak Road”. The road you are now walking on will parallel the other busy Peak Road for a while and will pass a shopping centre (see the realtors office with the red awnings on the left, check out the prices for rental and sale flats). Continue on this road through a traffic light, keep going until the road ends at the T junction, turn right and go over the bridge which passes over the busy road below. After you cross the bridge, keep going straight, you will now be on Mt Kellett Road. The road will wind around a little bit, giving some good views off to the left. Follow Mt Kellett Road until you come to another T junction, and go right here, when this road ends in another T junction in about 100 feet, go left. You will be in some deep woods here and passing some very, very high priced houses indeed, if you can see them. You will follow this road for maybe a quarter mile or a bit more and then it will open up into great open sea views and the bench will be in front of you on the right with the Matilda Hospital just beyond. When you have had enough, you just reverse the route to get back to the Peak. If you don’t feel like walking back, just walk into the grounds of Matilda, and you can either take a taxi back to the Peak (about HK$15) or down to Central (about HK$50) or take a green minibus to either the Peak bus station or the bus station in Central (Bus #1 in any case, fare is HK$8 down to Central; if you are trying to get back to the Peak, make sure the bus has not just come from there, the bus makes stops on both ends of the route I believe).

5. Other great walks - please consult a book, the websites above or get a map for complete directions:

-Bowen Road - Mid-Levels, flat, about 4 miles out and back, great views of Central, Wan Chai, Happy Valley and North Point. From this road you can walk down to Wan Chai or up to Blacks Link (see below).

-Mt Butler/Tai Tam Reservoir – non-challenging mostly downhill trail from Park View to the Tai Tam reservoir area, can get a cab or bus from there to Shek-O, Repulse Bay or Stanley. For lunch in Stanley, try The Boathouse, 86–88 Stanley Main Street, Stanley Tel: 2813 4467.

-Dragon’s Back - To Shek-O and then a well-deserved meal. Great sea and mountain views, you can’t believe you are in Hong Kong. The whole walk takes just under 3 hours, but you can cut out some parts by skipping the beginning or end and take a taxi or bus. Black Sheep Restaurant, 452 Shek O Village, Tel: 2809 2021. Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant, 303 Shek O Village, Tel: 2809 4426. Directions for Dragon's Back walk are at http://www.hkcrystal.com/hiking, click on "Recommended Walks" and then click on "Dragon's Back. Try to avoid Shek-O on a Sunday or public holiday.

-Wilson Trail #1, from Park View (Wong Nai Chung Reservoir) to Stanley. This is a HARD trail, with lots of stairs, but the views are really really worth it if you go on a clear day. Start out earliesh in the morning. Takes 2 to 2.5 hours.

- The Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path, a very easy FLAT 6 km from Happy Valley to Stanley which has many of the same views but none of the work, of the Wilson Trail #1. Please search this board for “Cicerone’s Favourite Hong Kong Walks II: Paradise Found! From Happy Valley to Stanley in High Heels! (Almost) The Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path”.

-Walk DOWN from the Peak via Barker Road and Chatham Path. Not hard, except on the knees, can be slippery in summer months after a rain; there are no stairs for most of it, just downhill smooth concrete. Views are somewhat limited but there are some fine views at the Mid-Levels points, and you pass through some interesting neighborhoods, will have some great tram views of the almost 90 degree angle of the tracks, will pass a lovely little open temple in the woods and the most beautiful colonial house in Hong Hong, IMO, at #1 Chatham Path. From MacDonnell Road the path along the tram is currently under repair and is closed, so getting down to Central from here becomes a little confusing for non-residents IMO, you might just take a taxi from here to Central. You could also take Bowen Road when you get to the Clovelly Path/Bowen Road intersection and continue the walk along Bowen. There are other ways down from the Peak, like Old Peak Road or Conduit Road, however the Chatham Road route is pedestrian-only, is in the woods and much quieter and I like it the best. You can walk UP of course, but that is a lot of work....

- Favourite walk on the mainland side is MacLehose Trail is stage #2 with a stop at the beaches along Tai Long Wan bay and a lunch in the village there at Ham Tim or Sai Wan. But Stage #1 is very nice too and not as strenuous or long. Stage #2 takes 5-6 hours but there is an exit point at Chui Tung Au after approximately a third of stage 2 so you can take a bit of a shorter walk if you can’t commit to 5-6 hours.

- Favourite walk on Lantau is Lantau Trail stages 4, 5 and 6 down from the Buddha to Tai O. Not hard, except a little on the knees, great views. Takes 4-5 hours.

--Walk the Mai Po Marshes, see “Support a Local Charity” below.

--Finally, you can rent and use mountain bikes on many of the trails in Hong Kong, and there is biking in Shai Tin and Lamma along flat trails, and also around Tolo Harbour in the New Territories. I don’t know very much about it, so if you are interested, consult a guidebook or ask at your hotel.

GO BACK TO THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD

From what I can see, most tourists seem to spend their time in Tsim Tsa Tsui on the tip of the Kowloon peninsula being accosted by copy watch hawkers and tailors; how you all stand the constant barrage I don’t know. These areas are full of shopping malls, hotels and modern high rises; however, there are plenty of old neighborhoods left with very interesting markets selling everything from live fish to dried Chinese herbs used for medicines. These are easy to find and very fun to explore. You can also usually find souvenir sellers here too, so you can get in your fix; you can also find things like paper kites and incense sellers and the people who make paper money and other offerings for temples and funerals, these make better souvenirs than a fake Prada bag, IMO.

1. A wonderful book describing walks in all parts of town is Jason Wordie's book, "Streets, Exploring Hong Kong Island". You can buy it at many book stores in Hong Kong, and I believe some posters here have bought it at Amazon or ordered it before their trip from their local bookstore. Jason is an expat who has lived here many years and has written many good books on the city. Jason also gives absolutely wonderful walking tours. I have taken several and found him so well informed and interesting. He does do small group tours. These are very heavy on history and are not shopping tours, so if you are not interested in history and culture, his tours are not for you. (If you have ever been to Rome and taken any Context Rome/Scale Reale tours, you would find Jason's tours to be similar.) He is not cheap, but I think they are worth the price if you are interested in the history of Hong Kong and seeing some of the different neighborhoods. You can see some of his walks at http://www.jasonswalks.com/About_Jason/about_jason.html. (You could also order his books from his website.)

2. An easily accessible market area for tourists is the Graham Street/Peel Street area in Central, not far from the Star Ferry. This is described in Jason Wordie’s book and part of this area is also described on the Hong Kong Tourist Authority website walks page, see http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/touring/hkwalks/index.jhtml. This can easily be combined with a walk along Hollywood Road and a visit to the Man Mo Temple and a walk up to Soho, with lunch or dinner in Soho. Peel and Graham Streets from Queen’s Road Central to Caine Street and the cross streets of Gage St and Wellington are all interesting streets with butchers, live chickens and seafood, fruit, veg, dry goods, flowers, dried fish, medicine shops, tea shops and general market stalls and shops. On Peel Street is an interesting shop selling all kinds of temple goods like paper money, incense, as well as kites and other stuff, it’s at 21 Peel Street. At the top of Peel Street where it intersects with Staunton is a little temple on the left built into the stairs. At the very top of Peel where it ends at Caine Road is the famous shed of the old man who repairs umbrellas, see if he is open. He is about 85 and has been doing this for his whole life. For US$2 he will repair broken spokes on your umbrella; only in Hong Kong!

3. My favourite market is on Hong Kong Island in Wan Chai along Johnston Road. There are butchers, live chickens and seafood, fruit, veg, dry goods, flowers, dried fish, and general market stalls and shops here. There are incense sellers and even some souvenirs too. They are most interesting IMO on weekdays between 5 -7 pm and on weekends when they are most crowded and all the stalls are open; however I have found that they are open pretty much from about 9 am on and there are people in the markets all day. The markets are in quite a small area of narrow mainly pedestrian-only streets running between Johnston Road and Queen's Road East, starting at Spring Garden Lane and ending at Wan Chai Road. A map is helpful, the MTR actually has a good map of the this area of Wan Chai, which you can enlarge and print, go to http://www.mtr.com.hk/jplanner/jplanner/images/maps/wac.gif. The market area is directly south and across the street from the Wan Chai MTR station.

4. Another interesting market area is what I call "dried fish street" which is along a part of Des Vex Road West in Sheung Wan (also often called "Western" here in Hong Kong). This has about 3/4 of a mile of shops which sell dried abalone, shark's fin, sea cucumber, cuttlefish, mackerel, and well just every type of fish you can imagine. There are dried mushrooms, herb, noodle and tea shops mixed in there as well. Some of the side streets, like Ko Shing have medicine shops, noodle shops, etc. You can take the tram here from Central, which is the most fun way IMO. Take any tram going west (to the right with your back facing the harbour) which does NOT say "Western Market". You will know you are approaching your stop after you have turned a sharp curve to around Western Market and then another curve to get back onto Des Vex Road. After that you can get off at the next stop, and pretty much walk along Des Voeux Road (the street with the tram tracks) going in the same direction of the tram which you just got off. The shops run along here for many blocks, mostly on the left side of the street. You can also take the MTR, go to the Sheung Wang stop, and take Exit B. This will bring you up onto Des Voeux Road. You can then get a tram going west as above. You can also walk here from the Peel Street/Graham Street area or the Hollywood Road area.

5. If you get on the street tram on Hong Kong Island and take it to the end toward North Point/Shau Kei Wan or Kennedy Town you will get to see a lot of old neighborhoods. There is a tram stop in front of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building right by the Star Ferry in Central (west-bound trams stop in front of the bank, east-bound trams stop a bit to the left/east of the bank as you face the bank from the harbour), another one that is easy to find is at the corner of Pedder Street and Des Veoux Road in downtown Central (east-bound trams stop on the west side, west bound trams stop on the east side of this intersection). From Central, riding toward North Point or Shau Kei Wan will give you a much longer ride, for this take any tram going east, i.e. going left with your back to the harbour. (Don’t get on a tram marked Happy Valley). Get off where you want and just wander around, find your own interesting neighborhood and post about it so I can go see it.... A second floor window seat will give you some great street life to observe; almost as good as an Indian train station and slightly more organized. One of the world’s great travel values at HK$2 for a ride regardless of length. Try to avoid morning and evening rush hours and between about 12:30 and 1:30 pm as it is more crowded then. Board at the rear, pay when you get off, you can use your Octopus card.

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    Here is the second part...

    A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

    While admittedly making money is hugely important to the average Hong Kong resident, both foreign and domestic, it isn’t all about worshipping Mammon here. Music, theater, dance and the other arts are well-represented. I know a lot of tourists spend their evenings in those awful night markets, which are, as the Luxe Guide so aptly says “everything you never needed in one rancid place”. I am just so not a fan of the Kowloon "night markets" they are all just tourist tat IMO. They show up in every guidebook and I don’t know why -- when you could be spending your evening taking in a little culture and possibly meting an actual Hong Kong person who is not a taxi driver, waiter, or a stall keeper in Temple Street market. (Not that there is anything wrong with any of those professions.) Just because you see Chinese people there, don’t think they are all Hong Kongers, there are plenty of mainland tourists (you hear a lot of Mandarin and other dialects), Singaporeans, or other overseas tourists just like you. If you want to see other tourists buying copy watches then go; but if you want to see an actual market with Hong Kong people bargaining in Cantonese for their live fish for dinner, go to one of the markets mentioned above. If you want the SAME junk as is sold at night in these markets, do yourself a favour and make a day trip to Stanley where at least you will get a great bus ride over and back, and can have a very nice meal along the waterfront. (Or do an afternoon trip and stay for sunset and dinner.)

    If you are looking for evening activities there is a LOT more to do than just going to the tourist junk markets. For a list of all activities, both free and paid, go to http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/cs_prog_week.php and for a list of paid programs, go to http://urbtix.cityline.com.hk/internet/action/index.do. The Sunbeam Theatre in North Point on Hong Kong island does a lot of Chinese Opera and may also have dance, they are listed on the cityline site above.

    If you want to listen to Chinese music, try the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra at hkco.org.

    If you want to see a Chinese opera, try the Urbtix listings, the Academy for Performing Arts, or the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point on Hong Kong island (accessible by MTR), which has opera many nights a week; they list on Urbtix.

    If you are interested in classical music, a good place to start is the website for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on the waterfront in Kowloon: www.hkpo.com

    The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts runs terrific programs all year, and often has free recitals by its students, take a look at http://www.hkapa.edu.

    The Fringe Club in Central always has interesting exhibits or performances going on, often including musical evenings, take a look at http://www.hkfringe.com.hk/english/index_eng.asp. Also try the Hong Kong Arts Centre at hkac.org.hk

    St John’s Cathedral in Central has concert evenings, see “Support a Local Charity” below.

    If you like jazz, then try the Blue Door Jazz Club (5th Floor, 37-43 Cochrane Street, Central) which has great jazz on Saturdays or the Bohemian Lounge (3-5 Old Bailey St Soho) which has jazz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Lobster Bar in the Conrad and the bar in the Ritz-Carlton also often have jazz/blues singers in the evenings, check listings or call the hotel.

    The Asia Society, of which I am a member, offers evening lectures on a myriad of topics, and non-members are always welcome to attend (there is a fee for all lectures, usually around US$15). Most lectures are held at the Hong Kong Club right near the Star Ferry pier in Central. Go to http://www.asiasociety.org/visit/hongkong/, click on "Calendar".

    Also try the "Whats On When" website at www.whatsonwhen.com/pages/hong_kong.jml

    You can buy tickets to most every thing happening in Hong Kong at URBITX, either on-line or in person. Take a look at http://urbtix.cityline.com.hk/internet/action/index.do and www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Entertainment/Ticket/en/index.php

    Don’t forget about the movies. The movie theatre in the IFC Mall is brand-new and the seats are something to experience. Big, comfortable, tons of leg room. For this and all theatres in town you can reserve your seat a day or a few days in advance (so civilized). Tickets are about US$9. There are many other theatres around town too, a new one is under construction at Pacific Place Mall that will undoubtedly be better than IFC if that is possible. We get foreign films as well as PRC, home-made movies and Taiwanese ones, most of these latter have English subtitles. It’s a hoot to watch some of the Asian films, like the kung-fu ones, and some of the art films are wonderful. For a listing of most movies going in town, and to buy tickets, go to http://www.cityline.com.hk/eng/main.html. For info on the Palace IFC, go to http://www.ifc.com.hk/english/cinema.aspx

    There are dozens of art galleries in Hong Kong. Modern Chinese artists are hot and getting hotter; but you can buy Vietnamese and other Asian artists as well as European and American art. Most galleries are open in the evening until at least 7 pm, many have longer night hours. The Hollywood Road area is the best place to look, there are also a few galleries in the Star Street area of Wan Chai. Schoeni, Plum Blossoms, and Zee Stone are three of my favourites, for a list of these and other good galleries, take a look at http://www.hongkongartwalk.com/2006/galleries.html. If you are here in March, there is a charity event in March each year called Hong Kong Art Walk (where the above list is from) that is a great event to attend, look at the website. Another very good source for gallery showings and other art-related events is the monthly Artmap, which you can pick up for free at Pacific Coffee Company outlets and other cafes and restaurants in town.

    There is an artist’s cooperate in Kowloon, lots of very avant garde stuff, video art, etc, but who knows perhaps the next Andy Warhol is there and you could be the one to buy his next priceless piece. It is in a former depot for holding cattle, where the artists live and have studios and so is called the Cattle Depot Artists Village. Its at 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, you can take a taxi from the Star Ferry in Kowloon. See http://www.artist-commune.com/

    There are sometimes art and antique auctions here, try ttp://www.christies.com/home_page/home_page.asp and http://search.sothebys.com/. It doesn’t cost anything to attend, and you can go a look at the stuff before the sale which is fun as well...

    For daytime activities, in addition to the excellent Hong Kong Museum of History (http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/History/index.php) in Tsim Sha Tsui where you will see a good number of tourists, there are three other very interesting history museums further out in Kowloon where there are few if any tourists, two of which are in restored Chinese walled villages, and all of which are reachable by public transport or a combo of public transport and then a short taxi ride. Take a look at the links below. I believe there is a free shuttle bus which connects many if not all of these museums, ask your hotel or ask at the Hong Kong Tourist Board office. I have read about it in the paper here, but have not seen anything about it on any museum website, the info I saw said "A one-week bus pass with unlimited entry ticket to all museums is available from Hong Kong Toursim Board offices. The special bus runs on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm." It may be that you have to show a passport to get this pass.
    --Hong Kong Heritage Museum at http://www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/English. This building houses very good permanent and changing exhibitions. It is accessible by MTR and then the KCR railway. I believe all guided tours are in Cantonese, which tells you that they get few if any Western tourists. Exhibits are labeled in English so a guide is not necessary.

    --Sam Tung Uk Museum at http://www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/english/branch_sel_stu.htm. This is a restored "walled village" with examples of courtyard houses. This is accessible by public transport. There are several walled villages in the New Territories, which I am just starting to explore and which I will post on later, but I think this museum or the one below may be a better choice because it is restored and has original fixtures and furniture; the walled villages you can visit otherwise are being lived in and you cannot for the most part go into any homes, plus the state of disrepair of the living walled villages makes appreciating them somewhat difficult, IMO.

    --Sheung Yiu Folk Museum at http://www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/english/branch_sel_syf.htm. This is in Sai Kung a still rural area of Hong Kong and will give you an idea of what life was like before Hong Kong was a city of high rises and malls. There is some great walking in this area as well, this could be combined with an afternoon or morning of walking.

    --Hong Kong Art Museum, is a very good small museum which can be "done" in an hour or two. Take a look at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Arts. It is open every day but Thursday and admission is something like US$1.25 (free admission on Wednesdays). They have a very good gift shop for Chinese souvenirs, scrolls, CDs of Chinese music, art books, etc. Good selection and prices.

    MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS

    While lots of people here can afford yachts, the rest of us take to the water in ferries, junks, sailboats, motorboats, kayaks, windsurfers and paddleboats. Beyond the quintessential trip across the harbour in the Star Ferry, there are many other options for boat trips.

    1. You can take a ferry tour of the harbor, the Star Ferry runs several, take a look at http://www.starferry.com.hk/new/en/index.asp.

    2. Take a ferry to one of the main outlying islands like Cheng Chau, Peng Chau, Ping Chau, Tai Po, Lantau, Lamma or Po Toi. You can do a walk, have a meal, see a temple or the big Buddha on Lantau. A great way to spend a day. You could also take an afternoon ferry ride around the outlying islands like Lamma, Lantau and Cheng Chau and not necessarily get off at any of them. I think the ferry loop without getting off takes 2 hours and will give you a good view of all the islands. For ferry schedules, take a look at http://www.nwff.com.hk, click on "Ferry Schedule" and then " Local Service". Ferries tend to be more crowded on weekends (esp Sundays) but are bearable, its not Bangladesh here.....

    Try to avoid the big Buddha on Lantau on Sundays is quite crowded. Same with the seafood restaurants on Lamma, although that is not really the same issue, watch the over ordering here the waiter will encourage you to order far more than you need. If you have a choice, pick a weekday.

    Cheng Chau is definitely worth a stroll for an hour or so. Some info on the island can be found at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/touring/hkwalks/ta_walk_walk5.jhtml. There is a good seafood restaurant on the waterfront, called New Baccarat Seafood Restaurant, 9A Pak She Praya St, tel 852/2981 0606.

    I really like Po Toi Island as it is small and walkable and has a little temple and a small very quiet village where on Sundays you can usually hear the Mah Jongg tiles clicking...If you have read The Honorable Schoolboy, this island will be known to you. Kaito ferries run from North Point, Aberdeen or Stanley, check the website at http://www.td.gov.hk/home/index.htm, click on “Passengers” then “Ferries” then “Kaitos” (these are small ferries). There are about 5 seafood restaurants in town, I have not eaten at all of them, but I can’t imagine any would be bad, I like Ming Kee Seafood (2849-7038). If you go on a Sunday, make a booking. Otherwise, the place is very quite. Ferries do not run every day (except on weekends), so check the schedule. (Po Toi Island is not to be confused with Po Toi O which is in the New Territories)

    3. The Hong Kong Tourist Association has a tour by junk every Thursday, find info on their website, take a look at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp. Bring your passports, only tourists (and expats) get to go. You can also pay for a longer cruise on the same junk at sunset and other times, go to http://www.dukling.com.hk/tours.htm

    4 . You can take a boat out to see the pink dolphins which are native to the waters of Hong Kong, take a look at http://www.hkdolphinwatch.com. Winter months are best for this.

    5. The restaurant group which runs the restaurants at One Peking Road has their own wooden junk which goes out for drinks cruises which are fun. They cost HK$180 and includes a drink and some hors d'ourves, the wooden junk is lovely and goes back and forth and around the harbour. This trip is about an hour and is a good thing to do at sunset or in the afternoon. Go to www.aqua.com.hk for info, the boat is called the Aqua Luna.

    6. Hire your own junk and tool around the harbour and outlying islands pretending you are a tai pan. You can get one with a cook and staff, or bring your own meals on board. Great for families, birthday/anniversaries. They have bathrooms, covered areas if it rains or the sun gets to be too much, and usually have dinghies for trips ashore or snorkeling, etc. About US$400-500 for the day, not cheap, but memorable and if you have a group, not really expensive for the whole day. Try http://www.jubilee.com.hk/enter.htm or http://www.saffron-cruises.com/ (none of these are actual junks, but are luxury motorboats that sort of looks like one, but very nice). For a real sailing junk, try http://www.dukling.com.hk/

    7. Hire your own speedboat with driver and get out to some of the really gorgeous beaches like Sai Wan. Jubilee and Saffron (see above) have boats, or try http://www.kayak-and-hike.com (he does kayak trips and walks as well). Or hire a sailboat, go to http://www.yachtingventures.com

    8. You can water-ski in Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong Island, which is a lovely bay on the back side of the island surrounded by hills and some very fine homes. You can take Bus no. 6A, 6X from Exchange Square. Call the outfit below to make a reservation, and for directions. The price is about HK$600 an hour.

    Deep Water Bay Speedboat Company
    Tel: 852 2812 0391

    You can also hire boats for skiing on Cheng Chau (see below). You may also be able to hire boats and drivers for skiing at the Stanley Windsurfing Centre (Tel: 852 2813 2882). I like Deepwater Bay because it is more protected than the Stanley headland, which is windier and good for sailing and windsurfing (see below).

    9. You can rent windsurfers on Cheung Chau, or rent windsurfers and sailboats at the following places:

    Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre
    Hak Pai Road, Cheung Chau
    Tel: 2981 8316
    (next to Warwick Hotel and the Helicopter pier). This is operated by the uncle of Lee Lai Shan, who won Olympic Gold in Atlanta and is a local hero. He rents kayaks as well.

    St. Stephen's Beach Water Sports Centre
    Wong Ma Kok Path, Stanley, Hong Kong
    (Closed on Tuesday)
    Tel: 2813 5407
    Fax: 2813 6449
    Email: ssbwsc@lcsd.gov.hk
    http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/watersport/en/index.php

    Stanley Main Beach Water Sports Centre
    Stanley Link Road, Stanley, Hong Kong
    (Closed on Wednesday)
    Tel: 2813 9117
    Fax: 2813 0490
    Email: smbwsc@lcsd.gov.hk
    http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/watersport/en/index.php

    Sai Kung:
    Chong Hing Water Sports Centre
    West Sea Cofferdam,
    High Island Reservoir, Sai Kung, New Territories
    (Closed on Thursday)
    Tel: 2792 6810
    Fax: 2791 2473
    Email: chwsc@lcsd.gov.hk
    http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/watersport/en/index.php

    The Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre
    Wong Shek Pier, Sai Kung, New Territories
    (Closed on Tuesday)
    Tel: 2328 2311
    Fax: 2328 2172
    Email: wswsc@lcsd.gov.hk
    http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/watersport/en/index.php

    If you belong to a yacht club or sailing club in the US, it may have a reciprocal relationship with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and then you can get a temporary membership and rent boats. Take a look at http://www.rhkyc.org.hk, click on “Membership” and then “Overseas Visitors” You can also get a temporary membership by getting someone you know who belongs to a reciprocal club to give you a letter of introduction.

    10. You can rent a kayak on Cheung Chau, or join a tour and kayak around some of the really beautiful areas of Sai Kung in the New Territories, go to http://www.kayak-and-hike.com. You may also be able to rent them for Shek-O go to the Southside, which has some great areas for kayaking, go to http://www.rockstarsasia.com/ . This is great all year, but bring a windbreaker for the winter months. You can rent kayaks and/or canoes from the following places:

    Stanley:
    Stanley Main Beach Water Sports Centre

    Sai Kung:
    West Sea Cofferdam of the High Island Reservoir Park,
    Tel: 2792 6810
    The Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre
    Tel: 2328 2311

    11. Finally, if you are a diver, you can do some scuba diving here. The water clarity is just OK (and sometimes lousy) compared to the superb diving to be found in other parts of SE Asia, but it can be a fun day out on the water, you will get to some of the outlying islands away from city and tourists, will meet locals and expats, and no one back home will believe that you scuba’d in Hong Kong.... go to hkist-swc.com.hk, they offer good day trips to outlying islands, which are the best places for diving in the area.

    BE A PUNTER FOR A DAY (OR A NIGHT)

    If you are in town on a Wednesday or over a weekend in the racing season, you should do the quintessential Hong Kong thing and go to the horse races at Happy Valley Racecourse on Hong Kong Island. You will see Hong Kongers undertaking their native activity: betting. Races are held on Wednesday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons from September to June. (There is also a racetrack in Sha Tin in the New Territories, I have never been, as Happy Valley is right on Hong Kong Island and is just more convenient for me.)
    There are several ways to attend the races:

    1. The basic admission price is HK$10, which is for standing-room only. Go to the main admission gates.

    2. You can watch from the more exclusive Hong Kong Jockey Club members' enclosure by purchasing a temporary "member's badge" for HK$50 (about US$6.50). It's available upon showing your passport at either the Badge Enquiry Office at the main entrance to the Members' Private Enclosure at Happy Valley, OR an easier way is to go to one of the off-track betting centers like the one near the Star Ferry concourse in Central or on Nathan Road in Kowloon where you can buy the badges in advance. Take a look at the website for the Hong Kong Jockey Club at http://www.hkjc.com/english/index.asp, click on “Horse Races”, then "Come Racing" and then "Overseas Visitors" for info on the badge and where to get them.

    3. You can have a meal watch the races from the Stable Bend Terrace. The meal (HK$350) is a very average buffet, but the outdoor terrace offers a great vantage point to watch the races, and it is pleasant to sip a beer or wine while watching the races. Don’t worry, betting booths and ATMs are right there in the restaurant as well. There are other restaurants, but this is the only one with outdoor space. You can also book a private box at other restaurants if you have a larger group. For info on the Stable Bend Terrace and ll the restaurants, , http://www.hkjc.com/english/index.asp, click on “Horse Races”, then "Come Racing" and then “Dining at a Glance”
    The easiest way to the Happy Valley racecourse is to take a taxi from the Star Ferry and have him drop you at the Members Enclosure Entrance. Try to leave before or during the last race, as it will be quite hard to find a taxi or get on a tram at other times.

    SUPPORT A LOCAL CHARITY

    --Charity begins at home here in Hong Kong. If you want to buy some tourist souvenirs, skip the Temple Street or Ladies Market and visit the charity shop at St John’s Cathedral in Central. The Cathedral is very pretty, and is not visited by most tourists although it is colonial-era, and worth a visit in itself, IMO. The Cathedral is located across the street and downhill a few yards from the station at the bottom of the Peak Tram. It has a good bookshop with proceeds going to charity and sells card, writing paper, some books, fair trade food and at Christmas they sell Christmas cards and other items. The cathedral has evensong the second Sunday of each month which is also a nice reflective evening. They also have concert evenings which are usually benefits as well, go to http://www.stjohnscathedral.org.hk for info on all events and the evensong.

    --Take a tour of the Mai Po marshes with the World Wildlife Fund. The marshes are located in the New Territories. See a wild part of Hong Kong that really no tourists see, get a guided tour with a naturalist AND support a charity! Guided walks are only on weekends and public holidays, but you can also visit Mai Po yourself on other days and do you own walk, I believe you can also bike in this area. Take a look at http://www.wwf.org.hk/eng/maipo/publicvisit/publictour.html

    --In November, two of the major outdoor charity events of the year are held, the Trailwalker in Sai Kung and the Matilda Sedan Chair race on the Peak. Both support local and international charities. The former is hard to watch as the trail is isolated and access except to participating walkers is limited, but you can buy T shirts and sponsor walkers, the latter is a hoot to watch anywhere along the route on the Peak and also go to the bazaar on the grounds of the hospital. Take a look at http://www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.hk/en/home.html and http://www.sedanchairace.org/.

    --There are three charity shops in Hong Kong which primarily sell used clothing, household goods and other odds and ends. These probably aren’t going to be useful to the tourist, but the are located in the basement of Jardine House right at the Star Ferry on the Hong Kong side(Oxfam, go to http://www.oxfam.org.hk/english/), the Silvercord Building on Nathan Road (Oxfam) and on Stanley Main Street in Stanley as well as other locations, (Salvation Army, go to http://www.salvation.org.hk/english/index.htm). If you are in the neighborhood and want to have a look to support these organizations, stop in. They also have travel books and sometimes have CDs, videos and DVDs. They sometimes run card and stationery sales as well.


  • Report Abuse

    What a great post, thanks for all the information and the effort!

    I'm saving it, but unfortunately we only have 2 days, right after the New Year and will have to pick and choose carefully. But I promise not to go to the Night Markets! (Did that 20 years ago and couldn't figure out why it was so popular...we couldn't wait to get away.)

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    Thanks for that fabulous effort Cicerone. I have been to Hong Kong many times and love it. However I am ashamed to say I thought I knew the place but obviously I don't know the half of it! Another trip obviously needs arranging!!

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    Wow! Thanks for the wealth of information, Cicerone. Am happy that you covered horse racing! December 10 you might want to go out to Sha Tin for their biggest day of the year. Easy train ride from Hung Hom stops at the track. Definitely worth the trip.

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    What an absolutely outstanding post!! I too, enjoy Stanley Market and have purchased many christmas decorations from here!!
    I have friends who are planning a trip to HK next year, and will forward this info to them.
    I agree with you about the night markets (disgusting), and the quote from Luxe guide exactly sums it up, IMO
    I think this is one of the best posts I've seen on this board, thanks!

  • Report Abuse

    Cicerone,
    thank you for this posting, amazing, lucky me it looks like we have to extend our holiday to 10 days instead of 7 because of flights, so now I'll be able to fit most things in!
    I've printed it and filed away in my Hong Kong file!
    thanks
    Pauline.

  • Report Abuse

    As the poster who made the request, I can't thank you enough for the time and effort you have put into this. I'm gratified that others have already benefitted , and that others no doubt will benefit in the future when they land on this thread, as I otherwise would have felt very guilty for causing you so much work.

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    Yes, flanneruk I have some scuffy restaurants I can recco, will repost later with addresses. A good place to start is along Wellington Street in Central after in crosses under the escalator, lots of outdoor eating stalls there.

  • Report Abuse

    This is why we have been to Hong Kong 5 times! And there's still so much we haven't done! I love the walks.
    We will spend 3 days there next March before joining our cruise so I am really excited about going back.
    I would like to hear your restaurant recs.

  • Report Abuse

    Two posters have recently asked for my restaurants list, my current list of favourite restaurants is below. This is by no mans complete or exhaustive, as there are many other good restaurants in town, I just have not gotten to them yet. I’d love to hear other people’s reccos as well.

    Expensive, great food and a great view

    Spoon
    Intercontinental Hotel
    18 Salisbury Road
    Kowloon
    852 2721 1211
    http://hongkong-ic.dining.intercontinental.com

    Alain Ducassse, the French chef, opened this restaurant about 8 months ago. French and Asian-fusion.

    Felix
    The Peninsula Hotel
    Salisbury Road, Kowloon
    (852) 2920-2888
    http://hongkong.peninsula.com

    Top floor of the new wing, design by Philip Stark. Asian-Fusion

    Aqua/Roma
    Hutong
    One Peking Road
    Kowloon
    Tel: 852:3427-2288
    www.aqua.com.hk

    This is three restaurants at one location, an Italian, a Chinese and a Japanese, all with great views. They are all good, the Chinese is Beijing style food and is very good. This group has several other restaurants in Hong Kong

    Restaurant Petrus
    Island Shangri-La
    Pacific Place,
    Supreme Court Road
    Tel: 852 2820 8590

    Excellent French food, wonderful service, crystal chandeliers and the works with a great view. Huge wine list. Jacket required for men.

    ISOLA bar and grill
    Shop 3071-75
    IFC 2, 8 Finance Street
    Central
    Tel: (852) 2383 8765
    http://www.isolabarandgrill.com/

    Huge double-height windows, great outdoor terrace with nice harbor and city views. Expensive but good Italian. Pizzas are about HK$130 (US$16), so would be doable for lunch, their entrees start at about US$25. Great deserts. Nice bar. Personally if I were going to spend that much money for dinner, I would go elsewhere, but lunch here would be a nice idea, or a drink at sunset.

    Caprice
    Four Seasons Hotel
    8 Finance Street
    Central
    Tel: 852 3196-8888
    Fax: (852) 3196-8899
    http://www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/index.html

    Very good French in a modern eclectic upscale French bistro type deco (you will understand when you see it). You probably should e-mail now for a booking if you are interested, esp for a weekend, as it is new and very popular. Very nice views if you get a window table (albeit of the "wrong" side of the harbour). Prices are between HK$300-400 for lunch, but they have set lunches at HK$380 for 2 courses and HK$450 for 3 courses which would be a good value. Dinner appetizers average around HK$250, and entrees average about HK$500 (but are all over the map from HK$380 to HK$700). They have prix fixe dinner at HK$780 for 3 courses. They have a tasting menu for HK$1080, but the whole table has to order the tasting menu. Finally, they have a chef’s table in the open kitchen where the chef cooks in front of you a set meal he picks and the price is HK$8,000 per person (that’s just over US$1,000 and while I believe that includes wines I don’t think I will be ordering that one too soon myself….) I think the menu and prix fixe prices would be similar at the other restaurants in town.

    Man Wah Restaurant
    Mandarin Hotel
    5 Connaught Road, Central Hong Kong
    Tel 852 2522 0111

    This was just refurbished along with the rest of the hotel, and I think this is the most beautiful Chinese restaurant I have ever been in. Not glitzy with chandeliers and lots of gold, just nice clean-lined wooden furniture and soft colors. Shanghai cuisine. On the top floor of the Mandarin. It is small and elegant. The tables along the eastern wall (Chater Garden side) would have the best view, so try to book those. Very quiet and romantic, not for a noisy party, but good for a small celebration or quiet dinner. Very good food and service of course. Have a drink at the M Bar next door before or afterwards for the view as well.

    Expensive, Great Food, No View

    M at the Fringe
    1/F South Block
    2 Lower Albert Road, Central
    Hong Kong
    Tel: (852) 2877-4000
    http://www.m-onthebund.com/at_the_fringe

    Eclectic décor and menu of European dishes and a little Asian thrown in. This is my favoruite non-view restaurant in Hong Kong, with Ingredients a close second. Good wine list. They also have an outlet in Shanghai on the Bund which is very good as well.

    Opia
    Y's
    Hotel Jia
    1 - 5 Irving Street
    Causeway Bay
    852-3196-3000
    http://www.jiahongkong.com/

    Really hip and trendy, these are two restaurants in the new Stark-designed Jia Hotel in Causeway Bay. Both restaurants are Asian fusion, so not strictly Chinese. I have only eaten at Opia, which I thought was very good, if slightly full of itself (but hey, this is Hong Kong.)

    Tuscany by H
    58-62 D’Aguilar Street
    (Lan Kwai Fong bar area)
    Tel: 2522-9798
    Fax: 2521-8116
    e-mail: dine@tuscany-by-h.com
    tuscany-by-h.com

    Excellent, somewhat innovative mostly central to northern Italian in a fresh modern setting, very good service as well. Good wine list, obviously of Italian wines but some others.

    Great Views, More Moderate Price

    Pearl on the Peak
    Level 1, Peak Tower
    128 Peak Road
    tel: 852-2849-5123

    Just opened in October 2006. This is a branch of the Pearl restaurant in Melbourne. Views are great, space is very nicely done up. Make sure you DON’T get the table by the big air conditioning unit; request one over the tram tracks for maximum views. Nice little bar. There is a small outdoor space which would be quite good. Food is good, it is “Australian” whatever that means, basically Continental and happily very little Asian-fusion. I hope they add more seafood, as the chief is an Australian, Geoff Lindsay, is known for his seafood. Very good deserts, unusual selection. I really, really hope this works because an elegant restaurant on the Peak which serves good food is really desperately needed. Prices around HK$300 for entrees and around HK$220 for appetizers. Nice wine list, predominately Australian.

    Gaia
    Grand Millennium Plaza
    181 Queen's Road
    Central
    www.gaiaristorante.com

    Very, very good Italian. No view per se, but a very nice outdoor terrace, hung with lights. Very good service. In Central.

    ToTT's Asian Bar and Grill
    The Excelsior Hotel
    281 Gloucester Rd
    Causeway Bay
    34th floor
    852-2837-6786
    http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/517000040.asp

    A perennial favorite Asian-fusion that is hip with a an excellent view in Causeway Bay. They have a tiny outdoor bar area to take a quick drink and look. A fun place.

    Café Deco
    Peak Galleria
    118 Peak Road
    The Peak Hong Kong
    Tel: 852.2849 5111
    http://www.cafedecogroup.com/cafed/v_deco.asp

    On the Peak in the mall across from the Peak Tram, a more casual place with an extensive menu of Western and Asian dishes. Ask for a window seat. Stunning views of the harbour, esp at night. View is somewhat better than the food.

    Top Deck at the Jumbo
    Jumbo Kingdom
    Shum Wan Pier Drive
    Wong Chuk Hang
    Aberdeen
    Tel: 852 2552 3331
    http://www.cafedecogroup.com/TOP_DECK/v_TOP_DECK.asp

    A new Asian-fusion seafood restaurant on top of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen (which I normally would not recco as food is average and very touristy). Has great views of the Aberdeen harbour and the southside of Hong Kong Island. You could hire a little boat to take you around Aberdeen harbour afterwards.

    Harbourside
    Intercontinental Hotel
    18 Salisbury Road
    Kowloon
    852 2721 1211
    http://hongkong-ic.dining.intercontinental.com

    This is their casual coffee shop restaurant. Great views. They have Asian and Western dishes, sandwiches, salads, etc and a huge buffet. Can please every taste. Open late. Good for pleasing a crowd. Generally do not need a booking, except if you have a very large group. Good service.

    Harlan's
    Shop 2075
    IFC Mall
    tel 2805 0566
    http://www.harlans-ifc.com/serv_menus.php

    Eclectic menu of continental and Asian, with some Tapas, pastas, and wood oven pizzas. Good deserts too. Very nice harbour view albeit of the "wrong" side. Nice for lunch esp on a sunny day. Cigar bar and oyster bar. I think this place is better for lunch than dinner. The chef is about to open a new restaurant upstairs that will be more upscale, watch for this.

    The Verandah
    109 Repulse Bay Road
    Repulse Bay
    Hong Kong
    Tel: (852) 2292 2822
    http://www.therepulsebay.com/restaurants.html

    IMO, the best – and quintessential place -- to go for brunch. In beautiful Repulse Bay on the Southside of Hong Kong Island. This is a faithful reproduction of the restaurant that was here in the 1920's when there was a hotel on the spot. Really lovely views of the South China Sea and a good brunch, complete with a jazz band. You can take a bus (a thrilling ride up and over the hills and down into Repulse Bay) in about 20-30 minutes from Central, or a taxi (would cost between US$35-40). Brunch is on Sunday only. Closed on Monday.

    Habitu -The Pier
    Shop 63
    Ground Floor, Ocean Terminal
    (waterfront opposite Star Ferry)
    Tel: 852-3101-0901

    This is a great spot for lunch or a late afternoon snack/tea. Good Italian, pastas and pizzas. Casual, modern decor, wood floors, a bit of a nautical theme. The attraction of this place IMO are the superb views, esp from the deck (they have heaters and umbrellas) which are only slightly marred by the Star Ferry piers but generally great, this is really the only outdoor restaurant I know of in Kowloon. A deck seat or an inside table nearest the deck is really why you would want to come here; the food is good but I don't think I would travel here otherwise just for Italian food or if you could not get a window seat. (If you are shopping in Harbour City or at the Chinese Arts and Crafts around the corner then that is another good reason to stop in.) Either lunch or a cold beer and some snacks on a hot afternoon with that view is a great break. Not bad prices, set lunches start at $88, pizzas and pastas are about HK$100, and tea sets are $48 up.

    The restaurant is on the ground floor of Ocean Terminal, about 100 yards to the right of the Star Ferry piers. Facing the Star Ferry piers, turn right and follow along the edge of the water, you will then come to/see a big flight of steps leading up on your right, stay to the left of these and on the ground level, and you will see the deck and restaurant on your farther left.

    They have a larger outlet in Causeway Bay that is very good too, no view but they have a garden and a chocolate room that is pretty sinfully good; again there is no reason to go there specially but if you are in Causeway Bay shopping it is a good place for lunch or tea or even dinner, near to Lee Gardens/Times Square, would be walkable from the races at Happy Valley.

    Quarterdeck Club Seafood Restaurant and Grill
    Shop 53, Ground Floor
    Ocean Terminal, Harbour City
    Kowloon
    Tel: 2735-8881

    Fleet Arcade
    Fenwick Pier
    1 Lung King Street
    Wanchai
    Tel 2827 8882

    The Fenwick Pier outlet is the only place with outdoor seating right on the waterfront on Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. It is literally on the water and views are excellent, the Hong Kong branch has outdoor seating so definitely ask for an outdoor table. However, on the Hong Kong side they are currently reclaiming land directly to the west of here so views are starting to become obscured, I have not been there since about July 2006 and now see that sea cranes seem to be parked in front of the area. Good seafood but also steaks, pasta, pizza and burgers were all in evidence. Great deserts like Chocolate pie and Mars pie. Big portions. OK prices, but food and views are worth it, esp. for views from the Kowloon outlet. If you can get a booking, this is a great place for the fireworks, esp. the Fenwick Pier outlet.

    For the Fenwick pier branch on Hong Kong Island, this is in front of the Pacific Place shopping mall on the water and is actually about a mile from the Star Ferry and should be walkable if you keep walking along the waterfront. (With the Star Ferry at your back, turn right and walk along the waterfront.) Otherwise, you should take a taxi . You can take the MTR to Admiralty, but the mass of pedestrian flyovers will confuse you if you try to walk there from the MTR. Really, I would take a taxi from any point on Hong Kong Island.

    They do a weekend brunch (have not been). The owners also own Entoeca, a good Mediterranean (tapas inspired) restaurant on Elgin Street.

    No Views, Good Food, Moderate Price

    Peak Lookout
    121 Peak Rd
    Tel: 852/2849 1000

    Although it is on the Peak, the restaurant has virtually no views; you can get some limited views of the southside ocean areas from the outside terraces off the back, but they are a bit hard to see through the trees. Still an outdoor table is extremely pleasant on a nice day, and in the evening very, very nice indeed as they trees are lit up. There are not a lot of outdoor dining venues in Hong Kong and this got to be the nicest. The food is very good and makes up for the lack of views. Much better food than the Café Deco. The Food is a mix of Western and Asian, including Indian tandor. Across the street from the Peak tram. A nice place for lunch after you have done the Lugard Road circuit.

    Baci
    2nd Floor (& casual pizza place on ground floor)
    1 Lan Kwai Fong
    Central
    Tel: 852 2801 5885

    Southern Italian food in Lan Kwai Fong, window tables have street views of the bar action. Sleek design, can be a bit noisy (tile floors). Pasta portions are not so large as to be overwhelming, service is good, matre d' is a little strange (the only Italian in the place). Good risotto dishes. House wine is Australian, but they do have some nice Italian wines on the list. Restaurant is on two levels, second dining level is a bit more quiet and intimate. There is a casual pizza place on the first floor that is good for lunch.

    La Terrasse
    Ground Floor
    19 Old Bailey Street
    Central
    Tel: 2147-2225

    Very good French food in a pleasant setting, they have a small terrace at back. In the Hollywood Road area of antique shops, near to Soho. Nice wine list of mainly French wines. Good value set meals for lunch and dinner. Excellent duck confit.

    Goccia
    73 Wyndham St
    Central
    2167 8181

    Italian but with a nice twist. The ground floor is a lounge, main dining room is upstairs. Innovative items vie on the menu - artichoke ravioli with mint oil, prawns and dried mullet roe. Nice wine list.

    Regional Chinese

    Fook Lam Moon (Cantonese)
    35-45 Johnston Road
    Wan Chai
    Tel: 852-2866-0663
    fooklammoon-grp.com

    Well-known and very popular in Hong Kong (they also have an outlet in Kowloon). Good for dim sum (they also offer set menu and a la carte Cantonese dishes), as well as for dinner where they have a very large menu selection both set menu and a la carte. Excellent egg tarts and other deserts. This is in a very lively neighborhood near the old (and now virtually non-existent) "Suzy Wong" girlie bar area. It is also in a great area of day and early evening outdoor wet and dry markets which take place in the lanes along Johnston Road between it and Queens Road, esp Stone Nullah Lane, Garden Lane, Cross Street or Tai Wong Street . If you go to these areas between about 5 and 7 pm every day (and all day Saturday) you will see local Hong Kongers buying live fish as well as poultry, meat, vegetables etc on their way home for dinner. Very colorful and interesting markets, much more so than the Temple Street area in Kowloon, IMO which is mostly copy watches and other tourists. This would be a good place for lunch or dinner after some people watching at the markets.

    Secret Pantry (Chiu Chow)
    1st Floor Hoover Tower 3
    5 St. Francis Street, Wanchai,
    Tel: (852) 3421-2330
    Fax (852) 3426-9234

    This is a "private kitchen", so do call ahead to make sure they are open and you can get a booking. Chiu Chow cooking from southern Guangdong province, also known as Swatow food. This is the cuisine which invented shark's fin and bird's nest soups. Seafood, goose and duck are prominent. Sauces are sweeter rather than spicy. Menu changes every few weeks. Simple decor with contemporary art (the place started out as an art gallery.) No liquor license, but you can bring your own beer or wine and pay a minimal corkage fee. Set tasting menu is $64 and prices go up from there. The restaurant is a few blocks past the Pacific Place Mall/Marriott/Conrad/Island Shangri-la. It is part of the developing trendy "Star Street" area of restaurants, bars, clubs and some art galleries. The best way to get there from Queens Road is to walk up St Francis to the first intersection (St Francis Yard), turn right, walk along the building on your left to the end, turn left and you will see a metal door at the back of this building, this is the entrance to the restaurant. There is also a black awning here.
    Hunan Garden
    The Forum (3rd floor)
    Exchange Square, Central
    Hong Kong
    852/2868 2880

    Hunan Food. Located in the same building as the stock exchange, close to the Star Ferry and the Airport Express station. Live music in the evenings.

    Lumiere/Cuisine Cuisine (Sichuan and South American)
    3107
    IFC Mall
    8 Finance Street
    Central, Hong Kong
    Tel: 852-2393-3933

    Lumiere is Sichuan and South American (yes, hard to believe), pretty good harbour views, although only from the third floor. Cuisine Cuisine is their Cantonese restaurant next door, you can make a booking by calling the same number. Nice ambience and décor in both (unusual for Chinese restaurants), good service

    Ye Shanghai
    88 Queensway
    One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Tel: 852-2918-9833

    Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel
    Harbour City, Kowloon
    tel: 852- 2376 3322

    Shanghainese food. This restaurant has two outlets, one on Hong Kong Island and one on the Kowloon side. The Pacific Place one is sleek and modern, the Marco Polo Hotel one is more pre-war Shanghai. There is no view, although there is a bit of a street view in the Pacific Place one. They also have a branch in the Xiantiandini area in Shanghai.

    Shanghai Shanghai
    Ritz-Carlton
    3 Connaught Rd
    Central
    852-2869-0328

    Good Shanghainese food. No view.

    Also try Man Wah at the Mandarin hotel for good (expensive) Shanghainese with a very good view in a beautiful setting.

    Peking Duck/Northern Chinese

    Spring Deer Restaurant
    42 Mody Road
    Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
    Tel: 852/2366 4012

    Although a little bit touristy the Spring Deer Restaurant in Kowloon has good Peking Duck IMO.

    American Peking Restaurant
    20 Lockhart Rd
    Wan Chai
    Tel: 852-2527-7770

    Another good place to try is American Peking Restaurant in Wan Chai if you are in the area, very inexpensive.

    Also try Bistro Manchu, see Soho listings.

    Indian

    Tandoor
    1/F Lyndhurst Tower
    1 Lyndhurst Terrace
    Central, Hong Kong
    Tel: (852) 2845 2262

    North Indian. They have live Indian music in the evenings.

    Ashoka
    G/F, 57-59 Wyndham Street
    Central
    Tel: 2524-9623

    Great value for money, they have a set lunch that is very good.

    Koh-I-Noor
    103 California Entertainment Building
    34 D'Aguilar Street, Central
    Tel: 2877-9706

    1/F, 3-4 Peninsula Mansion
    16C Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
    Tel: 2368-3065
    www.lankwaifong.com

    Two outlets, one on Hong Kong Island in the Lan Kwai Fong bar area, and one in Kowloon.

    Veda
    8 Arbuthnot Road
    Central
    (Hollywood Road area)
    2868-5885

    Upscale Indian (almost fusion). But very good. Nice decor and ambience. They have brunch on Sunday (Indian.)

    Khana Khazana
    20 Luard Road
    1st Floor
    Wan Chai
    Tel: 852-2520-5308

    Vegetarian. Very modest décor, but great food. This is in the old Suzie Wong area of Wan Chai, close to the Hyatt. Prices are good, about HK$70 for a thali, things like dosas, kormas etc run about HK$35-55. They have live music on some evenings. The entrance to this restaurant is actually on Jaffe Road, go around the corner and look for the side entrance into the building. Take the lift to the first floor.

    Branto
    9 Lockhart Road
    Kowloon
    Tel: 852-2366-8171

    This is a sister restaurant to Khana Khazana. This is behind the Penn and the Kowloon Hotel. Even more modest than the Khan Khazana, but very good food too. A bit cheaper, the menu also has things like grilled cheese and pizza for people who may not like Indian food.

    Woodlands
    Ground Floor
    61 Moody Road
    Mirror Tower
    Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
    Tel 852-2369-3718

    Vegetarian. This is just across the street from the Kowloon Shangri-la. Modest in décor, but does have a view onto some greenery. Very good food and prices. Thalis start at HK$60, dosas and most other entrees average about HK$40. You can take the MTR and get out at the Mody Road stop, door P2.

    Japanese

    Hiro
    10/F, Henry House
    42 Yung Ping Road
    Causeway Bay
    tel: 852 2882 8752.


    Great sushi and sashimi, they also have a sister tempura restaurant. Need a booking.

    Malaysian

    Malaymama
    Shop C
    Shining Building
    477 Jaffee Road
    Causeway Bay
    Tel: 2117-2122

    Shop 11A
    Mercer Street
    Sheung Wan
    Tel: 2542 4111

    Good spicy Malay food. Good prices, basically everything is less than US$10, most main entrees are around US$7. They have two outlets, one in Causeway Bay and one in Sheung Wan. Very casual.

    Singapore

    Pasar Singaporean Flavor

    64 Wellington Street
    2nd Floor
    Central

    197 Johnston Road
    Wan Chai
    tel: 3168-2057

    If you like Singaporean/Malay food, this is the place. Excellent pepper crab and char kway teow, hot spicy laksa. Very casual, basically picnic tables, but great food. Crab can be expensive, other things are more medium priced. (I have not yet been to the Wellington Street branch, it just opened this month).

    Thai

    Wyndham Street Thai
    G/F, 38 Wyndham Street
    Central Hong Kong
    Tel: 2869 6216

    Probably the best Thai food in Hong Kong.

    Thai Lemongrass
    30-32 D'Aguilar St
    852/2905 1688
    www.lankwaifong.com

    In Lan Kwai Fong, the bar district.

    Chili Club
    1/F, 88 Lockhart Road
    Wanchai, Hong Kong
    Tel: 2527 2872

    Cheap and cheerful Thai food. Very casual.

    Thai Basil
    Lower ground Floor
    Shop 005
    Pacific Place Mall
    Tel: 2537-4682

    My favorite “upscale” Thai place, has some really unusual parings of ingredients. Modern clean-lined décor, the real shame is that it is in a shopping mall (albeit a very nice one) or it would be more of a special occasion place. Great for lunch (you do most often need a booking), good for dinner. Medium to higher priced than the other places here.

    Vietnamese

    Indochine 1929
    California Tower
    Lan Kwai Fong, 2nd Floor
    Phone 2869-7399
    www.lankwaifong.com

    Vietnamese-French, nice ambience.

    Tru
    2/F Grand Progress Building
    15 Lan Kwai Fong, Central
    Phone: 2525 6700
    http://www.diningconcepts.com.hk

    Thai-Vietnamese in nice modern setting. Somewhat expensive as it is in trendy restaurant in Lan Kwa Fong. Nice bar for cocktails.

    Dim Sum

    My assistant who I consider an expert on all things Cantonese (hey she is Cantonese) now says that the Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons has the best dim sum, but is very expensive. For a splurge, go there. For just good dim sum at better prices, try these.

    West Villa Restaurant
    Ground Floor
    Gee Tuck Building
    16-20 Bonham Strand
    Sheung Wan
    Tel: 2543-3990

    This place supposedly has the best cha xiu bao in Hong Kong; and I have to agree. If you love your cha xiu bao (barbeque pork inside a steamed dumpling) like I do, this is the place. The dim sum is otherwise generally very good as well. Their almond cream is probably the best I have ever had as well. They have several other outlets, including one in Causeway Bay near Times Square and one in TST, addresses are below. I have only been to the Sheung Wan one. The decor reminds me of a mini-Marriott ballroom minus the chandeliers, don’t know how else to describe it. This is a very local place. They do NOT have English menus and the English of waiters is limited, so if you have never had dim sum before this may not be the best place to go. If you know what you like and how to pronounce it you are fine; another thing to do if you know what you like is to have your hotel write down your preferences in Chinese on a card and bring it with you. Otherwise, you might ask for a selection of dishes (I generally order one more than the number of diners and then maybe rice if you are still hungry). The Sheung Wan location is in an interesting local neighbourhood, good for a look and then walking down to the “dried fish” street area or going up to the Graham Street and Hollywood Road areas. Directly across from the restaurant is a little pedestrian alley with stalls selling name chops.

    West Villa Causeway Bay: First Floor, Lee Gardens 2, 28 Yun Ping Road Tel 2882-2110
    West Villa TST: 18B Austin Ave, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon Tel 2368-8709

    Maxim's Palace City Hall Chinese Restaurant
    2/F, Low Block
    City Hall, Central
    Tel: 2521 1303

    This restaurant is in the City Hall building, very close to the Star Ferry, and has a nice harbour view. They have carts, and is one of the few places left which uses dim sum carts. Very popular with locals and tourist. You would need a reservation, if you want a table by the window, ask when making a booking.

    The Square
    Exchange Square, Block 2
    4th Floor
    Central
    Tel: 2225-1163

    According to my Cantonese assistant, the second best dim sum in town. This is also run by the Maxim's people who operate the one in City Hall, but according to my assistant, this one is 5 star and the City Hall one is 4 star. I have eaten in both and will say that I think the food seemed better at the Square. I am not a huge fan of dim sum and my palate is probably not that refined so take that for what it is worth. The Square is much more elegant with polished wood floors, subdued lighting and a nice ambience, it is also a lot quieter as it is much smaller than the City Hall outlet. It does not have the carts. It has a harbour view, but I have to say that the view is not really as good as the one at City Hall. It is about the same price, maybe a tiny bit more than the City Hall one. It might be a toss-up as to which to pick, if you want the noisy cart experience (which can indeed be fun) then go to City Hall, if really really good food is a bit more important, then go to The Square.

    Metropol Restaurant
    4th Floor, United Centre
    95 Queensway, Admiralty
    Tel: 2865 1988
    http://www.heichinrou.com

    Also has the carts. Good food and good value. No views. It is across the street from Pacific Place Mall and easily reached by MTR or the Tram.

    Zen
    Pacific Place Mall
    88 Queensway
    Admiralty
    Tel. 852/2845 4555

    In a shopping mall at one end of Hong Kong park, not far from the Peak Tram, a good break for lunch. No carts, no view.

    Dragon-I
    The Centrium 60 Wyndham Street
    Hong Kong,
    Telephone: + 852 3110 1222
    http://www.dragon-i.com.hk/

    Very sishi dim sum with the ladies who lunch in Hong Kong (known as "tai tais" which means "wife" but is used in a pejorative sense). The restaurant has a nice terrace.
    Wan Loong Court Restaurant
    Kowloon Hotel
    19-21 Nathan Road

    CLOSED. I add this because it was a huge favourite of mine and on this board and I don’t want people to make the trek over only to be disappointed....

  • Report Abuse

    And here is Part II...

    Lunch

    Peak Cafe
    9-13 Shelley Street
    Soho
    Tel: 852 2140 6877
    Fax: 852 2140 6887
    http://www.cafedecogroup.com/peak/v_peak.asp

    Although it’s no longer on the Peak, it’s still worth a stop in Soho. Good for just a beer and some snacks for people watching along the escalator, or a pizza or Thai curry, the menu is a mix of foods. Very casual, open to the street. They serve breakfast all day on weekends. Its located just below Staunton St on Shelley St next to the Escalator (right hand side as you are coming up the escalator from Central).

    Bobsy
    10 Shelley Street
    SOHO
    Tel: 852-2810-9777
    http://www.lifecafe.com.hk/globe.swf

    Organic vegetarian. This is next on the left of the escalator in Soho just before Staunton Street (i.e., get off at Staunton and walk down hill). It has a small take-away section downstairs, mostly salads, and then a café upstairs. Lots of health-conscious choices here.

    L16 Café & Bar
    Hong Kong Park
    1st Cotton Tree Drive
    Tel: 2522 6333

    In Hong Kong Park with nice outdoor setting. Basic food, pizza, pastas and curries. Good but not outstanding, good for lunch in nice ambience, close to Peak Tram, so this is a good option before or after going up to the Peak if you don’t want to eat on the Peak. Also good if you have been in Wan Chai and want to eat outdoors, easily walkable from Central and you can then see Hong Kong Park which is quite pretty and has an nice aviary and the Tea Museum. They have a set menu that is a good value. Maybe US$20 for lunch with service included.

    Red
    2 IFC Mall
    8 Finance Street
    Central
    Tel: 8129 8882

    This is run the Pure Fitness gym which is next door, so there is an emphasis on health foods, salads, etc. It's a mix of cuisines from around the world. They have some really good smoothies. I like it because they have a wonderful outdoor terrace with a view of the harbor. I would not go all the way there just for lunch if you are in say Kowloon or Causeway Bay, but it is walkable from the Star Ferry and the Queens Road areas and at the end of the escalator (walk all the way across several roads via pedestrian overpasses) so you can come down from those areas too, so pretty convenient and nice to have the outdoor area. Not expensive.

    Cafe TOO
    Shangri-La Hotel
    Pacific Place
    88 Queensway, Hong Kong
    Tel: 852- 2877 3838
    http://www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/island


    Very good Asian buffet, they have a huge selection of every type of Asian cuisine and some continental cuisine, this might be a good, quick choice for an early dinner. You should make a reservation as it is popular. It’s about HK$260 per person for lunch and I think more for dinner, but is very good, includes a good desert buffet as well:

    Shake 'em Buns
    Star Street
    Wan Chai
    tel: 2866-2060

    Hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, chilli fries, onion rings, milkshakes, the whole fried food experience if you are homesick for the US. They also have salads and smoothies. Tiny shop with stools and counters only; but there is also a nice public picnic table area down the street at Pacific Place 3 where you can take your food instead with a deck, tables and umbrellas. (There is no street number for the restaurant, place is on the left side of the street if you are walking up from Wing Fung Street off of Queen’s Road. )

    Also the following are great for lunch: the Cafe Causette in the Mandarin hotel, see “Coffee/Cake/Dessert” below, Habitu the Pier, Harlans, the Quaterdeck, Cafe Deco, the Peak Lookout, Top Deck of the Jumbo, see Great Views, More Moderate Price, above. The Flying Pan, Al’s Diner or Mix for quick and casual, see below.

    Private Kitchens

    There are a number of "private kitchens" where you have to call a day or so ahead to make a booking, and they have a set menu for the day. These have become very popular over the last few years. Some do not have a liquor license so call and ask, if you bring your own wine, some have a corkage fee. Their prices tend to be quite reasonable.

    The Secret Pantry listed under regional Chinese cuisine above is a private kitchen.

    Xi Yan
    3/F Hang Wai Commerical Building
    231-233 Queens Road East, Wanchai
    Hong Kong
    Tel: (852) 9020 9196

    Started the "private kitchen" trend. Allegedly, they have a 2 month waiting list. Is excellent, mostly Sichuan-based, but other Chinese and even European dishes appear on the menu. It is on a busy road in a fairly boring part of Wanchai, in a run-down building and has absolutely no view. The restaurant itself has a nice ambience and has a nice decor. The food is wonderful. This is a BYOB.

    Ingredients
    23 Wing Fung Street
    Wan Chai
    Tel 2544-5133

    Mostly European dishes, definitely one of my top ten favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. Their new location (they used to be in Soho) is really modern and sleek, they have a nice bar downstairs and a high-ceilinged dining room upstairs done in dark muted tones, try for a window table, not much of a view but still nice. I would call this a romantic restaurant, lighting is quite dark and it’s fairly quiet. If you have a large party, they have tables along the back which they can curtain off which makes for a nice private feeling. They will add a roof garden which will open in Jan or Feb which should be very nice. This is in the “Star Street” area which has several other good restaurants and bars/clubs. This is walkable from Pacific Place Shopping Centre and the Admiralty MTR, it is just off Queen’s Road East and next to Pacific Place 3. In the early evening, there is a good local food market not too far from here that is good for people-watching, I have posted on this before, closes about 7 pm. They have some a la carte items in addition to the set menu, so not sure they qualify as a “private kitchen” anymore, but the food is very good whatever you call it.

    Tribute
    13 Elgin Street
    Central
    852-2135-664
    tribute.com.hk

    Their prix fixe dinner is HK$380 (about US$48) and is very good value. Mostly European dishes.

    Yellow Door Kitchen
    38 Cochrane St.
    Central Hong Kong
    Tel: 852/2858-5555
    www.yellowdoorkitchen.com.hk

    Cantonese, spicy Sichuan and Hangzhou food.

    Mum Chau's Sichuan Kitchen
    5th Floor, 37 D'Aguilar Street
    Lan Kwai Fong HK,
    Telephone: 2522 0338

    At the lower-end of the "private kitchen" budget, but also very much the lower-end of the ambience scale would be Mum Chua's. This type of private kitchen used to be illegal, in the sense that they did not have a restaurant license and now do, but it serves great, spicy, cheap food. This is one of my favorite places for lunch for great spicy food. The may or may not be a menu that day, it may or may not be in English. This is right in the heart of the ex-pat bar district, so easy to find, and you can have a drink before or after.

    Gitone Fine Arts
    1st Floor
    100 Queen's Road East
    Wanchai
    Tel: (852) 2527-3448
    Fax (852) 2525-6077

    For an unusual evening, try dinner here at this artist’s studio cum restaurant. It’s a set Shanghainese meal of 8 excellent courses for HK$300 (about US$40). They have a wine list (have not seen it) you can also bring your own and there is no corkgage fee (unusually for a private kitchen.). Days and hours vary, based on reservations, they are not open Sundays; otherwise call a few days ahead. The owners are a painter, ceramics maker and teacher named Terence Lee, and his wife, Clara Chong. By day, it is a lovely gallery showing art and ceramics, with classes for adults and children. The studio is quite rustic, with concrete floors and a low ceiling, and plain wooden tables, but there is lively art all over the alls, and are antique pieces in the room and there is a nice ambience about it. The restaurant is quite small, it has maybe 8 tables in all. I actually found this place through a New York Times article which my mother sent to me, but it seems to be pretty well known here too.

    The restaurant is in Wan Chai, not far from the local market area around Tai Yuen Street which I have posted on previously, so you could do an evening walk there and then go to dinner. (Those markets close around 7 pm, they are at their most crowded and interesting around 6 – 6:30 pm.). It is also close to the “Star Street” area which has several bars for a post or pre-dinner drink. The restaurant is on the first floor (i.e. one flight up) in an somewhat old-looking apartment building along busy Queen’s Road East which is crowded with shops; it’s up a narrow staircase, the door is on the right on the first landing.

    Cuisine X
    Deli X
    28 Po Hing Fong Street (above Hollywood Rd)
    Sheung Wang
    Tel: 2503-4175
    Deli open 5 pm to 8 pm only

    Supposedly the hardest private kitchen to book. But worth it. Very interesting mix of Chinese and western. The chef is into organic cooking as well, so there is a big emphasis on that. Place is a little hard to find. Nice ambience. She has a new take-away place in Sheung Wan, although you still have to call ahead to get what you want.

    There is a Shanghainese "private kitchen" restaurant on this street which is supposed to be very good, it is upstairs in a flat. I have not been yet: Gu Hwei, 8 Tai Wo Street, Tai Wo Building, Flat 3B, Tel 9852-7682

    Stanley

    If you go shopping in Stanely, or just want to take a great bus ride up and over the top and Hong Kong and see the back side of the island which is green and has beautiful water views, then take the #6 or #6A bus to Stanely. (Bus numbers change, so check with your hotel, you do NOT want the buses which go through the Aberdeen tunnel, as you will miss some of the most scenic parts of the ride which goes up Stubbs Road and down Repulse Bay Road. The buses are double decker, sit upstairs and close to the front for the best views. Going out to Stanley the right side of the bus has slightly better views. To make sure you get a good seat, esp on weekends, board where the buses start at the Central Bus Terminus at Exchange Square in Central.) You can shop and have lunch along their little village waterfront. There are a number of casual bars and restaurants along the waterfront, any would be fine, my favourite for a bit more ambience than just a pizza or pasta would be the Boathouse. Stanely’s Thai is also good.

    The Boathouse
    86–88 Stanley Main Street
    Stanley
    Tel: 2813 4467

    Mediterranean seafood but offers other dishes. Nice sea views from the upper floors, there are outside terraces. Food and ambience are so good and views are lovely.

    At the other end of Stanley Market is the re-built Murray House, which is an early British-era colonial structure which was moved literally brick by brick from Central and rebuilt in Stanley. It has some shopping and some restaurants, there is a Spanish restaurant one with a nice terrace over the water where you can have tapas as well as meals:

    El Cid Caramar Spanish Restaurant
    Shop 102, Murray House, Stanley Plaza
    Phone: 2899 0858

    Shek-O

    Black Sheep Restaurant
    452 Shek O Village
    Tel: 2809 2021

    This place for lunch after the Dragon’s Back walk in the morning is a perfect Hong Kong day IMO. Esp in November or December.

    Breakfast

    The Verandah for brunch (see above)

    Flying Pan
    Ground Floor
    9 Old Bailey Street
    Central (Hollywood Road area)
    Tel: 2140-6333

    3rd Floor
    81-85 Lockhart Road (Wan Chai)
    Tel: 2528-9997

    Open 24 hours, offers the "all day” breakfast. Eggs, French toast, good bagels. Has grilled cheese, etc so good for kids. Also good for lunch. Good prices.

    Afternoon Tea

    I would go for the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel for the beautiful white marble lobby and the white glove service (but no views), the Clipper Lounge on the first floor of the Mandarin Hotel for the food (but no views except for the views of tai tais which are worth the view actually), or the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel for the harbour view.

    Coffee/Cake/Dessert

    Mandarin Cake Shop and Cafe Causette
    5 Connaught Road
    Central Hong Kong
    Tel; 852 2522 0111

    This is now on the first floor (i.e. upstairs) in the hotel. The cakes are much more prominently featured and are amazing, they have cakes shaped like purses and other fantasies. You can eat-in here at bar stools, or just next to this is their casual coffee shop restaurant with window tables that is nice for a snack or tea or lunch.

    Picnic Goods/Sandwiches/Casual

    Metropolitan Cafe
    Shop 008 LG1
    Pacific Place Mall
    tel: 2918-0882

    (Next to the Mall basement entrance to the Marriott hotel). Good sandwiches (including paninnis) some salads, kettle chips, muffins, etc as makings for a picnic to bring out to the park above the mall or up to the Peak or elsewhere or for a quick lunch if you are in the Pacific Place.

    MIX
    23 Hollywood Road
    183 Queens Road East (Hopewell Centre, intersection with Spring Garden Lane, nr Wan Chai Market)
    IFC Centre, Shop 1021, Central (near Airport Express and Star Ferry)
    Standard Chartered Bank Building, 3 Queens Road Central
    Fitness First, Cosco Tower, 183 Queens Road Central
    Exchange Square, Shop 313, Central (main bus terminus and near Star Ferry)
    Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central
    http://www.mix-world.com/default.asp

    Get your wheat grass shots here. Good wraps, shakes, smoothies etc. Pretty much good-for-you stuff. Eat in or take away. Some of their outlets (e.g. Hollywood Road) have free internet access. The one in Queens Road East at the Hopewell Centre has outdoor tables and is a nice spot to rest after shopping in Wan Chai or trekking through the Wan Chai food markets.

    Il Bel Paese
    25 Queen's Road East
    Wan Chai

    A gourmet Italian grocery and deli, they do take-away and also have seating upstairs. They have pastas, salads, sandwiches. This is near Star Street and also walkable to the Wan Chai food markets.

    SOHO

    My favorite thing to do for dinner is to wander Staunton Street, Elgin Street, Peel Street, Gough Street and that area and pick a restaurant that looks interesting. This area is called "Soho" (for South of Hollywood Road although the street is further up the hill from Hollywood so may feel north) and has become full of little restaurants, private kitchens and boutiques. These are narrow little streets away from the noisy bustle of Hong Kong and the crazed bar scene that is Lan Kwai Fong. You can take the escalator from Queen's Road East in Central, less than a 5 minute walk from the Central MTR stop (or from your hotel have a taxi take you to the Lane Crawford Department Store, Queen's Road East, Central and the escalator is about 100 meters further down on your left). This is also a great place for lunch if you are in Central touring.

    On these streets there are at least three dozen restaurants, you can really just wander and pick one and you could hardly go wrong. None are terribly expensive, esp compared to places like Felix or Hutong or Spoon. On a Thursday through Saturday night, you may need a booking at any of these.

    To get to Soho via the escalator, you can take a taxi and tell him “Staunton Street” or just take the escalator up from Central. At the bottom of the first set of escalators which will take you DOWNWARDS (all the others take you up) you will see a sign that says “Shelley Street”. Continue up two more short escalators, at the top of the second one you will exit onto Staunton Street. To get to Elgin Street, walk directly across Staunton to the next set of escalators, and Elgin Street is at the top of the next escalator. You can also reach Elgin by turning right down Staunton and walking to the end to Peel Street, turning left on Peel and walking uphill one short block to the intersection with Elgin Street.

    There is a small temple which may be worth a stop which is located at the end of Staunton Street where it intersects with Peel Street. Just past #41 on Staunton Street (The Candle Company), is a flight of stairs (to the left as you face #41), the temple starts at the top of the stairs to the right, and runs down the stairs. They have the incense coils which are interesting (and quite photographable).

    Entoeca
    47 Elgin Street
    Tel 2525-9944

    Spanish, great tapas, has a courtyard in back and some table in front with outdoor feeling.

    Bistro Manchu
    33 Elgin Street
    Tel: 25369218

    Manchu and Northern Chinese food, with some Russian thrown in as well.

    Soho Spice
    47B Elgin Street
    Tel:2521-1600

    Thai and Vietnamese. Nice mixture of both cuisines. Their main menu selections are very large, definitely for sharing. Very good refreshing pomelo salad. Great red beef curry. Unusually for an Asian restaurant ahs a good selection of deserts including a chocolate fondue cake. Nice wine list, including by the glass. A bit expensive. Nice outdoor terrace in back. Service is good, if a little inattentive, they tend to leave you alone.

    Tribute
    13 Elgin Street
    Central
    852-2135-664
    tribute.com.hk

    Their prix fixe dinner is HK$380 (about US$48) and is very good value. Mostly European dishes. This is a "private kitchen" so you need to call a few days ahead to make a reservation.

    Le Fauchon
    6 Staunton Street
    Tel 2526-2136

    Very good French restaurant. Appetizers average around HK$180 and dinners around HK$220. They have a prix fixe dinner at HK$328 that would be a good value. This company has several other outlets, one on Harbour City in TST which may be worth a try if you are staying on the Kowloon side. (Bistro Le Fauchon at 2956-3286)

    Brasserie Le Fauchon
    45 Elign Street
    Tel: 2526-8318

    French brasserie, more down scale and considerably cheaper version of their sister restaurant in Staunton street; I actually prefer it to Le Fauchon as it is newer and has a more open view. Nice menu selection (rack of lamb, duck, snails the usual French fare) with good presentation. They have a price fix dinner of 3 courses for HK$178 (US$22) or 4 courses for HK$198 (US$25) that is a very good value.

    Elgin Tastes
    38 Elgin Street
    Tel: 2810-5183

    Australian-Asian fusion, great desserts. Nice ambience.

    Gough 40
    40 Gough Street
    Soho/Noho
    T: 2851 8498

    Ostensibly French, but the chef then takes off from there, so I call it French-eclectic. Not a huge menu but everything is very fresh, they have a set lunch and diner that is a good value. Very good seafood especially. Casual, they also have outdoor tables on the street.

    Stonegrill
    28 Elgin Street
    Hong Kong
    Tel 3106 6978
    You cook you own food on hot stones. Steak and Asian-fusion.
    Also in the Soho area is the Yellow Door Kitchen, see private kitchens above.

    Noodle Shops

    For a very basic inexpensive meal, try any of the myriad of what I call “noodle shops” which are all over the city. In the Central area, walk up either Stanley Street, or Wellington Street and you will see many of these, in particular the outdoor stalls with round tables and plastic stools chairs at the far end of Wellington after you cross under the escalator. In Wan Chai, there are noodle shops on Landale Street which is about 3-4 blocks east of Pacific Place Mall, in particular Charlie's Place at No 8 (as they have English menu). Others would be fine, but may not have English menus. Basic but good, not expensive, maybe US$4 a bowl. You will undoubtedly find these in the Nathan Road area in Kowloon and also in Causeway Bay.

    Kid's

    Al's Diner
    27-37 D'Aguilar Street
    Lan Kwai Fong (Central)
    Tel: 2869-1869
    In Lan Kwai Fong, the trendy bar area, they serve comfort food like grilled cheese, burgers, etc. Good for lunch or dinner. More of a bar than a diner, but the bar really does not get going until late.

    Grappa's
    88 Queensway
    tel: 2868 0086

    Casual, good Italian, in the Pacific Place mall. No view. They also have an outlet in the Peak Galleria on the Peak.

    Spaghetti House
    http://www.spaghettihouse.com/spaghetti/eng/index.html

    Basic Italian fare and pizzas. I have to confess to never having eaten at one, but they always seem full. Several locations in town, check the website.

    Flying Pan in Hollywood Road and Wan Chai, see above. Also Shake 'em Buns on Star Street in Wan Chai, see above

    You Pays Your Money and You Takes Your Chance

    Bo Innovation
    Ice House
    32-38 Ice House Street
    Central
    2850-8371
    boinnoseki.com

    I include this with a little hesitation. This place makes all the papers as one of THE places to go. I have been there twice for lunch and dinner. I am trying to like this place, because I like what they are trying to do: create innovative food. I like the sleek and modern decor. They have a nice view of some of the few remaining colonial buildings in Hong Kong and a bit of the Peak mountain areas. Mostly the food is very good, fresh and different. French-Asian fusion, but really in a way I have not seen in Hong Kong before. Some of the dishes miss their mark, however. Also, both times I have been there I have found that the service really needs work. English level of the staff is not good, which is something strange for Hong Kong. Also, the training level is not great, several of the wait staff did not know how the dishes are prepared. Service is also a bit slow. If you eat at the counter in front of the chefs, this may be a better (and faster) experience, as the chefs may be able to explain the dishes better. However, large groups can't sit at the counter, it only takes like 5 people. Set lunch is a good value, but IMO the tasting menu or chef's menu for dinner is a bit on the expensive side considering the service levels and portion sizes. If service were better this would not bother me so much.


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    Cicerone,
    This is fantastic I've saved and filed as "Cicerone's Definitive Guide to Dining Hong Kong", now printing to take with us next week.
    Could I ask for your help, I've tried to phone to book a table at Pearl on the Peak, but I receive a message this number is out of service?
    I'm booking most of our dining reservations this week especially for the 15th (birthday) and weekend of 9/10th so your post is especially welcome.
    Many many thanks,
    Pauline

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    Hmm, well I just called the restaurant and they answered. Are you sure you are calling the right code to get international dialing, and then 852 for Hong Kong? 852-2849-5123

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    Hi Cicerone, thank you for helping, I've just tried again, this time, I think it was a recorded message, spoke so quickly and then in Cantonese and then the line goes dead. ? time in HK is + 8 hrs from UK so about 19.30, I would have thought someone would be there now? I'll keep trying.
    Pauline

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    Cicerone--great info! Thanks! We've lived here 2 1/2 years, but are busy enough (and don't live in Central) that we haven't done as much exploring as you.

    If you are coming with kids, I'd add a couple of recommendations. The bird market and flower market are a lot of fun to see. My kids (now 7 and 9) love them both. There is always something new to see.

    The science museum is not specifically HK oriented but is a great museum for kids. They often have a special exhibit in the basement that is well worth going to (our favorite was the Optical Illusions, but they've also had Robot Zoo and others).

    The Hong Kong history museum that Cicerone mentioned is also great for kids. We went with my good HK friend and her daughter, and the kids loved seeing the way "it used to be" and taking pictures in different places.

    Ocean Park is really incredible for all ages of kids. Our kids love it, our students (late secondary school/early college) love it, and we love it. There is something for everyone and it is MUCH better than Disney (don't bother with Disney, please!). The nature exhibits are nicely done and very interesting (my guys really want to go back and see the "new" jellyfish exhibit), and there are the "rides" for the older kids--nobody gets bored there.

    Stanley is a great place for kids, too. There are cheap, small, fun things to buy to satisfy them and plenty of different restaurants (both "exotic" and "familiar") to choose from.

    The Peak Tram, the peak, hiking around the peak are fun as well. The lighted dancing fountain at night will keep the smaller kids interested for quite a while.

    Kowloon park has a fun green maze for little kids to get lost in. My kids still love it, but they're getting tall enough to see over the top. But they still love the flowers, fountains, etc.

    The Star Ferry harbor tour is a fun and economical trip to take as a family. My guys like to do it a couple times a year, whether we have company or not. It's especially fun between Christmas season and Lunar New Year in the evening, because you can see all the lights and decorations on the buildings.

    Riding on the top in the front seat of a double-decker bus is enough to thrill any kids' soul. My kids love the trip into the TST area (we live near Po Lam/Hang Hau/Clearwater Bay) on the bus. They love the mini-busses as well, though we drive more often than taking one of them.

    The Space Museum is a very small but interesting museum, especially if you have a space-crazy kid. There are China-centric displays that are quite fascinating (which you would never see in a "western" space museum). Easily done in about an hour--right next door to the art museum.

    There are probably tons of other suggestions, but those are our family's favorites. Kids can have a great time in HK, but younger ones will tire quickly of the noise and crowded conditions of the major tourist spots (my kids really hate going to TST, for example, so if I have to go there for some kind of business, I leave them at home!).

    M

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    Cicerone,

    I just returned from HK and did almost all of what you recommended and more!! What a wonderful city you live in and what a great time I had. I ate extremely well, walked all over except when I was sitting on the upper deck of a tram or ferry, won at Sha Tin, visited smaller outer islands, gawked at the views and the architecture (and I'm a city girl from NY, SF and DC). Thanks so much for your help. Can't wait to return.

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    I could kiss you!I have a couple of days in Hong Kong on the way home from SEA in April and want to spend my time wisely.Thanks so much for the work you put into this post!

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    Cicerone: Thanks for all your hard work and your invaluable detailed suggestions!

    This post must rank among the Top Three Best Posts on Fodors! ((Y))

    Been to Hong Kong numerous times on business, but have filed away your suggestions for the time when I can go there for my personal pleasure!

    Thanks again! :)

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    I printed this thread and others by Cicerone and took them on our trip. I'd say there were at least as helpful as the guide I specifically bought. So, thanks a lot!

    Still, I'd like to amend two pieces of info:
    "The Hong Kong Tourist Board has a free guide [...]called “Exploring Hong Kong’s Countryside: A Visitor’s Companion”
    It is now 80 HKD viz the STar Ferry branch where I enquired for it. Whether it is worth it, or one would be better off getting a "professional" book of which there are a few, I wouldn't know.

    "You can get hiking maps for free at the Government Publications Office, located in the Murray ..."
    Again, not for free, alas. I was there, and they are 50 to 60 HKD each. According to the bloke working there showing me the specimen copies they always have been sold.
    These are excellent maps, but there are four or five covering different areas, so you'll have to decide, on which one you want to focus. Personally I'd go either for the Hong Kong Island map, simply because it is the nearest, most accessible place. Or the Sai Kung/ Clearwater Bay area, because it is more remote, less urban and has a wide variety of trails.

    On the other hand, the signposting of the trails is so utterly amazingly perfect, that should do fine with just any map better than the tourist office affair. Basically you'll want to get a general idea of the area and how to get there. Once you arrived, you can hardly go amiss with the maps and signs on the trail. I bought a book-type map (think A-Z Streetfinder) and while I almost needed a magnifying glass to make out some details (what with information being given in Roman and Chines type it gets a little crowded.) we managed fine with it.

    Finally I'd like to recommend a walk I found here www.hkcrystal.com/hiking/OtherWalks/clearwaterbaywalk.htm which takes you down the hilly spine of a peninsula in the New Territories. The description may seem sparse, but once you locate the starting point it is quite easy to follow. The hike up High Junk Peak is really steep. It is not really part of the signposted trail, so you may just as well leave it be.


    Hendrik

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    Thanks for giving the updates, I am shocked that the tourist board is charging for their information, I don't think the guide is worth HK$80, there are better professional walking guides available. One is called "Above the City" and is by Alicia Kershaw and Ginger Thrash, it gives very good suggestions and directions for walks all over Hong Kong Island, and only costs about HK$120. Also try Dymocks which usually has a good selection of titles, see the link above in my original post. Also Roz's hiking pages, which I have given the link for above, and which Hendrick used, is a good source of useful information.

    With regard to the detailed maps sold by the Gov't Publications Offices, you are right they have recently started charging; however THOSE maps are excellent and worth the price IMO. (And you can usually also buy them now in Dymocks.) They give you elevation and difficulty ratings, public transport info, and are useful to help suss out whether you need to make a turn at a junction or not. Finally there are very useful as an indication of whether a trail is "difficult, indistinct or seasonally overgrown" -- which I learned over the weekend when hiking Pottinger's Peak that when they say this on the map believe it: the trail was extremely narrow and overgrown and had no stair slabs or paving and the little dirt path that existed was so steep in parts that there were ropes tied to trees to hang onto while descending or ascending to avoid falling down the mountainside. An interesting afternoon to say the least.

    Agree on High Junk Peak, a very good walk, I am glad you found it. It's hard to post on walks, there are just so many good ones. Come back in the summer when the skies are really clear and you will really see some great views on that walk.

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    Yes, it was kind of hazy all last week. So we put off doing The Peak until our last day, but I have to say, hazy or not WOW! it was fantastic. And to imagine these views on a clear day...

    My girlfriend insisted on visiting the platform on the Peak Tram Tower (20 HKD, cheaper if bought as a combo with the tram ticket). Afterwards she grudgingly agreed that it delivered no added "value" after you've done the 2k Lugard/Harlech Road loop.

    Re
    "3. The Hong Kong Tourist Association has a tour by junk every Thursday"
    Well, I don't know about Thursdays, but the TA actually has free tours on that junk every Saturday. Afair it leaves at 10 and 12 from the Kowloon side near the Arts Museum, and 11 and 13 from pier #9 (the one to the left as you step off the ferry) on HK Island.

    The TA has a leaflet with quite a few free activities. These include the Tai Chi lessons which I mentioned elsewhere, but also lectures on Cantonese Opera (I still think it is "cats' music" as the German expression has it, call me a moron ;-) ) and TCM and tea etc. I think it is a fabulous offer on the whole.

    Hendrik

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    This is so great, Cicerone, thank you, thank you. I'm sorry we'll only have 4 nights in HK at the end of our 2 month SEA trip - but 4 nights is 4 nights. Hope to take advantage of some of your walks and maybe other nature jaunts!
    Not to mention restaurants.

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    Well, Cicero, if you ate at all those restaurants you are far and away outside the average HK local in terms of expendable cash. Most locals i see eating lunch are content with white rice and a boiled chopped chicken leg.

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