A Food Obsessive's First Time Hong Kong

May 30th, 2016, 06:11 AM
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A Food Obsessive's First Time Hong Kong

Hi All
I am right at the very beginning of the process in planning my first trip to Hong Kong.

International flights are already booked for mid-January 2017 and give us 8 nights in HK. We'll be flying in from Taipei, that flight isn't booked yet so not sure on arrival time.We have an early departure back to London that last day. So 8 nights but 6 full days.

I'd really appreciate some tips on a few things:

* Good websites to get an initial feel for the city (I've been googling and devouring random travel and foodie blog posts but nothing structured), including understanding the areas and the key attractions - for example I always recommend japan-guide.com for those planning a trip to Japan, is there a similar site that you think is the best starting point when it comes to HK?

* Thoughts on which area of the city is best to base ourselves, or two areas if you advise splitting our time. See my notes about us / restrictions / preferences below. If you have any specific hotels to recommend, that's great, but first step for me is to decide on which area(s) I should focus the search on.

* We are planning to visit Macau too. Would you personally advocate a (long) day trip, staying in our HK hotel for all nights, or do you think we should overnight on Macau? I've been advised that Macau has really become a bit of a mini Las Vegas in recent years, but surely that doesn't apply to the entirety of Macau!

* For a food-obsessive, what are the key attractions I should visit? Obviously, I can google for the top general tourist sites, but are there particular produce markets, street food districts, areas focused on production of a local food speciality, or other food-focused attractions I need to investigate?

- British, mid forties, love trips with a food/ drink focus.
- I have arthritis / hip and back problems so can't do a whole tonne of walking / have a preference for a hotel as near to a metro station as possible. The more I can use public transport (or taxis) to travel to sights, the more of my energy I can save for the actual sights themselves. The pain gets worse as day progresses, so I'll take that into account as I loosely plan daily itineraries too.
- Budget, not really set a ceiling yet, as too early in my research, but I guess middling. Will likely splurge more on food than really splurge on hotel.

I appreciate any tips, and of course if there is more information I can provide that would make it easier to give me helpful advice, please let me know!

Thank you
Kavey is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 07:07 AM
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Hi Kavey, I don't think there is anything comparable to japan-guide.com for Hong Kong. I'd recommend a guidebook to give you background and more of the lie of the land in Hong Kong. One wonderful resource is a poster here named Cicerone. She has written many detailed posts about things to do/see/eat in Hong Kong, though I haven't seen her much lately.

As far as where to stay - I think either Kowloon or Central - either side of the Star Ferry route works well. Many people like Kowloon, especially those with moderate hotel budgets, as the Salisbury is one of the few "bargains" in Hong Kong. Hong Kong hotel prices make Japanese hotels look very moderately priced! If you have hotel points, this is the place to use them!

It's been a few years since I was last in Macau, but I'd recommend you consider spending the night there (it will save you some money). You do have to get away from the casinos on steroids, but there are some charming historical areas to explore. Food-wise there is also Fernando's. We ate there, ordering the recommended roast suckling pig, prawns and a huge salad with fabulous tomatoes. At that time, the menu was only in Chinese or Portuguese.

A restaurant we really enjoyed was Spring Moon in the Peninsula hotel - gorgeous, delicious food!

Have a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 07:10 AM
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Thank you so much, Kathie!
I remember Cicerone! (I've been roaming the Fodors forums since the late 90s!) so I'll do a search on her posts (and hope she sees and chimes in here too).
Thank you!
Kavey is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 08:02 AM
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Although expensive, a good value, a food tour with Little Adventures in Hong Kong. They offer a variety of tours. We took Sunday's in Wan Chai on our first day and it made a big difference in our visit to Hong Kong. We were given restaurant recommendations near our hotel too.
A few places we enjoyed eating: Mak's Noodles on Wellington, Yixin( dim sum) in Wan Chai, more upscale places included The Chairman and Ho Lee Fook in Central. Make sure you try the famous Egg Custard Tarts, brought to HK by the Portugese.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 30th, 2016, 08:03 AM
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Anyone know what happened to Cicerone?

Before we went there she recommended the Bishop Lei hotel. We did not end up there but the reviews and prices are pretty good.

jacketwatch is online now  
May 30th, 2016, 08:37 AM
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Cicerone did post on my tentative queries about HK and Taiwan last year, so I hope she will chime in now I have flights confirmed. I'll be trawling through her many superbly detailed posts over the coming weeks.

Happy Traveller, thank you so much, a food tour would certainly be something we'd enjoy, I'll look up your suggestion. Thanks too for the restaurant suggestions.

Jacket Watch, I'll check that out also, thank you!
Kavey is offline  
May 30th, 2016, 01:41 PM
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Following a recommendation here, we stayed at the Salisbury which is also the YMCA, though it's a proper hotel and if you want a view of the harbour, the cheapest way of getting it. We loved its location - it's right by an underground station and the Star ferry so very convenient and of course there are loads of restaurants in the vicinity though we never really got the hang of what to order!

An area that we didn't know much about before we got there but really liked was the mid levels on HK side, which you can access via the escalators - they are designed to get HK workers from the heights above the city where they live down to their offices at the beginning of the day, and back home in the evening, so in the mornings they descend, then after about 10am, they ascend, giving you easy access to the mid-levels and above.

The trams are also a very good way of getting about and can take you to parts that you wouldn't otherwise see.

I'm sure we made lots of mistakes but if you'd like to learn from them and see what we did in 3 days, click on my screen name and you will find my TR.
annhig is online now  
May 30th, 2016, 10:04 PM
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Hi Kavey, here's my suggestions:

Given your physical "challenge", you should stay overnight on Macau. First, the ferry is quite a schlep--you have to go through passport control, and the boats are always packed. It's basically like going to an airport. My sons and I toured all the historic sites in one very long day, but the sites are all spread out, and I believe you would enjoy them more if toured slowly.

We walked everywhere, but it would be nice if your hotel arranged a driver to meet you at the ferry dock, and take you around. You don't need a guide, just a driver. Another reason for staying overnight is to have that fabulous Portuguese-Chinese fusion food. During our walking tour, I noticed some nice outdoor cafes where it would have been nice to stop for a beverage and people watch.

I hesitate to recommend a place I have never been, but I know there is a district where they have wonderful commercial cookware for sale. I was headed there on my trip to Malaysia last year during a layover, but space opened up at the last minute for an earlier flight, so I missed Hong Kong entirely. And I bet you can find a shop to buy spices.

We stayed at the JW Marriott, and it's quite nice, but you may want to be more central, so the Salibury may be a better choice.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 02:59 AM
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Overnighting in Macau is a good idea. Although the casinos are the reason for many people going to Macau, they're all in one specific area, and it's extremely easy to avoid them if you're interested in only the rest of the place.

With 8 nights on a 1st trip, I'd definitely split my time between HK Island and the Mainland (probably Kowloon), with the night in Macau in the middle.
DonTopaz is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 06:08 AM
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Thanks Don, good to know.

I have a couple of hotels on hold via booking.com for the entire 8 nights, can be cancelled till just before the trip and can also modify them down to less nights as well. That gives me breathing space to decide where, how long etc.
Kavey is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 04:59 PM
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You won't have any trouble overspending your food budget in HK. The place is ghastly expensive, whether in a fancy restaurant or a slimy food court on the street.

Shop rent in HK is amongst the highest in the world, even the modest family noodle shop in a remote village must pay. Govt mandated minimum wage for kitchen workers certainly the highest in Asia. Food what, 98% imported, most from China of course but many cargo air flights from Norway and South Africa arrive daily with the seafood needed by 'food obsessives'.

And crowded as you cannot imagine. Walking thru Mong Kok at 6pm will tax your day no end, but on Shanghai St are the endless kitchen ware shops in case you need to cook you own. And don't forget the umbrella. HK this year alone, since 1 Jan, has had nearly 1 meter of rain. And always high humidity so sweaty underwear is commonplace.

Enjoy. There's probably no place like it.
jobin is offline  
Jun 1st, 2016, 01:29 AM
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Thanks Jobin, I'm not looking forward to the crowds for sure! Good to know about eating being pricy, even out on the street. I'll try and research and get a feel for prices before we go, and of course I'll be pulling together a list of restaurant recommendations ahead of time.
Kavey is offline  
Jun 1st, 2016, 09:00 AM
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to escape the crowds, get the funicular to the top of HK island then keep walking. the road will take you right to the top past houses and a lovely garden to a big view point where there's a little cafe.

Not many get that far!
annhig is online now  
Jun 1st, 2016, 10:55 AM
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We were there about 5 yrs. ago but I don't recall being shocked by prices at the smaller restaurants. More than the US maybe but nothing outrageous.

I recently read that the cost of purchasing a home there relative to the average mean income is the highest in the world. A tour guide told us that most people live in multi generational situations because this is the only way they can afford the cost.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jun 1st, 2016, 11:46 PM
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Annhig, that sounds lovely. I'll look that up and make sure we do that!

Jacketwatch, I'm a Londoner so I'm hoping food prices won't be such a shock for me, but I'll definitely do some research ahead of time.

Any more on food-focused places / attractions I should visit?
Kavey is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2016, 01:07 AM
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Annhig, that sounds lovely. I'll look that up and make sure we do that!>>

Kavey - we looked for ages for the TI at the top of the funicular and eventually found it in a disused train carriage parked in the middle of the square - what idiots! We tried to get some information about walks from the top but failed there too; if we hadn't had a plane to catch later that day we'd have walked down anyway without a map but we didn't want to get lost so we walked uphill instead and were very glad that we did, and caught the funicular down though the queue was longer than it had been to come up.

the restaurant under the trees near the TI was very good and the food wasn't bad either - good sandwiches.

We also liked the restaurants by the escalators at the mid-station and the museum at the top [I can't remember its name but it's in my TR for that portion of our trip - click on my screen name if you are interested and learn from our many mistakes!]
annhig is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2016, 04:59 AM
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I can't recall specific restaurants unfortunately. There are many however and I used to wonder how they could all stay in business but then again think of how population dense it is and there's your answer.

Do take the tram to the peak for views of the harbor.

There is a huge floating restaurant called Jumbos. We were told to go there as its quite an experience but could not make it.

We did a tour and saw Nathan rd. which is where all the chic shops are, saw the Temple st.night market, Stanley market and the Man Lo temple. When we were there it was a big time for school exams so a lot of young people were there praying for good exam results. That of course reflects their culture. In the US or UK you won't see students going to church to pray for such things but hey this is HK so to see this was a cool exposure to their culture.

I do recall going to a local place for dinner. The menu was in Chinese and there were pictures next to the script which was on the wall. I pointed to something I thought was duck and asked a man if that was duck. He said yes and ordered it for me but someone else who heard me knew he ordered the wrong dish and she quickly corrected it. Sounded like she corrected him too. .
jacketwatch is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2016, 05:54 AM
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I do recall going to a local place for dinner. The menu was in Chinese and there were pictures next to the script which was on the wall.>>

We went to a restaurant like that one night too, jacketwatch - although they tried to find us an english speaker, his english wasn't ours, so we had to use the pictures on the menu to order, and fortunately it worked reasonably well, once we'd got the hang of it. i think that eating like that, at least once, is part of the fun of being in HK!
annhig is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2016, 06:56 AM
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Annhig that is certainly true. That is part of the fun of traveling and it gives you a memory that will last a long long time . One asked to step out of one's comfort zone sometimes and experience what locals do and how they live and how they eat. .
jacketwatch is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2016, 07:33 AM
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That's how we often eat in Japan, so yes, we'll definitely be trying as many different foods and types of restaurants, stalls, food markets etc. as we can.

Thanks again for all the tips.

Heading to find Annhig's trip reports now!
Kavey is offline  

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