Some of Hong Kong's best-kept secrets are right off the beaten path.
Hong Kong is a city that likes to hide private kitchens in factory buildings and its best bars behind wet markets that sell fresh meat and produce. So even if you’ve already been to Victoria Peak and taken the hydrofoil to Macau, try hunting down these hidden Hong Kong gems during your next trip east.
Animal Encounters at a Buddhist Monastery
Everyone heads to Po Lin Monastery to visit its famous 10-story tall Buddha. Is it magnificent? Sure. But get there early in the morning and the other stars of Po Lin will come strolling out of the surrounding forest: a small herd of incredibly serene and friendly bovine that, unlike the giant Buddha are open to selfies and petting.
INSIDER TIPNo animals were harmed in the making of these photo ops. One of the reasons why these cows are so chill is because the monks at this monastery are strict vegetarians.
Hong Kong's Haunted Waterfall
For a city that’s 40% parks and nature reserves, Hong Kong hides it well. But even though most of Hong Kong’s visitors come for the skyscrapers and the shopping, locals know that some of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets can be found along its many kilometers of scenic trails. And one of the territory’s most beautiful hikes is also one of its most well-hidden: the Bride’s Pool. It’s a breathtaking waterfall just outside of the city that may be a little too tucked away.
The pool purportedly got its name when a bride was walking to meet her groom on a rainy day, didn’t see the steep drop, and fell to her death. But whether or not this urban legend is true, you’re unlikely to repeat it. The waterfall at the end of this hidden hike is now very well marked off and easy to find if you know where to go.
Salted Hard-Boiled Egg Waffles
Hear me out–while egg waffles sound weird, they’re actually one of Hong Kong’s best junk food inventions: waffles with the toppings inside (mindblown.gif). And since they’re one of the only street foods in Hong Kong that haven’t been on a foodie travel show, they’re still relatively unknown to non-locals.
Mammy Pancake has some of Hong Kong’s best and not all of the flavors are egg-based. The “toppings” run the gamut from pork floss and salted seaweed and corn to traditional sweets like chocolate chip and banana.
INSIDER TIPMammy Pancake is always crowded, but walk past the throng and up to the counter. Here you take a number first, then wait with the rest of the group to be called for order pick up.
The Only Mas Delmas in Hong Kong
If you’re a wine-lover, then one of Hong Kong’s rarest and best-kept secrets is tucked away in the wine cellar of Michelin-starred Rech by Alain Ducasse: a bottle of Mas Delmas.
The complex, outdoor-aged dessert wine is the only one of its kind in Hong Kong, and you’ll only find one or two more bottles of this well-kept French secret in the rest of the world.
Rech got its hands on it via a hookup with its resident sommelier (who refers to the wine as his baby). Ask for it by name and he’ll bring it out for a tableside decanting that’s almost as fun to watch as the wine is to drink.
INSIDER TIPIf you also eat food, the wild duckling and seaweed butter here are not to be missed.
A Fuchsia Eatery Behind A Secret Door
Walk along Sheung Wan’s Pound Lane and you’ll spot a traditional Chinese stamp shop–or at least what looks like one. Pull the right stamp and the false storefront will slide open to reveal Mrs. Pound, one of Hong Kong’s coolest eateries. The walls are fuchsia, the décor is kitschy and the only thing more over-the-top than the atmosphere is the restaurant’s fictional backstory.
The food is good too. The mala wings belong on every foodie’s bucket list and almost everything on the drink menu is divine.
The Best Jacuzzi in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, money opens all kinds of doors. One of said doors leads to a private infinity Jacuzzi on an exclusive deck that overlooks Victoria Harbor. Settle in by 8 pm and you’ll have the best seat in the city for watching Hong Kong harbor’s Symphony of Lights.
But it comes at a price. This 2,500 square-foot private deck is part of Intercontinental Hong Kong‘s 7,000 square-foot Presidential suite that boasts two stories, a duplex living room, five bedrooms, a collection of jade dragons, an office, private gym, and a price to match.
A Mini Theme Park in Peak Tower
Victoria Peak is on everyone’s tourist destination list. But stop a few floors below the observation deck and you can take your Instagram to surreal levels at the 3D Adventure Zone tucked away in The Peak Tower.
There you can have your picture taking saving the city from a runaway tram, fighting off an aggressive dragon, or riding a rickshaw in old Hong Kong all thanks to mini, themed trompe l’oeil graphics that make your photos look like you were actually there.
A Carnival at a Horse Track
Macau is designed to take the money of even the world’s most experienced gamblers. Those looking for a more casual betting experience should head to Happy Valley Horse Track in Hong Kong where you have a very good chance of winning 50 cents on a horse you picked because you liked its name.
And while the giant race track isn’t necessarily a secret, Happy Wednesdays are a little further under the radar. On this day, admission and drink prices drop, and the racetrack turns into a carnival with gourmet food, music, beer and enough men on stilts and in costume to make this a uniquely surreal way to give all of your money to the house.
A Police Barracks Hiding An Art Gallery
Although it now houses art galleries, artisanal shops, and design studios, locals still call it The Police Married Quarters from when it housed local policeman and their families.
Now it sports some of the quirkiest shopping in Hong Kong and is one of the best places to support local artists and nab jewelry, clothing, and furniture by designers who are just about to blow up.
A Portal to Japan
When you’ve flown from the United States, Japan can seem close, but it’s really a four-hour plane ride (and a few more vacation days) away. But there is a way to technically knock Japan off of your culinary bucket list without leaving the city: a meal at NOBU.
At the Hong Kong International hotel, Japanese restaurant NOBU is currently taking its visitors on a “Gourmet Journey of Japan.” Over the rest of the year, they will be culinarily exploring two different prefectures on four of Japan’s main islands (Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu, and Hokkaido). And they’re changing their menu eight times in 2018 to do it.
Each four- six-course tasting menu showcases seasonal ingredients paired with local cooking culture in the destination du mois prepared by NOBU chefs. To see where NOBU will be landing when you arrive, check here.