Hong Kong is generally considered a popular year-round travel destination. Ask Filipinos and many of them would name it as their top choice for international travel. After all, it’s only two and a half hours away from Manila by plane.
At first glance, the region may seem like a dense metropolis with cramped apartments and bustling markets. Much has changed, too, since the pandemic. Granville Road, also known as the "fashion street," was once a lively street with offbeat fashion brands—now, only a few stores remain open. Many restaurants and establishments were also forced to close, just like in the rest of the world.
Despite the changes, Hong Kong's unique culture endures in many beautiful ways. You get a sense of how fascinating this region is when you see its vibrant festivals and top attractions, and taste its authentic cuisine.
Here are a few of the things that you can do to make your visit to Hong Kong an exciting one:
Eat where the uncles and aunties are
Hong Kong is a wonderland for foodies. It is home to dai pai dongs (side street eateries), decades-old establishments, and is full of new breeds of restaurants—not to mention, the more than 70 Michelin-starred restaurants.
When it comes to places to eat, keep your list in handy but be open to exploring and going where the locals are.
My dad and I stumbled upon this busy restaurant near our hotel that serves traditional Hong Kong breakfast food like macaroni soup and ham and milk tea served in cute Black & White branded mugs. On another day, I saw office workers lining up at this old tea shop in Central called Good Spring Co. They sell herbs as well as ready-to-drink hot sweet flower tea for HK$12 (P87) a cup, and it was one of the best ones I’ve tried.
We tried Michelin-starred places, too, like Yat Lok and Sister Wah. Located just above the Tin Hau MRT station, Sister Wah is known for its beef brisket noodle soup in its signature light broth that’s rich in flavor. It also has curry beef brisket noodles if you want a little kick in the flavor. Yat Lok, on the other hand, is praised for its tender roast goose.
Try Dimdimsum for your yum cha fix. It offers quality Cantonese dim sum dishes and rice toppings, too, in large portions.
For local desserts, Kai Kai Dessert, located on Parkes St. in Jordan, serves traditional hot and cold sweet soups like black sesame soup, sweet almond soup, and red bean soup and taro puree. There can be a wait though, as it has become quite popular.
Marvel at the stunning panorama of the city (and then some)
No trip to Hong Kong (especially for first-timers) is complete without a visit to The Peak, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour from the Sky Terrace 428. It is also a great place to spend a half-day or even a whole day if you want to hike around the area.
There are also many shops and attractions to visit, including Madame Tussauds Hong Kong for fans of pop culture who want to take selfies with their favorite celebrities' wax figures. (We spotted our very own Pia Wurtzbach, Manny Pacquiao, and Catriona Gray here!)
You can get to The Peak by taking bus 15 or X15, or by riding the tram, which costs HK$122 one-way or HK$148 round-trip.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to travel from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, you can take the 15C bus from the bus station next to the Peak Tram to the Star Ferry terminal. The underrated ferry ride is almost as satisfying as a cruise, offering stunning views of the iconic Hong Kong skyline. That’s not all though—there’s a light show every 8 p.m. by the Avenue of Stars, a short walk from the ferry terminal.
For a quick escape right in the middle of the city, a visit to one of Hong Kong’s parks is also a must-do. Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, the largest on the island, is a lively spot on Sundays, filled with workers and families taking advantage of the green spaces, sports facilities, and playgrounds.
Engage with the dynamic arts community
When in Hong Kong, check what the burgeoning art scene has to offer. There’s the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the first public art museum in the region; M+ Museum if you’re into visual art, design, architecture, and moving images; Hong Kong Railway Museum in Tai Po for those interested in history and transportation; and Hong Kong Film Archive, among others.
We recommend visiting the Arte M in K11 HACC especially if you’re with children. It’s an immersive media art exhibition space with four rooms of breathtaking moving visuals and sensuous sounds inspired by nature—a mesmerizing feast for the senses.
The entrance fee is HK$128 on weekdays for adults, HK$98 for kids; and HK$148 on weekends for adults, HK$108 for kids.
Pro tip: Come to Arte M as soon as it opens as there can be a crowd.
Go on a retail spree
Hong Kong is also synonymous with shopping—there’s a place to shop for every budget!
For more affordable souvenirs, check out the Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market in Mong Kok. While it's not as good as it used to be, with the Philippines’ Divisoria offering better items at competitive prices, it's still worth checking out.
The famed Sneaker Street in Jordan is, by the name itself, where you can find a wide variety of sneakers at fairly cheap prices.
PMQ, a former police married quarters on Hollywood Road, is now a vibrant arts and design hub where visitors can find a wide variety of unique handicrafts and artisan goods from emerging entrepreneurs and designers.
Or, if you’re looking for malls, there’s SOGO in Causeway Bay, Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), ifc mall in Central, or the new luxury shopping mall K11 Musea in TST.
Vacations are a great way to take a break from reality and relax. To have a pleasant vacation, we recommend you plan out your trip first, with these tips in mind:
1. Check the weather. Among the things that you should do before leaving for Hong Kong (or any country) is to check the weather and read the news. In Hong Kong, they take typhoon signals seriously—and by serious we mean lockdowns, public transportation suspensions, and flight cancellations.
To stay updated, make sure you download the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) app, which has a system that updates everyone with typhoon signals and weather warnings.
2. Claim your free HK$100 voucher. Who doesn't love freebies? As part of its “Hello, Hong Kong” campaign, the Hong Kong Tourism Board is giving away vouchers to all tourists provided they present their passports. Visitors may still get theirs until Oct. 31 and use them before the year ends. This entitles them to any of the following: a free welcome drink, HK$100 off on restaurants and shops, a free transportation ticket, or special memorabilia from a museum or attraction. (Pro tip: Use this voucher to pay for your Hong Kong Airport Express one-way ticket, which is valued up to HK$115.)
There's also another set of vouchers to be given away starting in November, too, as part of their "Hong Kong Night Treats" campaign. Tourists are entitled to dining vouchers, each valued at HK$100, which can be redeemed for a HK$100 discount on food and drinks at participating bars and restaurants after 6 p.m.
3. Bring tumblers. Us Pinoys love our ice-cold water, so just imagine going to a restaurant that’s not serving any. Water can be expensive in Hong Kong and most eateries don’t serve ice. To save money, buy gallons of water from the grocery and transfer them into your tumblers.
4. Explore other modes of transportation. Aside from the MTR, taxi, and bus, Hong Kong's traditional trams and ferry offers a unique way to experience the city. The double-decker streetcars or what they call "Ding Ding," traverses through northern Hong Kong Island, between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan, with a branch circulating through Happy Valley. It costs HK$3.50 per ride for adults, no matter where you get dropped off.