10 Things We Learned in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been one of the sexiest and busiest cites in Asia for some time. The city that seems to be full steam ahead, remains on the rise. Here are a few reasons why…
1. Flights of Fancy. Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong’s flagship carrier with their main office and hub in Hong Kong. Cathay recently kicked off one of the top Premium Economy classes in the business with several extra inches to claim as your own and a recline that will have you tipped back and sleeping like a baby.
For business savvy, Business Class travelers, you have access to Cathay’s award winning Business Class Lounge in Hong Kong, which is a destination unto itself. The noodle bar alone will have you praying for that long layover.
Cathay’s tip top flyers might be invited on to an inaugural flight of a brand spanking new plane that takes off at Boeing Air Space in Seattle, then delivers the new beauty and you to the Hong Kong hub.
I was recently privy to such a flight for the launch of a new 777 300ER. Sixty of my new and closest travel savvy friends, including Cathay’s CEO John Slosar (basically the Richard Branson of Cathay) flew over in Shanghai Tang pajamas, (the Ralph Lauren of Hong Kong,) and walked willfully around the aircraft with champagne in hand.
2. Suite Dreaming. Like any major metropolis, Hong Kong’s teaming with the biggest brands in the biz. You see luxury brands at every turn towering over each other and the Victoria Harbor. If heading to town, high end options are endless from the Ritz to The Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, the Four Seasons... the list goes on.
If looking to lay in the lap of luxury in a modern urban oasis, with Euro influence yet an Asian sensibility, park it at the Island Shangri-La Hotel, the luxury brand’s flagship hotel. Grab your private escort form the airport, then head to your room on the 53rd floor or grab a bit of breaky on the 56th with bird’s eye view of Victoria Harbor. With the beauty before you, pampering all around you and some suite dreaming in you, there’s nothing you can’t do. Now you're ready to take on Hong Kong.
3. Island Time. As busy and buzzing as the city is, an island oasis is but a ferry ride away. Jet over to Cheung Chau Island for their Taoist Pak Tai Temple or Tung Wan Beach for windsurfers and canoers or take in the 3,000 year old bronze-age rock carving. Head to Lamma Island Fisherfolk village for seafood and a slice of the simpler life. For spiritual enthusiasts, commit to a longer trip to Lantau Island, a pitch perfect place to grab a pic with the giant outdoor Buddha.
4. Aquatic Adventures. The key to Hong Kong and the allure of the city is to take in that iconic harbor view. Whether on Hong Kong or Kowloon, it is like being privy to a Manhattan skyline on both sides. Victoria Bay is the largest harbor in China and third largest in the world. Immerse yourself in the otherworldly allure with a ride around the harbor on the traditional handcrafted Aqua Luna; the red-sail junk boat. It provides beautiful views back to the city with a seamless sea of skyscrapers.
5. Shop ‘til you drop. Hong Kong is a premier place to shop. For big names brands head to Central for the Rodeo meets Madison Avenue style of shopping. For boutique brands nip in to nearby SOHO. Similar to London and New York, you pay the price for chic boutiques.
6. Foodie Fix. Hong Kong is known for its food. There’s an endless list of high-end Michelin restaurants well worth a hit, but one can’t miss is Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest Michelin star in the city. To experience the best on Hong Kong’s foodie front, one doesn’t have to break the bank, but expect long lines at the local haunt. Their Hung Bao buns alone will blow your mind.
7. Cocktail Spot. Hong Kong may be a step or sip behind other trailblazing cities on the global road, but there are a few liquid luminaries setting the bars ablaze in Hong Kong. Antonio Lai of Central’s Quinary Bar is one of those. Influenced by the molecular movement, Lai took a page out of food pioneer Ferran Ardia's El Bulli book with his scientific take on mixology. His signature multi-sensory mixology engages all five senses of his guests with his cocktail concoctions. Pop in the cocktail spot, Quinary Bar, in the Central District if looking to be spirit-ually inspired.
8. Put a Cork On It. Every eno snob has heard stories of the recent Chinese that pull up to bars in Beijing and order, “The most expensive wine in the place,” only to top it off with coke to make it palatable for party people. Rest your snooty little soul in knowing that that is not the case in Hong Kong. There is a super sophisticated wine scene with mind blowing lists boasting old and new world wines and auctions that are setting the wine world ablaze. As wine bars are popping up all over town, be sure to check out the ever-buzzing California Vintage Wine Bar in Central district, a great palace for a tasting.
9. Toe Time. There is nothing better in Asia than street stalls and random shops for local treatments; be it reflexology, acupuncture or Thai massage. The setting may not be five-star, but services are off the chart for a fraction of the price. If looking for a posh backdrop, Happy Feet chain throws a few bells and whistles in to the toe-tingling mix. More importantly, you will leave relaxed from tip of to toe.
10. A Peak Performance. As many times as I have been to Hong Kong, I never ascended to Victoria Peak. Last trip in, I got to the top, which can be reached any number of ways. Get there via tram or taxi, which is wicked cheap in Hong Kong or through your own muscle and movement be it by bike, hike or huffing a run. Whatever the case, beat the heat with sunrise or sunset sojourns as the views and crowds are best, as are you.
Stop at the top at their café for the sweetest iced teas. Then soak in the beauty below. Hong Kong is as vertical of a city as you will ever see, with more buildings going up than across. Whatever the case, Hong Kong is obviously on the rise.
Shangri-La Hotel & Cathay Pacific image courtesy of Shangri-La & Cathay Pacific
All other images courtesy of Karen Loftus