Short Getaways for the festive season – Hong Kong

Hoping to escape the heat in the holidays? It’s always nice to spend the festive period somewhere nice and cold, sipping on hot chocolate to warm yourself up as snow falls just outside the café window. While not exactly a white Christmas, Hong Kong is great this time of the year for last-minute travellers who are looking to escape the heat of the tropics. With temperatures in the mid-10s to low 20s, it’s the perfect sweater weather and you won’t have to drop a bomb buying winter wear for this trip.

Often compared to Singapore due to the similarities in demographics and size, you’ll find there’s much more to Hong Kong. With huge theme parks and mouth-watering food at every turn, in addition to stunning landscapes and much more comfortable weather at the end of the year, Hong Kong is the perfect quick get away for those who still want to live some of that metropolitan life with some sprinkles of adventure.

Food

What better way to start talking about Hong Kong than to talk about the food. Famous for their roast goose (a delicacy not available in Singapore), there are so many different food options unique to Hong Kong that make the island an exceptional food haven. You’ll find Michelin approved restaurants all over the island, as well as some small gems here and there which have yet to be discovered by the crowds if you look hard enough.

Traditional Hong Kong Milk Tea

You can’t go to Hong Kong and not try their milk tea. All over the island you can pick up the  local blend of milk tea from various 茶餐廳 [cha chaan teng] (Hong Kong’s colloquial name for traditional breakfast cafes). Each glass of milk tea has its own ‘personality’, whether the shop focuses more on the smoothness of the milk, or the richness of the tea. Our recommendation is to head down to Lan Fong Yuen near the Central MTR station and get a cup of tea from there. Having first opened in 1953, being able to afford the rent in such a prime district is simply testament to the quality of the tea sold here. Although it doesn’t come with some of your favourite bubbles, it will not disappoint you. 

Lan Fong Yuen

2 Gage St, Central, Hong Kong

Daily 7:30am – 6pm

Closed on Sundays

Egg Tarts

If you’re a keen lover of egg tarts, you’d have been following the latest craze of Tai Cheong egg tarts as they hit our shores from last year. With branches at Holland Village and Orchard Road, the international brand has stirred up quite a bit of attention, with queues extending for hours when the shops first opened.

But still, none of them hold a candle when compared to the original Tai Cheong bakery in Hong Kong itself. The creaminess of the egg and the very delicate crumble of the cookie base is out-of-this-world in Hong Kong. Getting them fresh as they come out of the oven is so extremely satisfying, especially as you munch into the warmth of the tart amid the cold air around you.

Tai Cheong Bakery (Central)

35 Lydhurst Terrace

Daily 7:30am – 9pm

茶餐廳

The life-blood of Hong Kong people, having breakfast at a cha chaan teng is a way of life that has not been forgotten in years past. A simple breakfast of macaroni soup with ham, or scrambled eggs on toast is how the locals start their day. Influenced by their colonial past, the combination of Chinese and western palettes makes the concept behind cha chaan tengs unique to Hong Kong, where else would you find such a strange combination of influences. 

One of the best places to experience this would be Australian Dairy Co. This famous eatery has withstood the trials of time, with lines snaking around the entrance daily, you’ll be hard pressed to get a seat if you come too late but waking up early is definitely worth it.

Recommendations here are their Steamed Egg Custard, Milk Pudding and Scrambled Egg Toast. All these dishes have been perfected over the years, and when made with some of the freshest ingredients, are unbelievably good.

Australia Dairy Company

47 Parkes St, Jordan, Hong Kong

Daily 7:30am – 11pm

Closed on Thursdays

Roast Meats

There is no shortage of Michelin starred roast meat speciality restaurants in Hong Kong. Just ask around and you’ll hear stories of various chefs breaking away from highly acclaimed restaurants to start their own businesses and you’ll soon find that the island is littered with some of the best roast meat eateries on the planet.

Seriously speaking, no one does roast meat better than Hong Kong, with traditional charcoal roasting ovens and generations of recipes being perfected, you won’t be able to get such good quality meat anywhere else in the world. What’s best is that Hong Kong is famous for their roast goose, something that is not available in Singapore. Almost like the “wagyu” of duck, the skin of the roast goose is cripsier and more flavourful. With a nice cap of fat between the skin and the meat, it prevents the meat from getting dry, and infuses it with rich flavours.

With so many options all over the island, we’ll just give you 3 of the best ones we’ve found.

Master Yuen Roast Goose Roast Pork Restaurant

One of the more affordable options, you can find this small unassuming stall along Fa Yuen Road in Mong Kok. While it may not be as famous as the rest of the options in this list, the quality of the meat is still up to par with some of the Michelin star establishments.

5 Fa Yuen Street

Kam’s Roast Goose

The head chef at Kam’s is from the same family as the last entry to this list, Yung Kee. Almost like a Taiwanese family drama, the renegade outlet has gained much popularity and favour from locals and visitors alike. Consistently getting the Michelin star since 2015, the outlet is definitely one of the best on the island, however, it can get very crowded but you can still join the shorter take-away queue and enjoy your meal from the comfort of your hotel room instead.

226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai

Daily 11:30am – 9:15pm

Yung Kee

It is simply impossible to talk about Hong Kong roast goose without bringing up Yung Kee. Almost akin to the ‘grandfather’ of roast goose, this restaurant is the reason that roast goose is on the map in Hong Kong. Starting all the way back form 1942, the restaurant is now in the hands of the third generation of owners, but is still serving up food that’s as good as the first day it opened. This is the priciest of choices on this list, but also is the most flavourful and authentic to its roots of charcoal roasted meat. Definitely worth a visit at least once so you know what roast goose is supposed to taste like.

32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong

Daily 11:30am – 11:30pm

Dim Sum

The home of Dim Sum, there’s always somewhere serving up Dim Sum at any hour of the day in bustling Hong Kong. Whether you opt for those road-side stalls with pots overflowing, or you want to go to a more established restaurant to satisfy your cravings, there’s always some dim sum around the corner.

If you’re a fan of Tim Ho Wan in Singapore, then you can’t miss out on the original Michelin Starred outlet in Sham Shui Po. While you could argue that it’s the same thing as it is here, one bite into their baked pork buns later and you’ll be eating your words. The quality of the food here is simply a cut above what’s available in Singapore. True to the recipe, and with master chefs taking pride in their own creations, every dish available here is taken to a whole new level in Hong Kong.

9-11 Fuk Wing St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

10am – 9:30pm (Weekdays)

9am – 9:30pm (Weekends)

Jia Jia Traditional Desserts

Our final must-try food in Hong Kong are the traditional desserts at Jia Jia Tian Ping. The traditional dessert house has some of the best and most authentic bowls of Chinese desserts you’ll ever find.

On a cold winter’s night, what better way to warm yourself up than to have a hot bowl of sesame paste with steaming tang yuans. The shop also has the best ginger soup we’ve ever tried, and you can add on extra tang yuans (which is recommended because these are so good) at a small fee.

27 Ning Po St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

Activities

Well, after all that eating, or between all that eating, you’re going to have to do some things, and Hong Kong is filled with so many different options for you to choose from.

Theme Parks

If you’re a crazy adrenaline seeker, or you have kids you’re bringing around, a visit to a theme park would definitely be on your to-do list. Luckily for you, Hong Kong is home to two world acclaimed theme parks, Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Ocean Park

The largest theme park in Hong Kong, Ocean Park has two sides to it, a huge theme park area and lots of animal enclosures. A mix between a zoo and an amusement park, you’ll find that it caters to all ages. For thrill seekers, you can’t miss out on rides like the Hair Raiser and the Abyss. The abyss, as the name suggests, sends you down to the abyss as you plummet straight down 20 stories. What’s more, the ride is right on the top of a hill, making your drop seem even greater.

Other than thrill rides, there are plenty of enclosures for you to explore. Drop by the panda exhibit and watch as these fluffy little bears roll around in their ‘bamboo’ forest.

If you plan your day right, you can even catch some feeding sessions too!

Hong Kong Disneyland

What better way to celebrate the holidays than at the Happiest Place on Earth. You can expect world-class hospitality and classic Disney rides like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Space Mountain, It’s a Small World and more are right there for you.

Hong Kong Disneyland is also home to the first Marvel themed ride at any Disney park, with Iron Man Experience having opened last year, and a second Marvel ride, Ant-man and the Wasp, expected to open its doors in mid-December this year, you’ll be treated to being one of the first few guests to experience this attraction.

Hiking

If you’re looking to stretch out your old tired bones and go on an adventure, Hong Kong has many different hiking trails all over the island for you. With weather in the low 20s throughout the end of the year, you can spend hours journeying up and down the terrain without breaking a sweat, clocking in the exercise to burn off all the calories from eating over the past few days, but avoiding coming back dripping wet.

Cheung Chau

A short 45-minute boat ride from Victoria Harbour, the neighbouring island to the main island of Hong Kong offers a quaint harbour town with idyllic views from the hills. The island has several hiking routs with varying levels of difficulty. Some will bring you right to the other side of the island where you get an amazing view of the city and beach, while some will bring you to the beaches where you can splash around.

Don’t forget to try out the seafood here too! Right at the doorstep of the ocean, you can get some of the freshest Mantis shrimp, bamboo clams, scallops and fish at reasonable prices.

As you descend back from the hills, you get a picturesque view of the city and harbour from between the homes of the locals.

Dragons Back Trail

Named as such after the undulating terrain of the trail, Dragons Back trail traverses across multiple hills over 8km and ends at Big Wave Bay, a popular beach for surfers. You can start your day on the trail, enjoying unparalleled views of the island and an unblocked view the South China Sea. Stop by Shek O Peak on the way to your destination to take in the natural beauty of the landscape and end your adventure with a picnic on the beach.

Victoria Peak

A classic destination in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak is accessible by tram, bus and foot (if you’re crazy enough to try that is). From the top, enjoy a panoramic view of Central Hong Kong and Kowloon. If you stay past the sunset, be sure to wait until Hong Kong comes to life with its vibrant colours lighting up the night sky.

Plus, at the top of Victoria Peak there’s a trail that goes around the mountain top, giving you the perfect view of the sunset as the sun slowly creeps behind the mountains of the island giving one of the most romantic views.

Shopping

And lastly, what’s a holiday without some shopping? If you frequent Hong Kong, you’ll be no stranger to the thriving shopping scene here. With well established malls carrying international brands, to night markets and flea markets, there’s always somewhere to go even if you’re just window shopping.

Mongkok

Hong Kong’s most famous shopping district, Mong Kok is home to both huge malls, and multiple shopping

Don’t miss out on the very many food stalls along the streets of Mongkok where you can pick up light snacks as you go along!

Ladies market

Start your shopping spree through Tung Choi Street, also known as Ladies Market. The one kilometre long stretch of road has stalls carrying all sorts of items up for sale. In the past, the area was best known for selling items for females, but has since become more modernized, carrying all sorts of items, from watches, cosmetics, bags, trinkets and souvenirs in addition to its usual extensive catalogue of clothes for both men and women.

You’ll find that most stalls are open in the day, but you’ll also find even more stalls open after the sun sets, so be sure to come by after your dinner if you want make the most of your visit.

Sneakers Street

On the very next lane to Ladies market is the famous sneaker street. Paving the sides of Fa Yuen Street are shops after shops all carrying the latest shoes and sneakers. If you’re hunting down a pair of Adidas Ultraboosts or NMDs or hoping to snag a Nike Airmax which has been sold out, this is the place for you.

The street is known for selling all sorts of shoes, so you can even look for specialty stores if you’re hoping to get a vintage pair of kicks at a bargain too.

Langham Place

The biggest mall in the whole of Hong Kong, Langham Place is home to over 200 shops carrying mainly youth fashion. Be sure to check this place out if you’re hoping to snag deals on international retailers like H&M, Champion, Bio Term, Fred Perry and many more.

Temple Street Market

Another night market, the stretch comes alive every day from 5pm to 11pm. Catered more towards cheap clothing and souvenirs, you’ll be able to get great bargains and you may even come across some pretty cool items from time to time here.

Causeway Bay

The other shopping district of Hong Kong, you’ll find many mid-sized malls and boutiques lining the stretch of Causeway Bay from Times Square all the way to Jardine’s Crescent.

At Jardine’s Crescent, you’ll find another one of Hong Kongs famous night markets. Although it’s smaller than the ones at Mong Kog and Temple street, its’ perfect for teenagers and young adults. The stalls here similarly hawk some of the latest fashion trends and outfits, from socks, to t-shirts to just about anything that’s in fashion now.

Stanley Market

Stanley Market is located in the quaint little town at Stanley. Take a day trip out of the city to this small town and escape to Stanley Bay, where you can spend the day busking under the sun or hitting up all the little eateries in the locale. After you’re done, be sure to drop by the Stanley Market right next to the food court. Here you’ll find some more tropical themed fares than you would in the heart of the city, catered more towards beach-ware, and other designs you wouldn’t have seen before.