With so much to offer – the scrumptious dining scene, the shopping for every budget and whim, the dynamic culture, the lush mountains and islands – it’s more a case of why not. There aren’t many other places in the world where you can be hiking up a mountain or boating across the harbour one hour, and sipping a cocktail or devouring the world’s best dumplings in a buzzing city laneway the next. There’s ancient Chinese religion to be experienced in the temples, as well as some of the world’s most exciting new design stores and hotels. Whether it’s your first, fifth or 50th visit, this destination is endlessly varied and completely enchanting.
For a taste of Hong Kong’s old-world imperial grandeur, visit Kowloon’s Chi Lin Nunnery Buddhist temple complex, originally built in the 1930s and renovated in Tang Dynasty style in 1998. Wander courtyards surrounded by bonsai gardens, lotus ponds, limestone outcrops and sandalwood trees, then admire the exquisite temples, built without using a single nail to symbolise harmony between humans and nature. Inside you’ll find gold and wooden Buddhist statues, and nuns delivering offerings to the Buddha. See chilin.org
Located on the top three floors of the original Bank of China building, The China Club is filled with a kaleidoscopic collection of art from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, much of it from the private collection of the late owner David Tang (he of Shanghai Tang fame). Grab a cocktail at the Long March Bar with its Maoist-era decor, then head to the eclectic dining room to feast on Peking duck, crystal shrimp and noodles while listening to the live band. Take your nightcap on the upstairs terrace for outstanding city views. See chinaclub.com.sg
Taking the funicular up to The Peak viewing platform, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, is an excellent way to get the lay of the land and understand just how much of this city is set aside for parklands. For an alternative view of the city, jump aboard a local sampan and cruise Aberdeen Harbour, passing houseboats, yachts and trawlers en route. See thepeak.com.hk
Hong Kong may be renowned for its big brand shopping, but discovering its smaller, more creative boutiques is the real treat. A former police married headquarters in Aberdeen Street, the PMQ is filled with boutiques run by more than 100 locally-based designers. Set aside a couple of hours to explore the hole-in-the-wall shops and ateliers selling everything from unique jewellery and clothing, to bathing products and home accessories. See pmq.org.hk
Opened early this year following a massive renovation project, The Murray is Hong Kong’s newest five-star hotel. Set inside a 1969-built former office tower with distinctive ivory arched colonnades and recessed windows, the interiors have been elegantly overhauled with gold accents, wooden floors, plush rugs and sophisticated, clean lines. The dining options, including rooftop bar and dining at Popinjays, and refined Cantonese at Guo Fu Lou, are terrific. See niccolohotels.com
If you want to know whether you’ll ever make it back to Hong Kong, visit Kowloon’s Temple Street Night Market where you’ll find the infamous Mystic Mile. Lined with palm, face and tarot readers, half the fun is sorting the genuine articles from the shysters.
Nina Karnikowski was a guest of Abercrombie & Kent and Cathay Pacific.
THIS STORY FIRST APPEARED IN PRINT AND ONLINE HERE