Hong Kong Holiday
Long considered to be the gateway to China and one of Asia’s financial hubs, Hong Kong is a melting pot of oriental chic and urban suave, resulting in an intoxicating fusion of East and West.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE GLOBE’S best shopping, nightlife and dining destinations, there are few cities that can top Hong Kong. What else would you expect from a sleek cosmopolitan centre and a former British colony? Start your trip by stretching your legs on the Kowloon side and take a stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade (MTR station: Tsim Sha Tsui, Exit E), an open-air walkway that offers views of Hong Kong Island and that includes the Avenue of the Stars, a stretch of waterside pavement that pays homage to the brightest stars in the Hong Kong film industry.
Hong Kong means ‘fragrant harbour‘ in Cantonese, and although the scent has changed over time, don’t miss a cruise on the vessel that has been serving the harbour since 1881
For an afternoon pick-me-up, enjoy one of the legacies of the former imperial rulers with afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong (Salisbury Road, Kowloon). Not merely a Hong Kong landmark and a venerable historical institution, the Peninsula has also been considered one of the world’s greatest hotels since it opened in 1928. ‘Sugar high’ means something different here with its afternoon tea ‘High-Flyer’ package, offered until March. It includes a five-minute helicopter tour of Victoria Harbour after tea time (note: the afternoon tea offers petite ham sandwiches that can be easily substituted).
After 6pm, head upstairs to Felix, where the Philippe Starck-designed bar commands almost as much attention as the dazzling view of Hong Kong (sadly, the men get the best of the views here—direct from the urinals in the bathroom).
Or watch the sun disappear over sweets at Café Gray Deluxe, at The Upper House hotel (Pacific Place 88 Queensway, Hong Kong Island) spread across the very top levels of an existing building. Opened in October last year, the Upper House commands sweeping views of Victoria Harbour.
- Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre
105 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel: 852.2724.0095, 852.2724.2661
- Masjid Ammar & Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre
40 Oi Kwan Rd, Wanchai, Hong Kong Island
Tel: 852.2575.2218, 852.2834.5409
- Jamiah Masjid (the Shelley Street Mosque)
30 Shelley St, Central, Hong Kong Island
- Chai Wan Mosque
Cape Collision, Chai Wan,
Hong Kong Island
- Stanley Mosque
Inside Stanley Prison, Hong Kong Island
The Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre (105 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon) is the largest mosque in Hong Kong. Located in a corner of Kowloon Park, this beautiful white-marbled structure has become the focal point and meeting place of Kowloon-based Muslims.
The famed Hong Kong movie director Wong Kar-Wai filmed his 1994 masterpiece, Chungking Express, in the nearby Chungking Mansions (36-44 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon), a 17-storey building made up of low-budget guesthouses, shops and restaurants. Don’t let the bustling vendors and hawkers put you off—locals flock to the Khyber Pass restaurant (Block E, 7/F, 36-44 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon) for consistently cheap and cheerful Indian and Pakistani dishes—all halal and among the best in the city.
After dinner, take advantage of Hong Kong’s tax-free shopping policy in one of the city’s 70-plus malls. Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City (3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon) is the mall of malls with more than 700 shops ranging from high-end fashion brands like Gucci, Burberry and Stella McCartney to independent, trendy Japanese boutiques—we challenge you to leave empty-handed.
Hong Kong means ‘Fragrant Harbour’ in Cantonese so don’t miss a cruise on the vessel that has been serving the harbour since 1881: the Star Ferry (Star Ferry Pier, Kowloon Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon). Hop on at night from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and snag a seat on the top deck for fantastic photo ops and a shimmering panorama of the famous skyline.
On Hong Kong Island, you can wind through the glitter and neon of famed nightlife district Lan Kwai Fong (MTR Central, Exit D2) to Soho, just up the hill, where you can shop for designer clothes, Chinese antiques, art pieces and traditional prints. No boutique better sums up modern Hong Kong than Shanghai Tang (Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St, Central) where updated versions of traditional Chinese clothing are neatly displayed in vibrant hues. Besides the store’s signature cheongsams, you can browse through the Tang’s chic housewares, funky accessories and unisex silk kimonos as (pricey) souvenirs.
Meanwhile, not far away, Hong Kong pop culture is for sale at boutique chain Goods of Desire (48 Hollywood Rd, G/F and 1/F, Central), another destination for unique clothing, furniture and knick-knacks from young local designers. Most items can pack flat for easy transport and travel.
Check out the almost museum-like Chinese Arts & Crafts (Asia Standard Tower, 59 Queen’s Rd, Central) for the best of upmarket Chinese goods and souvenirs; everything from delicate porcelain and silk jackets and blouses to jade and other precious gems are yours to have at jaw-dropping prices.
Close by is Central’s Jamiah Masjid (or the Shelley Street Mosque, 30 Shelley St, Central), which was built in 1890, making it Hong Kong’s first and oldest mosque. Classified by the government as a heritage building to be preserved, it still stands on its original site.
Sevva, a 13,000-square-foot penthouse eatery with an outdoor wraparound terrace, boasts 360-degree views of the central business district
Next, head to the 25th floor of Central’s iconic Prince’s Building, where you’ll find SEVVA (25th Floor, 10 Chater Rd, Central), a 13,000-square foot penthouse eatery with an outdoor wraparound terrace that boasts 360-degree views of the Central Business District. Indulge in superlative cakes and sweets at Ms B’s Sweets where the goodies are displayed under a huge 1950s chandelier, originally designed for the British embassy in Rome.
Just above Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s legendary nightlife district, sits the über-chic Dragon-i (60 Wyndham St, Central). Always expect a queue and strict door policies at weekends. When you are done, wander down to the distinctly different Beirut (27-29 D’Aguilar St, Central), a casual but elegant restaurant, or Beyrouth (39 Lyndhurst Terr, Central) for take-away kebabs that pack a serious flavour punch. Both offer tasty late-night halal feeds that hit your hunger spot—and your wallet—in just the right places.
Flight delayed? Don’t worry—rock up to Lane Crawford (Podium 3, ifc mall, 8 Finance St, Central), Hong Kong’s first Western-style department store and one of Asia’s swankiest shopping spots, for a last-minute shopping spree. The store’s martini bar features flat screen TVs that display flight updates. Get ready for unencumbered shopping by checking in your luggage at the in-town check-in downstairs and then head upstairs to stock up on Sasa cosmetics, Dickson Yewn jewellery and diamond-encrusted Hello Kitty paraphernalia. And when you’re ready, board the Airport Express at Kowloon or Hong Kong stations. It’ll get you to the airport in 24 minutes flat.