Entertain Your Guests in Style and Show Off The Hidden Side of Hong Kong
I’ve had an endless stream of visitors in the 14 months I’ve lived in Hong Kong, all with a range of preferences and ages. Showing them the sights of the city can get a little repetitive so you have to make it fun for yourself as well as them or else you’ll teeter on resentful. So mix up your itineraries now and then and do things differently. Chances are your guests assume you know all the best spots and how to show them HK like a local, not a tourist. And here’s how:
Friday: The ‘Left Hook Right Hook’
Without fail, this combo is my go-to for a visitor’s first night in Hong Kong.
Start off in Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao in Wan Chai and don’t bother letting your guests look at the menu, order up and prepare for a feast. Although not strictly Hong Kong style food, Crystal Jade serves up a range of regional Chinese dishes and does them well. Pretend you know what you’re doing and order the dan dan mein, xiao long bao (warn your guests on how to eat this potentially scalding dumpling), fried green beans with pork, Shandong pancakes (to dip in the dan dan mein broth) and some fried chicken with cashew.
Once they’re full up, waddle down the road to Wooloomooloo Prime and ascend to the roof for the breathtaking view that never gets old.
Free flow brunches are something of a Hong Kong institution and I strive to take every visitor I’ve had to a brunch with a good view.
My personal favourites are Cafe Deco (now closed) on the Peak and Aqua. They’re good value and deliver enough free flowing bubbles to knock jet lagged guest out. A free-flow brunch is the perfect day out and your guests’ food coma will ensure they give you a bit of peace when they retire to their hotel for a nap.
Sunday: Junk boat trip
If your guests are coming between May and October, it’s time to book out a junk! Hong Kong Junks and Jaspa’s Junks get my seal of approval. Your friends will marvel that, for just $700, you can spend a day at sea, explore Hong Kong’s beautiful islands and eat and drink as much as you like!
Assuming you’re all feeling over-indulged from a weekend of free flow and all you can eat, it’s time to get some exercise. Dragon’s Back is achievable for even the most unfit visitor and provides great views as well as a different side of Hong Kong your guests probably didn’t expect to see. If the weather is good, you can end on Shek O or Big Wave Bay to cool off in the sea and grab something to eat.
Tuesday: Get local
Today, things are going to get really Hong Kongy. First, take your guests to the Sham Shui Po branch of Michelin starred dim sum restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. Get there around 11am and be prepared for a long wait. Everything is delicious here but be sure to order double helpings of their famous BBQ pork buns. Make sure your guests correlate how much you’ve eaten with how cheap the bill is and proceed to drop some knowledge: Tim Ho Wan is known for being one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the word.
Second stop is the flower market in Prince Edward. It’s a bit of a walk but they can soak up some local atmosphere and browse the pretty petals whilst you burn time waiting for the famous Ladies Market to open. If there’s time and interest, pop into the bird park next door to see some feathered friends.
When it’s time to move on, find your guests an ATM, arm them with cash and teach them how to haggle Ladies Market style, ok la? They’ll enjoy the buzz of bartering and probably pick up some good gifts and souvenirs. You’ve probably been pounding the pavements for a while now so time to get a nice cheap foot massage near the market and call it a day.
Wednesday: Culture vultures
So your guests want a bit of culture? But let’s face it, you’re sick of Big Buddha and Ngong Ping is busy and pricey, so show them something different. A personal favourite of mine is the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin.
It’s a steep climb up the steps but it’s lined with golden Buddha statues, each with their own unique pose, making for some great photo opportunities to break down the ascent. The Monastery also has a pagoda at the top and a small complex to explore. If you want to entertain your guests further, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is not far and has a great exhibit on Hong Kong legend, Bruce Lee.
Depending on the time of year your guests visit, take them to the horse racing at Happy Valley in the evening. It’s a good atmosphere and fun to place a few small bets and try and get lucky.
Thursday: Last day in town
Hopefully your guests have only come for the week, so today is your last day. Book your group in at Ryze trampoline park in North Point for around 3.30pm and have a great time burning calories and bouncing around for an hour.
After all that hard play, you all deserve your drink so jump in a taxi and head over to Sugar bar in Quarry Bay for some happy hour sun downers and another a great view. Once your thirst has been quenched, you’ll have no doubt worked up a fierce appetite so head back to North Point Cooked Food Center on Java Road and have a farewell dinner of delicious, large and cheap portions of Cantonese food.
And it’s time to wave goodbye to your guests and although you feel that pang of sadness, it’s also tinged with guilt as you feel a slight relief that they’re gone and you can continue life as normal.
Above are just some convenient trips and ideas for itineraries which can obviously be chopped, changed and added to as you please.
This post was originally published in August 2015 and reviewed and updated in December 2016.
Holly is a Hong Kong based writer. She enjoys gallivants to different lands, eating nonsense and living to tell the tale. Follow her adventures on Twitter – @hgvstheworld