From ultra-modern architecture to traditional wet markets, uber luxury to wild mountain trails, Hong Kong is the perfect Instagram city. Everywhere you turn, it seems like there’s something you absolutely have to snap and share. East and West, old and new, glitzy and grimy, chic and cute, the list goes on.
If you’ve travelled to Hong Kong before, you’ve probably already filled your feed with more views from The Peak, rickety trams, and delicate dim sum than you’d care to admit. In which case, it’s probably time to move away from the tourist hotspots, and on to the local gems and the lesser-known sights. Here are a few best-kept secrets that some friends in Hong Kong slipped us.
Score a free flight to Hong Kong from 2 to 8 March 2023: Don’t miss out the chance to win an air ticket from Singapore to Hong Kong, plus additional perks, for your next trip. Read on to find out how you can be one of the 12,500 winners!
Bespoke coffee in vintage teacups at Halfway Coffee
Mismatched chairs, exposed concrete and bricks, and their signature coffee in vintage porcelain Chinese tea cups. There’s something innately charming and quirky about the way Halfway Coffee presents itself. Head up to the dusty antique shops of Upper Lascar Row in Sheung Wan (an attraction in Hong Kong that’s worth a visit in itself), and you’ll find it halfway up one of the side alleys, hence the name. It’s as if they just picked a bunch of stuff from their neighbours and set up shop. The result? A mismatching visual experiment that ‘grams perfectly. But don’t just snap and go, you must savour their brews. They are serious about their coffee (their espresso machine is custom-designed), and while you can’t go wrong with classics like a Latte or Flat White, why not be a bit adventurous and give their Rose Latte or Black Sugar Latte a try?
Address: 26 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan
Opening hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm daily
The ‘other’ sunset money-shot at Braemar Hill (寶馬山)
It’s always so satisfying to take an iconic shot with your monopod from a whole different angle and get “Where did you take that from?!?” in the comments section of your social post. So instead of repeating that “sunset cityscape” snap from The Peak again, go for an easy hike up Braemar Hill, or at the locals call it, Red Incense Burner Summit (紅香爐峰) in Hong Kong. There are multiple hidden viewpoints with beautiful views along the way, but you’ll have to veer off the main path and onto offshoot trails to find them. As they say, fortune favours the bold!
Red Incense Burner Summit
- From Admiralty MTR station, take the 24M minibus to Mount Butler Block C & D.
- Enter “Red Incense Burner Summit” into your map app and follow the trail to the top.
- To leave, walk down 2 minutes to St. Joan of Arc Secondary School, and take any of a number of buses and minibuses back to the city area.
An Art Nouveau cocktail at Dragonfly
Walk into Dragonfly, and you’ll question whether you’re still in Hong Kong, or have been transported back to early 1900’s New York. Inspired by Art Nouveau artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (of the Tiffany & Co. family), everything you see in this bar has been custom crafted to create a one-of-a-kind experience (and photo op). Finish off your day of exploration by digging into the drinks list, and discover their bartender’s equally eclectic creations. If you want to dive fully into the Art Nouveau theme, their Gilded Age Sazerac (S$22.20) is on point. But if you want something truly original, their Dragon’s Pearls (S$23.90) is cheeky alcoholic bubble milk tea that’s creamy and smooth with just the right notes of jasmine. Add this to your list of bars to visit in Hong Kong when you next travel with your buddies!
Address: Shop 10 – G1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central
Opening hours: 5pm to midnight daily
Geological and archaeological treasures at Tung Ping Chau (東平洲)
Gleaming skyscrapers and roaring traffic? Not in this remote corner of Hong Kong. The island of Tung Ping Chau (not to be confused with the better-known and more accessible Peng Chau) isn’t just a getaway from the city, it’s also a photographer’s wonderland. Here, you will uncover unique (and surprisingly photogenic) geological formations, and a number of ghost villages. Hike through these abandoned hamlets that are fast becoming reclaimed by nature and bring out your inner urban decay aficionado.
A visit to this place requires a bit of planning; ferries only run on weekends and public holidays, with only one returning ferry at 5:15pm (make sure you don’t miss it). The island is also physically closer to mainland China than the rest of Hong Kong, so your phone might switch to a China network. To avoid that, pre-load your map and turn off your mobile network when you get there, and be sure to carry along a powerbank so you always have enough battery.
Tung Ping Chau
From University MTR Station Exit B, take a taxi to Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier (馬料水).
The ferry (HKD90 ~ S$15.6 return) only runs on weekends and public holidays, with only one or two trips per day, so make sure to check the schedules here.
Revitalised industrial-chic at The Mills (南豐紗廠)
There’s never really been a reason for a non-resident like yourself to go to the district of Tsuen Wan, until now. Originally a cotton mill in the 1960’s, The Mills is now an arts and culture hub. As you explore its cavernous industrial aesthetic for some grand photo ops, it’s the abundance of little design details waiting to be discovered that will enchant the avid Instagrammer in you.
Beyond the six artists’ murals by the entrance and its grand industrial-chic aesthetic, it’s filled with hidden gems celebrating local arts and culture. For those thinking about what to do in Hong Kong that gives them a taste of the city’s finest, a visit to The Mills is a must. One of the coolest is Think Of A Style, a little shop that serves as a platform for local artists to showcase and sell their works.
Address: 45 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan (Short walk via covered walkways from Tsuen Wan MTR Station Exit A3 or Tsuen Wan West MTR Station Exit A2)
Opening hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm daily
This is just the start
There are many more charming districts like Choi Hung (彩虹) or Sham Shui Po (深水埗) for you to explore, scenic trails like the Dragon’s Back to hike, and a constant stream of new cafés, bars and shops in Hong Kong that will open your eyes. But most importantly, just explore. You might just find a new gem to add to this list. And if you’re all about travelling off the beaten path, there are plenty of hidden spots around the world to ignite the wanderlust in you!
How to win a free round-trip air ticket to Hong Kong and score perks (Hong Kong Goodies)?
The Hong Kong Tourism Board launched a new ‘Hello Hong Kong’ campaign on 2 February 2023 to woo tourists back to the island after years of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Half a million free air tickets will be given away to Asian visitors by three airlines - Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express.
The tickets will be released in phases:
- March 2023: Southeast Asia countries
- April 2023: China
- May 2023: Northeast Asia and other countries
If you are based in Singapore, here’s how you can win one of the 12,500 free round-trip air tickets to Hong Kong, given away by Cathay Pacific from 2 to 8 March 2023.
Step 1: [Do this before 2 March 2023] Sign up for a Cathay account here if you are not a member yet.
Step 2: [From 2 March 2023, 12:00pm (Singapore time)] Go to Cathay Pacific’s ‘World of Winners’ campaign webpage, sign in to your Cathay Pacific account, answer three questions correctly and submit. Only one entry per account can be submitted and you must be aged 18 years old and above.
The campaign ends on 8 March 2023, 11:59pm (Singapore time). If you are one of the first 12,500 users who submitted correct answers, you will win a free round-trip air ticket to Hong Kong (excluding airport taxes and surcharges). Winners will be announced on the campaign webpage on 20 March 2023 and will be informed via email.
That’s not all. All tourists visiting Hong Kong can receive a set of Hong Kong Goodies which include free drinks and cash vouchers for use. Find out how you can redeem a complimentary set of Hong Kong Goodies on Hong Kong Tourism Board’s webpage.
Seems like it’s time to plan for an upcoming trip to visit the vibrant and bustling city that has delicious cuisine, rich cultural heritage and unique experiences!
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Best time to visit
The best times to visit Hong Kong would be in Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November), where the weather is cooler and less humid.
The official currency of Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
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