48 HOURS IN HONG KONG
Celebrate Chinese New Year in this coastal metropolis.
With 156 years of British rule in Hong Kong’s history, the city has a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultural influences. Though the weather is mildest between October and early December, visit now for the Chinese New Year celebrations, which start on February 5. Ring in the Year of the Pig with traditional lion dances, the colorful New Year Night Parade, and a firework display above Victoria Harbour. In addition to a renowned dining and nightlife scene, Hong Kong also provides a wealth of outdoor adventures, thanks to its rugged coastline and steep terrain.
Here’s what to see, eat, and do:
WHERE TO STAY
As the name would suggest, The Upper House is situated far above the bustling streets. Located in the hip Wan Chai neighborhood, the scenic accommodations epitomize modern luxury and boast incredible citywide views—for a particularly impressive panorama, book the Penthouse Suite. The hotel offers complimentary weekend yoga classes on their lawn.
For an experience steeped in local history, stay at the Tai O Heritage Hotel on Lantau Island. Built in 1902, the property was originally a colonial police station that protected the shore against bandits. Now, its rooms, named after local landmarks and navy vessels, are decorated with elegant, old-world accents. Try their restaurant, Tai O Lookout, where you can enjoy Hong Kongese specialties in a dining room overlooking the South China Sea.
Start the morning with quinoa-yogurt porridge, papaya-mango salad, or congee, a local favorite, at Café Gray Deluxe on the 49th floor of the Upper House.
Choose Your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Stroll along the harbor down Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, beginning at the colonial Clock Tower. Stop at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, which hosts concerts in the evening and art exhibitions during the daytime. Then, visit the Hong Kong Space Museum before continuing on to the Avenue of the Stars, where you can explore memorabilia from movies shot in the city.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Head to Aberdeen Center on Hong Kong Island. From there, you can hike the 2.85-mile paved path to Victoria Peak, the island’s highest point. Unlike other routes, this one is far less crowded and takes you past a waterfall and lush jungle. If you’re still feeling energetic, add on the 2.2-mile long Peak Circle Walk once you reach the top.
After an active morning, stop for lunch at Locofama, a casual eatery that celebrates organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Dine on seared Hokkaido scallops or zucchini noodles with cashew-basil pesto accompanied by one of their house-made juices.
Before dinner, catch the sunset from the top of the Observation Wheel, which rotates nearly 200 feet above the Central Harbourfront. Then, check out Happy Paradise for inspired “neo-Chinese” dishes like shiitake dumplings with celeriac-kombu salad and steamed clams with white pepper broth, Chinese celery, and cilantro. Sip one of their bracing cocktails and take in the buzzy, neon-accented setting.
End with a nightcap at Bert's at The Foreign Correspondents' Club, a much-loved jazz bar named after pianist and foreign correspondent Bert Okuley.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Fuel up with a smoothie and a golden latte at the Queen’s Road location of coffee haven La Station. If you’re ready for some action, get a run in at the Happy Valley Race Track, a 1,400-meter track around the grassy area where horses normally gallop.
Choose your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Explore the Po Lin Monastery on the Ngong Ping Plateau, which honors Buddhism with its huge bronze Tan Tien Buddha. Walk the Wisdom Path to the statues, soak up the fragrant scents of the orchid garden, and visit the meditating monks at the Cha’n Hall.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Tackle the last leg of the Hong Kong Trail at Dragon’s Back, which takes between two and three hours. Beginning at Chai Wan, you’ll walk up 300 stairs before following a ridge with expansive views of southern Hong Kong Island. Afterwards, dip your toes in the water at Shek O beach, or head to Big Wave Bay where you can rent surfboards and wetsuits and hit the waves.
Have lunch at The Drunken Pot, which offers a unique take on traditional Hong Kong hot pot with a wide range of fish, meat, and vegetables to simmer in their selection of broths. If you’re in the mood for a lighter midday repast, order some sashimi from their extensive list.
On your last night, try the eight-course tasting “journey” at VEA. The offerings vary from month to month, but focus on impressively-plated Chinese fusion, with dishes like mantis shrimp with smoked cauliflower, uni, and pistachio and wagyu beef with chili jam and fried rice. Close out the evening at Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour, where vegetable cocktails, like the Cucumber Sling, are made with produce from nearby farms. The hidden speakeasy is accessed by two office doors leading to the “doctor’s waiting room.”
Photo: Getty Images