Whether it’s for business or pleasure, a trip to Hong Kong leaves a lasting impression. Australian expatriates share the highlights of their City with Sophie Loras.
As if Hong Kong needed another reason to demonstrate just what a special place it is, most recently adding world’s most liveable city to its long list of credentials. (Based on an EIU special Spatially Adjusted Liveability Index)
Melbourne and Vancouver, who usually vie for the top spot of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s bi-annual global liveability index, didn’t make the top ten this time, after the EIU revamped its criteria to consider urban planning, green space, natural assets, cultural assets, connectivity and lack of urban sprawl and isolation, resulting in a “spatially adjusted” liveability list of 70 countries.
Architect and urban planner, Filippo Lovato, who won the EIU competition to come up
with a new way of interpreting the data had this to say about Hong Kong: “Hong Kong, the winner, is a very compact city that has managed to maintain its natural heritage, create a dense network of green spaces and enjoy extensive links to the rest of the world.”
Indeed, many tourists who visit Hong Kong for its buzzing night life and extensive shopping might not have realised the hundreds of other qualities this amazing Asian city has to offer as a tourism destination.
*Pictured above: Hong Kong’s spectacular view of Victoria Harbour as seen from the Peak. (Courtesy HKETO)
Yes, it’s a city – a high density city at that, where the view from one apartment’s kitchen window might stare directly into the kitchen of another. It may be famed as a party capital, with its glamourous night life, its countless markets and shopping havens, its undeniably spectacular harbour and its towering skyscrapers. And yet, speak to locals and they will share a Hong Kong with you that boasts culinary street delights, hikes and walks through rolling green parklands and hills with breathtaking views (40 percent of the island and the New Territories is green land), secluded beaches, weekend boat trips to outlying islands for fresh seafood in remote fishing villages and a cultural hub celebrating old and long forgotten festivals and
traditions. Yes. Hong Kong is a very special place.
Phil Ingram, Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner, Hong Kong and Macau, has called Hong Kong home for the last five
years. He says Hong Kong people and the multi-national mixture as well as Hong Kong’s British heritage, makes for a vibrant and fascinating mix of people, culture and business opportunities.
“Living in Hong Kong is comfortable because it’s efficient and convenient,” he says.
His favourite weekend pastime is hiking.
“Hong Kong is covered in forested parks which are easily accessible and offer a wonderful variety of scenery and challenges – from sandy beaches to babbling brooks to craggy peaks,” says Mr Ingram.
*Pictured: The lesser-known side of Hong Kong – its many spectacular walks and treks (courtesy HKETO).
He is not alone in his views.
Sydneysider, Mi Hong Yoon, a lawyer and Legal Counsel for Telstra Global who has lived in Hong Kong for the last three years, raves about Hong Kong’s walks.
“Hong Kong has so many great hiking trails and they are so easily accessible by public transport,” says Mihong.
“My favourite hike on Hong Kong Island is Dragon’s Back trail, the winner of Time Magazine’s best urban hike in Asia and winner of many of my Hong Kong visiting friends’ hearts,” she says.
This trail forms part – section 8 – of the 50 km Hong Kong Trail, which starts from the Peak and finishes at Shek O.
“You feel far, far away from busy Hong Kong.”
Mihong says she is blown away by the close proximity of Hong Kong to the rest of the world.
“You can leave Hong Kong in the morning and have lunch in Tokyo with your friends. People are very open and friendly,” she says. “The city doesn’t go to sleep and it has the best part of both Eastern and Western culture.”
*Pictured below: One of Hong Kong’s many picturesque and secluded beaches – Tai Long Wan at Sai Kung. (Courtesy HKETO).
Tom Hands, the regional director for South and South East Asia, Study Group and his wife Ivy Leung moved to Hong Kong nine months ago after spending the last four years in Beijing. Tom is Originally from Queensland and Ivy from Sydney, although she spent the early years of her life as a Hong Kong local.
“There is a real melting pot of people living here, which makes Hong Kong interesting,” says Tom.
Tom and Ivy’s friendship group is made up of local Hong Kong friends, Japanese, Taiwanese, Australians, Canadians, English and Scots, just to name a few.
“It gives you a great perspective on other people and cultures that we wouldn’t normally be exposed to in Australia. Everyone has an interesting story to tell,” he says.
“People often refer to Hong Kong as the “Shopping Paradise” but it is so much more than that. There are great hiking trails, beaches and diving spots that you probably wouldn’t ever get to know if you just visited for business or holidays.”
The Hong Kong food scene is fantastic too.
“It’s less heavy and oily than the food in Beijing so we eat locally a lot more than we used to,” says Tom.
“The other awesome thing we have discovered here are Private Kitchens like Le Marron in Causeway Bay or Le Mieux in Wanchai. They can be hit and miss but when they’re good they are an amazing experience for us and visitors.”
Ivy and Tom, whose son Lachie was born in Hong Kong, say the Island’s beaches are also really underrated – especially for families.
“South Bay is a top spot for families but can get crowded. No waves but nice sand and a great little restaurant/bar behind the beach.”
Originally from Melbourne, Ingrid Broberg, Resourcing Manager with Talent2, has lived in Hong Kong with her husband Simon for the last six years. Both their boys were born in Hong Kong.
“There are many things that make Hong Kong special,” says Ingrid, “but what I love most is that it’s a city of contrasts – of the fast paced work culture in a skyscraper skyline and amidst the beautiful surroundings of national parks, mountains and islands. You can also equally enjoy shopping in local markets right next to mainstream and high-end labels. And you can hike a mountain or swim at the beach,” she says.
*Pictured: The spectacular view from The Hutong. (Courtesy Aqua Luna Restaurant Group)
“There is always something new happening in Hong Kong, a new restaurant or bar opening, a new hike to discover as well as art shows, movies or special days out to Disneyland or Ocean Park with kids.”
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a local food experience. Ingrid recommends City Hall in Central – “one of the few remaining banquet style dim sum venues in a huge hall, where the ladies still push the food trolleys around.”
For more adventurous diners, Ingrid suggests checking out the infamous Tim Ho Wan (1 Michelin star) restaurant in Mongkok. “Be prepared to wait 1-2 hours for a seat but one of the best yum cha experiences in Hong Kong.”
A favourite pastime for the Broberg family is catching a ferry over to Lower Cheung Sha Beach on Lantau Island for a day of swimming, “building sandcastles with our boys” and a delicious meal and jug of Pimms at Stoep, a South African BBQ open air restaurant right on the beach.
Ingrid’s advice to visitors is to get out on the water.
“Catch a ferry! The Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon is always a favourite, or you can venture further afield and take a ferry to one of the many outer lying islands such as Mui Wo (Lantau Island) or Lamma Island (great for seafood).”
Ingrid says the Aqua Luna is also popular with her guests – a traditional style Chinese junk that sails between Central to Stanley. At night the Aqua Luna also does evening cruises which are perfect to take in Hong Kong’s nightly 8pm Symphony of Lights show.
Brooke Patterson, Principal, Jarrah Wealth and Chair of AustCham Hong Kong & Macau’s Finance, Legal and Tax Committee, has lived in Hong Kong almost 10 years. She says the energy in Hong Kong is exemplified. “It is a certainly something unique to live in the most capitalist/ free market city in the world.”
Her favourite drink is the Lady Di champagne cocktail at the M bar, Mandarin Oriental. “It’s old school Hong Kong and pretty hard to beat.”
For shopping, Brooke recommends rummaging in the odd shops and markets in Wanchai and has a soft spot for Harvey Nichols after finding her Collette Dinnigan wedding dress there and a favourite Monique Lhuillier ball gown. ■
Favourite Bar: Red Bar on the roof of the IFC Mall.
Favourite Restaurant: For Cantonese food, Yat Tung Heen in Wanchai for the dim sum and their roasted turnip cake! For Western, Amber in Central – but nothing beats the open-air seafood restaurants on Lamma Island.
Favourite Walk: PatSinLeng – “The 8 Gods” range.
Top Recommendations: Explore Mongkok for a taste of old Hong Kong / Visit Sai Kung for the coastal scenery and the seafood / Have a night out in Soho and Lang Kwai Fung.
*Pictured: Phil Ingram hiking Hong Kong’s PatSinLeng – The 8 God’s” range.
Mi Hong Yoon
Favourite Bar: I can’t name one only! Sevva (Central) / Dharma Den / Upper House Bar in Pacific Place.
Favourite Restaurant: The Hutong for its fantastic view, great food and most of all the service there is great / Wooloomooloo Prime when I miss a good Australian steak.
Top Recommendations: The Peak (it is a must – but consider the Peak walk) / Stanley Market / Catch a ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui and go to the Harbor City-Ocean Terminal for shopping.
*Pictured: Mihong Yoon at Hong Kong’s famous Rugby 7s.
Ivy Leung and Tom Hands
Favourite Bar: Sevva in Central is great for showing off to visitors, the view over Hong Kong Harbour is amazing. The prices are pretty jaw-dropping too! / Lily in the LKF Hotel. No smoking and probably the best cocktails in the city.
Favourite Restaurants: Le Marron in Causeway Bay / Madam Sixty Ate in Wanchai / Yum Cha on Sunday – King’s Palace restaurant in the Cubus Building on Hoi Ping Road in Causeway Bay.
Top Recommendations: The Peak – on a clear night you can see all of the Central and Admiralty all the way down to Causeway Bay, plus the Kowloon side / Dinner on Elgin or Staunton Streets – a lot of restaurants, bars and people and “it really feels alive.” / Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry to Wanchai or Central. “For HKD$2.50 it’s one of the most affordable experiences you can have in Hong Kong,” says Tom.
*Pictured above: Ivy Leung, Tom Hands and baby Lachie.
Favourite bar: Aqua Bar at One Peking Road or Ozone in the ICC on Kowloon side for the spectacular views / Cicada in Soho / Wagyu on Wyndham Street for a glass of wine after work on a Friday night.
Favourite restaurant: Chrystal Jade, IFC – home of the best Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong / Peking Garden in various locations for their Peking Duck / City Hall for Yum Cha / Tim Ho Wan, Mongkok for Michelin Star with a twist.
Top Recommendations: The Peak Tram / a traditional Dim Sum meal (see above)
*Pictured: Ingrid Broberg at home with baby Harrison and Zach.
Favourite bar: M bar, Mandarin Oriental.
Favourite restaurant: Cafe Too at the Shangri-La for the best breakfast buffet / 63 Sing Woo Do in Happy Valley for dim sum / Domani at Pacific Place for a work lunch.
Top recommendation: Hike the Dragon’s Back down to Shek O.
*Pictured: Brooke Patterson has called Hong Kong home for 10 years.
Walks and day trips:
Hong Kong Hikes and Trails:
The Peak Walk
Aqua Luna Junk
30th Floor, One Peking Road, TST
International Commerce Centre (ICC), The Ritz-Carlton, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon
T: +852 2263 2263
Cicada in Soho
4 Shelley Street, Central
T: +852 2521 8188
60 Wyndham Street, Central
T: +852 2525 8805
4/f, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central Hong Kong
T: +852 8129 8882
M Bar, Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road, Central
T: +852 2825 4002
The Landmark Edinburgh Tower (the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel), 11-19A Queen’s Road Central, Central
T: +852 2132 0066
25th Floor, Prince’s Building, 10 Charter Road, Central
T: +852 2537 1388
Lily and Bloom
6th Floor, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central
T: +852 2810 6166
2/F, The Workstation, 43 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
T: + 852 9813 1579
Upper House Bar
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
T: +852 2918 1838
28th Floor, 1 Peking Road, Kowloon
T: +852 3428 8342
Level 21, The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
T: +852 2870 0087
Madame Sixty Ate
Shop 8, 1st Floor – The Podium, J Senses, 60 Johnston Road, Wanchai
(entry on Ship Street)
T: +852 2527 2558
12/F, Ying Kong Mansion, 2–6 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay
T: +852 2881 6662
32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island
T: +852 2980 2699
Dim Sum and Chinese:
Yat Tung Heen
2F, Great Eagle Centre, 23 Harbour Road, Wanchai
T: +852 2710 1046
7/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay
T: +852 2972 2000
Chrystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Level 2, Shop 218-2020, IFC, 8, Finance Street, Central
T: +852 2295 3811
Peking Garden (in various locations)
Shop 005, LG, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
T: +852 2845 8452
City Hall Maxim’s Palace
2/F, City Hall, 5 Edinburgh Place, Central
T: +852 2521 1303
Tim Ho Wan
Various locations – In Mong Kok: Shop 8, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok,
T: +852 2332 2896