A travel guide in Hong Kong for a safe holiday once the SG-HK air travel bubble opens up
First time in a long time
If you're jumping on the hype train (or plane) and have started looking at flights to Hong Kong from Singapore, this read is for you. Upon the announcement of the SG-HK air travel bubble, there's been a buzz of excitement over the only positive development for air travel since the pandemic put a complete halt to any possibility of going abroad earlier this year. But as enticing as this travel opportunity is, many of us might still have our guards up. After all, COVID-19 still lurks in the shadows and one can never be sure of its assured eradication — even more so in a foreign country. And so if you're thinking of taking this trip down to the other bustling economy of Asia, perhaps it wouldn't hurt to stray away from overt crowds, and enjoy the quieter parts of town instead. We know the research can be a chore, so to help you, we put together a couple of (safer) places you can consider residing at, sightsee, and eat, for your first trip overseas in almost a year. Get the excel sheets ready, you're going to want to take notes.
Where to stay
The Upper House
The Upper House is one of the sharpest design hotels in Hong Kong — with a design-forward space that houses striking interiors and an impeccable contemporary art collection. One of the most luxurious spaces in town, it boasts a spectacular view of the dazzling cityscape at night. Unlike the regular four-walled hotel rooms, the space prides itself on being created for an intimate feel — just like a house — allowing you to fully appreciate your retreat here after a long day in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Address: 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Located in Sheung Wan, this district gives a more authentic, and if we may say so, traditional feel of Hong Kong. Think of it as the Tiong Bahru of Singapore, a district that pays ode to a vast range of colonial architecture, quaint local shops and the rich history of the city. The hotel itself is known for its high sense of sophistication; a luxury spot that remains accessible to the city's business, shopping and entertainment destinations. It's also located at a pretty decent distance from PLQ — a quaint and artsy part of town that might be of interest to those looking for quieter spots to hang.
Metropark Causeway Bay
Metropark Causeway Bay sits near the vibrance of Hong Kong's commercial and boutique shopping district —yet still offers magnificent views of the harbour from their rooms. Within the area, you'll be able to reach Times Square but maintain a distance from the overt bustle of the shoppers' paradise. Victoria Park is also just a short walk away, for those looking to spend more time in green, open areas that are away from mere city skyscrapers.
Royal Plaza Hotel Mongkok
And of course, here's one for the foodies. Hong Kong is undeniably a hot destination for two things: shopping, and food. And it's none other than in the districts of Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei that you will find yourself most enthralled by the authentic sights, sounds and smells of the city. Find yourself in the wonders of traditional foods and markets in the day, and then return to your luxury stay for a quieter time at night. But be warned —these districts are as busy as they sound, and might not be the most ideal for those who are cautionary at heart.
Where to visit
Dragon's Back Hike
What better way to avoid the crowds than to step foot into nature? Hiking is quite possibly one of the easiest (and safest) ways to stay away from massive hoards of city-dwellers, whilst ensuring you'll be in for a good time. The Dragon's Back Hike is undeniably the most popular hike in Hong Kong: for both its easy access and ability to provide a completely alternative view to the regular cityscape. This might especially serve those nature-lovers at heart, who perhaps, would much rather be hiking up The Alps right now. Along the hike, there are multiple decently Instagrammable pit stops you can make that will offer you a breathtaking view of the sea and beaches below.
PMQ @ Central
The Police Married Quarters in SoHo — once abandoned, and now revived. The once neglected space is now home to the quaintest parts of town, offering a plethora of art galleries, pop-up stores and cafe spots for you to get your dose of culture in for the trip. From vintage interiors to creative handicraft for sale, we're sure you'll be able to find yourself something to fall in love with over here.
Western District Public Cargo Area
More commonly known as the "Instagram Pier", the Hong Kong Cargo Dock may seem like an ordinary cargo space to passing folk, but over the years, it has garnered a reputation as one of the best spots for youth to get creative with their photoshoots. The elements of cargo pallets, concrete, bundles of bamboo poles and oil drums may seem like disparate objects that you wouldn't want in a photo, but when put together — the enmesh of industrial wonder in the background makes for a grand shot. As one of the largest open spaces that is actually free for public use, you can also expect a little less of a dense crowd and more quiet time away from the city.
Lion Rock Hike
And yet another hike is on the list; but this time, it's for those who want a panoramic shot of the city from all the way up there. The entire hike itself is not too long, and can be easily completed in under three hours with a few short breaks, but the hike might prove a little difficult for some due to the steep terrain at some points. But of course, if a couple of steps and rockiness does not faze you, the city view is one that's hard to beat once you're at the peak. This is also a less popular hike amongst tourists, so there will probably be even less people doing the trail with you.
Explore the Estates — from Sheung Wan to Ngao Tau Kok
Here's a tip from a Hong Kong fanatic: explore the residential estates of Hong Kong. Much like Singapore, Hong Kong has their fair share of unique architecture in the form of their skyscraping estates. Though you'd think this would be overly similar to the HDBs we have here, believe us when we say — it's in the details. While the buildings may seem very similar, you never know what sort of gems you might chance upon in the middle of an industrial-like city. The popular ones of course include the Rainbow Choi Hung Estate and Lok Wah South Estate, but you never know what sort of unique rooftop you might chance upon during your urban adventures.
Where to Eat
Yat Lok Roast Goose @ Central
If you're taking up our recommendation to stay in Central compared to across the harbour, here's probably one of the must-go places for you. With its one Michelin Star, this is just one of the many in-the-wall stores that simply do what they do best. From succellent meat cuts, to flavorful soup broth, this is a stop you're going to want to make for the classic roast goose dish.
Address: 34-38 Stanley St, Hong Kong
Hing Kee Claypot Rice @ Yau Ma Tei
They may be famous for their claypot rice, but the foodies say their oyster omelette pancake is what you'll be going back time and again for. The oysters and spring onions galore makes for one flavorful pancake, it seems. The food empire also has a couple of vegetarian-friendly options too, so we're sure you'll be able to find something for yourself here. Located in bustling district Yau Ma Tei, you'll easily be able to make this pit stop along your shopping route, because what's Hong Kong without some good food? They've also got up to three shops in Temple Street alone, so you could probably try and find one that's slightly less crowded.
Address: 2-14 Temple St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
Hop Yik Tai Chee Cheong Fun @ Sham Shui Poh
Fancy a solid plate of chee cheong fun? This is it for you. The raving reviews will not lie for this plate of carbs and sweet sauce, so much so that it's even been awarded The Michelin Plate back in 2018. Whilst seemingly ordinary, it's apparently the combination of sweet sesame and soy sauces that give it its added edge. Make sure to make your visit in the morning, it'll be a lot easier to come and go with no long queues — or so they say.
Address: 121 Kweilin St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Tai Cheong Bakery Hong Kong
Famous for their one-of-a-kind egg tarts, this bakery is a long-standing one that was established in 1954. Their dessert chef, Mr Au Yeung promises a freshly baked crisp when it comes to their tart shells, with a perfectly smooth and thick yellow egg centre. It's easy order and go — subbing in as a perfect snack or tea break along the way.
Address: 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Vicky Lau's Poem Patisserie
If you're already finding yourself exploring the traditional side of Hong Kong in Sheung Wan, be sure to make a stop at Poem Patisserie to fulfill your dessert cravings. Located below her flagship restaurant, Tate Dining Room & Bar, the acclaimed chef's pastry spot promises a wondrous combination of flavors — old and new. The traditional elements of Chinese sweet soups and dim sum are just some of the nostalgic elements that Lau has taken inspiration from, and you can be prepared for a sweet platter of fresh experimentation abound.
Address: 210 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong