When I first had to travel to Taiwan there were no direct flights from the UK. You had to go via Hong Kong. These days there are direct flights to Taipei but I still prefer to stop by Hong Kong. This is because it is without doubt the most amazing city in the world. On the basis of its consistent excellence, I actually vote it as the best city in the world.
What is especially wonderful about the place is that no matter what budget you are on, or what mood you are in, it has something for you. You can stroll the night market
, grab a bowl of noodles and a cold beer and people watch for under $10. You could also book a table at Amber
, the famous French restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental
and blow through $500 a head. From its sites, sound, and smells and its wide variety of things to do you will never, ever be bored in Hong Kong.
There are lots of tourists guides to the place so I will skip all that and focus on what to do for fun there. First, let us talk about where to stay.
There are lots of great places to use as a base camp, but to be close to the action, book a hotel on the island itself. The two areas I am going to tell you about are Wanchai
and Lan Kwai Fong
. To be close to both I always stay at either the Grand Hyatt Harbour View
or the Renaissance Harbour View
(they are right next to each other). From either of these you can cross the street and be in the bars and clubs. There are even a couple of bridges for you to cross the road on your way to Lockhart Road
where it all starts.Day Drinking
Sit by the hotel pool, the staff bring drinks to your chair and they serve a great brunch. I have had some great times here over the years and lost many hours starting with 'Bloody Mary's and ending with Pina Coladas before getting ready for a big night out. Quick tip, do not visit Hong Kong without dropping into the Lotto Spa
. You can get your ears cleaned (yes, seriously), and a man with the strongest hands in the world does amazing things to your feet. It sounds odd but it's fantastic.
For a cold beer in the afternoon, regardless of the weather, I like Delaney's Irish bar
, but it is a bit touristy. I usually meet my mate Mark Steptoe at The Old China Hand
or The White Stag
for a couple of warm up drinks before getting started.So It Begins
The best part of Wanchai is that you can drink in the street. “The Corners”, are two street intersections of Lockhart Road, one by Luard Road and one a block away at Fenwick Street. Grab a drink from Mes Ami
and walk outside. You will meet people easily, anyone and everyone in the area is out to have fun. In this respect it is like being in Vegas. If you want music then Dusk Till Dawn
has the best Filipino bands, but don't wear nice shoes there, it gets packed and your toes will likely get stepped on. A close second is Joe Bananas
just a step away (literally a few yards away) . I could list all the great bars here but they are so tightly packed together that once in this area you won't go wrong. Although, I would make sure not to miss Amazonia
, another live music bar that has fun people usually going pretty crazy.
One bar to avoid however is Carnegies
. It has brass railings on the bar for you to hold on to while dancing, actually on the bar. The one in Taiwan is excellent but I have always found the Hong Kong one disappointing. We usually start in Wanchai then head over to Lan Kwai Fong which is a cheap taxi ride away.
The bars in LKF are on a hill and are open to the street. The whole area is always busy and the atmosphere is terrific. It is easy to get lost and lose each other, so start at the Bulldogs
and arrange to meet there again later if you get split up. If you feel a little hot and want to cool down then pop into the ice bar, Balalaika
. It is amazingly refreshing after the Hong Kong humidity.
In case you want to slow things down a little, stop by Beirut which is on the hill. There, you can smoke using a hookah. It is not my thing, but it is one place you can sit down and relax for a minute. Once that is done and your energy is restored, head back to Wachai. (There is a club right by LKF called Prive
but I can't vouch for it because I haven't been).
By now you will be ready to really party, so it is time to head into a club. I like Neptune II
, they are both in basements. The girls there are very friendly because they are paid a commission on all the drinks you buy. So expect to become the most popular man in town. The pace is frantic and the music not exactly house or hip hop, more Euro pop. You usually forgive them for it because both are so much fun. If you want a club with better music then Tonno
is reportedly good and I will be checking it out next time I am there.
The great thing is that unlike California, this place does not shut down at 2 AM. So after the clubs, you can go straight back to the bars above and keep on going. You can also retreat (just for a while) and grab some food. Head over to Wing Wah Noodle Restaurant
, it is open until at least 4am, for a spot of true Hong Kong late-night dining. The place is a time capsule of 1970s Hong Kong with faded original decor and wrinkled waitresses. The staple of thin chewy noodles with plump prawn-stuffed dumplings is a great Hong Kong flavored full stop to the night.
That's it, I hope this is helpful. To finish, this video kind of captures a bit of the night life there:Woman's View
My friend Penny used to live in Hong Kong and emailed me with some suggestions. I think the 'secret bar' she mentions is the Feather Boa
, I have been there and it is very cool. Here is Penny's email;
"For the girls... you'd miss the best cocktails in town, worth the walk up the hill from LKF to midlevels. Has no name advertised, behind a big curtain and does the best and biggest frozen daiquiris with maltesers you'll ever taste! Very chilled out, unique. I'll tell you where it is sometime... Once I've checked it's still there :) dragon-I for a glass of wine and a look at the best dressed in HK splashing more money than sense! I have danced the Carnegie's bar on many a night... think it's a great place for a late drink with the girls for some 'I will survive' type action!! I also think Volar in LKF is worth a visit for late night clubbing that doesn't involve 'ladies of the night' but some top DJs.
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