Hong Kong is arguably the most popular cruise port in all Asia, an intoxicating mix of east and west fusing food and culture like no other city.
The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China. It is a territory of China made up of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and more than 200 small nearby islands.
7.4 million people call Hong Kong home. Indeed the Kowloon district is officially the most densely populated area on the planet. In spite of this Hong Kong is clean, safe and very easy to get around. The city’s underground rail system, known as the MTR, has great frequency and can take you within meters of wherever you need to go. Tickets are purchased from electronic machines at the station. Single journeys from Central to Kowloon cost HK$9.5. Tourist day passes cost HK$55.
Hong Kong is a foodies mecca. It has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city. Needless to say, Hong Kongers take eating very seriously. From the cheapest market stall to the finest multi-awarded restaurant the locals demand only the best quality.
CruiseOyster recommend you experience both ends of this culinary spectrum and one of the best places to start is at the Tong Tai Seafood Restaurant (cnr Temple and Ning Po Streets, Kowloon). Large water filled buckets teaming with live seafood line the front of this fantastic eatery. Inside, formica tables and stools crowd the small space and faded photos of the house specialities are plastered across the walls. One of our favourites is the salt and spiced calamari which comes with a mouthwatering, sour and sweet dipping sauce. A meal at the Tong Tai will cost from US$12 per person.
At the other end of the culinary spectrum is Caprice in The Four Seasons Hotel on Hong Kong Island. Caprice has 2 Michelin stars and its’ modern French menu embodies the cultural fusion that is Hong Kong. Diners delight in exquisite cuisine amid opulent Chinese decor while taking in breathtaking views across Victoria Harbour. Each day produce is flown in from France and prepared in the restaurants central, open plan kitchen by a team of 25 chefs lead by Fabrice Vulin. CruiseOyster recommend the 8 course degustation menu featuring such delicacies as Duck Foie Gras Terrine with Caramelised Golden Apple and Farm Cider Jelly, and Brittany Blue Lobster Ravioli in Shellfish and Herbs Consommé. Caprice has an extensive French wine cellar with particular emphasis on the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. It also boats a vast selection of artisanal French cheese so good it’s worth a visit in its own right. A degustation menu with matching wines will cost from US$400 per person.
Exploring Hong Kong’s markets is a must for visitors and locals alike. The Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon comes alive at dusk when traders set up on the street and shoppers swam the stalls. It’s the ideal place to pick up a keepsake or souvenir, but you’ll also find clothing and electronic gadgets for sale too. Don’t forget to check out the stores behind the market stalls for more merchandise and bargains!
The wet markets in Hong Kong are legendary. It’s said there’s nothing that swims that can’t be bought there. Kowloon’s wet market is one of the city’s largest with over 500 stalls. It’s very fishy, it’s stinky and it’s bloody but it’s the place to go for the freshest seafood. Expect to see all manner of sea creatures – including some you’ve never seen before.
The iconic Flower Market in Mong Kok is a feast for the senses. Stores burst with colourful blooms and perfume fills the air. All sorts of flowers and plants are for sale including orchids, sunflowers, bouganvillias, bonsai trees, cut flowers and exotics. The market is open from 7:00am to 7:00pm.
Around the corner from the Flower Market is the famed Bird Market. It’s designed in the style of a traditional Chinese garden and is filled with the sound of songbirds. The keeping of birds is an age-old Chinese hobby and most often these feathered friends are Chinese thrushes or canaries. The birds in the market are all for sale and traditional timber cages are available as well. Sadly, the market does sell large exotic birds like macaws from South America and Cockatoos from Australia, though authorises are trying to prevent this.
In a world that’s ever more homogenised Hong Kong remains enticingly authentic. It honours its traditions yet embraces the new and seamlessly blends east and west in an intoxicating mix. What more could you ask from a pre or post cruise adventure!