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An Alternative Hong Kong Bucket List

Andrea Lo

There are some things you shouldn’t miss in Hong Kong, like the Ovolo Noho boutique hotel, shopping, the partying scene, and the world-famous views. But that doesn’t mean you should just do everything your guidebook that you picked up last-minute at the airport is telling you to do. Put these alternative activities on your Hong Kong bucket list, stat. You’ll thank us for it.


1. You really shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for drinks. Forgo fancy-schmancy cocktail bars and head to dive joint Castro’s for cheap beer and excellent mojitos. The TST joint is a local favourite and will convert you from $180 cocktails in no time.


2. LKF and Wan Chai? You’re so last century. The party is not just in Central: try the karaoke joints of Mong Kok, and the waterfront bars in TST East. Plenty of low-key, welcoming watering holes await.


3. Skip the crowded beaches of Southside. Go to Sai Sha Beach, a small beach in Sai Kung and spend the day stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking.


4. Afterwards, ride an insanely fast red minibus from the laidback beach town of Sai Kung all the way to the bustling Causeway Bay metropolis in under an hour. People often advise newbies against this but hey, why the hell not? In fact, you really should try it.


5. Challenge your tastebuds with an uber spicy hot pot. If you’re still thinking of the regular schmegular variety, move right along. Chongqing-style chicken pot – which offers a piping hot bowl of chicken with spicy broth poured in afterwards to cook your ingredients in – takes things to the next level.


6. Thinking about hiking from the Mid-Levels to the Peak? Pfft. Do the entire Hong Kong Trail, which spans 50km across five country parks. For the very fit only (we are not responsible for unsuccessful attempts).


7. Dim sum is a delicious must-have while you’re in town, but you should forgo the standard joints in town and go for the under-the-radar Duen Kee Chinese Restaurant. It’s an eatery hidden in the hills of Tai Mo Shan, the tallest mountain in Hong Kong. On weekends it can be hard to get a table (because of people like us who keep spilling the beans). Grab a taxi from Tsuen Wan MTR station.


8. Instead of just spending time on the beach in southside and browsing through overpriced tourist shops, visit the eerily beautiful Stanley Military Cemetery. Yes, you may head back to the beach afterwards.


9. Shopping is second to none in Hong Kong, but allow us to draw your attention outside of cookie-cutter malls. Splash out on an exquisitely tailored cheongsam at Linva, which did all of Maggie Cheung’s dresses in the iconic Hong Kong film “In the Mood For Love”.


10. Want to do a boat trip at night? Who actually wants to drop hundreds of HKD on a half-hour boat ride across the harbour, anyway? Go squid-fishing on a junk boat at night. Trust us on this: they’ll even cook your catch for you.


Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.