10 Cool Things To Check Out In Hong Kong, Despite The On-Going Protests
Because heading to Asia's World City is still a good idea!
Hong Kong—it's one of those cities where Filipinos can just hop on a plane and spend a weekend at. It's easy. It's fun, it's ever-changing, and it's an idea that never gets old.
I for one am a bona fide Hong Kong fan, hashtagging #HomeKong every chance I get. There's just something about being in such a compact island cramped with all the skyscrapers, the fast-moving trains, the busy locals and foreigners alike, the shopping, the food, and being hit by action 24/7. It's enough to fill your otherwise boring weekend with exciting things to do in such a short amount of time.
Hong Kong is always a good idea. Until the China extradition protests happened. Last year was a bad year for the tiny cosmopolitan city, with almost seven months of unrest that have produced bad effects for the people, the businesses, and collective mood in the country.
Having wanted to plan a quick trip to Hong Kong since November last year, it seemed impossible, as news kept breaking about protests getting even more chaotic than before. It seemed like Hong Kong was not in the books for me. But Christmas came around and my family and I just wanted a quick trip to unwind after a long, rather challenging year.
To take the risk of running into protesters and chaos—that was the question. We packed our bags, flew off to Hong Kong on a cold December Christmas day, and hoped for the best. We knew that we just wanted a relaxing few days to eat, shop a little, and take in the sights, but most of all, we knew we had to stay alert, and keep ourselves informed about the protests. Because while these may have subsided after their recent election, still—the protests were not entirely over.
Touchdown to the +852. I received message after message from friends and family asking about the current situation—asking if it's safe, if there are people still visiting. While I was indeed greeted by a different Hong Kong holiday atmosphere (Christmas lights minus the celebratory vibe, massive sales at luxury department stores with close to zero people), that Hong Kong charm seems to have not gone away, at least for me. Being in this city during the holidays when the temperature averages 15 to 16 degrees is a good enough, effortless winter escape for me.
We may have ran into a protest at Times Square Mall, but we were quick enough to think that we had to move away from the vicinity and choose a different activity for that particular day. Be smart enough to not get involved with the chaos—don't even take photos or videos, just move as far away as you can. That's what we did.
Ahead, a list of fun things I reco you can do, and spots to visit to get your signature Hong Kong quick city getaway experience in check! Have fun, and stay safe!
1. Get your carb fix at the brand new Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Renowned pastry chef, entrepreneur, and 'Cronut' inventor Dominique Ansel returns to Asia and sets up shop at TST's Harbour City shopping complex, set to serve Hong Kong his signatures like the Kouign Amann and new Hong Kong-inspired goodies such as the milk tea-filled Yakult-shaped cookie, the 'curry fishballs', a red bean mochi treat, or the 'pineapple bun', a coconut mousse bun. There's always a long queue, so be sure to arrive with tummies willing to wait!
Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel, G/F Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
2. Get cultured, visit the "Banksy: Genius or Vandal?" Exhibit in Kowloon.
The elusive British artist known for provocative vandalism-inspired art has his best work showcased in Hong Kong until March 1, 2020—and it's one you must not miss! With 70 of his original works on display, one gets a firsthand glimpse of the street artist's most iconic pieces, as well as other lesser seen, but equally thought-provoking masterpieces. 'Girl with Balloon' is just one of the artworks you're set to see, as well as installations, sculptures, and audio-visual treats worth every buck. Don't tell us we didn't remind you to catch it before it's gone!
Banksy: Genius or Vandal? Exhibit, Portal 6311, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong
3. Get your beauty fix at the new Gucci Beauty and Maison Christian Dior boutiques.
Beauty aficionados would be glad to find out that iconic fashion houses Gucci and Christian Dior have finally opened boutiques that cater solely to their beauty and fragrance lines—because a tiny section in a fashion boutique definitely ain't enough! The Gucci Beauty Boutique, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, showcases the brand's lipstick line, as well as its wide range of fragrances including 'Alchemist's Garden', Creative Director Alessandro Michele's haute couture fragrance line.
Gucci Beauty, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Maison Christian Dior on the other hand, opened its doors to Dior loyalists via a chic white boutique lined with a full range of signature fragrances, home candles, personal care goods, as well as beautifully crafted scarves. Catch them during the Chinese New Year season and get specially crafted Year of the Metal Rat artwork, courtesy of a local artist.
Maison Christian Dior, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui
4. Get your art and design fix in the amazing new K11 Musea Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui!
A mall on steroids unlike any other—this is my first impression of the truly impressive K11 Musea mall over at the Victoria Dockside in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Conceptualized and created by property billionaire developer Adrian Cheng, this property is set to be 'the Silicon Valley of Culture in Hong Kong'. Filled to the brim with international luxury designer brands, cult favorite restaurants, state-of-the-art entertainment spaces, there sure is no shortage of contemporary design to fill your cravings.
K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
5. Sip some %Arabica coffee at the KUBE while admiring the picturesque Victoria Harbour.
The rapidly-expanding third wave coffee brand %Arabica finds its way to the KUBE, a multi-functional installation outside K11 Musea facing the beautiful Victoria Harbour, a destination in itself. Designed by Rem Koolhaas' design house OMA, it is poised to be a modern icon beside the harbour. At the moment, the highly Instagrammable spot serves honest-to-goodness coffee from the Japanese brand, most especially perfect during the winter months.
KUBE, Victoria Harbour Waterfront, K11 Musea, Tsim Sha Tsui
6. And because you can't get enough of coffee, have some again at the new "Café @ Off-White".
Cross over to the other side of the Victoria Harbour Waterfront and check out the new "Cafe @ Off-White" inside their relatively new boutique in Harbour City. An exclusive to the city, the brand best known for iconic designs by Creative Director Virgil Abloh lets us in on their take of chic, relaxed dining—with Western, Japanese, and even Korean fare on the menu. Enjoy a pretty milkshake or a tasty rice dish after a long day of shopping.
"Cafe @ Off-White", G/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
7. A no-fail, cheap thing to do: take a magical Star Ferry ride at sunset.
One cheap thing I love doing whenever I'm in Hong Kong is to ride the Star Ferry. At just HKD 3.50 fare for adults, one can totally take in the sights in a unique way. The ride that lasts just under 10 minutes is enough to take your breath away, and to do it during sunset is a sight to see.
Star Ferry, Central Pier, Central, Hong Kong Island
8. Explore shops and art/cultural exhibits at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Central, a former police station turned creative complex.
There's something charming about turning an abandoned heritage building into a contemporary space for creative efforts, such as Tai Kwun Contemporary, the old Central Police Station at the heart of bustling Central. Housed in it are chic cafés and restaurants, art and exhibit spaces, as well as curated shopping boutiques. Spend one afternoon in the complex to get a feast for the senses!
Tai Kwun Contemporary, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong Island
9. Dine at the fancy new modern French restaurant MONO.
Headed by a celebrated Chef Ricardo Chaneton of famed 3-Star Michelin restaurant Mirazur in France, MONO introduces contemporary French cuisine to the bustling HK scene, highlighting single (mono) ingredients in every dish that resembles a work of art. They focus on seasonal ingredients in their tasting menus, with complementing wines to round out the exquisite dining experience.
MONO, 5/F 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
10. Unwind with a cocktail after a long day, at the scenic Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House.
Another oldie but goodie: a sip of a yummy cocktail while taking in the breathtaking HK skyline at Café Gray Deluxe, the chic 48th floor spot on top of The Upper House—one of Asia's best luxury hotels. Enjoy a leisurely dinner or even just a 'Hong Kong Highball' as you think up even more reasons to keep coming back to this beautiful city!
Café Gray Deluxe, 48th floor, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong