A quick getaway to Hong Kong is always a good idea. This was our thought as we browsed through the Wong Kar-wai collection of Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment, waiting for the plane to take off. The cinematic city lights make us feel like we’re in a movie, and that’s exactly what we want during vacation: an escape from reality.
The Cantonese city has a feeling of home. Some of its famous Michelin-star restaurants have branched out in the Philippines, crispy ChickenJoy is still within reach and the subway system is everything we dream of having in the Philippines.
But after repeated visits, Hong Kong can also become too familiar. After hopping on the Ngong Ping Cable Car to see the Big Buddha, drinking at Lan Kwai Fong and having the time of our lives at Disneyland, what’s next?
Here’s a list of Super things to add to that Hong Kong trip itinerary:
Eat Peking duck. Forbidden Duck’s Alvin Leung is known as the “Demon Chef” for good reason. He makes a mean Peking duck, and the pork buns will give Tim Ho Wan a run for its money. Nonmeat eaters will also find the fried tofu incredibly silky and satisfying. But the best was saved for the last: Seafood rice in Aromatic Duck Soup—a hot pot of hearty broth topped with rice crispies.
Go art hunting. Hong Kong is a picturesque city—and we’re not just talking about the Victoria Harbour.
According to our tour guide Bernard Shu, every year since 2014, nonprofit organization Hong Kong Walls selects 20 walls in a specific area and uses these concrete slabs as canvasses for art.
It’s like a game of bingo, and the goal is to find all 20 graffiti. During our walking tour around Sham Shui Po, we spotted a graffiti of fish skeleton filled in vibrant colors by Malaysian artist Dmojo. On the facade of a building over 10 stories high is a woofer in colorful geometric patterns. Pop surrealist Okuda hopped on a hydraulic platform crane to paint this wall.
Also in Sham Shui Po is Fore Forehead, an art space and quirky gift shop. On view during our visit was “Under The Visible Hand,” a collection of hand-painted and printed propaganda posters and other mementos from North Korea.
Collector Eric Wong had been to the communist state three times on a cultural exchange program where he took fancy on the posters. One that stood out is a bunny on a weighing scale with a soldier and a woman on the background.
“Rabbit meat is precious in North Korea and the (state) had encouraged to breed rabbits. There is an army first policy and the rabbits will become a big meal for the army,” Eric said.
Meet the queen. The lines to the Peak Tram are so long, the Sky Terrace is crowded, so make the trip worthwhile and take a side trip to see Sherlock Holmes’ Benedict Cumberbatch, Super Junior’s Choi Siwon, three-time NBA champ Stephen Curry and pay courtesy to Queen Elizabeth II at Madame Tussauds.
There are over 100 celebrity wax figures and 10 interactive rooms (read: video games) here, but our favorite was the black-and-yellow polka dots room. Contemporary art darling Yayoi Kusama’s “Self- Obliteration” is a surreal space where visitors can obliterate their fears and feel like they are standing in infinity.
Treat yo’ self. The first time we visited Hong Kong, we distinctly remember the fashion-forward ladies who ride the subway. They sported Bao Bao Issey Miyake, those geometric pattern It bags that start at a whopping $1,000. It’s no wonder why designer brands love Hong Kong because Hong Kong loves designer items.
Charlotte Tilbury, for example, has only five counters in the world. The only counter in Asia is inside the 168-year-old luxury department store Lane Crawford in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui.
Beauty junkies can pop in for a Tilbury Transformation, a 60-minute makeover that starts at $HK550. There are 10 looks to choose from like Pretty Innocent, Dolce Vita and Vintage Vamp.
They also have some pretty intriguing products like Charlotte’s Magic Cream (a moisturizer “adored backstage by models and celebrities”) and Hollywood Contour Wand (a contour cream applied on top of the foundation to give a filter-flawless finish).
Also at Harbour City are Cha Ling, a beauty brand that incorporates Chinese tea blends to its perfume and skincare products; the first Asia store of Guerlain Parfumeur where customers can pick the perfect scent with the help of an app; and Joyce Beauty, a niche brand that carries beauty products made of natural ingredients (we saw Aquis, a hair towel that promises to decrease blow drying time by 50 percent).
Toys. In 2015, a massive Gundam Wing model hung from the ceiling of the 16-floor shopping mall Times Square; this year, three bear siblings (Grizzly, Panda and Ice Bear) held a popup exhibit at Ocean Terminal. The city is toy obsessed. There’s a 250,000-brick diorama of Sharp Street Tram Depot by Andy Hung, Lego certified “professionel” (it’s a real job!) at the Lego store in Causeway Bay, and friendly fuzzy neighbor Totoro welcomes guests at Donguri store at Ocean Terminal.
The biggest Toys “R” Us branch is also at Ocean Terminal and the rows of gashapon machines there gave us an endorphin high! (Rement hunt is a challenge in the Philippines!)
Watch a movie at the planetarium. Under the big dome of the Hong Kong Space Museum is a space theater, and catching a film there is quite an experience for only HK$32. We could always use a 45-minute sit down activity after a busy day of walking and eating.
The planetarium is just by the bay at Tsim Sha Tsui, so there are a lot of places to go after the show. Maybe grab a bite of the best curry in Chungking Mansions?
Cathay Pacific provides convenient and comfortable flights from Manila to over 200 destinations around the world via connecting flights in Hong Kong. Visit cathaypacific.ph.