HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Nestled on the southern coast of China, the former British colony of Hong Kong is renowned for its famous harbor, teeming skyscrapers, ultra-capitalist dynamism, great Cantonese dining, shopping and a buzzing nightlife on China’s doorstep.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of a 48-hour visit in Hong Kong:
6 p.m. - Drinks in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Captain’s Bar (www.mandarinoriental.com). A favorite with the city’s movers and shakers, the hotel evokes Hong Kong’s British colonial past before its historic 1997 handover to Chinese rule. Sink into a leather sofa in the wood-paneled bar and savor the Anglo-Oriental ambience.
For a quick second, nip across the road swing to hip restaurant/club Sevva (www.sevva.hk) atop Prince’s Building for an amazing vista of iconic buildings from its sweeping penthouse balcony.
8 p.m. - Dinner at Yung Kee (www.yungkee.com.hk). One of the finest Cantonese restaurants in the world, its roast goose is a culinary institution as are its ultra-smooth 1,000-year old eggs. Fans of the Michelin-starred restaurant include Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten and local tycoons.
11 p.m. - Take a two-minute stroll up to nightlife hub, Lan Kwai Fong. There, the city’s burned-out workaholics let loose in a pulsing knot of bars, clubs and restaurants. Nearby Wanchai — the legendary haunt of Richard Mason’s fictional Suzie Wong — comes into its own at night with a slightly seedy edge.
For a quieter evening, head west along the world’s longest covered escalator to Soho’s intimate bars and diners which snake up narrow lanes and ancient stone steps. Bar-hop westward past the antique shops of Hollywood road and enjoy a plate of artisan cheese and wine at “Classified The Cheese Room,” next to the historic Man Mo temple, for one of those quintessential East-West moments that makes living in the city such a pleasure.
7 a.m. - Head up to the peak of Hong Kong island early for spectacular views (smog notwithstanding) of the city’s skyline, a tumble of skyscrapers spilling into the harbor. Stroll through Hong Kong park in Admiralty past the squawking aviary to the peak tram stop in St. John’s Building (www.thepeak.com.hk). This steep and historic funicular, built in 1888, carries visitors up to Victoria Peak.
10 a.m. - Spend an hour or two strolling around the nature trail circling the Peak for views of both sides of Hong Kong island. The well-wooded route is one of hundreds of hiking options for visitors across the territory’s many country parks and 200-plus archipelago of islands.
12 p.m. - No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without lunch at a dimsum restaurant. Classics among the bewildering variety of chopstick-sized tidbits include prawn dumplings, spring rolls, egg tarts, barbeque pork buns and chicken’s feet.
Try the Luk Yu teahouse on Stanley Street in downtown Central for an upmarket experience or the Lin Heung teahouse on Wellington Street for gruff waiters, a deafening din of clanking crockery and irrepressible Cantonese banter.
3 p.m. - Wander around the financial heartland of Central, and grab one of the most authentic cups of Hong Kong “pantyhose” milk tea available at Lan Fong Yuen on Gage Street. Stride down to the financial district’s repository of modern architecture; where Norman Foster’s glasshouse-like HSBC building, and I.M. Pei’s angular Bank of China, overlook colonial monuments such as the historic domed Supreme Court that houses the legislature.
5 p.m. - Revive yourself with a short ride on the century-old Star Ferry from Central to Kowloon peninsula. Take the lower deck of the iconic green and white vessel, and gulp in the sea air.
6 p.m. - Stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.
Take a photo by a Bruce Lee statue or place your palms on Jackie Chan’s hand prints along the Avenue of Stars — Hong Kong’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Power shopping at to be had in Ocean Terminal and nearby Hullett House (www.hulletthouse.com), an atmospheric former colonial marine police station which now hosts a boutique hotel, restaurants and shops in a little oasis of calm in Tsim Sha Tsui.
8 p.m. - Head to “Loaf On” for an al fresco late dinner in the laid-back seaside town of Sai Kung, around 45 minutes by cab. Bookings essential. Hidden in an alley, the Michelin-starred eatery is small but serves ultra fresh seafood with a delicacy of touch and flavor often lacking in mass market rivals cramming the nearby waterfront. Try the stir-fried prawns with eggs.
8 a.m. - An early morning tram ride to the western tip of Hong Kong island. The green trams — called “Ding Dings” by locals for their tinkling bells — have been around for over a century. In Western district, grab breakfast Hong Kong style in one of the city’s many teahouses or “Cha-chan teng.” Try a bowl of congee and a fried doughstick, washed down with a “Yin-Yang,” a popular local hybrid brew of tea and coffee.
10 a.m. - Explore the antique shops and open air curio market of Hollywood Road and Upper Lascar Row, also known as Cat-street. Souvenirs include Mao memorabilia, bracelets, jade trinkets and old Chinese posters. Nearby Hollywood Road offers higher-end Chinese antiques and red-hot Chinese contemporary art
1 p.m. - For lunch, head to the IFC (International Finance Center) mall in Central which has an array of dining options, many al fresco with harbor views. Choices range from Lung King Heen in the Four Seasons hotel next door —Hong Kong’s sole three-Michelin star establishment — to Crystal Jade which has some of the best priced and tasty Shanghainese fare in town.
2 p.m. - Squeeze in some last minute shopping at the phalanx of shops and luxury brand-name boutiques in the IFC and the nearby Landmark. Or head to the teeming retail Mecca of Causeway Bay, where some of the cheapest, trendiest clothes and newest electronics gadgets can be found.
6 p.m. - Check your luggage at the downtown airport check-in. Then sit on the left-hand side of the high speed train for a parting glance at the city dubbed Asia’s Manhattan.
Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith