The city that is finally back on the world map

She spent years largely isolated from the rest of the world. But now, this iconic city is back in business – with a few changes since the last time we were there.

A long-beloved travel destination, a global food capital and a major financial centre, the region has spent the past few years largely cut off from the world as escalating domestic unrest deterred international travelers and pandemic lockdowns lasted longer than most other places.

Now, he’s back on the grid. Hong Kong reopened to international visitors in May; Qantas has since resumed flights from Sydney and Melbourne and launched its revamped Hong Kong Airport lounge, a sure sign the city is back in business for Australian travellers.

Hong Kong finally welcomed back international travelers in 2023 and Qantas has resumed flights. Image: iStock

As visitor numbers continue to soar (no restrictions on access in the pandemic era) the world is being reminded of what has always made Hong Kong great: its exquisite cuisine, its unique blend of old and new, and that special buzzing energy it has that seems to seep into your skin and shoot lightning through your veins .

It’s an ever-evolving electric city buzzing with possibilities and new things to discover – and there have been some exciting changes in the years we’ve been away.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-awaited returner, here are some of the best ways to spend your time in newly revitalized Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is as exciting as ever. Image: iStock

Tourists return to the city with enthusiasm. Image: iStock

Great food, including lunch for $1

It is impossible to have a bad meal in Hong Kong. From street hawkers to upscale restaurants, Asia’s culinary capital is packed with dining venues and the standards are very high.

Although visiting Hong Kong can be expensive, some of the deals are shockingly cheap. At Wan Chai Wet Market on Hong Kong Island, a bao dim tat yan stall sells huge steamed buns for just HK$6 – about $1.15. The buns are huge, pillow-thin, and packed with delicious fillings like roast pork and chicken — and while you can season them with soy sauce, they’re so delicious, they don’t even need it.

Celebrity Chef and Qantas Creative Director of Food, Beverage and Service, Neil Perry, tries one of the steamed buns at Bao Dim Tat Yan. Image:

It was our favorite meal in Hong Kong Little Paw, a great little restaurant in the trendy Soho district of Central, where Canadian-born chef and owner Mai Chow serves up classic diner food with a fun Chinese twist. Dishes include truffle fries with braised shiitake tempeh, shrimp tacos, and a wide range of bao – including excellent fried bao chicken with chinkiang (black vinegar) and Szechuan pepper mayo, which we washed down with local beer.

Little bao chef Mai Chow prepares some of her famous bao dishes. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism Board

This isn’t East-West fusion food just for the hell of it — Chow’s menu thoughtfully draws on her Chinese heritage and North American upbringing, and she admits that she first had to master a traditional bao worthy of her mother’s approval before she dared. Add a western touch. The result, we think, is out of this world.

Luk Yu Tea House’s famous dumplings. Image: iStock

For a true taste of old Hong Kong, Luk Yu TeaHousein Central is one of the oldest and most famous yum cha restaurants in the city. Constantly packed with enthusiastic diners, this Art Deco restaurant has been serving up dumplings and other classic yum cha dishes since 1933. If you’re not going to eat yum cha in Hong Kong, what exactly are you doing there?

The concrete jungle and the great outdoors

Hong Kong’s diverse cityscape is an iconic sight, and there’s no better way to enjoy it all than on a boat ride in Victoria Harbour, with Hong Kong Island on one side and Kowloon on the mainland on the other.

A traditional Hong Kong junk boat in Victoria Harbour. Image: iStock

Many operators offer night cruises in the port. with Aqua LunaSit back with cocktails and enjoy the views as the luxury boat crawls up and down the gorgeous waterfront. If you have less time and money, take Passenger ferry Between Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) and Central, preferably at night to enjoy the sparkling views – ferries run until late. Pay at the ferry pier at both ends – the highest single fare is HK$6.50 ($1.30) per adult. It only takes about 10 minutes to cross the harbour, but you’ll still see the bright lights of the city in all their glory.

Need a break from those dazzling lights and crowded streets? About 70 percent of Hong Kong is rural – vast expanses of stunning natural beauty, island beaches and country parks – all easily accessible from the city centre.

A cable car winds its way to the green mountains of Lantau Island. Image: iStock

For a restorative day trip, take Ngong Ping Cable CarAbove Lantau Island to enjoy panoramic views of rolling green hills as you gently drift to the summit. In the village above, you can spend hours wandering around the shops and attractions, including the Po Lin Monastery and the 34-metre-tall bronze Tian Tan Buddha (“Big Buddha”), one of the largest statues in the world. It is worth climbing the 268 steps to reach the Buddha statue, where stunning views of the lush countryside await.

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is one of the largest Buddhas in the world. Image: iStock

Tai O’s close-knit fishing community dates back up to five generations. Image: iStock

It is also found on Lantau Island Tai O fishing village, where the Tanka people have been fishing for generations and live in traditional homes built on stilts on the water. Take a boat tour to explore the canals and see these gorgeous homes up close. Once you’ve built up an appetite, we recommend having lunch at Fook Mun Lam Chinese Restaurant near Tai O Markets for unpretentious and delicious Hong Kong-style seafood.

Where old meets new

A whole new area has sprung up on mainland Hong Kong since we moved away. the West Kowloon Cultural District A center for modern and traditional arts, built on reclaimed land on the harbor front, it is now home to two must-see attractions: the M+ Museum of Visual Arts and the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

M+ is one of the jewels in the crown of the newly opened West Kowloon Cultural District. Image: iStock

M+ It opened in 2021 and is already a heavyweight on the global contemporary art scene. The stunning, sprawling building (almost twice the size of London’s Tate Modern) comprises a 17,000 square meter space that predominantly celebrates modern and contemporary Hong Kong artists across visual art, moving images, design, architecture, and modern visual culture.

It also has an Australian connection: M+ Museum director Sohana Ravel previously worked as Deputy Director and Director of Collections at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Some essential tips for your visit to M+: Visit the rooftop for great views, definitely visit the gift shop, and if you get hungry, the food at the on-site ADD+ restaurant is fantastic.

Priceless artefacts and treasures are on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

To take a look at the recent past Palace Museum It houses more than 900 priceless objects on loan from the famous Beijing museum of the same name. It is a treasure trove of Chinese art and antiquities, with nine permanent and special exhibitions that currently include displays of ancient gold, valuables from the Forbidden City, portraits of Qing emperors and empresses, and ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The museum’s scope is not limited to Chinese artefacts, although our recent visit coincided with a drool-worthy exhibition of Cartier jewelery through the ages.

Save space in your bag

Speaking of Cartier: it, along with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel, is among the luxury brands whose stores line market streets like Canton Road in Kowloon, attracting streams of well-heeled shoppers well into the evening. That’s great, for the crazy rich among us. The rest of us are keen to shop for something less expensive, and perhaps different, than what is also available at home.

Bustling ladies market on Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok.

the Ladies market (Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok) is a 1 km long outdoor bazaar that is a lot of fun (and not just for ladies). There are about 100 stalls spread across every category of item imaginable at bargain prices. Well, yes, there are a few tacky things: plastic toys, questionable electricals, and some garish underwear. (Though the knockoff designer handbags look convincing enough.) But if you’re willing to have fun and really browse, you’ll likely find some unique souvenirs for cheap. Note: Bargaining is mandatory and bringing cash.

Wan Chai Wet Market is a must-visit place.

For a different retail experience, spend some time in bustling places Wan Chai Wet Market In and around Wan Chai Road on Hong Kong Island. It’s full of locals shopping for their daily groceries: mainly seafood (much of it butchered in full view of the public; avoid eyes if squeamish), but also meat, fruits, vegetables and long-life items. Although you won’t find many souvenirs to take home with you – for fear of getting caught by customs officials at the airport – the wet market is an attractive gateway to daily life in Hong Kong, showcasing exciting ingredients that we either can’t get, or We struggle to find, in Australia. (It’s also worth a visit for those $1 donuts.)

This writer visited Hong Kong as a guest of Qantas and the Hong Kong Tourism Board

(tags for translation) reason people

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