Tsim Sha Tsui – the modern transport hub
Perched on the tip of the Kowloon peninsula, Tsim Sha Tsui is a natural transport hub and gateway to China. People from all corners of the globe stream through the port district via ferry, bus, train, rail, cruise liner and even helicopter.
Located just minutes from the iconic Star Ferry, Royal Pacific Hotel is the ideal spot for enthusiastic travellers – placing them at the heart of one of the busiest crossroads on the planet. With a direct connection to the China Ferry Terminal, Royal Pacific Hotel offers easy access to Macau – the former Portuguese colony turned “Las Vegas of Asia”.
Heading into mainland China is also set to become easier, with the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link opening this month. From the nearby West Kowloon Station, you’ll be whisked over the border in just 15 minutes.
Aside from convenience, the bustling commercial hub is a lively swirl of shopping, dining and tourist delights, including the iconic “Golden Mile” of sky-high malls and overlapping billboards stretching down Nathan Road.
For guests who seek out trends that aren’t on the typical tourist trail, Royal Pacific is serendipitously located next to the up-and-coming West Kowloon Cultural District. Here, the adventurous can catch cultural treats such as authentic Chinese opera performances at the newly opened Xiqu Chinese Opera Centre or enjoy a showcase of visual arts from the 20th and 21st centuries at the M+ Museum.
Sheung Wan – cultural hotspot and heritage trails
At 8am, a stream of lorries glide down Wing Lok Street and queue to deposit their wares to the network of waiting shops in Sheung Wan. By 9am, the surrounding streets are a hive of activity as crates and boxes are unpacked with thousands of dollars worth of produce. The content? Your nose might detect it before your eyes, for this is the heart of Hong Kong’s profitable dried seafood trade. You’ll find dessicated jellyfish, seahorse, abalone and myriad unidentifiable creatures – it’s a fascinating assault on the senses and a real window into local life.
Heritage hunters can further their understanding of the district through some of the local architecture, such as the historic Western Market Building and other structures that run along Bridges Street and continue into the steep, busy streets of Sai Ying Pun. Gentle gentrification has meant that cool modern cafes, quirky bars, hipster coffee shops, artisinal butchers, and more, are now interspersed throughout these traditional working class districts – and don’t miss the funky street art scattered throughout like an Instagram treasure hunt.
As the neighbourhood has quietly modernised, so too has the gorgeous boutique Island Pacific Hotel, which has nearly completed a total renovation to offer smart, contemporary interiors infused with a sense of Hong Kong. For example, in Centre Street Kitchen, guests will be greeted with a scrumptious spread of authentic Hong Kong cuisine, while Centre Street Bar offers charming oriental interiors of vintage bamboo steamers and old book shelves. Not to mention, the stunning harbour views from many of its Premier and Deluxe guest rooms – this hotel embodies the merging of old and new, just like the surrounding area. A new suite of event facilities is also shaping up to offer creative meeting spaces, plus intimate private dining opportunities.
North Point – authentic local life
North Point is a superb district to get to know the “real” Hong Kong. To get there – hop on the tram. In operation since 1904, this is the classic way to navigate the island. You’ll want to bring a camera to capture the tramways that plough through markets and the colourful old North Point streets as you wander around.
The area was once known as Little Shanghai, thanks to an influx of wealthy mainland migrants, and the legacy of this influence is still visible today. Keep your eye out for barbershops that wouldn’t look out of place in the ’60s, and cultural highlights such as the Shin Kong (or Sunbeam) Theatre on King’s Road, which offers up rare performances of Cantonese Opera.
After working up an appetite, head to the Java Road Wet Market: locals flock here in the evening for the mouth-watering local dishes as much as the atmosphere. You’ll be elbow to elbow with businessmen in suits, perching on plastic stools and slurping beer from bowls, while enjoying delicious Cantonese classics.
If it’s a more refined setting you’re after, then head to City Garden Hotel’s award-winning YUÈ restaurant for mouthwatering Chinese cuisine. Finish off your evening with the Bauhinia Harbour Cruise to soak up the city’s famous skyline.
The gorgeous hotel has recently embarked on a multi-million dollar facelift, inspired by the harbour’s history as a conduit for the spice trade, with design notes of warm colours, textures and patterns running throughout, plus a sophisticated palette of woodsy browns and smoky greys.