It's easy to get sucked into the consumer-driven, frenetic, adrenaline-rush pace of Hong Kong, renowned for its glittering harbour skyline, fabulous shopping and clash of traditional and contemporary lifestyles. But this is also a city in which to dawdle through a dim sum brunch, linger over lunch and take in neon-lit panoramas from a bar-topped skyscraper. After all, from simple noodles to elaborate top-end seafood extravaganzas, Hong Kong is a world-class gourmet destination.
The Peak (thepeak.com.hk) provides the classic cityscapes; walk the looped, bamboo-shaded Harlech and Lugard roads for more spectacular outlooks. A cross-harbour ride on Star Ferry (starferry.com.hk/) is another bargain-priced scenic delight. Man Mo Temple is Hong Kong's oldest temple and stands on Hollywood Road, known for antique stores. Escape the concrete jungle at beachside Stanley (hk-stanley-market.com), which has good seafood restaurants, or take a hike on Lantau Island (discoverhongkong.com/lantau) to the giant Buddha at ornate Po Lin Monastery (plm.org.hk).
Mouth-watering caramelised-pork char siu bao and other dumplings at Tim Ho Wan (timhowan.com), provide one of the world's cheapest Michelin-star meals; at the other end of the scale, Spring Moon (hongkong.peninsula.com) has the city's best dim sum and top-quality teas. Lung King Heen (fourseasons.com/hongkong) offers superb seafood menus. For mid-range dining, head to Serenade Chinese Restaurant (maxims.com.hk) for delicious red-bean buns and deep-fried fish, or Tim's Kitchen (timskitchen.com.hk) for traditional, home-style Cantonese fare.
It's a pity so many visitors overlook Hong Kong Park (lcsd.gov.hk/tc/parks/hkp/), a lovely Central district oasis that offers fish-filled ponds, odd sculptures, greenhouses bursting with begonias and a terrific walk-through aviary. In one corner, you can take in demonstrations of Chinese tea at the charming little Museum of Tea Ware (hk.art.museum), housed in the city's oldest colonial building, Flagstaff House. It outlines the history of tea culture and sells interesting teas and teapots.
Nothing beats cocktail hour in Hong Kong's ultra-chic bars with a view. The world's highest skyscraper watering hole (490 metres) is dizzying Ozone Bar (ritzcarlton.com), notable for champagnes and Asian tapas. Maritime-themed Eye Bar (elite-concepts.com) has a rare outdoor deck, and telescopes for peering at passing ships; adjacent Nanhai No. 1 (elite-concepts.com) has Michelin-starred seafood cuisine. The old-time classic is Felix (hongkong.peninsula.com), with decor by Philippe Starck and views even from bathrooms.
For a great location amid the eateries, markets and shops of bustling Kowloon, head to Novotel Hong Kong Nathan Road Kowloon (novotel.com), which provides mid-range accommodation without sacrificing style and comfort. InterContinental Hong Kong (intercontinental.com) has an absolute waterfront location and three Michelin-star restaurants, including Yan Toh Heen for sophisticated Cantonese fare. Hong Kong's evening Symphony of Lights over the harbour is perfectly timed for cocktail and canape hour in the lobby lounge.
Foodies should aim for Hong Kong during late October and November's Wine & Dine Month (discoverhongkong.com), which starts with a four-day Wine & Dine Festival, featuring 150 food stalls from some of the city's top restaurants along the harbour-side promenades in Kowloon.
The writer travelled as a guest of Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.