Misty, moody, and densely populated, Hong Kong is an island metropolis packed with a tessellation of gargantuan high-rise buildings and streets that offer a never-ending variety of sights and smells. A mere three hours’ flight from Chiang Mai (and it being school break and all) why not grab your family and swap the hot, sweaty Thai summer for something a little bit cooler and a lot more unknown? So when Hong Kong’s first low cost airline, HK Express invited Citylife for a fam trip, we thought it would be rude to say no.
Dim Sum City
Dim sums are everywhere in Hong Kong. Whether you are sampling a tender bite on a street corner or a steamy feast at any of the thousands of banquet halls throughout the city, these Chinese hors d’oeuvres are must trys. Deeply ingrained into the identity of Hong Kong, dim sums are as common as pork balls on a stick in Thailand, so much so that HK Express even named its five different aircrafts after the most popular dim sum dishes:
The Spring Roll (Ceon Gyun)
Spring-roll out of bed, grab the kids and go for a plane ride to escape the heat! It’s just three hours to Hong Kong International from Chiang Mai. Choose Hong Kong Island for a more authentic British colonial feel, or dive into the heart of the Kowloon Peninsula with its great shopping, mouth-watering food and easy access to refreshingly reliable public transportation. BP International Hotel on Austin Road is known as one of the best value-for-money family hotels in one of the most exclusive areas of the city, a bargain at 2,000 baht a night. Also check out Nathan Road, Hong Kong’s own Piccadilly Circus, which has all manner of shops, food and sights. The Avenue of Stars is definitely worth a gander for the amazing Symphony of Lights which illuminates the Hong Kong Island cityscape with lasers, LEDs and spotlights every evening. Once the kids are tucked away in bed, walk just ten minutes away from the hotel and grab a pew at one of the many bars on Knutsford Terrace for a much needed night cap of some exotic new beers.
The Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Gao)
With island comes seafood, and with seafood comes shrimp dumplings. Imagine a labyrinth of restaurants dedicated to only seafood, many of which you have never seen before (and some which you wish you hadn’t!). At Lei Yue Mun Village, giant lobsters, beautiful iridescent abalones, massive spider crabs and live cuttlefish are all on sale, freshly caught and ready for the picking. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to cook them, just buy whatever strikes your fancy, hand them to any restaurant in the village and tell them how you want it – et voila!
The Rice Noodle Roll (Coeng Fan)
For an island city with limited space, Hong Kong’s impressively large and iconic Ocean Park, located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, is sure to get your rice-noodle-rolling with its hair raising rollercoasters and fascinating wildlife exhibits. Wander the grounds and chow down on traditional local snacks while buying knickknacks for your mates back home. A short cable car ride up to the summit will offer thrills for the family with Hong Kong’s first floorless rollercoaster with four full loops and speeds reaching 60km/hour! The amazing Ocean Theatre has daily live performances by dolphins and sea lions but also focuses on informing the public about the urgency to protect marine life around the world. Ocean Park is non-profit with all profit going straight to wildlife conservation efforts. Of course, you might want to check out Hong Kong’s Disney Land. It may be the smallest Disney Land in the world, but in this case it is definitely one of those small packages stuffed with lots of good things. Enjoy Andy’s garden, explore Fantasy Land, and take an exhilarating ride – or four – on the world-famous Space Mountain! When the sun sets check out the Paint the Night Parade, which lights up the sky every evening. Don’t have time? HK Express gives you the option to fly you from Chiang Mai, check you into Disneyland’s themed hotel and fly you back the next afternoon!
The Pork Dumpling (Shao Mai)
Make like a pork dumpling and fill yourself with all kinds of delicious goodness at any one of Hong Kong’s famed restaurants. Try out the glorious Dim Sum buffet at the Banquet Palace, located up a cranky old elevator found in an elevated doorway on the side of Nathan Road, perfect for a morning brunch to get you ready for the day. In spite of the gaudy faux diamonds, grand open spaces and tacky stage, the Paramount Banquet Hall in the South Seas Centre is THE place to go for some top of the range roasted duck. You can even go one step further and order the roasted goose: bigger, fatter, and crispier. For a more local feel, take a stroll around Mong Kok, and enjoy the smells, sounds and sights of a classic (but slightly modernised) Hong Kong market street. While in the area, take a short detour via the Mong Kok stadium and take a stroll down the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden, with old age local hawkers trading all kinds of little birds in even older wooden cages. Make sure to get there early though, it’s often over before the birds sing their last dawn chorus.
The Red Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bau)
After stuffing your faces and exploring the island for a few days you may start looking like a red pork bun, but it’s all worth it. With so much to offer, Hong Kong is the city of contrasts. Tradition meets modern in a strange combination of new and old, seen throughout the city in its architecture, food and culture. Before heading back to the airport for your afternoon flight back to Chiang Mai, shoot your way up to Sky100, a 360-degree observation deck in Hong Kong’s tallest building, grab your last glass of champagne and say your farewell in style. HK Express leaves Chiang Mai every evening except Mondays (Monday morning flights begin on June 1st).