If you want to get a feel of the authentic side of Hong Kong, where the old culture co-exists harmoniously with the new one, then Kowloon should be your ultimate destination! It is an area comprising of the Kowloon Peninsula and New Kowloon, located just north of Hong Kong. The area is teeming with a number of attractions, including amazing districts, hills and parks, delicious restaurants and not to forget, one of the world’s largest show of mesmerizing lights and sounds.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon is made up of a number of dreamy districts and one of them is Tsim Sha Shui and probably the busiest too. Tsim Sha Shui has some of the best hotels in Hong Kong, which has pulled in a huge number of tourists, leading Tourist hospitality to be the major industry here. You can gaze at the beautiful birds at the peaceful Kowloon Park, wander around in K11, the world’s first art mall and not to forget, stroll around the Avenue of Stars. Just like hotels, Tsim Sha Tsui is also blessed with a number of amazing restaurants, including the line of eateries on the Knutsford Terrace and the cluster of delicious Korean cuisine options on Kimberley Street. Fully-packed with fun activities to do, Tsim Sha Tsui should one of the first places to visit in Kowloon.
Even if you haven’t heard of Kowloon, you have definitely heard of Victoria Harbour and its iconic skyline. The harbour had a hand in the development of the place, which has led to it being one of the city’s thriving centres, not to forget one of the popular and picturesque urban sceneries in the world. It is 9 kilometres in length and is 1 kilometre across, wedged between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. The harbour has a lot many highlights around it, including Tsim Sha Tsui, Central Waterfront Promenade and IFC Mall. However, people usually visit the place for getting a ride in the Star Ferry and enjoy a classic view of the Symphony of Lights. With so much to see and so much to enjoy, make sure you take an entire day off to enjoy the terrific place that is Victoria Harbour.
Symphony of Lights
If you happen to stroll across the Victoria Harbour at night, you’ll see lasers and lights shooting out from the buildings and spreading across the sky. This bright and colourful display is called ‘A Symphony of Lights’ and is no small thing – it is, in fact, the world’s largest and permanent light and sound show. It was honoured so by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005. The show is handled by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, where more than 40 buildings put together a lovely multimedia show of 15 minutes every day. And though the record was beaten by Nanchang in 2015, Symphony of Lights still happens to be one of the amazing things to do, when in Kowloon.
Hong Kong Museum of Art
If you are strolling by Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, you will see a beautifully creative building, which is actually the first art museum of Hong Kong. Known as the Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA), it was established in 1962 and is one of the best places to learn more about China’s cultural legacy. There are more than 17,000 displays spread out in the place, ranging from old to new, local and foreign, with an exclusive focus on Hong Kong. HKMoA dreams of linking the people with the world of art, shedding light on how Hong Kong’s art scene has developed over the years and for the good as well. If you want to know more about where you have landed, then HKMoA is the place to go.
Enjoying your drinks while you sit some 30 floors high and gaze at the world below you sound like a beautiful dream. And if you are in Kowloon, you can fulfil this little dream, by visiting EyeBar! It is a fascinating rooftop bar, located in iSquare Building next to Tsim Sha Tsui Station. The bar boasts of a Chinese Maritime theme, complete with wall lengths windows, a large indoor lounge and a well-stocked bar. Their beers and the exotic concoction of signature cocktails is one of the best parts of the menu. People usually visit EyeBar for its amazing outdoor terrace, where you can enjoy your meal with one of the scenic views of glittering Hong Kong night around.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
One of the popular places in Kowloon is not a park or a restaurant – but a temple! Wong Tai Sin Temple, located on Lung Cheung Road, is a beautiful shrine, well-known around the world. The temple houses three main religions of China, i.e. Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, but is primarily dedicated to the Taoist God of healing. There are a number of rumours surrounding the temple including the one about how every wish made there comes true, which has lured a number of worshipers there. People can also learn their fortune with the help of Kau Kim, a simple and effective process where you get a written message after rattling a bamboo cylinder, which can be interpreted from a soothsayer.
Kam Shan Country Park
Kowloon is blessed with an abundance of the countryside, natural, wild and beautiful. Kam Shan (also called monkey hill) Country Park is one of the areas in this countryside, just northwest of Kowloon and Sha Tin. This 3.37 sq. Kilometre park was created in 1977 and has hiking trails covering the park, leading up to the highest peak of the same name. The natural scenery here rolls over with no man-made interruption, which makes it all the more attractive. Lakes of glittering waters and thick forests are the features of this Country Park, not to forget the cute macaques running around the area. A number of barbecue and picnic areas are dispersed all over the place, making this Country Park the best picnic spot ever!
Waffles are nothing but one of the many snacks for the world, but for Kowloon, Hong Kong, those are actually a much-loved, quintessential food. These are referred to as egg waffles and taste like golden cakes, cute, fluffy and delicious. While all of the streets in Hong Kong have at least one egg waffles vendor, Kowloon also is well-known for places where you can get quality egg waffles. Some of these include – Lee Keung Kee North Point Egg Waffles, Mammy Pancakes and not to forget SP Flower & Tea Room. If you are visiting Kowloon, do make sure you visit at least one of them, because no trip to Hong Kong is complete without tasting the heavenly egg waffles!
Sham Shui Po
Located in the northwestern part of Kowloon, is another area, quite similar to Yau Ma Tei. It is known as Sham Shui Po and is well-known for its street food and shops, especially for practical products and electronics goods. The area gives off vintage vibes, what with the old Chinese buildings narrow stretches and spaces to move around. One of the best buildings to venture in is the Dragon Centre, which is one of the largest shopping centres in Kowloon. There are a number of streets, which are famous for particular things, right from getting toys on Fuk Wing Street to shopping quality clothing from Cheung Sha Wan Road. Drop by Sham Shui Po to experience Kowloon in a creative way!
Tim Ho Wan
There are every kind of specialists, but have you ever heard of dim-sum specialists? That’s what Tim Ho Wan calls itself. The Tim Ho Wan is a restaurant chain, with outlets all over the world and has been bestowed the honour of being ‘the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant’. The one we want is the original and amazing dim-sum restaurant, located right by the Kowloon Station, in Sham Shui Po. The menu is perfectly delicious, with the four kings of the restaurant – apart from their legendary dim-sums - being beancurd skin with pork, steamed egg cake, pork buns and pan-fried carrot cake. The only drawback is you will have to wait for a long while to get in because it is just that popular.
Mong Kok Markets
There is no way your trip to Kowloon is complete if you never visited the popular and wholesome Mong Kok Markets. Mong Kok literally means ‘busy corner’, which is quite an apt name, as it is one of the most crowded places in the world. And yet, you’ll never feel claustrophobic here, as you stroll around the brightly-lit streets of the market. There are a number of markets that you can visit, including the Ladies’ Market, the flower market, the bird market, the goldfish market along with the sneaker street and the amazing Temple Street Night Market. Let your eyes feast on the range of products that can be purchased here, while your nose and mouth experience the delicious street food options.
Yau Ma Tei
Yau Ma Tei – literally meaning ‘oil-sesame field’ or ‘oil and jute ground’ – is a world within itself, located just at the south of Kowloon. This area is an entertaining place, jam-packed with attractions to see and fun things to do. Characterized by the blend of old and new Hong Kong, the narrow streets of Yau Ma Tei are well-known for its elegant cafés, bookstores and the historic Yau Ma Tei Theatre. One of the many quirkiest things about the area is, ironically enough, the police station. It is situated in a Neo-classical Edwardian building with Freestyle architecture, which featured in the film Rush Hour 2. The beautiful attractions, hotels and cafés all come together to form the amazing area, i.e. Yau Ma Tei.
Stretching across 2.3 kilometres in Kowloon’s areas of Jordan, Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei is the amazing Shanghai Street, one of the oldest and authentic streets. Once one of the most thriving streets, Shanghai Street features Chinese-style buildings, historic façades and vintage vibes. People usually visit the street to visit Mahjong parlours, that old pawnshop or to purchase amazing Chinese wedding gowns, along with cute Buddha Statues and aromatic sandalwood incense. It is also the best place where you can get amazing souvenirs, including wooden moon-cakes, ceramic bowls, chopsticks and bamboo steamer baskets. Blending with the locals and experiencing the way they live –that’s exactly what Shanghai Street offers to the visitors!
Above & Beyond
Located right in the Hotel Icon is the popular, award-winning restaurant, Above & Beyond. Staying true to its name, it is situated on one of the above levels of the façade and whatever menu it provides is beyond whatever you expected it to be. It provides amazingly scenic views of the city below, making it a beautiful place for get-togethers, especially romantic dates. The brightly lit ambience is peaceful and elegant and the menu is simply lip-smacking! Not only is it reasonably priced, but also offers really delicious dishes to the customers. Their lobster dumplings, BBQ pork buns and wok-fried M7 Wagyu Beef are only some of the many recommended dishes. Above & Beyond, as you can see, is not just a restaurant, but an exceptionally amazing dining experience.
Somewhere between Hong Kong and Tai Wai, at a height of 495 metres sits a lion, resting peacefully. Don’t run away, however, because it’s nothing but a lion-head shaped rock, atop the hill. This hill is, unironically enough, came to be known as the Lion Rock Hill. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in Kowloon and while the hike is fairly difficult, it is so worth the scene from the top. You can lay your eyes on picturesque views of Hong Kong and its many peaks, including Victoria Peak, Devil’s Peak and even Suicide Cliff. Make sure you go there on weekdays – as weekends are filled with tourists. Carry some snacks and drinks to make turn it into a fun day!
Kowloon, with all its tourist-friendly qualities, an impressive selection of attractions to see, things to do and the beautiful blend of the old and new culture, is hands down one of the best areas to visit in Hong Kong. Not only the locals but also the international visitors feel at home in this exciting place – and I am pretty sure you’ll feel the same after visiting Kowloon.