A Guide To Winding Down In Hong Kong

They say that Hong Kong is like New York on steroids, and if you find yourself living or traveling here, it can easily get overwhelming sometimes. There’s no denying how crazy it gets in Hong Kong sometimes. People are always on the go, busses fly around on the street as if they’re in a race, and there’s always something going on in the city. If you’re traveling in Hong Kong for a week or more, you might want to take a breather and take a break from the hustle and bustle. Here’s our curated list on what to do! 

Take a meditation and yoga class 

Photo from Charlotte In White

Photo from Charlotte In White

Charlotte Lam is not your typical Hong Kong bred millennial. She’s a lifestyle writer who has her own column in a local magazine, published a book about veganism, runs a creative studio and also a certified yoga teacher. She hosts her meditation and yoga classes during the weekends - find her at Yuj Yoga in Jordan on Saturday or Yoga Lane in Sai Ying Pun on Sunday. You can sign up for a session here. Beginners are welcome!

Channel your inner book nerd at a bookstore

Take a reading break at a local bookstore and freshen up your mind. Up on the hill in the Mid-Levels, Books & Co is a cozy second hand bookstore / cafe filled with pre-loved books. Readers can sit down to read while enjoying a freshly brewed coffee from the cafe. Another favourite is Mount Zero on Tai Ping Shan Street in Sheung Wan, a tiny two-storey bookstore that also serves coffee and tea. They have a small but well curated collection of classic literature, arts, and cultural related books. 

Slow down with a tea service

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Wind down with a traditional Chinese and Taiwanese tea tasting at 1968 Tearoom, a private tea space inspired by Wong Kar-Wai’s movie In The Mood For Love. You’ll learn about 6 different categories of tea, how tea is made, what’s the difference between mass produced, commercial tea vs organic tea, and how to brew tea easily at home!

Get a massage 

Hong Kong has plenty of massage parlours, and after a long day of exploring around, there’s nothing better than pampering yourself! Our go-to is Chi Wa Siam Massage & Spa in Central, which offers a range of Thai massage. Service and the massage itself are both excellent. 

Go on a hiking adventure 

Hong Kong might be a concrete jungle, but it also has lots of beautiful hiking trails that are worth checking out. Being in nature helps clear your mind so why not get out there for some fresh air?

Our favourites include Dragons Back and Po Toi Country Trail.

Take a coffee break in the suburbs 

Photo from Kaffee House Facebook

Photo from Kaffee House Facebook

Get away from the city and head out to the New Territories for a quality coffee break! Kaffee in Tai Po is a homey cafe hidden in a village. That area is so quiet and calm that it would make you forget you’re in Hong Kong. The best time to go is when they first open up during the day (easier to grab a spot that way!). If you’re in Sai Kung, head over to Moni Stand, a cafe that also sells old vinyl records. They only carry coffee beans from Ninety Plus, a grower and producer of single-origin, single-variety coffee in Panama and Ethiopia. If you’d like to learn more about coffee, the owner Monica is more than happy to share her knowledge. 



Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong now?

Photo by Ashley Yue

Photo by Ashley Yue

The protests against the extradition bill has been going on for weeks since 1 million citizens marched on the street on June 9th in Hong Kong, and it certainly looks like the protesters won’t stop marching until the government withdraws the bill.

The news had stunned the city again when triad gang members stormed into a shopping mall and subway station beating innocent passersby in Yuen Long in the New Territories (aka the suburbs) last weekend, presumably on behalf of the Beijing government’s interest in deterring people from participating in more protests in the future.

So the question is, is it still safe to travel to Hong Kong?
Are businesses still open as usual?
What about tour operators?

The brief answer is yes, it’s still relatively safe to travel in Hong Kong and here’s why:

I mean…. do you really want to miss a view like that? Photo by Ashley Yue

I mean…. do you really want to miss a view like that?
Photo by Ashley Yue

1. Protest areas are usually contained in 1-2 specific, isolated neighbourhoods

The protests are mostly in Wan Chai (near the government headquarters) and Admiralty on Hong Kong Island, and certain areas such as Yuen Long and Shatin in the New Territories, and they take place during the weekends. The crowd is contained in a certain area, so as long as you stay updated on where the protest is happening and stay away from the parameter, you’ll be alright.

2. Protests have been mostly peaceful

The mass protests taking place on the street have been peaceful and clashes between the police and protesters take place after the approval of the protest has passed its deadline. Again, the rule of thumb is to keep track of where the protest is at and stay away from the area.

You’ll barely notice that there’s chaos happening in the city when you arrive. Businesses are open as usual, and life goes on even though Hong Kong is going through one of its biggest changes in history.

3. Violence in shopping malls was in the suburbs

While it’s unsettling watching violence unfold, where white shirt gang members beat up protesters and passerby in the shopping malls, please note that these events took place in the New Territories, which is the suburbs in Hong Kong. It’s far away from the more touristy areas such as Central and Mong Kok (around 45 minutes to 1 hour away by public transport). As long as you don’t go over to Yuen Long during the weekend, you’re good.

Last not but least….
Are tour operators still open for business?

Business is still open as usual at the local markets. Photo by Ashley Yue

Business is still open as usual at the local markets.
Photo by Ashley Yue

As far as we know, all tour operators in Hong Kong will be open as usual.

As a tour operator, we understand your concerns whether it’s safe to travel to Hong Kong. If you do have plans to come to the city this fall, please rest assured that it’s still safe to travel here and it's a shame to drop your travel plans and miss the chance of visiting this beautiful city! Just be smart and stay away from certain areas where the protests are, and you’ll be good!

Our Favourite Boutique Wine Shops in Hong Kong

Sometimes all you need is cuddle your furry creature, do nothing and enjoy a good glass of wine after a long day at work. Or perhaps you want to impress the host from a house party this weekend. Alright let’s be real here. You’re a cultured alcoholic just like us, who work better under pressure with a bottle in hand. So you ask the internet - where are the best wine shops in Hong Kong? Where do you find friendly staff who can help you pick a bottle without making you feeling awkward for asking?

This guide covers some of the best boutique wine shops, a few of them also work directly with the winemakers and have them flown directly to Hong Kong.

Oz Terroirs

Tucked away among a flight of stairs on Mee Lun Street, the small shop is home to small batch wine produced in Victoria, Australia. The owner Emmanuel originally comes from France but has migrated to Australia many years ago, and naturally he fell in love with the wine there. Seeing the lack of Australian wine available on the market, he’s brought some of his favourite producers in Hong Kong. Our favourites are Latta Vino’s Rattlesnake and Avani “Amirit” Pinot Gris, which are both orange wine.

Where: Mee Lun House, 2-4A Mee Lun Street, Central

La Cabane

La Cabane specialises in natural and biodynamic wine (made with least possible amount of sulphate and additives) from France, Italy, Australia and even Jordan. They work personally with the wine producers and go to Europe each year to learn more about how the wine is made at each vineyard, so it really speaks volume to how much thoughts and care they put in their curation! Everything gets flown to Hong Kong directly without any middleman, which also includes their amazing cheese selection. Do sign up for their newsletter so you can keep updated on their Friday wine tasting night, which is a steal at 200 HKD per head (wine tasting and charcuterie board nibbles included).

Where: B/F, 97 Hollywood Road (It’s on the right side of the stairs if you walk down on Hollywood Road)

Vin et Sake Nature - Pillariwine

If you want a selection of European wine without feeling overwhelmed by choices, Pillariwine Co is right up your alley. The small shop carries natural wine and sake that are priced in a decent range, and the staff is more than happy to give suggestion should you be looking for a bottle to pair dinner with / for a special occasion.

Where: Shop 2A, Pottinger House, 26 Pottinger Street, Central
Closed on Sundays

L'Imperatrice

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You can spot L’Imperatice from a block away with its slick silhouette wine glass sign that glows in red. The shop carries mostly French wine including champagne (you won’t find any Moët here). A bottle starts from 200 HKD (we had a pretty good Moulin-à-vent there for around 240 HKD) and if you’re into vintage Brunello, they also have bottles from the 70s and 80s. They also carry Zalto wine glasses, which we’ve heard from Marissa A Ross that they can do wonders to your wine.

Where: 56 Hollywood Road, Central

Cork Culture

While Cork Culture mainly supplies natural wine to restaurants, they also save a limited number of bottles for their online shop. Their site includes detailed notes on each bottle and the producer, so you don’t have to guess what they taste like as you browse through the catalogue. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can also email the team for more information and see if they have bottles that are not listed on the site. The rumour says that the founder is quite lazy and hasn’t kept the list up to date (sorry Ian!).

Where: online at www.corkculture.hk