The Chinese New-Year is celebrating the Lunar year during a 4 days celebration around Asia. To experience it as its fullest, we flew to Hong-kong for a long weekend.
Day 1 – Arriving in Hong-Kong
Hong-Kong is a 4hours flight away from Singapore (with Singapore Airlines). Chinese New-Year takes place during a weekend, giving us the following Monday as a public holiday in Asia, allowing you to enjoy a 3 days weekend. We decided to fly the Friday night in order to benefit fully from the 3 days we had in the city, especially as Singapore Airlines proposes very convenient flights (SG 7:55pm – 11:40pm HK). Arriving late in Hong-Kong, we directly went to the hotel to get some rest before our active weekend. We stayed at the Burlington Hotel, located in Wan Chai (2 stops from Central). We were lucky to find this hotel in a central location, at a moderate price, due to the ongoing construction work at the hotel!
Day 2 – Sightseeing and Chinese NY parade
Waking up early in the morning to enjoy some sightseeing, we decided to head to Central to be in the hearth of the city. We walked our away along Des Voeux Rd Central, passing through the Cenotaph and the Statue square, to finally reach Hong-Kong park. Note that you can also reach Hong-Kong park by the nearby station: Admiralty. The park is a true gem among the city, allowing some peacefulness between the skyscrapers. It features a waterfall, turtles sunbathing, a restaurant, a greenhouse, and plenty of benches to chill on will taking all the park in. You can also see some local painters selling their creations within the park. I would definitely get one when I go back there !
We then made our way to The Central Ferry Pier, to have a view on Victoria Harbour from Hong-Kong island. We passed through the busy exchange square and the Hong Kong Station. It’s a nice location to enjoy the view on the harbour, while sipping a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine).
View on Victoria Peak from Hong-Kong park
Central Ferry Pier
We advise to take some time to chill and relax before to head for the parade, as it requires you to stand for couple hours in a crowd (unless you are in the spectator stands). The Chinese New-Year parade always happens the first day of the celebration (this year 28th of Jan.). It circles around Tsim Sha Tsui Area, starting around the Hong-Kong cultural center and finishing by Salisbury road (in front of the Sheraton hotel). People gather along the streets to watch the parade, so it tends to get crowded but you can always buy tickets for the spectator stands (around HK$480). We were standing in Nathan Road, the picture displayed below are taken from this point of view. The official start time of the parade is at 8pm, but no worries you won’t get bored if you come earlier (which you should to secure your place) – Some groups of the parade rehearse along the road before the big start (Pre-show street party)! The parade lasts for around two hours and is mixing illuminated floats and street live performances. Note that some roads are closed 2hours before and after the parade, making it hard to get a cab – prefer to use the MRT to go and leave the location.
Right after the parade, we went to grab dinner at The Sweet dynasty, a Cantonese restaurant located in Hankow Rd, near the Tsim Shat Tsui MRT. To be honest, it was not the best dinner we’ve had in your life, and we would not recommend it as a place to eat in Hong-Kong. We forgot to look at recommendations online, so here it is, the 10 best Tsim Sha Tsui restaurants, to avoid making the same mistake than us!
Day 3 – Mid-Levels, Victoria Peak and Chinese NY Fireworks
Sunday was the perfect day to keep exploring the city. We started the day by getting to the mid-levels escalator, located in Central. They are the world’s longest outdoor escalators, with a length of 800 meters along the hillside of Soho. It is a series of 23 escalators and inclined moving walkways, going from Queen’s road to Conduit road. It takes approximately 20-min to to complete the length of the escalators if you don’t stop for taking pictures along the way (which you will). Note that the escalators are going downhill or uphill depending on the time of the day. Downhill direction: 6am to 10am, Uphill direction: 10am to midnight. It is a very enjoyable ride along the streets of Soho, where you can enjoy street arts, colourful neighbours, as well as multitudes of restaurants and bars.
Arrived uphill in Conduit Road, we decided to get a cab to go up to Victoria’s peak, as the weather wasn’t really in our favour to hike. If the weather is on your side, there are several path you can use to hike up to the peak. From Conduit Road, one of the popular hike will take you about 2hours and 5Km – you can find the information on the blog of this lady from Hong-Kong. She also proposes other paths, departing from several points of Hong-Kong, such as The Central/Admiralty station. The taxi ride was really pleasant tho, as it is in the middle of the greenery of the hill. It takes about 15-20min to reach the destination. You can also take the tram to reach the peak, but it gets very crowded and the queue was so long that the expected waiting time was more than 2-hours (no, thanks).
Arrived at the peak, it gets quite crowded as well, so you have to be armed with patience to move your way among the other tourists (and be careful of selfie sticks !). The view is really nice over Victoria’s Harbour and you can easily stay one-hour to gaze at the panorama of Hong-Kong. You can decide to check-out the view from the Sky Terrace 428 for a HK$ 50 fees, or go free of charge and follow a secret path to enjoy a less known viewpoint!
View from Victoria Peak
On our way back, we decided to go through the downhill of Soho, as we had seen some restaurants that we wanted to try. We settled in for The Maison Libanaise ($$). The restaurant is located at 10 Shelley street and offers Lebanese and Middle eastern meals. Yes, this isn’t your typical Hong-kong restaurant, and you probably think that it’s a bit disappointing to not eat local during a weekend gateway… but seriously, go there and just smell all the spices, you will want to eat there ! The food was so good that we still talk about it 6-months after ! We loved every plate that we ordered , from Hummus to Baba Ganoush and Baked Zucchini to Lamb Kibbeh and Pita bread. Even tho we were (very) full, the restaurant gave us a voucher to enjoy a dessert to a restaurant nearby – which we used for a Tiramisu to share.
We just had time to shower and relax for an hour before to get ready for the Chinese New-Year Firework. We had book a table in advance on the rooftop of the Seafood Room, that proposed some deals for the night. The deals started at around HK$388 ($60 sgd) for 2 drinks and canapé. As you don’t celebrate CNY in Hong-Kong every year, we upgraded the offer to have a side table and a bottle of Champagne to share! This rooftop is in a very nice location as it offers a view of the city and of the harbour, where the firework was shot. A bit unlucky, the night was quite cloudy that day, and half of the firework was unseen as shot in the clouds. Globally it was a very pleasant experience to be at the Seafood room for the firework, away from the crowd (we experience enough crowd at the parade), with good music and drinks.
Side view from the Seafood room
We ended up the night walking around the area (Causeway bay), stopped to watch live bands in the streets and grabbed some sushi on the way back to the hotel.
Day 4 – Last day in the city before to go home
The last day of our trip, we only had couple of hours to enjoy in the city. Originally, we wanted to go to visit the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) as well as a Fisherman village on Lantau island. Unfortunately, the weather was quite bad that day, with clouds going very low in the city. Thus, visiting the Big Buddha wouldn’t have been appropriate as we couldn’t have a proper view of it. Additionally, the cable car to reach it was under renovation for couple weeks, and we would have had to take a cab up to it – not the best. So, instead, we decided to go for a walk along the Avenue of Stars, across Victoria Harbour, to enjoy a global view of Hong-Kong island. Even with the rain, the view was epic, and the walk was definitely scenic.
- Book your flight at least 4 months in advance for Chinese New-Year, no matter where you want to go. It is a widely celebrated holiday where families get together around Asia, making the flights’ prices rise high !
- Book your accommodation via looking through booking.com or similar sites – You’ll find the best deals at your preferred dates.
- Arrive two hours in advance to secure a spot for the parade, and bring along some snacks, drinks and a good camera.
- Check on TripAdvisor or similar sites the best places to eat around you, depending on your budget.
- Wait a bit after the parade to take the MRT so it’s less crowded (15,000 people are watching the parade along the way!)
- Go uphill Soho via the mid-levels escalators and take pictures with the street art along the way.
- Try the Maison Libanaise if you like Lebanese/Middle eastern type of food (pricy, but worthy!)
- Go up to the Big Buddha via the cable car if you can, the view is apparently amazing