Hong Kong is quite simply one of the best places on earth to dine and experience international cuisine. Some writers have dubbed the city the 'World's Fair of Food' and a 'Gourmet Paradise'. There are over 10,000 licensed restaurants and countless more traders, stalls and mobile eateries in the city.
Hong Kong is best known for its outstanding Cantonese cuisine. The freshest ingredients and finest chefs can be found here, with the city's cosmopolitan nature also ensuring a dynamic mix of other cuisines. Sushi joints abound, as do pasta houses, bakeries, sandwich shops and just about every other style of food you can imagine.
One experience you should not miss is trying the local dim sum. These are delicious snacks prepared in steaming bamboo baskets and eaten as breakfast or lunch along with copious quantities of Chinese tea. Typical dim sum includes favourites like steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, beef balls and pan-fried squid with spicy salt.
Hong Kong residents generally eat five times per day and most meals are eaten outside the home. Meals are typically small and accompanied by a generous portion of carbohydrates such as rice or noodles. For the visitor this means plenty of places to snack and experience a diversity of dishes in one day.
In a Chinese restaurant, waiters will commonly bring tea, condiments and snacks to your table, which will be added to the bill. Most restaurants will automatically add 10 percent to your bill as gratuity. During Chinese New Year, this charge may be a bit higher. Make reservations whenever possible, especially over lunchtimes.
Hong Kong is considered by some to be the shopping capital of the world. Most goods, other than alcohol and tobacco, are tax-free, and there's an unparalleled concentration of high-quality products and vigorous competition. The customer is king in Hong Kong, where they can indulge in their shopping empire like nowhere else on earth.
Best buys include jewellery and wrist watches, especially pieces using gold, jade and pearl; and custom clothing and haute couture. Electronics and gadgets are not the deals they once were, but you may still find some great prices.
The most popular shopping districts in Hong Kong include Causeway Bay, containing giant department stores like Sogo and WTC More; Central, with high-end boutiques and haute couture; the Admiralty, with a number of shopping malls; and Tsim Sha Tsui, which has an abundance of souvenir shops and brand-name stores. Mongkok is the place to go for bargain shopping on clothing and electronics, but be aware of what you're buying as many products do not come with warranties.
The contrast between the gleaming modern stores and old-world markets gives variety and excitement to a Hong Kong shopping experience. Don't miss Stanley Market's historic fishing lanes, filled with vendors selling Chinese handicrafts. silk creations and souvenirs. Yuen Po Street's melodious Bird Garden is a magnet for songbird owners, while Hong Kong's Flower Market is a bright and busy scene making for wonderful photo opportunities.
The Ladies' Market in Tung Choi Street is renowned for its handbags, but the touts are just as famous for their pushiness. Other great markets include the Temple Street Night Market and Jardine's Crescent. There are several regular Hong Kong weekend markets that have great shopping opportunities too.
Hong Kong is renowned for its jam-packed nightlife and the city covers all its bases for after-dark entertainment, with a feisty nightclub scene, lots of good live music and some world-class performing arts for more sophisticated tastes.
Notorious Wan Chai has calmed down a lot over the last few decades. Although it has retained some of its seediness, there are also many British-style pubs frequented by expatriate locals in the area. The Central district's Lan Kwai Fong is known for having one of the biggest drinking crowds in Hong Kong and the bars to sustain it. SoHo has a number of ethnic bars and restaurants, and off-the-beaten-track Knutsford Terrace is popular for its open-fronted bars and cafes.
Live music has become a standard feature of so many restaurants, cocktail lounges and bars in Hong Kong so actively seeking it out is seldom necessary. The Fringe Club is Hong Kong's most well-known venue for all things alternative and live acts can be seen here on most weekends. As the night wears on, most of Hong Kong's small bars tend to evolve into raucous nightclubs. Trendy dance clubs impose a strict dress code and often only grant entrance to members.
Those looking for a quieter night out may enjoy seeing Chinese opera, performed at City Hall in Central and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Hong Kong Ballet Company and various theatre groups also stage performances throughout the year, though the highlight of the arts calendar is definitely the Hong Kong Arts Festival in February and March.