Swoon over Kowloon
Discover Hong Kong’s other half.
While Temple Street Night Market may not tempt you to buy, it’s worth a visit anyway, as the opera singers, fortune tellers and outdoor diners make for entertaining theatre.
To many aficionados of the city, it is Hong Kong’s so-called “dark side” that is most appealing. Although recent makeovers have tamed Kowloon’s colourful reputation, it still has an air of mystery and a sense of secrets waiting to be discovered, as well as a joie de vivre that is hard to resist.
Part of Kowloon’s distinctive charm is how quickly it shows you a different face; one minute you are in a huge mall filled with international brands, the next you are in streets lined with timeworn Chinese houses and family stores. You can jostle through crowds in boisterous street markets and dine at noisy hole-in-the-wall eateries, or you can relax amid the serene greenery of one of Kowloon’s many parks before enjoying the air-conditioned tranquillity of a fine-dining restaurant.
Comfort and Convenience
Located in the vibrant shopping and entertainment district of Tsim Sha Tsui East, with seaside promenades, museums, galleries and wallet-emptying shopping within easy walking distance, Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong is ideally located for exploration of Hong Kong’s most charismatic side.
Choose a harbour view room and take in sweeping panoramas of Hong Kong through floor-to-ceiling windows. The rooms are among the largest and most comfortable in the city, and as almost half of the staff have been here for at least 10 years, service is warm, friendly and discreet. The hotel also has some of Kowloon’s most popular restaurants, including award-winning Italian restaurant Angelini and innovative Japanese restaurant Nadaman. One of the city’s favourites for fine Chinese cuisine, Michelin two-star Shang Palace, serves exceptional dishes in an elegant, opulent setting. With an entrance to the MTR, just next to the hotel concourse and taxis waiting at a rank nearby, it’s easy to get around on both sides of the harbour.
Malls and Markets
As one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with residents whose favourite pastimes are shopping and eating, it’s no surprise that these activities define Kowloon. Whether in a mall or market, for brand names or bric-a-brac, shopping here is not to be missed.
Canton Road is the place to go for luxury brands and where you’ll find Hong Kong’s very own venerable department store Lane Crawford, a showcase for all that is hip. Check out its funky Library Café, which offers tempting treats, such as tea, confectionery and preserves from Maison Boissier. Close by is the wonderful old colonial building – one of the last to survive in Tsim Sha Tsui – that was the former headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police. Now restored and renamed, 1881 Heritage is home to prestigious watch and jewellery brands, bars and restaurants.
Meanwhile, Elements, one of Tsim Sha Tsui’s largest malls, is linked to the city’s tallest building – the International Commerce Centre – which has a 360-degree indoor observation deck on the 100th floor that provides breathtaking views.
However, to discover some of Hong Kong’s best-loved treasures, head further north. While Temple Street Night Market may not tempt you to buy, it’s worth a visit anyway, as the opera singers, fortune tellers and outdoor diners make for entertaining theatre. Mido Café serves as a time machine whose exceedingly photogenic interior will transport you back to 1960s Hong Kong as you sip your yinyeung (a local mix of coffee and tea).
The sprawling Apliu Street Flea Market in Sham Shui Po is probably the best of the street markets and is worth a browse and a bargain hunt for electronics and electrical items, as well as coins, watches and antique clocks. Nearby on Fuk Wing Street is dim sum legend Tim Ho Wan, which is said to be the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Just be prepared to wait two to three hours from ticket to table.
Heritage and History
If you feel the need for something more edifying than shopping, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Museum of History, with its permanent exhibit chronicling the city’s metamorphosis into a modern metropolis, are all within easy strolling distance of the hotel. Meanwhile, a trip out to Diamond Hill offers the chance to soothe the soul at the Chi Lin Nunnery and peaceful contemplation in the serenity of the adjacent Nan Lian Garden. Nearby Wong Tai Sin is the place to go for those in need of a little luck, as it offers divine guidance and its fortune tellers claim to make every wish come true upon request.
For a glimpse of why Kowloon came to be known as the dark side, take a taxi to the Walled City Park on your way back. This attractive park is where the Kowloon Walled City once stood. It has an exhibition hall giving a brief introduction to the warren of 300 interconnected high-rise buildings that became known as the City of Darkness because of its lawlessness. Rest assured knowing that you can take refuge in urban indulgence soon after.
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