The Kowloon waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon (九龍, "nine dragons" in Cantonese) is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. The mountains that overlook Kowloon account for eight of Kowloon's nine dragons while, as the story goes, the ninth dragon refers to the emperor who counted them. Of the eight mountains that overlook the crowded city, the most famous is Lion Rock, which when seen from the right angle, really does deserve its name.
With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep. Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) pronounced "Tzeem Sah Jeui", the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon's main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels. Further north, Mong Kok (旺角) has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a square kilometre.
"Kowloon side", as it is often known, managed to escape some of the British colonial influences that characterise "Hong Kong Island" side. While prices on Kowloon side tend to be cheaper, it is also less tourist-friendly and English proficiency is not as strong as on the Hong Kong side.
Riding the Star Ferry from Central or Wan Chai ferry piers is considered a "must-do" for any traveller to Hong Kong. Not only is this the cheapest way to traverse the harbour, it's also the finest way to go sight-seeing, particularly at night, where you're surrounded by a wall of lights and skyscrapers on both sides. If you're feeling posh, you can pay fractionally more and travel as an upper-deck passenger. Alternatively, you can travel steerage and maybe get a glimpse into the noisy engine room.
The Airport Express takes you to Kowloon MTR station in just 20 minutes. Most of Hong Kong's rail lines converge on Kowloon. If you are travelling from Hong Kong island, change at Admirality on the Island Line for the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui from Hong Kong island. The MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui offers a faster service and is the most popular choice for commuters, so avoid Admiralty interchange during the rush hour (5 PM to 7 PM). Alternatively the section of Tseung Kwan O Line between Quarry Bay and Yau Tong can be used for crossing the harbour.
Taking a taxi across the harbour to Kowloon can be slow and expensive due to traffic. Some taxi drivers operate only on one side of the harbour, so you may have to find a taxi rank marked "Cross-harbour trips only." Expect to pay tunnel fees both ways unless you depart from a taxi rank dedicated to cross-harbour service.
Helicopter transfers can be arranged between Hong Kong International Airport and the roof-top landing pad at the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Citybus Cityflyer provides several bus routes from the Airport terminal, including A21, A22. Although they take longer time than MTR Airport Express, the fare of buses is much cheaper than the Airport express and they calls on much frequent bus stops along areas include Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, as well as nearby some hotels.
Numberous local buses travel through different areas of Kowloon, as well as between New Territories or Hong Kong island. Bus routes with number-prefix 1XX (e.g 102, 104, 118), 6XX (e.g 603, 601), 9XX (e.g 904, 905) are harbour-crossing buses and they call at the bus interchanges of the tunnels and some routes via Kowloon pennisula.
If you get into Hong Kong airport after midnight then you will need to take the N21 night bus. Prepare exact change for the bus as change will not given by the driver. The fare was $23 as of April 2011. The N21 goes through Nathan Rd and you can signal the driver to stop where you wish (for example, the Chung King mansions is #34-44 so keep an eye out for the numbers), don't count on the driver knowing any English, my driver didn't speak a lick of English!
Crowded and vibrant: a colourful street in Tsim Sha Shui
Hong Kong's Thai community is focussed on a few mundane streets in Kowloon City (九龍城寨). This area, adjacent to the old airport at Kai Tak, is off the beaten track for most tourists but it has some good Thai restaurants, indeed there are certainly plenty to choose from. Arguably, you may find a better Thai meal here than many tourist destinations in Thailand.
Kowloon City has few of the usual high-rise developments that characterise the rest of Hong Kong. Here low-rise buildings were developed to enable aircraft to scream their way across the rooftops towards Kai Tak. The MTR does not come this way, so take a taxi or bus from nearby Prince Edward MTR.
- The Kowloon Waterfront offers splendid views of the Hong Kong island shore and skyline. This is the best place to experience the classic view of Hong Kong, and nobody on their first trip here should miss out on promenading along the waterfront. The best views are to be had at night when the lights of global capitalism provide a powerful spectacle. If you are not proficient with night-time photography, you can pay a modest sum for a professional to take your photograph against one of the world's most iconic backdrops. Start at the Star Ferry terminal, and begin your walk by inspecting the historic clock tower which is all that remains of a railway station that once took colonial officials back to London via the Trans-Siberian railway.
- Cruise ships berthed at Ocean Terminal. Upon arrival at the Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, visitors can not help but be impressed by the spectacle, and majesty, of 40,000 tonne cruise liners parked in the heart of the city.
- A Symphony Of Lights Every night at 8 PM there is a colourful light show that is staged atop the key buildings on both sides of the harbour. On Monday evenings, spectators can listen to the show's music and English narration live at the Avenue of Stars, on radio on FM103.4 MHz or by calling 35 665 665.
- Avenue of the Stars. If you continue your stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront you will soon find yourself walking along Hong Kong's version of Hollywood's walk of fame. You have to look down to appreciate the Avenue of the Stars where so many local film stars have pawed the wet concrete. You might not recognise their names, but it goes to show how big Hong Kong's film industry is. The experience is targeted at tourists from mainland China and the piped music gives it a slightly cheesey feel, but the statue of film legend, Bruce Lee, provides a welcome photo opportunity even for those who might know very little about Cantonese cinema.
- After visiting the Kowloon waterfront you can take the Star Ferry  (it's a truly amazing experience) to Hong Kong Island, getting an excellent view of the skyline in the process.
- Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple(嗇色園黃大仙祠) is the most popular Taoist temple in Hong Kong. This is where many people ask for divine guidance by a practice known as kau cim(求籤), a practice that has all but disappeared in mainland China. Located just next to Wong Tai Sin(黃大仙) MTR Station. Entrance is free, though voluntary donations are welcome.
- Built in the 1950s, the Shek Kip Mei Estate is one of the few remaining places where you can grasp the living conditions of Hong Kong during the 50s and 60s. Despite the march of progress promulgated by the Urban Renewal Authority, there are still a few blocks of flats remaining from the 1950s, which are still occupied. Walk from Shek Kip Mei MTR Station.
Museums and exhibitions
- Dialogue in the Dark, Shop 215, 2/F, The Household Centre, Nob Hill, 8 King Lai Path, Mei Foo, ☎ +852 2310 0833, . T-Su 10AM–7:30PM. An exhibition in complete darkness. Experience five different Hong Kong themed environments using your non-visual senses with the help of a visually impaired guide. Reservations in advance are recommended.
- Hong Kong Cultural Centre (香港文化中心), 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2734 2009, . Opened in 1989, the Cultural Centre, with its prominent position on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront is a contender for being the most famous ugly building in Hong Kong. However, if you are a lover of the arts, don't judge this building by its bland exterior, inside the architects have created a superb space that really does do justice to the sights and sounds of each performance.
- Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2208 4400, . Free.
- Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2721 0116, . M-W, F-Sa 10AM-6PM. It is a fascinating, strange and elusive place. The entrance lies up one floor, mimicking the “temple” approach to the high altar of culture and art. Once you arrive on the first floor, you are bathed in light from the wall of glass that gives you a panoramic view of Hong Kong Island. The objects on show are Chinese ceramics, terracotta, rhinoceros horn and Chinese paintings. There is also a temporary exhibition space devoted to items from their own collection with additional lent material. There is also space for contemporary art produced by Hong Kong artists, most of whom have moved away from the traditional Chinese art forms to fusion art with North American and British influence, reflecting Hong Kong's colonial past. $10, concessions $5.
- Hong Kong Museum of History, 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2724 9042 ([email protected], fax: +852 2724 9090), . M, W-Sa 10AM-6PM; Su 10AM-7PM. The permanent exhibition covers the history of Hong Kong from millions of years ago until the reunification with China in 1997. Exhibits are about the nature, culture and history of Hong Kong. Also special exhibitions changing every few months. Expect to use 1½-3 hours. $10, concession $5, Wednesday free.
- Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, ☎ +852 2732 3232, . M-Tu, W-F 1PM-9PM; Sa-Su 1PM-9PM. Large museum with many interactive exhibits including a energy machine and an airplane. A museum which decided to make an architectural statement about its purpose, yet somehow got it horribly wrong. This museum is primarily aimed at children. The maths puzzles and optical illusions on the top floor are challenging. There is a giant Rube Goldberg machine spanning the entire museum that is run for a few minutes every two hours. $35 (permanent exhibitions only $25).
- Hong Kong Space Museum, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2721 0226, . Quite a small museum, with a basic history of space flight in static exhibits, including a single exhibit on Chinese space flight. It also has interactive exhibits, allowing you to fly a hang glider, work a space motion system, and simulate walking on the moon. The museum has a planetarium attached that shows movies projected onto the planetarium roof. Plan ahead if you want to ensure you see an English session, as most are Cantonese. It is fun for kids aged around 10 to 15 years. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
- Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po, ☎ +852 2386 2863 (fax: +852 2361 2105), . M-W, F-Sa 10AM-6PM; Su 1PM-6PM. Tomb from the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 - 220) discovered in 1955. Exhibition hall displaying pottery and stuff from the excavation of the tomb. Free.
Parks and nature
- Kowloon Walled City Park When the British returned after the war, the Walled City remained notorious for drugs, vice and many things shady and criminal. Here, triad gangs operated alongside dodgy dentists and refugees escaping the cultural revolution. In 1987, after so many years of being beyond the reach of the law, the colonial government, in consultation with the Beijing authorities, made the bold decision to raze the place to the ground. Sadly, the park that remains is very tame in comparison to its distinctive history, but it does offer a few clues and remnants from its colourful past.
Kowloon Park offers an oasis of calm in the midst of high density living.
- Experience the Hong Kong Story at the Hong Kong Museum of History in Tsim Sha Tsui. Forget the idea that all of Hong Kong museums are frumpy and boring. The Hong Kong Story is a real must go and do, ideal for those who want to make sense of Hong Kong's vibrant past in a way that is engaging and interactive. Allow at least two hours for your visit. Take Exit B2 at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station and walk for about 10 minutes.
- Afternoon tea in the lobby at the Peninsula Hotel is an elegant tradition that enables visitors to savour a little of the grandeur of Hong Kong's colonial past. It is one of the more affordable ways to experience the services of one of Hong Kong's most extravagant hotels. Afternoon tea is served between 2 PM and 7 PM, daily. The dress-code is smart casual.
- Take a walk in Kowloon Park where you will find not only pleasant gardens but aviaries, museums, and sporting facilities including Hong Kong's best swimming pool complex which offers both indoor and outdoor pools. A wide-range of swimming, diving and children's play-pools will appeal to kids of all ages, and their frazzled parents who are seeking a safe place for youngsters to play away from the traffic.
- Shanghai Street runs north-south parallel to Nathan Road and offers an easy to navigate urban transect. Start at the north-side of Kowloon Park and wander up to Langham Place, a modern shopping and hotel complex which is next to Mong Kok MTR station. Along the way you will experience Kowloon in its raw authenticity. This is not your regular tourist trail, but crumbling tenements and small-scale industrial and commercial outfits blur to form an urban landscape that will make you wish that you had brought your camera along.
- Visit the former Marine Police Headquarters on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Dating back to 1884, it is an attractive colonial building that has been recently renovated to become a major tourism attraction with shops and restaurants.
- You're never too old for Tai Chi on the Avenue of the Stars. Free lessons in English M,W-F mornings from 8 AM-9 AM.
- A section of Portland Street in Mong Kok hosts Hong Kong's unofficial red-light district, with a dizzying assortment of karaoke bars, hostess bars, saunas, brothels and restaurants. This area is frequently the scene from Hong Kong triad films. Great street food and colourful characters can also be found. It's best to go in the evenings when the street is brightly lit with neon. Despite the vice that transpires there, it is perfectly safe to visit anytime -- but be careful about taking pictures as many people will not wish to be photographed. Ride to MTR Mong Kok station and, as you emerge from exit C3, walk southward.
- Hong Kong Coliseum, 9 Cheong Wan Rd, Hunghom. Multi purpose in door arena with 12,500 seats. A famous landmark shaped almost like an upside down pyramide. Used for sport events, concerts and other.
If your budget doesn't quite stretch to the Tiffanys, Guccis and Shanghai Tangs of Hong Kong Island, head to Kowloon for more affordable shopping.
- Harbour City is an enormous shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, the largest in Hong Kong. It is next to the Star Ferry pier. There are shops of almost any description there. The goods are mostly mid price range to high price brand name goods.
- Elements 圓方, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui. Opened in 2007, Elements is Hong Kong's latest mega-mall. Aimed at wealthy shoppers, it has five themed shopping zones: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. Owned by the MTR Corporation, the shops are located above Kowloon MTR station. Probably not worth going out of your way for, but it does have some of the most extravagant public toilets in Hong Kong.
- Festival Walk is another excellent shopping mall in the suburb of Kowloon Tong. A very pleasant place to shop, similar to Pacific Place but catering more to locals.
- Langham Place, located in Mong Kok, is an entertainment complex comprising of a 15-storey shopping mall, a 59-level Grade A office tower and the 5-star Langham Place Hotel. Over 300 shops where you will find everything from fashion labels to casual wear, from accessories to electronics. On special occasions, large crowds will gather under the 'Digital Sky' to celebrate festive events such as the New Year's Eve countdown. Throughout the year, there will also be live musical performances, art exhibitions, and a host of special events to keep people entertained.
- Lok Fu Centre, next to Lok Fu MTR station, is a place for cheaper goods and food. Located in a public housing estate, goods are generally more affordable than in other places. There is also a large department store here.
- Tsim Sha Tsui's main artery Nathan Road is packed with stores, particularly cheap electronics shops. Be careful when shopping here; these slippery guys know every trick in the book and some stores are notorious for overcharging tourists. Locals seldom go to Tsim Sha Tsui for electronic products. It is more advisible to go to Mong Kok or Sham Shui Po instead.
Kowloon street markets have something to tempt most bargain hunters.
- The Temple Street Night Market encompasses a block of streets in Kowloon barricaded at the end of each day with stalls selling almost anything until midnight. You can buy the usual touristy stuff, but there are also bargains like Chinese silk pajamas, toys, electronics and cheap leather goods. Arrive at Yau Ma Tei MTR Station Exit C, then walk up Man Ming Lane to Temple Street after nightfall. Be prepare to bargin vigorously as there are no fixed prices. Also, don’t forget to watch singers and musicians perform an aria from their favorite Peking opera (free, but donations appreciated) or get your future revealed by fortune tellers reading your palm and face or by using animals, cards or dice. Most of them can do readings in English. Professional Chinese chess players can also be found plying their trade in the public square.
- The colourful Flower Market and the adjoining Bird Garden (Prince Edward St West) are worth a visit even if shrubs and parrots aren't high on your shopping list.
- In Mong Kok, Tung Choi Street (通菜街), popularly known as the Ladies' Market (女人街), is Hong Kong's biggest outdoor shopping experience. Prices here may not be the cheapest, as the area is popular with tourists, but the variety, chaos and sheer number of sellers is mind-boggling and well worth the visit. It is also opened during daytime, unlike the nearby Temple Street Night Market. As with other markets lacking fixed prices, those perceived as being tourists will be quoted a higher price -- so bring your sharpest bargaining skills. Be careful as the market also sells some realistic non-authentic goods (fake Louis Vuitton bags are popular). The pedestrian zone is mostly for electronics and contains clothing stores from Hong Kong's most popular chains. The easiest way to get into the area is through Mong Kok MTR station, Exit B2 or B3.
- Cheung Sha Wan Road is famous for garments. There are many shops selling clothes along Cheung Sha Wan Road. It is within walking distance from Sham Shui Po MTR Station. A number of bus routes also pass along Cheung Sha Wan Road.
Electronics and Computers
Head to Sham Shui Po for gadgets, computer accessories and street markets.
- Sham Shui Po has the largest number of computer and electronics shops.The Golden Computer Centre is the largest computer mall in Hong Kong, with both hardware and software vendors competing extremely vigorously. This is a Mecca for nerdy-trainspotter-types, mostly men, who salivate over the latest widget. The nearby Apliu Street has a collection of market stalls, where you can find phones, small electronic devices as well as DIY tools. Even if you are not that interested in electronic bric-à-brac, the pedestrianised streets in the area have a buzz about them that make a visit interesting. Look out for the "High Phone" which is sold at a fraction of the cost of the Californian version. Use Sham Shui Po MTR, Exit D.
- Mong Kok is popular for consumer electronics and computers. Shops can be found along the road, but normally the shops on upper floors, which tourists may miss, often sell things cheaper. A block of famous "upper floor" electronics shops, which is popular among locals, is Fa Yuen Commercial Building (75-77 Fa Yuen Street), which is easily accessible from Mong Kok MTR Station. If you're after a new phone, the Sin Tat Shopping Centre on Argyle Street is home to many sellers with a wide selection, from iPhones to Japanese imports. When buying electronic items in Hong Kong, remember that you have limited consumer rights and a bargain may not always be such a good deal. Be aware that if the product is not tagged with a price, you could be "slaughter", with a ridiculous profit margin which the seller will pretend to try his best to give you a discount that is still way overprice by Hong Kong standards but might seem reasonably priced by your country's standards.
- Telecom Digital Services Ltd, 16/F Ginza Plaza, 2A-2H Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mongkok, Kowloon (Upstairs PUMA), ☎ 21120099. Get your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad repaired or replaced.
Kowloon is a great place to go for cheap and authentic Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Thai food. It makes a welcome change from following the sophisticates who dine across the harbour in Soho. However, for those who seriously want to splurge, some of this SARs swankiest restaurants are to be found Kowloon-side.
Temple Street south of Mong Kok is a great place to eat Chinese street food. You have not been to Honkers unless you have eaten in this street. Temple Street, famously featured in Chinese cinema, is one of the few pedestrianised streets in Kowloon where you can sit, relax and watch the world pass by. Seafood is a popular choice, but most restaurants will provide you with an extensive English/Chinese menu that caters for most tastes. Frog is a tasty option, or try the oyster omelettes.
Pedestrian friendly streets offer travellers a great place to eat and people watch. Head for Temple Street and explore the surrounding roads as night falls.
The Chungking Mansions (36-44 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui) houses many budget Indian and Nepalese restaurants. Touts at the front entrance will lead you to the restaurants via the small rickety lifts. Be warned that the competition between the touts can become very competitive, sometimes aggressive, so you should be prepared to make your choice as quickly as possible to avoid being dragged away to a restaurant that you did not really plan on going to. Chungking Mansions is one of the most (in)famous buildings in Kowloon. To many local people it is the very best place for cheap, honest, Indian or Nepalese food, whilst others will condemn it as a rat-infested hell-hole with a good chance of diarrhoea thrown in for free.
The immediate area northwest of Jordan Rd and Nathan Rd in Jordan contains a kaleidoscope of cultures and people from India, Laos, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations. Many of them have opened restaurants with authentic cuisine of an international flavour. There are also street restaurants offering Chinese-style seafood, where you can closely view fish, shrimp or crab before being slaughtered for your order. Although the neighbourhood looks rundown, it is safe and filled with pedestrian and vehicular traffic almost around-the-clock. At night, you'll likely get solicited for patronage by restaurant employees. The best way to get into this district is by using Jordan MTR, Exit A.
The Chinese fast food chain Cafe De Coral has numerous locations in Kowloon. The one on the corner of Ichang Street and Ashley Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is believed by many to offer some of the best food (for its price) in Hong Kong.
- CitySuper. A local upscale supermarket chain with pan Asian, Western style food and has its own food court in Harbour City on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
- Choi Lung Restaurant, (Shek Kip Mei MTR Station, B2 Exit). A typical local Chinese restaurant offering dim sum and a Cantonese style dinner. Dim Sum starts from $4.80. It is a nightclub after seven with contemporary music.
- Dragon Centre Food Court, 8th Floor, Dragon Centre Shopping Centre, Sham Shui Po (ear Sham Shui Po MTR Station, accessible on foot). This food court provides a variety of Chinese, Southeast Asian and Western cuisines at attractive prices. Dishes range from $10 up.
- Fa Yuen Street Complex, 123A Fa Yuen Street (near Mong Kok MTR Station). A complex consisting of a wet market, cooked food centre, sports centre and a public library. It is a place where you can find cheap and genuine Hong Kong style food in Kowloon.
- Istanbul Express, Shop F-1. G/F. Rose Mansion, 1 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui. This is a place for Turkish kebabs.
- Mr. Wong's, Yau Ma Tei. This one is popular with exchange students in Hong Kong, offering all the food you can eat and all the beer you can drink for only 50 HKD!
- Swaget. This restauarant on the first floor of Chungking Mansions is, arguably, one of the best Indian restaurants in Hong Kong.
- Tim Ho Wan, Shop 8, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok. 10AM-10PM daily. It is said to be the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world, serving a variety of dim sum dishes starting at $10. Be prepared to wait one, two or even three hours if you come on a busy day (you get a numbered menu/ticket and can come back later).
- Jade Palace, 4th floor, Star House. A tasty and tourist-friendly dim sum spot. Order by selecting from a card (also in English), not from a cart. Try the shrimp and chive dumplings and the tripe in ginger soup. Dim sum served from 11 AM to 3 PM daily, dishes $16-40 each.
- Perfect Vegetarian Food, (take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin, exit via B3, enter the shopping centre and it is immediately on the right.). This Buddhist restaurant serves a very wide range of delicious vegetarian food. Food can be ordered by a small single serving or a large serving (around $60) and dim sum is available until 4 pm. Many dishes imitate meat and are simply described as the meat dish, e.g., beef and noodles. Despite the taste and appearance being incredible realistic, rest assured it is completely vegetarian fare.
- Red Ant, G/F, 27 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ 2375-9698. A modern bistro-like restaurant with a wide selection of light meals and snacks. No alcohol is served but there is a long list of fresh juices and teas.
- Yat Tung Heen, Eaton Hotel, . Cantonese dishes and dim sum, from traditional favourites to original creations.
- Aberdeen Seafood Restaurant (香港仔海鮮小菜), Temple Street, Jordon. Eat outside on the pavement and watch the world pass you buy in this busy street for pedestrians. Serves goose and other meat dishes in addition to seafood. A cheap place to drink beer.
- Lamb Rack (羊鞍餐廳), 44 Fuk Lo Tsun Road, Kowloon City (Close to the Kowloon Walled City Park), ☎ 2383 1033. Serves good lamb and snails in a French-Hong Kong style. $100.
- Fook Lam Moon, 53-59 Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui. The Yum Cha/Dim Sum is excellent. The service and decor is also impressive. Expect to pay around $55 per serve for the mid range dishes. The English menu is only a small subset of the Chinese menu so take along someone who can translate to increase your choice of dishes.
- Gaddi's, Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ 2315 3171, . Arguably Hong Kong's leading restaurant that has delighted aficionados of French food and wine for over 80 years. This is the place where you can test your own command of the French language against French-speaking Chinese waiters. You will be disappointed if you are expecting great harbour views.
Notable watering holes:
- Aqua. Nearby at the top of the 1 Peking Road office building is an alternative and less touristy spot with equally impressive views. As well as a bar, they have a Japanese and Italian restaurant for those without a budget.
- Biergarten, 5 Hanoi Street, Tsim Sha Tsui (Use MTR Exit N1 or N2.), ☎ 2721 2302. This friendly German bar is one of the few places in Kowloon where you can find a good range of quality beers. Excellent German food is served — not just sausages and sauerkraut. Use Exit N2 at East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. $100 - 150.
- Felix, 28th Floor, The Peninsula, Salisbury Road. Atop the Peninsula Hotel on Salisbury Rd, is known for its Philippe Starck interior and the views of the harbour skyline, whilst the men's bathroom has an impressive view up Nathan Road. According to legend, the world's first screwdriver was mixed up here, sampling this simple mix of orange juice and vodka will set you back around $100 a pop.
- Hutong, 28th floor, 1 Peking Rd, ☎ 3428 8342. Hutong is a great place to get a good view of Hong Kong from the top floor of a business building. It's a Michelin starred restaurant with amazing food — try the signature crispy lamb breast with garlic and ginger.
- P.J. Murphy's. A couple of blocks north on Nathan Road from Ocean Terminal between Salisbury Road and Mody Road. Murphy's Bar is a western-style Hong Kong drinking establishment. Enjoy a Guinness with a perfect pour. Throw your tips through the dart board behind the bar.
- Knutsford Terrace, near the Miramar hotel is perhaps best described as the 'Lang Kwai Fong' of Kowloon, and has a large number of bars and restaurants of variable quality that cater for mid-range budgets. A little smaller and less phrenetic than Lan Kwai Fong, but well worth the effort to poke your nose along this narrow street on a Saturday evening.
- Ashley Road, between Nathan Road and the Ocean Terminal shopping mall, features many Western restaurants and bars.
- Mody Road/Centenial Garden. Close to many good hotels, this area of Tsim Sha Tsui offers a more relaxed environment for a drink. Here you will find bars and restaurants spilling out onto the pavement. Leave East Tsim Sha Tsui station at Exit P1, and head past the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel.
- Tung Choi Street, between Prince Edward Road and Boundary Street, is one of Kowloon's up-and-coming bar strips. Few tourists or expats venture here, but there are nearly two dozen bars. Some specialize in karaoke while others have open fronts and extensive drink menus. Prince Edward MTR, exit A.
Be wary of entering the girlie bars scattered around the southern tip of Tsim Sha Tsui. Their entrances are usually decorated with photos of women in various stages of undress. Strip bars are not popular with locals for good reason. There are reports of these places being owned by rough people, even triads, and may place unexpected exorbitant charges on your tab (such as a fee to talk to a girl). They may even escort you to an ATM if you don't have enough cash. The days of Suzie Wong has long passed. Entering these places is highly not-recommended.
- Gok Jai (国际夜总会), MongKok Portland Street 111, ☎ 27838098. Hostess Club 380 per hour.
A large number of guesthouses are located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Jordan offering cheap, small but generally comfortable and safe accommodation licensed by the Hong Kong government. These are barebone places to stay so there will be no restaurants, souvenir shops or newspaper delivery. Most owners will only speak basic English. Chung King Mansions and Mirador Mansions, both on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui are famously home to a number of budget hotels and hostels. Having attracted western backpackers for decades, these guesthouses have become increasingly popular with budget travellers from mainland China. Staying at budget hotels is entirely at your own risk and you are advised to seek recommendations from other travellers. Please remember to post your own recommendations here.
Expect budget hotel rooms to be undecorated and small with only a bed (or beds), night stand, telephone and television. Noise from fellow travellers may be a problem, so invest in good earplugs. Most will have "in-suite" bathrooms while others have communal bathrooms. Upon check-in, you should ask the owner how to turn on the water boiler unless you want to shower with cold water. Some guesthouses will include free wireless Internet. Virtually all rooms will come with air-conditioning.
Bookings are not needed and some Wikitravellers have reported that bookings have not always been honoured. The best way to secure a room is simply by arriving at around 1:00pm, when many of last night's guests have just checked out. Ask to see the room before paying, and you should pay for only one night. If you're happy with the first night, the owner will almost always happily extend your stay. You should also ask if there's 24 hour unassisted entrance (which is recommended) or if you have to ring a bell at night. Credit cards aren't accepted, it's cash only. Remember to ask for a receipt with check-in and check-out dates clearly printed.
Prices generally range from $150-$250 per night for a single room with en-suite bathrooms. If you are comfortable with a community bathroom, expect to pay about $120. If you know how long you are staying, negotiate in advance to get a lower rate: they want your business over several days, so they will be willing to drop their prices to even $90 a night for a four or five night stay. However some less honest managers tend to increase their prices dramatically around public holidays, in which case it will take either a reservation or a very hard bargaining to get back to the prices mentioned above (or you can simply try and pick a good one, but it can take several hours).
There are more accommodation options on the Chung King Mansion, including dormitory rooms. The building which was once an office building is over populated by the countless cheap hostels within it and is now home for lots of foreigners from poor countries all around the world. The massive amount of people creates a queue of up to 15 min to the elevators at rush hours.
Among those that have a long history are the Travellers Hostel, Block A, 16 Fl in Chungking and the Garden Hostel, 2Fl, Mirador Mansions. There are places in the Mansions however that travellers seeking fair lodging should definitely avoid. Among them are the Fortunate Guest House and Peninsula Guest House, both owned by the same shady individual who will not hesitate to put you in another, cheaper guesthouse while making you pay disproportionate fees and keeping the difference. The said individual has apparently earned himself quite a reputation among the chinese guesthouse owners, and is usually seen on the ground floor trying to attract customers.
- Cosmic Guest House, 12/F, Block A1, Mirador Mansion, ☎ (852) 2369 6669, . A clean hostel with mostly friendly staff, you can get clean dorms here for $60, or bargain for a good deal on one of the tiny private rooms with air-conditioning and cable TV.
- Dragon Hostel, 83 Argyle St, Mong Kok, . Tiny but clean rooms with aircon and free Internet at reception. Located on the 7th floor and a short walking distance from Mong Kok MTR Station. (852) 2395 0577.
- Hakkas Guest House, Flat l 3/f., new lucky house, 300 Nathan Road, ☎ (852) 2771 3656. This well-maintained guesthouse is home to 10 immaculate rooms and is one of the best budget deals at the Yau Ma Tei end of Nathan Rd.
- Hop Inn (樸樸旅舍), 2A Hanyee Building, Hankow Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong (located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui district on Hankow Road), ☎ (852) 2881 7331 ([email protected]), . A clean & stylish hostel with friendly staff, one of the best in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. Each room was designed by a different local artist / illustrator (Very interesting).
- Lee Garden Guest House, 36 Cameron Road, Kowloon. Tiny but clean rooms, this hostel is in a great location in Kowloon, near the MTR station and just a few blocks from Nathan Road.
- New International Guest House, 11th floor Chung King Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Rd, Kowloon, ☎ 2368 7693 ([email protected]). Located on 11th floor of Chung King Mansion, this is one of the nicer guesthouses in the building. Rooms are small (like most in Chung King Mansion), but clean and cheerful. A double room with A/C, TV and in-room wireless internet access should cost around $250 per night, perhaps less during low quieter times or for those willing to bargain hard.
- New Peking Guest House, Block A Flat A1 12/F, Chung King Mansion, 40 Nathan Rd, ☎ +852-94643684, . Rooms are small but very clean, and staff is very friendly and helpful. $200.
- USA Hostel Hong Kong, Flat F1, 13th Floor, Mirador Mansions Bldg, 58 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ (852) 2311 2523, . Located in an old building that is also home to stores and other commercial enterprises, expect a budget hotel which (usually) is clean. Ask to see the room first, or you'll get a really small one. Generally, the next day they will move you out of the good room into one of the smaller ones. Also don't be surprised to see the television and shower not function properly. It is right beside Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. $290.
- Welcome Guest House, 7th floor Chung King Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Rd, Kowloon, ☎ 2721 7793 ([email protected]), . checkout: 12:00. Good guest house in Chung King Mansions. Doubles go for $180, are fairly roomy and are equipped with AC, fridge, TV, telephone and bathrooms with hot shower and toilet. Singles are $130, are positively tiny and don't have a fridge. Most rooms, apart from those farthest from the reception have free WiFi. Rooms are clean but are of a rather mediocre standard (leaky sinks, some cracked tiles, nothing too serious); sheets are changed and rooms cleaned daily. The biggest problem with this guest house is that some of the air-con units are rather noisy (even when turned off), so if you have trouble sleeping it's worth bringing your own earplugs. The staff are very friendly and trustworthy. Some travellers report of leaving their luggage, including (rather expensive) laptops and kindles in plain sight (in their rooms) unattended for several days, and nothing having been taken or tampered with.
- Canadian Hostel, 7th floor Chung King Mansions, Block E, Flat E6, 36-44 Nathan Rd, Kowloon, ☎ +852-27233681 ([email protected]), . checkout: noon. Clean guesthouse with tv, fast WiFi, 24 hours cold and hot water. All the rooms are air conditioned and have en suite bathrooms. The rooms are modern. The owner is friendly. The rooms are cleaned and made every day.
- Tokyo/Australian guesthouse, 16th floor Chung King Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Rd, Kowloon. checkout: 12:00. A clean guesthouse with TV, good WiFi, fridge, hot water, AirCon and ensuite bathroom. The rooms seem to be quite modern and updated although fairly tiny, but that's typical for the Chung King Mansions. Owner is a pretty nice and helpful guy. Room was cleaned and made up every day. Hot water is pretty strong and good! The beds in the twin rooms (sleeps 2) go for about $250.
- Wonderful Inn, 5/F, Golden Crown Court, 66 - 70 Nathan Road, Kowloon, ☎ (852) 2302-4812, . Clean rooms, fast service & helpful staff. $400 and up.
- Citadines Ashley (香港馨乐庭亚士厘服务公寓), 18 Ashley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ (852) 2262 3062 ([email protected], fax: (852) 2262 3000), . Each of the studios features a living space which doubles up as a home office, with internet access. From $1,350.
- Eaton Hotel Hong Kong, . This four-star hotel is located in Jordan overlooking Nathan Road and is a short-stop from the MTR station.
- Evergreen Hotel Hong Kong, 48 Woo Sung Street, Jordan, . It is a reasonable hotel with clean rooms, friendly staff and good location near Jordan MTR station, Temple Street night market and Nathan Road. Special internet rates available.
- Harbour Plaza Hong Kong, ☎ (852) 2621 3188, . Located in Hung Hom with roooms overlooking Victoria Harbour. Large outdoor swimming pool. Free shuttle bus to Tsim Sha Tsui.
- Hotel Benito Hong Kong, 7-7B Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ (852) 3653 0388, . This is a new hotel (opened late 2007) with rates at around the $800 up. It has a very good location in Tsim Sha Tsui and is 2-minutes from the MTR station.
- The Salisbury YMCA, 41 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ 852-2268-7000, . The Salisbury is Hong Kong's main YMCA and is a well regarded hotel. All rooms have private bathrooms and some have good views of the harbour. The location, next to the Peninsula hotel and near the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station can't be beaten. Rooms start around $900 per night, making this a very popular choice with budget minded families. If you have a dependable schedule, reservations well in-advance are highly recommended. Other Y services (swimming pool, gym, restaurants, etc.) are available to hotel guests either free or at reasonable rates.
- Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2311 1234 ([email protected]), . 381 rooms and suites with views of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon skyline, Sky Garden and outdoor pool. Guestroom amenities: work area, marble bath, wireless internet access. Regency Club Lounge for free continental breakfast, private concierge and secretarial services.
- InterContinental, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2721 1211. Located right on the Kowloon waterfront, this hotel offers some of the very best views of the harbour and the Hong Kong skyline.
- Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, ☎ +852 2721 2111, . Accessible through East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station, Exit P1. From airport to hotel: It takes 20 minutes by the Airport Express train . Airport Express passengers can take the free Airport Express shuttle bus (route K4) from Kowloon Station to the hotel (duration: 15 minutes).
- Langham Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, ☎ +852 2375 1133, . This hotel is an elegant European-Style Hotel located in the heart of Kowloon's busiest commercial and entertainment district - Tsim Sha Tsui, with superb designer boutiques and entertainment on its doorstep. It is just a few minutes' walk from Star Ferry and Victoria Harbour, Tsimshatsui MTR underground station.
- Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, ☎ +852 3552 3388, . Newly built in 2004, this five-star technological trend setter provides an oasis of tranquility in the bustle of Mongkok, the heart of 'real' Hong Kong. Adjacent to an ultra-modern trendy shopping mall, the hotel is also a stone's throw from traditional street markets selling everything from dried sea cucumber to 'Rolex' watches. The MTR is in the basement so you can reach many of Hong Kong's best tourist sights without leaving air-conditioned comfort. Just a few blocks south is Hong Kong's unofficial red-light district along neon-lit Portland Street.
- Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Rd, ☎ +852 2920 2888, . Hong Kong's grand old historic hotel has a commanding presence with some of Hong Kong's best bars, restaurants and luxury boutiques (and equally commanding prices starting at around $2,500 per night). Or how about the $50,000 honeymoon suite package including a helicopter tour of the city? The hotel was taken over as a military headquarter during the Japanese occupation in World War II.
- Regal Kowloon Hotel, 71 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station Exit D2), ☎ +852 2722 1818, . 600 rooms and suites with wireless Internet access. Near the Temple Street Night Market and shopping areas on Nathan Road. $1100-$2300.
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