By Helen Alexander
Summer months might be scorching, but inside Hong Kong’s air-conditioned art galleries, cocktail bars and hot new restaurants the atmosphere is refreshingly cool. From Sheung Wan’s fashionable lounges to Tai Hang’s caffeinated cafes, we round up the best places to hangout with Hong Kong’s hipsters. Beat the heat and go where the cool cats roam.
Late-night Feasting in Sheung Wan
Buzzing bars, international eats and a distinctly bohemian vibe are increasingly attracting the creatives to the vibrant neighbourhood of Sheung Wan.
Photo: CC2.0 istolethetv
Once upon a time Lan Kwai Fong lured the city’s 24-hour party people, but today’s discerning diners want more than happy hour offers from their evening out. Welcome to Sheung Wan – where you can nibble authentic, aromatic Thai dishes from the northeaster Isaan region and sip Asia-inspired cocktails in the stylish surrounds of Chachawan, before travelling next door to New York lounge bar 208 Duecento Otto (208 Hollywood Road) where more than 20 wine varieties are served by the glass alongside delicious Italian-style thin-crust pizzas.
Prepare for your night out at one-seat hair salon cum jazz bar Visage One (93 Hollywood Road) where stylist Benky Chan is always ready to give patrons a quick cut and blow-dry while they sip a glass of wine and beer. When he puts down his scissors, the two-storey space turns into a live music venue.
Tai Ping Shan Street’s Art Attractions
Hong Kong Street Art, Image: Thinkstock
Head back to Sheung Wan during the day for the micro-neighbourhood of Tai Ping Shan, where a number of galleries and boutiques call the street’s colonial-style shop houses home.
From Sin Sin Fine Arts’ regularly changing exhibitions of emerging and established local and Indonesian artists and the international heavyweights that have appeared at Para/Site Art Space – past projects have seen work by controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei appear on the whitewashed walls – to the incredible curated collection of work at the Asia Art Archive, this area is buzzing with creativity.
To take home an arty souvenir of your own, Droog’s split-level gallery and shop is the irreverent Dutch brand’s largest outlet in Asia. Pick up off-the-wall homewares like a wine glass-powered doorbell or quirky kitchenware. For more eye-appealing items to take home, make for Squarestreet – a watch, shoe and leather-goods workshop-meets-showroom owned by two Swedish designers.
Go on a Caffeine Crawl in Tai Hang
Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Causeway Bay’s harbour area, the charming little district of Tai Hang is the place to get your caffeine fix. Whereas once you couldn’t move for auto repair shops, the alleyways between Tung Lo Wan Road and Tai Hang Road are now home to several independent tea, coffee and sweet shops.
First to open in the area, Unar Coffee Company (4 Second Lane) is a blink-and-you-miss-it stand-up coffee bar that shares a building with the funky Feel So Good store, which sells unusual and eye-catching homewares.
If you are more of a tea-drinker, Volume One (30 Sun Chun Street) is a teahouse and bakery with a side of on-trend fashion accessories and handcrafted jewellery from local designers thrown in for good measure, while the team at jrink (21 Ormsby Street) have taken the barista’s beloved extraction and brewing machine – the Alpha Dominche Steampunk 4.1 – and are busy using it to create more than 80 different blends of tea. And for something sweet, check out the liquid nitrogen ice creams served at Lab Made (6 Brown Street).
Frozen at -195°C the minute you place your order, you can be guaranteed no colours, preservatives or additives, while fresh, seasonally changing flavours such black sesame and strawberry shortcake promise to keep you cool on Hong Kong’s hottest days – while the lychee and peach vodka sorbet is set to be this summer’s foodie sensation.
Sai Ying Pun’s Hidden Haunts
Hole-in-the-wall eateries and cellar cocktail bars are sure signs the hipsters are in town, and that’s exactly the kind of places that have been popping up in recent years in this western residential suburb.
Ping Pong Gintoneria
Causing a huge stir when it opened recently earlier this year, Ping Pong Gintoneria (Nam Cheong House, 129 Second Street) might look like the table tennis supply store that it was once, but inside the basement bar is a homage to all things gin with more than 60 versions sourced from small distilleries each producing their own distinct blend of botanicals.
Keep the underground theme going at live music venue and indie nightclub XXX Gallery (353-363 Des Voeux Road West).
Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Situated in the Hong Kong’s hipster hub of Sheung Wan, the 55 boutique bedrooms at The Mercer are a short walk away from top neighbourhood attractions including the atmospheric Man Mo Temple and the cafes and shops that line nearby Tai Ping Shan Street on the slopes of Victoria Peak.
And for views of Hong Kong’s twinkling harbour, stay in Kowloon Bay. The Peninsula Hong Kong revels in its 1920s grandeur and makes the most of its views with a rooftop pool and sundeck.
How to Get There
Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific operates several direct flights a day connecting Singapore to Hong Kong (HKG) on the island of Chek Lap Kok, travel time is just under four hours. In addition, low-cost carriers such as Jetstar and Scoot also regularly fly this route.
Three-month (90 day) visas are issued to Singaporean and Malaysian nationals on arrival.