A Seasoned Hong Kong Local Shares Their Tips for a Perfect Night on the Town
December 21, 2023
Hong Kong is known for a lot of things, the most prominent being its night vibes.
There’s a certain time of day in Hong Kong – usually around the 5pm mark – when you’re hit with a palpable sense that the day is only just beginning. Rain or shine, whether you’re on a secluded beach surrounded by lush forest or sneaking into a bustling bar at Central for happy hour, Hong Kong is a city that truly comes alive at night. I should know – I spent a decade living and working there as a lifestyle journalist, covering everything from the hottest new restaurant and bar openings to major international art fairs.
In my experience, the question in Hong Kong is not so much “Are you doing anything tonight?” but rather “What are you doing tonight?”.
To ensure you’re getting the most out of Hong Kong’s Night Vibes, locals and newcomers to the city alike can take advantage of Hong Kong Night Treats. These dining vouchers allow you to embark on a culinary adventure in the city after dark.
VIEWS AND VISTAS
But where to start? Let’s take it from the top – literally. While The Peak should be on any Hong Kong bucket list for its sweeping city and harbour views from 500-odd metres above it all, it’s at night that it truly dazzles. Hot tip: head up at dusk to catch an unforgettable sunset. The sunsets are also pretty special from closer to the ground, so get your timing right to hop on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to catch the last of the daylight and watch the bright city lights take over. Taking the ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui means you’ll be rewarded with front-row seats to A Symphony of Lights, the laser and music show that illuminates the skyline from 8pm every night.
The expansive boulevards and labyrinthian alleyways of Tsim Sha Tsui are ripe for exploring after dark, too, and are home to some of the city’s last remaining hand-crafted neon signs as well as plenty of late-night restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll, let the lights of Nathan Road guide you through Yau Ma Tei – make a pitstop at its impressive art deco-era police station and theatre, right by the century-old wholesale fruit market that comes to life after midnight – and up to the bustling Mong Kok district. There, you’ll be spoilt for choice for things to eat, see, do and buy, but join the queues that line Dundas Street to sample classic Hong Kong street food, from spicy curry fishballs and steaming-hot siu mai to freshly made waffles finished with whipped butter, peanut butter and condensed milk.
For even more late-night snacking, there’s no better place than the recently revamped Temple Street Night Markets. The markets stretch from Nanking Street to Jordan Road and serve up a wide array of Hong Kong snacks, like siu mai, snake soup, curry fish balls and more, including cuisines from other Southeast Asian countries and the Middle East. But it’s not just food you can enjoy here. There are art installations and projections for you to admire while snacking.
CULTURE AFTER DARK
There are also plenty of ways to experience the cultural side of Hong Kong after dark. Start your evening at Hong Kong Palace MuseumHong Kong Palace Museum – which exhibits over 900 artefacts from Beijing’s National Palace Museum, including some that have never before been displayed in public – is open until 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, making an evening double-header of world-class museums a very real possibility.
Then head to the spectacular M+, the recently opened jewel in the crown of the ambitious West Kowloon Cultural District, which is open until 10pm on Fridays, offering culture vultures a chance to explore Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture after sundown.
If you’re after a more interactive experience with local culture, pull up a plastic stool underneath the flyover where Wan Chai meets Causeway Bay for a session of petty person beating (打小人). You won’t need to get your hands dirty, though – this ancient ritual involves a ‘villain hitter’ putting a curse on your enemies through an eight-part ceremony. The hitting comes into play when, upon receiving an order from a client as well as information about their adversary, a villain hitter beats a human-shaped paper with a shoe or another equally forceful implement.
While Hong Kong has long been known for its vibrant nightlife, its bar scene is now rightly recognised as one of the best and most progressive in the world. Stepping into Foxglove, hidden behind an umbrella store on the historic Duddell Street, you’ll feel instantly transported to the swinging jazz bars of the 1950s, thanks to perfectly calibrated mood lighting, aeroplane-inspired mid-century decor and elegant cocktail program that makes the perfect foil for the venue’s refined Cantonese fare. Perhaps its main drawcard, though, is the live music, with a regular lineup of jazz, soul and blues on most nights of the week.
The jazz vibes are also strong at DarkSide, which placed at number nine on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023. The swanky bar, located in the harbourside Rosewood Hong Kong (number two, The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023), boasts an impressive menu of rare aged spirits, clever, creative cocktails and vintage cigars, which are complemented by a curated selection of blue-chip artwork and sultry live jazz.
To explore Hong Kong’s independent creative scene, head to Kowloon go-tos Bound and Terrible Baby. The former, a hive of ambient vaporwave in the otherwise residential district of Prince Edward, was nailing the Euphoria aesthetic long before we got to know the teens of East Highland and often hosts live music and club nights by local indie performers, pop-up markets and art exhibitions. Terrible Baby, located in the sustainability- and diversity-focused Eaton Hotel, boasts one of the city’s biggest cocktail terraces and is regularly abuzz with live music and DJ sets, comedy nights, vinyl markets and more. The expansive space also houses a dedicated music room and gallery, ensuring there’s always something to see or listen to on a visit.
If bar-hopping is on your itinerary, be sure to stop in at Maggie Choos in Hollywood Centre for a night of drama and intrigue or to the stylish bar and chef’s counter, Artifact, for unique cocktails — like bread and butter punch pictured below — and meticulously-crafted dishes.
Go where the night vibes take you. To find out more about Hong Kong’s Night Vibes and Night Treats vouchers, head to the website.
Images (from top): Chi Hung Wong (Hong Kong Skyline), Pat138241 Getty Images (Hong Kong City Skyline), Hong Kong Tourism (Symphony of Lights), Hong Kong Tourism Board (Star Ferry), David F Getty Images (Hong Kong Neon Street), Raymond Tam (Temple Street), Hong Kong Tourism Board (Wan Chai), Ben Cheung (Hong Kong Skyline), Tan Zehong Hong Kong Tourism Board (M+), Hong Kong Tourism Board (CNY-TST), Zi Mui Hong Kong Tourism Board (Foxglove), Hong Kong Tourism Board (Maggie Choo), Hong Kong Tourism Board (Driven by her Dreams cocktail), Hong Kong Tourism Board (Artifact, bread and butter punch), Ezra Star Hong Kong Tourism Board (Artifact, Beckaly FRanks Co-Director).
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