10 Hidden Gems in Hong Kong

By: Anneka Shally

Before I moved to Hong Kong I read that you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in a different restaurant everyday for 11 years and still not have eaten in every restaurant in the city, this is just one example of the seemingly endless amount there is to be discovered in the sprawling concrete jungle that is Hong Kong. The urban centre isn't even all there is to this city, the archipelago of Hong Kong is made up of more than 200 islands, less than 25% of Hong Kong is actually built up urban area.

1. Private Kitchen - Tokyo Chilli House, Causeway Bay.

Private kitchens - this dining trend started in Hong Kong in the 90's and has been evolving ever since. A somewhat 'underground' experience of dining where you feel like you are (and in some cases actually will be) eating in someone's living room. This private kitchen is located close to Causeway Bay station exit F, and like many of Hong Kong's best hidden gems is located in an unassuming residential building.

Contrary to what the name suggests, the Tokyo Chilli House is actually a Thai restaurant. I can't even remember how many dishes we had when we went, but it was enough food to feed all nine of us for days. We were presented with dish after dish of wonderful Thai food, including Tom Yum soup and a Penang crab curry. We paid a set price of $298/head and there's no corkage fee, so we bought a couple of bottles of wine with us. A perfect intimate setting for a celebration.

Reservations essential: +85229150083

2. Hidden drink offer - Little Sheep Hot Pot.

Winter in Hong Kong means it's Hot Pot season, a wonderful way to dine with friends. A large pot of broth is placed on the table for everyone share in cooking and eating their food.

As a popular chain of hot pot restaurant, this isn't a 'hidden gem' in the same way as most of the places I have featured, the reason I have chosen this one in particular is because there is a relatively unadvertised drink offer - pay $18 (about £1.45) and you can drink as much Tsing Tao beer as you can while your hot pot is still going.

Little Sheep has several branches around Hong Kong, my local one is the Mong Kok branch located on 4F Mong Kok Commercial Centre (opposite Langham Place).

3. Reality Escape Game - Freeing Hong Kong.

“We’ve had 3D movies for a while now. 4D has come out, too, but what about 5D or 6D? What if, instead of only watching a film, we could one day take part in the actual story?” Instant Wan, co-founder. 

Freeing HK is a reality escape game where you are trapped in a themed room full of codes and puzzles, you have 45minutes to break the codes and escape back to the real world. Located in an unassuming commercial centre in Tsim Sha Tsui (there are also venues in Mong Kok, Yuen Long, Causeway Bay and Kwung Tong). We opted for the 'gold rush' theme, the setting appeared to be in the basement of a brewery with frantic western music playing in the background. Our reality escape began with us all being handcuffed together and tied up to a wooden post, we were left a clue sheet to help us figure out how to complete the first challenge - to get out of the handcuffs. A challenging game of logic, a different way to spend a night with friends.

Prices vary - our goldrush experience was $168/per person.

Book online at http://freeinghk.com/

4. Hush Up Cinema.

Hush Up (creators of the Secret Island Party) hold a series of alternative film nights, from floating cinema experiences to rooftop screenings.

They have just launched 'Secret Cinema' a cinematic experience aimed to utilise all of your senses, using taste and touch as well as visual and sound. I went to the screening of Amelie at their launch on Sunday, they themed everything to a tee including the setting being in the basement of a french bar to having wine and cheese tasting beforehand.

Check out their website for screenings - http://hushup.hk/

5. Underground club nights

There is more to Hong Kong nightlife than fancy cocktails and champagne. There are a couple of event organisers which offer a different kind of night out in Hong Kong away from the main partying areas LKF, Wan Chai and Soho.

Fresh Off the Boat Asia - they recently hosted a 'secret warehouse party' at Sk85ive2 indoor skatepark in Kwung Tong around month ago. Located on the seventh floor of an industrial building, which we had to access via a rickety lift with old school manual doors.


hkbunkerclub - held a rave in a forest in Sai Kung for halloween, only accessible by the organised bus and then a hike.


xxx - Art gallery/club. Usually around $100 byob. The music is a mixture of Hip Hop, Drum and Bass and dancehall reggae.


6. Full Cup Cafe, Mong Kok.

To get to this independent cafe you have to make your way down one of Mong Kok's darkened allies, it may take a bit of wandering around to find (it did for us anyway) but it's vintage and eclectic style of furniture is quite a novelty to see in Mong Kok, it's well worth the effort. A great place to chill out after facing the chaos of the city, and it has one of the most impressive selections of tea and coffee i've seen in Hong Kong - they have everything from herbal tea to white chocolate coffee. The cafe spans over three floors and can be accessed by staircase.

Around the 5th and a half floor... 36 Dundas Street, Mong Kok.

7. Aqua, Mong Kok

Hong's Kong's shopping district Mong Kok is the most densely packed place in the world - between the vast number of locals going about their daily lives and the tourists hoping to haggle a bargain down the famous Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street, it can get pretty overwhelming. Aqua bar is within a two minute walk from ladies market in the rather run down looking Ho King Shopping Centre. escape the crowds here after a hectic day of shopping on their large terrace adorned with fairy lights. Be amazed at the peace and quiet you can find so close to the chaos.

3F Ho King Shopping Centre, Fa Yuen Street.

8. IFC Rooftop, Central.

A lovely little spot above one of Hong Kong's most high end shopping malls, the IFC (the whole place even smells expensive). There's lots of big cushioned sofas and tables which are free for anyone to use - you are allowed to bring your own food and drink, a great spot to bring a picnic and some drinks. Admire the stunning view over the harbour from one of Hong Kong's most famous buildings, without having to fork out a small fortune as most 'bars with a view' will charge.

9. Tai Long Wan Beach and Waterfalls, Sai Kung.

This is the most inaccessible beach in Hong Kong as it can only be reached by foot - and my favourite Hong Kong hike. Get a bus or taxi from Sai Kung to the Sai Wan pavillion and the beach can be reached in less than an hour by foot. The view of the islands on the way is spectacular, on a sunny day the water is a vivid turqoise. The beach at the end is one of the nicest i've seen in Hong Kong - it could be anywhere in South East Asia. There are also some secluded waterfalls at the far end of the beach, just take a left before the stone bridge an walk through the clearing in the trees. Here you will have the opportunity to do some cliff diving (the ledge is around 8ft) and swimming in the fresh water pools.

10. Tai O infinity pool, Lantau.

Swim in this outdoor infinity pool fed by natural waterfalls overlooking Tai O, this spot for me opitimises the title of this article.

Once you have made your way to the sleepy secluded Tai O on Lantau island, cross the stone bridge by the bus terminus and follow the hiking trail for about an hour. You will eventually come to a red fire hydrant marked 470, after this look out for an unmarked concrete staircase on your left. Hike uphill for around 15 minutes and you will come to the infinity pool fed by a natural waterfall (if you pass by some abandoned buildings on the way you're on the right track). This waterfall goes all the way down the mountain and there are around 9 freshwater pools, most of which are good for swimming (the others do require some 'off track' hiking to get to, this can be difficult in summer - when the area is infested with spiders). 

The Tai O sunset from the infinity pools on a clear day is something truely special to see.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingAnneka Shally is a British expat living in Hong Kong. Blog description: My blog is primarily about life in Hong Kong and travels in between.
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