With its futuristic neon skyline, it’s easy to forget that Hong Kong is actually a tropical island surrounded by firefly-flecked hiking trails and pretty beaches.
Here are three game plans to ring in the Chinese New Year (Feb. 3) while restaurant and island-hopping through Hong Kong’s super-sleek cityscape and under-the-radar green spaces. Hop away: It’s the Year of the Rabbit.
WHERE TO STAY: Lauded as one of the coolest new hotels in the world, the Mira Hotel (from $185; themirahotel.com) is an ultra-modern gem in Kowloon known for its celebrity chef-helmed restaurants, such as Yamm. It also features future-forward perks, including an indoor infinity pool, spa, and tech-savvy amenities, such as Mira cell phones that can be used to reach the hotel from anywhere in the city — or just to order up some delish room service.
DON’T MISS: For authentic dim sum dumplings, Luk Yu Tea House has been the place to go since the 1930s. Today the slow-turning ceiling fans, old-timey spittoons, and wooden booths are a break from the city’s wireless pace.
DAY TRIP: Cruise out to Lamma Island for super-fresh seafood at a variety of rustic restaurants that the main Yung Shue Wan drag. Nosh on frutti di mare fare, from stir-fried squid with broccoli to steamed scallops with garlic and steamed crab. Believe us, it’s worth a trip.
WHERE TO STAY: During the last few years, Hong Kong’s well-heeled aficionados have made headlines with their record-breaking art auction purchases. Stay at the opulent Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong (from $373; shangri-la.com) for its museum-meets-luxury oasis feel. It boasts the world’s largest Chinese silk painting, spanning 16 stories.
DON’T MISS: The Hong Kong Arts Festival (Feb. 17-Mar. 27; hk.artsfestival.org) is accepting bookings now. Reserve for opera, dance, music, and theater performances, as well as special events. While you’re there, cover some 6,000 years of history starting from the Neolithic era at the expansive Hong Kong Museum of History (hk.history.museum) on Chatham Road, complete with a tram and re-created Chinese opera company.
Order up chocolate martinis and mango daiquiris among the city’s most fashionable denizens at the Soho House-like, members-only Feather Boa bar on Staunton Street in HK’s Soho district—that is, if you can first find (and then get into) the unmarked antique shop-turned-rococo hotspot.
DAY TRIP: Take a gamble with a trip out to Macao (aka Hong Kong’s Monaco) for glitzy casinos, such as the over-the-top, $2.1 billion City of Dreams, which opened last June, and historic temples, such as the A-Ma and Kun Iam Tong.
WHERE TO STAY: Camp out on the lovely Pui O Beach on Lantau Island. The organized, yet bare-bones campsite is a hideaway from the city’s frenetic pulse and features BBQs and showers, as well as a lively beach bar, where instead of seeing pink elephants, you might actually catch a glimpse of the island’s free-roaming water buffalo.
MUST-DO: Grab your swimsuit and sunglasses and spend a relaxed day in the sand on Silvermine Bay Beach on Lantau.
DAY TRIP: Soar over Lantau’s green landscape with the Ngong Ping 360 cable car tour and take in a bird’s-eye view of the island’s famous Giant Buddha statue, Po Lin Monastery, and Tai O fishing village.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Beginning at 8 p.m. daily, the spectacular Symphony of Lights show over Victoria Harbour is the world’s largest display of its kind (take that Bellagio Fountains) and stretches some 40 buildings on each side. It feels like New Year’s Eve every night.
GETTING THERE: Fly nonstop to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific from JFK or
on Continental from Newark-Liberty, otherwise you will have to connect
through mainland China or another gateway city.