From toddlers to the elderly, everyone in Hong Kong displays their own personal style. Just walking down the street, or sitting in a public park, one can observe two-year-old boys clinging to their fathers wearing artsy t-shirts, tiny girls skipping along in fashionable dresses, hair in unique clips and bows, and elderly folks sporting bold prints. The food also has style—as much a feast for the eyes as for the palate—and public works of art proliferate. Even shopping malls pride themselves in support for local artists, making a trip to the mall an education.
With new service on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, North Shore denizens can travel in style nonstop to that cosmopolitan center for the first time, cutting more than four hours from the previous one-stop service. Cathay Pacific Senior Vice President, Americas, Tom Owen notes that the new service also provides a gateway to Shanghai and other Asian destinations. “We are … opening up the greater New England region to connect with numerous Asian cities, including over 23 destinations in Mainland China,” he says.
Cathay Pacific has won many awards for its four classes of service – economy, premium economy, which offers more legroom, and upgraded food and amenities, business and first class, with private fully reclining seats and first-rate comestibles. Cathay’s style and service inflight are an apt entry into the food and culture of China. Alongside traditional American food, Asian meals, from dumplings to congee, are also on offer inflight —a delicious way to slide into Asian culture.
Taking advantage of Cathay’s new service, first time visitors to China couldn’t do better than the pairing of Hong Kong and Shanghai, in mainland China. Here are some tips for visiting these two destinations.
From the air and the ground, the landscape of Hong Kong is awe inspiring – towering lush green mountains are the backdrop to an ever-changing skyline of architecturally fascinating skyscrapers surrounding jewel-like Victoria Harbor. It doesn’t quite seem real—even locals snap selfies continually.
To do: Cool off and take in Victoria Harbor from aboard a junk boat – a traditional Chinese sailing vessel. Aqua Luna offers several sailings daily aboard striking red-sailed boats, outfitted with comfortable lounge chairs and a full bar.
To buy: Shopping malls are both a welcome escape from the dripping humidity and a good way to discover what things should really cost before attempting to bargain at the famous Mongkok street markets. At the Langham Place Mall, soon to be rebranded as the Cordis Mall, take the long escalator to see get a look at more interesting local stores and brands, or take in the international collection on the lower floors. Harbor City, the largest mall in Hong Kong, occupies a swath of prime real estate along the harbor, featuring stunning views alongside 450 shops and 50 food and beverage outlets.
To eat: For a true sampling of local food, sign up for a Little Adventures in Hong Kong walking tour. Led by street-wise insiders, like local chefs and food bloggers, customized for each patron, and strictly limited to a maximum of three participants per guide, this foodie tour slips into local tea shops, dim sum parlors and roasted meat emporiums to sample anything from juicy soup buns to pig’s ears to turtle jelly. Be sure try yuangyang, a mixture of coffee, tea and evaporated milk that is very popular with locals.
To sleep: The Cordis, a peaceful oasis in Mongkok – the most densely populated place on earth—has nearly completed an extensive renovation as part of rebranding as the first in the company’s new Cordis upscale lifestyle-oriented properties. Each well-appointed room comes with a complementary “Handy Phone” for the length of a guest’s stay. Easily the best amenity an international traveler could ask for, it offers unlimited international calling, a camera, WiFi and the ability to create a personal hotspot, so visitors can stay in touch without running up huge roaming charges.
To do: Don’t be surprised if locals snap pictures of you while you whiz through the streets of Shanghai in a motorcycle sidecar. Shanghai Insiders custom tours aboard lovingly restored vintage motorcycle sidecars are eye-catching. Imagine you are starring in your own movie as dart in and out of traffic, visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations like a massive 1933 slaughterhouse turned hip gallery and restaurant hub or a shady courtyard in the former French concession.
To buy: Purchase a custom Chinese silk evening jacket for a fraction of the price of Shanghai Tang or bring your favorite garment to be copied in an infinite array of colors at the South Bund Fabric Market, where hundreds of stalls filled with tailors and bolts of cloth sprawl over multiple stories. Ask your hotel concierge for a reputable tailor and prepare to bargain. You will pay a higher price for a 24-hour turn around, but many tailors will travel to your hotel the next day for a fitting.
To drink: Stop for a classic cocktail at the Jazz Bar at the Fairmont Peace Hotel and be transported back in time –the dark wood and clubby atmosphere feels unchanged since the 1920s. The Old Jazz Band musicians really are old, averaging 80-plus, but are accompanied by a sultry female vocalist singing classic Shanghai tunes.
To sleep: The Langham, in the trendy Xintiandi neighborhood, combines the five-star international service, contemporary design and world-class art collection Langham is known for with Chinese style, from the luxurious Chuan spa, featuring a traditional Chinese Medicine approach to wellness, to the multi-award-winning T’ang Court, offering artistic and mouthwatering authentic Cantonese cuisine.