I touch down in Hong Kong at 9pm after an 18-hour flight from Toronto. I had slept the majority of the last leg and woke up to the wheels of the plane touching down on the tarmac. Still a bit dazed, I cleared customs, grabbed my bag and hailed a cab. My driver skillfully weaves in and out of traffic as I stare out the window: The city rapidly approaches and the buildings grow from specks of light on the horizon to towering giants standing steadfast on both sides of the street, like a parade barricade, ushering me into the heart of the bustling metropolis.
I checked into my hotel in Wan Chai, a district that sits just outside of Central Hong Kong and is a little more rough-and-tumble, especially at night when the streets come alive with late-night dining options and all walks of life. I love parts of cities with character, so I always stay in Wan Chai. The hotel is beautiful – black and white granite everywhere, accented with gold light fixtures and neon blue lights… very Hong Kong.
The only problem is the place is virtually void of life, save for the cute girl behind the desk who checks me in. I walked past the bar for a drink before going to my room, but there is no one there, so I head upstairs. I lie down for a minute and try to trick myself into sleeping, but I’m back in one of my favorite cities and there is no way my mind is letting me sleep. I try to recall the bars I’ve been to near my hotel for a drink. Once primarily known as the red light district, Wan Chai has some excellent – and interesting – nightlife options that get better and wilder as the night progresses, but then it hits me: There is only one place to go in Hong Kong when you want a lively party any hour of the night.
I head back downstairs and take the five-minute taxi ride into Central to a small cobblestone L-shaped street just outside of SoHo known as Lan Kwai Fong, lined on both sides with trendy bars and restaurants. Lan Kwai Fong is Hong Kong’s premier dining and entertainment district and is known around the world as a top party destination: Think the miniature, Far East version of Bourbon Street, minus the Mardi Gras beads.
Much like Bourbon Street, Lan Kwai Fong street’s high concentration of bars, street performers and nonexistent open container laws make it the ideal place for a raging street party where expats, locals and tourists alike come together to hop from bar to bar, listening to live bands play incredible renditions of top 40 and classic rock hits, while dancing away the night well into the morning. Drink specials and all night happy hours are widely available… which makes a night on the town a little easier on the wallet (unlike most other areas of Hong Kong), but harder on the head the next morning.
The bursting popularity of the city’s party pocket has created a dramatic rise in new restaurants over the last few years greatly increasing the availability and quality of dining options in the area. Now boasting over 100 bars and restaurants, Lan Kwai Fong has everything you need for a night on the town from dinner to drinks to live entertainment.
Lan Kwai Fong should be your first destination for a night out in Hong Kong. Keep an eye out for me, I’ll likely be street side at Schooners Bar drinking an ice cold bottle of San Miguel beer or out on the dancefloor at Insomnia, playing air guitar to a Filipino rock & roll cover band.
Subscribe to Swanky Retreats Magazine’s DIGITAL version. Read the latest issue online or download it to your computer.