Hong Kong is one of those places I will probably never get tired of.  Ask me where I would go if I had a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, and Hong Kong would probably be one of my top choices.  What is it about Hong Kong that I love so much?  For starters, just being in the city makes me happy.  The modern setting of Hong Kong Island mixed with the traditional Chinese and cosmopolitan charms of Kowloon, as well as the natural beauty just outside the urban areas is such a great combination in my book.  And the food is magnificent too!

First Trip

The first time we landed in Hong Kong, I didn’t know what to expect.  I had only seen Hong Kong in the movies, and all I knew about was the picturesque skyline and the great dim sum.  As our Uber Toyota van rolled into the city past midnight, I knew immediately that I would love this city.  The van dropped us off in the middle of Tsim Sa Tsui (尖沙咀).  Our accommodations for the next few days would be the Mirador Mansions, adjacent to the famous Chungking Mansions.  The Mansions are known for their densely-packed collection of shops, restaurants, offices, and guesthouses.  They have been referred to as a whole world within a building, and it certainly felt like that.  My wife wasn’t really thrilled about the Mansion’s first impression, especially at around 2AM, but I think it was a perfect introduction to Hong Kong.  Overall the guest house was cheap, clean, and right in the middle of the city.

The huge and densely populated Mirador Mansion. Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2

The next morning, I was up bright and early to photograph Victoria Harbor.  Just a quick walk from the Mansions, Victoria Harbor is a great place to take in the iconic Hong Kong Skyline.  It was a foggy morning, which made it perfect for black and white photos.

Morning Stretch – Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2

Foggy Victoria Harbor – Fujifilm X-T1 + XF 35mm f/2 WR

After breakfast, we headed off to Hong Kong Island and the Central District.  I enjoyed wandering around with my family more than taking photos.  Personally, I prefer the less corporate atmosphere of Kowloon over Central.  Still a great time, though!

Hong Kong Hustle – Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2

Gage Street Market – Fujifilm X-T1 + XF 35mm f/2

That evening, after an unsuccessful photo at Victoria Peak (the fog can be so unpredictable up there), we headed back to Kowloon and took in the evening skyline.  Thanks to my friend and fellow photographer Jackson Hung for taking us to this great spot.

Cloud Movement Over the City – Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2

The next day was all about exploring Kowloon.  We walked around the Mansions area, then made our way down Nathan Road to Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po.

Through the Shopkeeper’s Window – Fujifilm X-T1 + XF 35mm f/2 WR

Beep, Beep – Fujifilm X-T1 + XF 35 f/2 WR

Speeding Through Sham Shui Po – Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2

The first trip was a short but good introduction to Hong Kong.  And I was hungry for more.

Second Trip

A few months later, we were back in Hong Kong for the second time.  I enjoyed this trip a lot more because we were already familiar with the area. I also made a lot more photos that I am happy with.  On day 1, my wife let me explore on my own for a day while she went to Disneyland with our daughter.  This was my absolute favorite part of the trip (not because my wife wasn’t there, of course ;)).  My plan was to walk the entire length of Nathan Road all the way to Cheung Sha Wan, where I would meet Jackson that evening.  I’m not sure about the distance, but it took me all day (stopping to eat and photograph of course), and I logged over 25,000 steps that day according to my activity tracker.  I started at Victoria harbor and stopped a bit along Jordan Road, Yau Ma Tei, and Mong Kok.

I met up with Jackson, we headed over Sham Shui Po, which is absolutely awesome for street photography, especially at night.

And here’s a cool behind-the-scenes shot of me as I was taking the photo of the bus in Sham Shui Po.  Photo by the awesome Jackson Hung.

The next day, it was family travel time again.  We headed over to Tai O Village on Lantau Island.  An hour or so bus ride from Tung Chung took us to the old village, which is known for it’s stilt houses built.  The villagers there are fisher folk who have maintained their traditional way of life to this day.  It felt like we had traveled back in time as we wandered through the village.

The rest of the trip was spent mostly doing touristy things with family.  It’s always a good idea to put the camera away at some point and enjoy the time with your loved ones as well.  I did manage to get a few more pictures at the airport as we waited for our flight back to Korea.

The Food

I believe the food experience is integral with any trip, especially in Hong Kong!  Here is some of the food that we tried, and the places we tried them at.  I recommend all of them!

One Dimsum, Prince Edward.  This is a Michelin-star dim sum restaurant with affordable prices.  The lines are usually long, but it’s worth the wait.  The owners are nice and they speak English.  It’s definitely a good first place to try Michelin star dim-sum in Hong Kong. 

Tak Fat Beef Ball (德發牛肉丸).  We found this place by accident.  Tucked away next to an underpass in Tsim Sha Tsui, this unassuming and simple food stall serves the best beef ball and brisket noodle soup!  The staff doesn’t speak any English, but they know what you’re there for.  Affordable and delicious!

津津 好金的味, which Google translates to Jīnjīn hǎo jīn de wèi, “Jinjin good taste of gold”, is a tiny food shop located right where Nathan Road meets Cheung Sha Wan Rd. Though it has a simple and unassuming storefront, it draws long lines especially during the lunch hour. It’s places like this that I enjoy eating at the most! (Since it didn’t show up on Gmaps, the link above is a food shop a few stalls down from this one)

Tai O Village Jumbo fish balls.  If you’re ever in Tai O Village, be sure to try their Jumbo Fish Balls.  The taste might not be for everyone, but it’s a great part of the experience.


Glimpses of Kowloon

All throughout this trip, I made it a point to capture some time lapses in the various locations we visited.  Here is the time-lapse / slideshow video I put together from Hong Kong.  Watch in 4K!


Gear

When traveling, it’s important to pack light so that you don’t get weighed down by your camera gear.  For this trip, I used a 2-lens, 2-body (I always like to have a backup) kit with a Gorillapod.  It got me all the shots you see above and I didn’t feel the need for any more gear throughout the trip.

(2 lenses, 2 bodies + Gorillapod)
18mm, 50mm coverage

1.  Fujifilm X-E1 + Samyang 12mm f/2.0 + L-Plate

2.  Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 WR + L-Plate

3.  Gorillapod Focus + Joby Ballhead X

4.  Filters and accessories

This is the kit I carry around 90% of the time.  It’s light enough to walk around with all day, but still ticks all the checkboxes above.  I’ve got the 18mm equivalent wide angle for landscapes and the 50mm equivalent for walk around and portraits.  These two lenses have distinct looks and fields of view, and are sufficient for most of my travel and everyday shooting needs.  The Gorillapod focus and Ballhead X enable long exposures, but sometimes you have to be creative about where you place it.  It’s not a problem most of the time and the weight savings is worth the compromise in my opinion.


Conclusion

Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world for photography, food, and traveling with family.  It’s easy to get around and offers sights, sounds, and experiences that you will remember for a lifetime, not to mention endless opportunities for photography.  I already look forward to going back!

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Photographer at Roy Cruz Photo
Roy Cruz is a freelance photographer based in Tongyeong, South Korea specializing in travel, portrait and event photography. He started shooting professionally in 2007 and has worked all over the Philippines and South Korea. He is also a dedicated husband, bass player, and father of an amazing baby girl.