Hong Kong is open to tourists—here's what you don't want to miss in 2023
From new Michelin-starred eats to much-anticipated museums.
It’s been nearly three years since Hong Kong was open to tourists, but now that the dynamic city is free from all Covid-related travel restrictions—including mandatory isolation upon arrival, which was dropped in early January—it’s back and better than ever, luring visitors with exciting new hotels, restaurants, and cultural programming.
In fact, the city is so eager to welcome back travelers that the tourism board recently announced it will be giving away 500,000 free airline tickets. Tickets will be awarded in phases: first to Southeast Asia residents, then to people from mainland China, and finally to international visitors on May 1. (Visit the Hong Kong Airport website to apply.).
Even if you don’t win a free flight, it’ll be hard to resist planning a trip to Hong Kong. The city’s temples, famous Victoria Peak, junk boats, and Disneyland outpost are still intact, of course, but there are several revisions, renovations, and fresh openings to explore as well. Here, several thrilling reasons to go to Hong Kong now.
New museums, festivals, and more
From March 23–25, 2023, Art Basel Hong Kong will return to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with 177 galleries from 32 countries and territories (up from 130 exhibitors in 2022). The Affordable Art Fair is also coming back bigger from May 18–21, as are several music festivals, like Clockenflap (March 3–5) and Creamfields (April 1–2).
Beyond these special events, Hong Kong’s already robust cultural scene was buoyed by the highly anticipated opening of M+, the Herzog & de Meuron–designed museum of visual culture, in November 2021. Located in the West Kowloon Cultural District (an arts quarter established in 2008), the museum is dedicated to 20th- and 21st-century art and is currently exhibiting a major Yayoi Kusama retrospective through May 14, 2023. Just a two-minute drive away, the Hong Kong Palace Museum became the latest addition to the cultural district when it opened in July 2022 with a vast collection of artifacts from around the world.
A trip to Hong Kong is never complete without a 10-minute jaunt across Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Another legendary excursion is the ride up or down the Peak Tram, which, having opened in 1988, is one of the world’s oldest funicular railways. It underwent a renovation during the pandemic and now includes larger panoramic windows for admiring Hong Kong’s singular skyline and seascape.
Renovated icons and new family-friendly resorts
A mix of traditional elegance and contemporary flair, Hong Kong’s hotels are decidedly opulent. No two properties prove this more than the St. Regis and the Rosewood, which both opened months before the pandemic shutdown in 2020. The latter, on the Kowloon waterfront, comprises 413 rooms, eight dining and drinking outlets, a spa, and an infinity pool with harbor vistas. Guests enjoy the hotel's new sustainability efforts, too, like a partnership with ecoSPIRITS to offer low-waste cocktails like the ecoLADA, made with the hotel’s surplus coconut oil and salted lime cordial.
Over on Hong Kong Island, the Four Seasons revealed a redesign of its 399 guestrooms and suites in May 2021. Dreamed up by Remedios Studios, accommodations now blend modern furniture with traditional Chinese paintings and patterns. (Three-Michelin-starred restaurants Caprice and Lung King Heen remain, as does the one-Michelin-starred Sushi Saito.)
In July 2022, the totally new Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel opened on the south end of the island, beside the long-awaited Water World Ocean Park (which finally debuted in September 2021 after a four-year delay). Each of the 425 rooms boast ocean views, but the hotel’s piece de resistance is its nearly 200-foot-long infinity pool that seemingly runs right into the South China Sea. The property is also ultra family-friendly, with five dining destinations and an indoor kids’ area inspired by Hong Kong’s natural wonders.
Looking ahead, the Regent Hong Kong has taken over the old InterContinental and is in the midst of a head-to-toe reimagining, opening amenities and facilities on a rolling basis throughout 2023. The rooms and suites are all new, but the unmatched views of Victoria Harbour are unchanged.
Can’t-miss new eats
Thankfully, Hong Kong’s food scene rode out the pandemic quite well. There are still more than 71 Michelin-starred restaurants here (including the approachable Tim Ho Wan, where you can enjoy a divine dim sum feast for around $10) as well as amazing street food like curry fish balls, egg tarts, and roasted chestnuts. Hong Kong also has 16 entries on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, from upscale Cantonese staple The Chairman to tapas favorite Neighborhood.
For something new, try one of the Regent’s four renowned restaurants, which soft launched in late December 2022. Two-Michelin-starred Lai Ching Heen serves sophisticated Cantonese fare, while The Steak House offers carefully curated meats, seared to perfection on a charcoal grill. There’s also Man Ho Chinese Restaurant, which reopened in the JW Marriott just before Covid and has since won a Michelin star thanks to Jayson Tang, its creative, young executive chef.
Other new spots worth visiting range from Kushitei (Japanese kushiyaki) and Barkada (Filipino comfort food) to Smokehouse Bar & Grill (American barbecue) and Artifact Restaurant (for a caviar-focused prix-fixe meal). There’s also Wing, where the chef interprets the eight great cuisines of China through a contemporary lens.
After a three-year lull, Hong Kong’s bar scene has come roaring back with renewed creativity. Among the most exciting openings is The Mixing Room, which debuted in late 2022. The Instagram-worthy spot features a low-slung ceiling, hung with some 22,000 jars of fairy dust, dried flowers, and poems, and such unique cocktails as the Raine in the Gumtree (a twist on an Old Fashioned with whiskey, rum, cognac, bitters, and fish sauce–infused caramel).
While not as new, two of Hong Kong’s best cocktail dens, Coa and ARGO, recently made the top 30 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Coa—a Mexican, agave-focused bar where the signature drink is a paloma with a worm-salt rim—also earned the top spot on the Asia list for the second year in a row, while ARGO, which opened in the Four Seasons in 2021, impressed with its own beehive that produces mono-floral lychee and longan honey for its cocktails.