In this guide, I’ll cover two brilliant Hong Kong tattoo shops, as well as some of my favorite places for food, photography, sightseeing, and music. Hong Kong is a fascinating city that dates back to the Stone Age but is better known as one of the world's major international financial hubs. Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, you’re sure to have an interesting time in the bustling city that truly never sleeps. With people and cultures from all around the world culminating in this concrete jungle, it’s also the perfect place for a new tattoo.
Victoria Harbour, featuring a classic Hong Kong junk boat
The first tattoo shop I visited in Hong Kong was Star Crossed Tattoo, located a short walk from Tsim Sha Tsui metro station, exit B2. Alternatively, you can take the iconic Star Ferry and walk from Victoria Harbour for about 20 minutes. Tsim Sha Tsui is a busy shopping and nightlife district of Kowloon. The area is filled with small local eateries and shops that line Road, while close by on Canton Road gargantuan luxury shopping malls crowd the skyline. Star Crossed Tattoo is on the second floor of an older building on Granville Road, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Kowloon. I was lucky enough to be tattooed by Cathy, one of the four resident artists of Star Crossed. Cathy specializes in American traditional tattooing while throwing her punk rock style into the mix. I got some script and a good luck piece from Sailor Jerry's Hong Kong flash that Cathy updated a bit and made her own. If you're going to get a Chinese character tattoo, make sure you can read it, or get it from an artist who fluently reads and writes the language (that goes for getting a tattoo in any language you don't actually speak). And this goes both ways, I have also seen people in China with English words tattooed on them that make absolutely no sense. Don't be that person! Cathy's work is often inspired by punk music, and she has many punk rock pin-up ladies you can choose from to get tattooed on you. She mixes old school motifs with a bit of a Neo-traditional color scheme, meaning my Sailor Jerry piece has some popping blue and green in there in addition to the black, red, and yellow. Cathy is extremely friendly and Star Crossed has an open and inviting atmosphere. I highly recommend checking it out.
The Company is the second Hong Kong tattoo shop I visited. It’s located on Nathan Road in Mong Kok, just a short walk from Mong Kok metro station, exit E1 or E2. Being relatively close to Star Crossed, it has the same surrounding area. The Company has four brilliant tattoo artists, specializing in American Traditional, Black and Grey Realism, Asian styles, and Blackwork. I was privileged to get a piece from Blackwork legend James Lau. He tattooed a Blackwork eye on the back of my neck with some brilliant geometric lines surrounding the eye. James tattoos in a heavy Blackwork style, using thick, bold lines and dark shading to create stunning original pieces. He is known for tattooing finger and palm pieces that really last, and also doesn’t shy away from tattooing heads. James is a very friendly guy, joking and inviting as soon as the door of the shop opens. The Company has a similar open-floor plan to Star Crossed, so the whole place is very free and open feeling. The Company is also a must-visit shop in Hong Kong.
When visiting Hong Kong, you’ll need to check out the local food. One of the most iconic Hong Kong foods is dim sum. My favorite place for a brilliant dim sum meal at a reasonable price is definitely Tim Ho Wan, which also happens to be the world's cheapest Michelin star restaurant. There are multiple locations but I went to the location that’s right inside Central Station, just outside exit A. I absolutely recommend the baked pork buns (char siu bar), shrimp dumplings (har gow), and fried radish cakes (lo bak go). Don’t forget to get there before opening or you run the risk of waiting hours to get a seat. One of the best things you can do to satisfy your hunger in Hong Kong is to pick a side street and check out a local noodle shop. Any shop that’s full of people should do the trick, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. I personally like the skinny noodles, and make it extra spicy. A common Hong Kong noodle dish is wonton soup, packed full of meat or fish, noodles, and a nice warm broth.
Dim Sum from Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong
If you’re a fellow punk/metal lover like myself, Hong Kong is absolutely a place you should check out for a show. This Town Needs is an underground concert venue located in a commercial space in Yao Tong. If you’re looking for a fun night out, This Town Needs is a must. You can enjoy one of their house brews (This Town Needs Beer) and some loud music. I was lucky enough to see UK metalheads While She sleeps in 2018. This Town Needs is a place where you can see the alternative side of Hong Kong come to life. From stage to bar, this venue was packed full of other brightly colored, tattooed and pierced individuals. Go ahead, blow off some steam and throw your weight around in the pit the night before getting tattooed like I did (just don’t drink too much or get too many bruises, not fun for getting tattooed).
UK metal band While She Sleeps live at This Town Needs in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an amazing place for both amateur and professional photographers. Whether you’re looking to make your Instagram a little more colorful or fill your portfolio, you’re sure to find numerous sites in Hong Kong that tickle your fancy. Some of my favorite spots include two locations in Choi Hung Estate. One is the iconic basketball court on top of one of the parking garages. The rainbow-colored building behind lines up perfectly with the basketball court, making it extremely visually appealing. This area is almost always swarmed with both photographers and people playing basketball, so if you want a clear shot like I was able to get, you should go on a rainy day, plus, the reflection you’ll get on the court just adds an extra layer of color to your picture.
Shot from the roof of a parking garage in Choi Hung Estate
Another spot in Choi Hung Estate is inside one of the buildings where, if you shoot straight up, you can get a great shot of the building framing you on all sides. If you want to get out of the concrete jungle for a bit and enjoy some nature, I highly recommend taking a ferry to one of the islands. I spent a day at Cheung Chau island, which is about a one-hour ferry ride from the pier in Central, or the fast boat (more expensive) at about 35 minutes from the same ferry. I wanted to go here because of the pirate legends that originate from the island.
Cheung Chau hiking lookout point
Cheung was a boy native to the Hong Kong area who had been kidnapped at a young age and raised to be a pirate captain. It’s Cheung Po Tsai cave where he’s said to have hidden his treasure over 200 years ago. The cave is found at the end of a short hike that also features some great photography spots of both forest and ocean. The cave itself is neat, but a little bit dangerous to traverse alone. Make sure you bring a flashlight and wear good shoes, and don’t forget to duck! My final favorite spot is Victoria Harbour where you can watch the ships coming and going, see old Hong Kong junk boats, and walk the Avenue of Stars along the pier.
Fisherman hard at work on Cheung Chau Island