There’s nothing better than wandering the streets of a foreign city and accidentally stumbling across a hidden alleyway! For many Hong Kongers, these little side-streets are a way to really get in touch with the local culture, away from the tourists-filled hotspots. And for those of us who are sassy enough; they’re often the best spots for shopping bargains, authentic food experiences, incredible cocktails, world-class street art, and the prettiest place in the city to get a snapshot!
The travel experts at KAYAK.com.hk have cast their eyes far and wide to come up with a list of 5 of the best secret laneways in the world. So if you’re looking for good food and drink and great art, or simply a good time, check out some of their favourite, secret back streets to discover on your next big city vacation.
Golden Gai, Tokyo, Japan
Tucked away in a corner of Shinjuku, an area of Tokyo known for its skyscrapers, city-slickers, and nightlife, is Golden Gai. This block of six, narrow laneways is home to almost 200 bars, some seating as little as 4 people at a time! This seemingly run-down district is a far cry from the city’s flashier hotspots, but is an ideal hideaway for those who want to go where the locals go, no matter how bizarre it may seem. The attraction of Golden Gai is its wonderfully eccentric bar scene, with everything from hospital-themed venues to bars lined with troll toys.
Where to stay: Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo starting from HK$1,280 per night*
How to Get There: Return flight departing from Hong Kong to Tokyo from HK$1,451**
Croft Alley, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne’s Hosier Lane is famous for being a revolving canvas of graffiti from local, national, and internationally acclaimed street artists. But you don’t need to look far to find an abundance of equally cool laneways dissecting the city, such as AC/DC Lane, Centre Place, and Croft Alley! Nestled between Bourke St. and Little Bourke St. in Melbourne’s Chinatown district, Croft Alley is a narrow dead-end populated with garbage bins and crates. During daylight hours it doesn’t look like much, but when the sun sets this Melbourne corner comes to life and attracts a hip crowd who’re drawn to The Croft Institute, one of the city’s best little bars. Set to satisfy your inner science nerd, the laboratory-themed venue offers a range of top notch spirits served in beakers, syringes and test tubes!
Where to stay: Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne starting from HK$908 per night*
How to Get There: Return flights departing from Hong Kong to Melbourne from HK$4,728**
Cerro Alegre, Valparaiso, Chile
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaiso is a colourful town just a few hours from Chile’s capital. The city has an undeniably alternative feel and over the years has attracted artists from all over the world, particularly street artists. Cerro Alegre (literal translation: cheerful hill) is a winding neighbourhood of small lanes and alleyways and is one of the best places to appreciate Valparaiso’s vibrant street art. The vivid art displays sit alongside 16th-century churches and modern restaurants, making it a lively area to explore.
Where to stay: Diego De Almagro Valparaiso, starting from HK$698 per night*
How to Get There: Return flights departing from Hong Kong to Santiago from HK$10,994**
The Shambles, York, United Kingdom
This old street in York couldn’t be more Harry Potter-esque if it tried! In fact, Diagon Alley as it’s seen in the films is based on the shambles. With cobblestones and timber-framed buildings, a walk down this quaint lane in York will transport you back in time. Once upon a time the term ‘shambles’ referred to an open-air meat market and in its heyday the street was filled with butchers (at one point there was at least 25 of them). Today, the butchers have gone and an array of local eateries, bakeries, tea rooms, and bookshops have taken their place. One of the best things about The Shambles is its five adjoining laneways, known as the ‘Snickelways’ – this charming, medieval maze is a great place to eat, drink, and get lost!
Where to stay: Hilton York, starting from HK$1,300 per night*
How to Get There: Return flights departing from Hong Kong to Leeds from $5,778**
Nanluoguxiang, Beijing, China
A fusion of cultures old and new, Nanluoguxiang is a pedestrian laneway located in Beijing’s Dongcheng district. Just shy of a kilometre long, the laneway is trendy and tourist-friendly with a tonne of cafes, restaurants, and hotels. The real magic, however, is to be found in Nanluoguxiang’s hutongs or ‘side alleys’ – they’re a little less crowded and maybe even more enjoyable to roam, with everything from fresh fruit, ice cream, and beer available to passersby (the perfect antidote to humid weather!). Built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), there are also heaps of traditional tea houses here and if you’re keen to take home a souvenir, step up your green tea game by treating yourself to an intricately designed set of handmade Chinese tea cups, after tasting the finest brews for yourself, of course.
Where to stay: The Westin Beijing Chaoyang, starting from HK$2,196 per night*
How to Get There: Return flights departing from Hong Kong to Beijing from HK$1,319**
*The hotel prices above are for double occupancy and (including taxes and fees) were collated on KAYAK.com.hk on 18 August 2016 for travel in the second half of October 2016. Prices may be subject to change and offers may no longer be available.
**The flight prices shown above are for one return economy seat (including taxes and fees, excluding baggage fees) and were collated on KAYAK.com.hk on 18 August 2016 for travel in the second half of October 2016. Prices may be subject to change and offers may no longer be available.
Featured image sourced via Pinterest