Café crawling in Hong Kong and Thailand

Lan Fong Yuen’s original location in Central Hong Kong

First-time visitors to Asia will be amazed at the sheer volume and variety of coffee on offer, and Hong Kong and Thailand are two of the best countries to explore if you’re a coffee addict.

Since way before the days of hipster minimalist cafés, Hong Kong has been serving up “yuenyeung”, the strangely delicious tea and coffee combo made up of three parts coffee and seven parts Hong Kong-style milk tea. One of the best places to try this is at Lan Fong Yuen, an old-style coffee shop with several locations in Hong Kong and Kowloon, including its original food stall location in Central district. Goway visits this coffee shop on our foodie walking tour of Hong Kong, which is also part of our 9-day Discover Hong Kong and Bangkok tour.

Other fantastic Hong Kong cafés to try are Elephant Grounds (5 locations), Zai Fe (literally “strong black coffee” in Cantonese, located in Kowloon), and The Coffee Academics (9 locations). If you take a trip across the water to Macau, make sure to stop at Blooom Coffee House in the historic centre, just a 10-minute walk from the ruins of St. Paul’s.

Tiger Ted Cafe in the Nimman district of Chiang Mai

Continuing on to Thailand, Chiang Mai would give Brooklyn a run for its money in terms of the number of small, independent coffee shops dotting the city. Many of these have a Japanese feel to them, with tasteful worn wood furnishings, record players and friendly owner-operators who are happy to chat. Others feature a more minimalist aesthetic with polished concrete floors and contemporary art on the walls. Strolling through Chiang Mai’s Nimman district (just northwest of the the Old City) you’ll find plenty of these quirky hangouts, plus terrific street-side coffee stalls.

Relaxing at a riverside cafe in Northern Thailand near Chiang Mai

In most medium and large Thai cities, Black Canyon Coffee is a quality chain that offers a place to relax, check email and enjoy a light meal. And finally, Starbucks is ubiquitous throughout Asia and has a strong presence in both Hong Kong and Thailand, meaning a grande iced Americano is never very far away. My favourite Starbucks in Hong Kong is at the Peak Galleria, on top of Victoria Peak. In Thailand, Starbucks has 169 locations, including 50 in Bangkok and 12 in Chiang Mai (the Starbucks in Chiang Mai at Tha Phae Gate of the Old City makes for a good meeting point).

Hong Kong pineapple bun and milk tea

Hong Kong and Thailand are ideal countries to combine due to great flight connections and complementary strengths – nothing beats the exciting city life of Hong Kong, and nothing tops ziplining through the rainforest or relaxing on the white sandy beaches of Thailand. Visit our Asia Specials page for current specials.

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