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Hong Kong, China

Hong-Kong

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

8.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Appeals strongly to all three Venturesome types of personalities, including pure Venturers

Did You Know … ?

  • The Peak Tram is the steepest funicular in the world.
  • The Hong Kong International Airport passenger terminal is the world’s largest airport building.
  • Hong Kong comprises 263 islands and a total of 422 square miles.
  • Almost 70% of Hong Kong’s land area is countryside and mountains.
  • Hong Kong means fragrant harbor.

NYC on steroids

If you like action — lots of it, 24 hours a day — Hong Kong is a must-see destination. Visitors can choose from an amazing array of activities, day and night.

While the sun’s out, hike in isolated forests, enjoy the almost nonstop festivals, shop at open-air markets or in upscale malls, buy contemporary or rare Asian antiquities and art, take a harbor tour or visit one of the many museums and cultural centers.

When the sun goes down, choose from countless clubs and bars, see Broadway musicals, enjoy world-famous pop artists, attend traditional Chinese dance and theater performances, listen to the Hong Kong Symphony play Beethoven or enjoy fine dining at world class restaurants.

The pace of life in Hong Kong ranks several notches above anywhere else in the world. Some say Hong Kong is New York City on steroids.  As counterpoint to that, it also has many places that offer a sense of quiet repose, ranging from nature preserves to Buddhist monasteries.

Some things have changed since the British turned this city-state over to China (July 1, 1997). Some street names have changed to sound more Chinese. Royal is often removed from the names of places.

Now Hong Kong is emphasizing more of its Chinese heritage, and it exudes a new spirit of self-confidence and independence although the Beijing government is in control. This has produced much-publicized unrest and street demonstrations.

It also should be noted that, conveniently, the handover did not change visa rules: Americans  and Canadians do not need a visa to visit Hong Kong.

In addition, language is not a problem, street signs are in English, it’s an easy city to get around via taxi or on the excellent public transportation system, and visitors feel safe on the streets at night.

Hong Kong has a downside relevant for anyone interested in photography or counting on great mountaintop vistas. The skies are gray almost every day due to industrial activity in China’s Pearl River Delta plus congestion and roadside pollution. The climate also is warm and humid.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Visit Hong’s outlying islands. Besides hosting the spring Bun Festival, Cheung Chau is good for bicycling as no cars are allowed on the island. Lantau is good for mountain walks but offers the beach option, too. Visit Lamma for its seafood, quaint villages and scenic trails. All are less than an hour by ferry from downtown.
  • Savor the local cuisine. To liven up the subject, take a guided tour of the food markets, where choices include eel’s stomach and fish’s stomach. Then, there are the frogs’ ovaries  (which are considered dessert when served with syrup). Ask where you can sample some of these.
  • Ride on an authentic Duk Ling sailing junk.
  • The tourism board offers suggested itineraries for hikes in a countryside that is remarkably close to downtown Hong Kong.
  • Take a lesson in tai chi, ritualistic slow-motion boxing. Then, learn about feng shui, the ancient art of achieving balance in your environment. Or, take a class in Cantonese opera appreciation, then, attend the opera.
  • At night, take in some world class entertainment; check Hong Kong’s Web site and your hotel concierge to identify pubs and clubs that may suit your taste. If you like classical music, the Hong Kong Symphony does a superb job with the old masters.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Visit Peng Chau, an outlying island less than an hour from downtown by ferry, for its floating fishing village.
  • Time your trip to coincide with a major festival. At Chinese New Year in January, attend the annual parade. On the day before, do what locals do: Visit the huge flower markets to buy auspicious flowers.  At the mid-autumn Lantern Festival, head to a beach, big park or high spot to buy a colorful lantern and sit with local families (and their lanterns) as all gaze at the full moon. Also, attend one of this event’s dragon processions.
  • See a demonstration of traditional tea making and learn about tea drinking etiquette.
  • It’s all about the harbor. So take a daytime sightseeing cruise for a good look at the various Hong Kong skylines and the activity in the world’s busiest harbor. Return for a dinner cruise if you want more.
  • Take the 1888 Peak Tram to Victoria Peak for the possibility of good views of Hong Kong. The steep tram ride is a big part of the fun. For the best views, try to sit at the front of the tram and on the right side for the skyward journey.
  • Visit some of Hong Kong’s more colorful markets for their picture-taking opportunities. The Yuen Po Street Bird Garden features song birds in beautiful carved cages.  The Goldfish Market shows off the Chinese fascination with every kind of goldfish. The Flower Market is a jungle of exotic blossoms, house plants that bring luck and a mixture of smells and scents made from plants and herbs.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Shop for contemporary Asian art and handicrafts, available at prices ranging from real bargains to expensive. The Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Flagstaff Museum of Tea Ware provide a sense of the value of some of the items you might be considering.
  • If you are a bird lover, visit Hong Kong Wetland Park and the adjacent Mai Po Marshes. Make that a winter visit when flocks of 150 migratory bird species make this a temporary home.
  • Take the children to Hong Kong Disneyland. Stay at one of the themed hotels there.
  • Shop for gold and jewelry, Chinese clothing, handicrafts, Chinese tableware, Chinese cakes and sweets, even the latest fashions from Paris and New York. Shopping districts include Admiralty, Stanley Market and the very popular Temple Street Night Market (opens at dusk with hundreds of stalls where you can bargain).  The options are legion but, as if that were not enough, Hong Kong stages an annual 10-week Shopping Festival that trumpets special bargains, greater selection, longer hours and drawings for big prizes.
  • Go to Ocean Park to see Hong Kong’s two pandas. While there, walk through an underwater viewing tunnel and stand face to face with sharks.
  • Board a Watertours cruise boat for a 90-minute harbor cruise to get the best view of the nightly “A Symphony of Lights” show. With lights, music and narration, the show depicts the growth of Hong Kong from a fishing village to a world-renowned commercial center. You can see this show for free, too, from Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Hong Kong Tourism Board at www.DiscoverHongKong.com