Hong Kong Travel Guide
Welcome to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of Asia’s most important commercial, business and trade regions. It ranks as the world’s third-largest financial center, second-largest container port and number-one exporter and manufacturer of textiles, clothing and toys. Many consider Hong Kong to be the most beautiful harbor city in Asia. Whether all visitors agree or not is open to question, but few, if any at all, will dispute Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the best places in the world for shopping.
The focal point of all commercial and tourist activity lies in the central business district. This area consists of two major regions: the northern coastal section of Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, located on the southern tip of Mainland China, just across Victoria Harbor from Central.
Executives and businesspeople wishing to stay close to the financial core of Hong Kong typically stay in Central on Hong Kong Island. The amount and intensity of activity occurring on a typical week day in this section are virtually identical to those of Manhattan Island.
Other visitors and tourists usually stay on the Kowloon Peninsula, which houses the majority of Hong Kong’s hotels and shops. With Hong Kong’s extensive ferry service, as well as its underwater tunnel connecting the two regions, it makes little difference where visitors stay, because the other side is only minutes away.
Named Asia’s “Best City” by Travel and Leisure, Hong Kong will dazzle you with its vibrant energy, exotic history and heritage, and so much more.
Hong Kong is situated on the southeastern coast of China and spreads out over about 424 square miles, including more than 260 outlying islands. The main areas are Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories.
HISTORY & CULTURE
Once called a “barren rock” by the British when claimed as a Crown Colony in 1841, this once humble collection of fishing villages soon thrived as a trading port and gateway to mainland China. On July 1, 1997, the world watched as Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty, beginning a new chapter in history.
Culturally rich, Hong Kong’s past has produced a captivating city of contrasts. The unique fascination of Hong Kong is the seamless way in which ancient traditions thrive in an ultra modern city. Hong Kong is a city of contrasts that continues to delight guests year after year.
Modern, dynamic, forward-looking, yet with a past that goes back six millennia. And what a past it’s been – Chinese, British, now Chinese again, punctuated by wars, occupation, and periods of uncertainty, peace and prosperity…and history is still being made here every day! All of this is yours to discover at Hong Kong’s designated historical monuments and in museums dedicated to themes both past and future.
Hong Kong has become a world-class city by blending Chinese tradition with Western customs. Fascinating temples and colonial facades often share the same block with futuristic architectural masterpieces. It is the blend of old and new, East and West, that helps give Hong Kong its own unique character.
There has been a renewed fascination with Hong Kong’s colonial heritage over the past years. Remnants of a genteel, bygone era include the Noon Day Gun, which still fires at midday as it has since the 1840’s and famous buildings such as the beautiful Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, the oldest Colonial building, containing 3000 year-old Chinese artifacts showcasing Chinese teaware.
Taking afternoon tea, a quintessential British tradition, is popular in most top hotels, though you are as likely to be nibbling on steamed Chinese-style dumplings as you are on scones. Many reminders of Hong Kong’s Colonial heritage can be seen at the Museum of History, the Museum of Heritage and on do-it-yourself Heritage and Architectural walks as well as complete Heritage and Culture Tours.
Best of Hong Kong
With its exhilarating fusion of cultures, its engaging people and unparalleled natural beauty, Hong Kong is like no other place in the world. Adventure to remote islands with intriguing, century-old Chinese traditions.
Explore spectacular museums, galleries and historical monuments. Find divine inspiration in a traditional Buddhist temple. Experience the contagious energy of the city, mingle with the people in a colorful local market or a boisterous Chinese festival.
For a unique cultural experience, head to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden, the favorite gathering place for Hong Kong’s songbird owners. for sweet scents and exotic, fortune-bringing flowers and plants, stop by Hong Kong’s colorful Flower Market.
Bring home a beautiful memory of Hong Kong from the Jade Market. Located in Yau Ma Tei, the Jade Market features 450 stalls selling all types, shapes, sizes and prices; open daily from 10am – 3:30pm. No matter what you choose, Hong Kong is an experience you will never forget. Here are a few of the insider recommendations.
HONG KONG ISLAND
Take a classic Hong Kong trip on the historic Peak Tram to the top of Victoria Peak. The steepest funicular tramway on the planet, the Peak Tram will thrill you with its dazzling 1300-foot climb into the sky.
After an exhilarating near-vertical, eight-minute ride on the 112-year-old tram, you’ll feast your eyes on the breathtaking panorama of the vibrant harbor, serene mountains and spectacular architecture by icons such as I.M. Pei and Norman Foster.
High above the city, on the “back of the Dragon,” Victoria Peak offers visitors a multitude of entertainment, dining and shopping options and is the perfect place to embark on one of several nature trails.
View Hong Kong’s magnificent skyline from the harbor aboard the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry, over a century old, remains the most spectacular ferry rides in the world. The ferry between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui takes only eight minutes, and offers picturesque memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t forget to pick up a Star Ferry and Tram Pass.
A four-day Visitor Souvenir Ticket can be obtained at the upper deck entrance of the Star Ferry Pier, and is valid for unlimited travel on Hong Kong Tramways and Star Ferry’s franchised services for four consecutive days.
Home to the fishing community, take a sampan ride to see the fishing boat and daily activities aboard the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
TAI CHI IN THE PARK
Take one of our free Tai Chi lessons and experience the graceful, meditative martial art that locals practice daily. A gentle form of exercise, Tai Chi, also known as “shadow boxing,” can be practiced by people of all ages.
Kowloon: Every Tuesday and Wednesday (from November to March), 8:00-9:00 a.m. on the Waterfront Promenade, Tsim Sha Tsui East (outside the Hong Kong Cultural Center, Piazza C).
Hong Kong Island: Every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday except January 26, 2001 (until end of March 2001), 8:15-9:15 a.m. in the Garden Plaza, Hong Kong Park.
One of Hong Kong’s most popular tour destinations, Repulse Bay is beautiful, ever-evolving, sandy beach with two tall statues of the Goddess of Mercy (Kwun Yum) and the Goddess of Heaven (Tin Hau).
Stanley Market is an extravaganza of stalls and shops interspersed with some of Hong Kong’s newest and most innovative restaurants. The stock changes constantly – depending on what the factories are churning out at the time. By the bay, there is a row of restaurants in laid-back ambience.
TIN HAU TEMPLE
Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, holds a special place in Hong Kong’s heart, thanks to the territory’s maritime history. This ancient, imposing temple once stood alongside a foreshore causeway linking the coastal areas. It is now well inland, adjacent to Victoria Park.
CHI LIN NUNNERY Only recently opened, the 35,880 square foot Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon is a fascinating blend of simplicity and grandeur. A Buddhist retreat, it was constructed along Tang dynasty lines, and successfully bridges nearly 1,500 years of construction methods, such as using wooden pegs, rather than nails, throughout its seven linked halls and temples.
The nunnery gardens are a beautiful example of classical Chinese design, creating the illusion of infinite space within a limited area, and offering visitors a serene environment.
Chinese Opera in Hong Kong”>TEMPLE STREET NIGHT MARKET
Find bargains galore in this lively open-air bazaar.It opens at 2 p.m. and is busiest from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Merchants specialize in inexpensive men’s clothing, novelty items, luggage and watches, and other merchandise. Fortunetellers, palm readers and, sometimes, Chinese opera singers, make the market a fascinating street theatre.
Venture out to the New Territories to see unspoiled land dotted with ancient villages and fishing harbors, duck farms and fish ponds, all characterized by a sense of harmony with nature. Scenic coastlines and hills have been preserved within a territory-wide network of national parks
ENCHANTED WISHING TREE
Make your wishes come true. In Lam Tusen, near Tai Po, is the Enchanted Wishing Tree. Laden with wishes written on bright red paper, it appears to be covered in crimson flowers. Scribble your dreams onto red slips of paper tied onto an orange with string, then toss them in the air. Tradition holds that if your paper charm catches on the tree, your wish will be granted.
GIANT BRONZE BUDDHA
Be sure to visit Po Lin Monastery’s outdoor, 202-ton Giant Buddha. At 26 meters high, it is the world’s largest, seated, outdoor, bronze of Buddha. Perched atop a magnificent flight of steps, it is visible from as far away as Macau on a clear day.