Hong Kong: Asia’s World City

With its vibrant feel and night-and-day activity, Hong Kong is an intoxicating city of astounding natural beauty. Many say this must be one of the earth’s acupressure points.

Like London and New York, Hong Kong is a blockbuster of a town. Touted as Asia’s World City and rarely out of the headlines, visitors arrive expecting to be wowed, and Hong Kong doesn’t disappoint.

The tantalising neighbourhoods and curious islands that make up Hong Kong are a sensory delight awaiting exploration. You can find yourself swaying along on a double-decker tramcar one moment, then cheering with the hordes at the city-centre horse races, or simply gazing out at the magnificent harbour.

But over 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and sprawling country parks so escape the city limits on one of the world’s best transport systems and spend your day wandering in a Song-dynasty village or hiking surf-beaten beaches. Whatever your gastronomic preferences you will be sated in Hong Kong – over a bowl of noodles with beef brisket, a basket of vegetarian dim sum, your first-ever stinky tofu or a plate of freshly steamed prawns fragrant with garlic.

Complex and chaotic, the city’s energy and enthusiasm is relentless and infectious. And thanks to an excellent metro, bus, and ferry system, plus plentiful and inexpensive taxis, visitors can easily experience it all.

Top Reasons to Visit Hong Kong

EXTENSIVE SHOPPING OPTIONS

Shopping for bargain electronics and exotic souvenirs is a must, and the markets are an experience in themselves.

Shopping in Hong Kong is a rich, varied, seven-days-a-week pursuit. Atmospheric street markets contrast with flagship designer stores, local ‘lanes’ and cheap-and-cheerful factory outlets selling everything from cut-price trainers to affordable Chinoiserie. There are great sales with big discounts, and the summer sales offer visitors fantastic deals on designer fashion labels. Whether it is international styles, home-grown design, Chinese antiques or high-tech electronics, there is something here to satisfy every whim. The sheer variety of products makes Hong Kong a unique shopping experience.

The best shopping experiences:

  • Looking for Chinese souvenirs
  • Browsing antique shops on Hollywood Road
  • Window-shopping on Nathan Road
  • Feeling groovy at Shanghai Tang
  • Bargaining at Temple Street Night Market
  • Bargain hunting in Stanley
  • Getting mall-ed
  • Visiting a tailor for a custom-made outfit

DELICIOUS CANTONESE CUISINE

Along with shopping, eating is one of Hong Kong’s great pastimes. Cantonese food is by far the most popular cuisine in Hong Kong.

The Cantonese live to eat, and even as a visitor it is impossible to ignore the major role that food and everything around it plays in the lives of the city. The budget-conscious can feast for next to nothing at home-grown Chinese fast food chains, or for just a few dollars more on seafood or noodles at a seaside restaurant on one of the outer islands; those on a more elastic budget will find thousands of restaurants, countless cuisines and gourmet dining options to choose from. In Hong Kong one thing is for certain: you are never far away from good, enjoyable, enticing food.

The most unforgettable dining experiences:

  • Dining on dim sums at Yum Cha
  • Sampling regional Chinese cuisine
  • Relaxing at an open-air seafood restaurant
  • Trying simple street dishes at the street stalls and canteens
  • Stuffing yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet spread
  • Taking high tea at a posh hotel

ISLANDS & DAY TRIPS

If Hong Kong’s downtown areas become too claustrophobic, there are plenty of day-trips possible, out to where mountains, rugged coastlines and beaches predominate.

With over 200 islands to boast of spread around the South China Sea, getting out of Hong Kong city is easy. Most are uninhabited and only reached by private sampan, but are ideal beach bolt holes, with endless stretches of empty, golden sands. Hong Kong’s islands offer an easy escape from downtown claustrophobia: there are laid-back fishing villages and markets on Cheung Chau and Peng Chau, while Lantau has great hiking trails, seascapes, beaches, and even a cable-car ride from Tung Chung up to Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Peak.

Must-visit islands:

  • Lantau
  • Peng Chau
  • Lamma
  • Cheung Chau

TEMPLES & HISTORIC SITES

Temples are an integral part of Chinese life, even in such modern places as Hong Kong. A wealth of Buddhist and Taoist deities are worshipped here.

Hong Kong may feel new, but it has been inhabited for millennia, first by the Tanka boat dwellers, followed by the Manchus and Hakkas, and more latterly by the British. Each stage in Hong Kong’s chequered past has left behind the remnants of different beliefs and ways of life. From Taoist temples and giant Buddhas to walled villages and an Anglican church, there is certainly a complex background of culture, history and belief to unearth if you know where to look.

Don’t miss these temples and historic sites:

  • Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong Island
  • St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong Island
  • Chi Lin Nunnery, New Kowloon
  • Kam Tin Walled Villages
  • Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha, Lantau Island

EXCITING NIGHTLIFE

Nightlife in Hong Kong is as urgent and frenetic as the business day. SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong are favourite districts.

Big expensive accounts, an international status as a trading capital and a large expat community translate into neon-dusted nights of delight in this town of edgy excess. Hong Kong knows how to party well into the early hours every night of the week. So, whether it is international DJs in a monolithic warehouse space, or sweaty moments in a postage-stamp-sized back alley room, there is bound to be something to suit every taste. Just remember, the better you dress, the more you will impress. When it comes to status, the more you work the luxury labels, the more velvet ropes will be brushed aside.

Best places to party:

  • Lan Kwai Fong
  • SoHo
  • Wan Chai
  • Kowloon
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Best Time to Visit Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s subtropical climate can make it a punishingly hot and humid destination during the summer months. June to mid-September is the hottest time when humidity soars. Summer is also typhoon season, when tropical storms sweep rain and high winds off the South China Sea.

Even in late spring and early autumn, wandering Hong Kong’s streets can be warm work. The best time to go climate-wise is in early spring (March and April) or late autumn (October and November), when the days are generally warm, fresh and (wind direction and mainland smoke stacks permitting) the air often clearer. Things can cool down a good deal in winter, when it can often be overcast (as opposed to merely smoggy) and temperatures may even feel chilly enough to don warmer layers.

Where is Hong Kong located?

Hong Kong is located in eastern Asia, on the southeast coast of the People’s Republic of China, facing the South China Sea, at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta. Hong Kong is 60 km east of Macau on the opposite side of the Pearl River estuary. It has a land border with Shenzhen, China to the north.

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