A towering metropolis, world financial hub and culinary giant, Hong Kong is a city whose name is synonymous with progress. The backdrop for countless movies and a home to the world’s rich and famous, Hong Kong lives up to its reputation as a city that doesn’t sleep. With a population of over 7 million packed into an area of just over 1000km2, to call Hong Kong bustling would be an understatement, but there is some respite. Beautiful tropical beaches and dramatic scenery dominate the coastline and the city has plenty of green space too. From its humble beginnings as the entrepôt to Mainland China, Hong Kong has morphed into an ultra modern and consumer centric city, bursting at the seams with history and culture.
As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong enjoys a different set of rules from the mainland and has a completely different feel. A British colony until 1997, and occupied by the Japanese army during the Second World War, Hong Kong is laden with historical landmarks and fascinating stories. The city is divided into three main areas, each showcasing a different aspect of Hong Kong’s unique culture. Hong Kong Island is best known for its fast-paced lifestyle and metropolitan feel; Kowloon is known for its shopping; and the New Territories is known for its traditional charm.
Hong Kong’s subtropical climate means that temperatures can reach highs of 35°C in the summer and lows of 10°C in the winter. The city is affected by typhoons over the summer months and is quite humid during the spring and summer.
What to Do
Boasting one of the most famous views in the world, Victoria peak is the perfect starting point for a traveller wishing to get their bearings. Spend a few minutes at its peak gazing over the sprawling metropolis below. It can be reached by bus, taxi or foot, but the most popular way for people to make their way up is via the Peak Tram, a relic of old Hong Kong still in use.
Hong Kong offers the savvy consumer unparalleled shopping opportunities. Spend hours exploring the maze-like malls of Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, ride the MTR to the Ladies Market in Mong Kok to buy t-shirts to tea sets, and haggle with the locals for knock-off watches and designer handbags.
Does the thought of all that shopping make you feel dizzy? Perhaps instead you could visit some of the city’s spiritual landmarks. Man Mo Temple is the perfect option for visitors working with a jam-packed itinerary. For those with a little more time on their hands, head to the New Territories to explore the Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Garden complete with its own golden pagoda and lake.
Quiet fishing villages, deserted beaches and trickling waterfalls more your thing? Jump on a ferry to one of the outlying islands for a bit of R&R. Cheung Chau is an island paradise tucked away behind the urban sprawl. It is the perfect destination if you fancy a sunbathe, a breath of fresh air and a walk to burn off that harbourside seafood lunch you just ate.
What to eat?
A truly multicultural city, Hong Kong’s culinary offerings are as diverse as they are delicious, whether it is traditional Chinese food in a tiny bustling canteen or multi-Michelin star awarded East-meets-West fusion cuisine. Wherever you go, make sure your camera is at the ready, because cantonese food is excellent Instagram material. Those wanting to try local specialities will be delighted by the delicious array of food offered during yum cha. Although this literally means, “drinking tea”, something which there is undoubtedly a lot of, the tea definitely takes a backseat when the dim sum arrives at the table. Dim sum is best described as “parcels of deliciousness” which come in all shapes and sizes, some of the most popular ones being char siu baos, soft steamed buns filled with barbecued pork, and har gaos, dumplings filled with prawns and sometimes vegetables too.
As for nightlife, nobody does it better than Hong Kong. Have your night planned out for you by the good men and women of the Hong Kong Pub Crawl, infamous for being one of the best pub crawls in the world. Running every Thursday, the crawl will take you to some of the best spots in Lan Kwai Fong, including a few hidden treasures tucked away in innocent looking apartment blocks. If instead of a crowd you want something more upmarket for your nights out, then make your way to Wooloomooloo at the top of The Hennessey in Wan Chai. From this rooftop bar you can view the city from an amazing perspective in an exclusive hotspot and down some pretty good drinks while you’re at it too. If you really want to break the bank, then visit Ozone on the 118th floor of the tallest hotel in the word. Skip the beer and wine and opt for a cocktail to really appreciate what you are paying for – with so much care and attention put into mixing their signature drinks you’re bound to enjoy them.