New York of the east, business center of Asia, pearl of the orient… There are lots of ways of referring to this region from the east of China, but none can fully reflect its whole essence.
Having been under British sovereignty until 1997, Hong Kong is today living a unique moment of transition that will last exactly 50 years until 2047. You can today experience a capitalist way of life under a socialist government, living one country with two systems. A country made in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, simply referred to as ‘HK’, comprises a peninsular area – Kowloon and some new territories – and 2 islands, Lantau and Hong Kong island.
Walking along its streets, it is easy to notice that Hong Kong is a different place, where European, Chinese, Indian and American ways of life coexist. You can see all of them at a simple glance. Protected by high skyscrapers, people from all nationalities stroll and negotiate trade deals on anything from electronic devices to food.
Boarding the star ferry – centennial boat and Hong Kong symbol – to get from Tsim Sha Tsui to Pedders Wharf in Victoria Harbour will strike the less impressionable, especially if it’s done at night. Those views, accompanied by the symphony of lights from the daily show in Victoria Harbour and the ancient red sailboats, will stick to the memory for a long time.
From there you can catch the peak tramway that leads to Victoria peak. From the summit, HK highest buildings – two international finance centers boasting 415 meters of height – become tiny ant houses. On a clear day, you can easily see a big part of Kowloon across the harbour and the whole financial district in Hong Kong Island. At the top, by the viewpoint, dozens of stalls offer delicious dishes and you can also buy quality clothes and souvenirs, or simply walk along its picturesque streets.
But Hong Kong is much more than skyscrapers and business.
Do you have children? Wake them up with a smile, catch the MTR and take them to spend an unforgettable day in Hong Kong Disneyland. Inaugurated in 2005, this park has as much to offer as its older brothers worldwide.
Or take a break and simply stroll around. Visit the vast number of cultural places welcoming you in HK, like the Po Lin temple, which has the biggest outdoors sitting Buddha, or the large number of museums, with exhibitions that take place every week. As for food, you’ll probably have some problem choosing amongst the many restaurants on the island; we recommend you follow your instincts – you can’t get wrong in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is shopping, shopping is Hong Kong. Whether you travel to HK for shopping or not, you should consider it. Hong Kong is well known for its low prices on electronics, suits and much more. It’s so easy to find good quality products at really affordable prices that you will find shopping hard to resist. Although prices on designers’ and brand-name clothing are similar to those in the US, there’s no sales tax and the selection is vaster. The best time to find deals is during the annual Shopping Festival and the Winterfest, when markdowns of up to 70% can be found. Sales also take place on the four days before Chinese New Year.
If you are one of those fond of eco-tourism, Hong Kong has also thought of you. There are several excursions that take you to see endangered pink dolphins, or to popular Wong Nin Yung and Aberdeen parks among others.
Beach and sun lovers will also have their good time there. Hong Kong has more than 850 km of coastline, including astonishingly beautiful bays and natural pools. In Repulsa Bay, south of Hong Kong Island, you can enjoy fine sand and transparent water, with average temperatures of between 16 and 27 grades Celsius. It’s really a Hawaiian oriental island.
It doesn’t matter what you like, who you are or what you are. In Hong Kong you will find what you are looking for. Even better, Hong Kong will make you like what you least expect to like. Hong Kong will not disappoint you; it will instead wake your sleeping senses, because HK is a region built around the 5 senses, and satisfies them all with a single label: ‘Made in Hong Kong’.
by Matt Dallow