Hong Kong — Overview
Global connection hub, autonomous country of China, former British possession, haunt of opium mongrels and pirates, Asia’s World City, and favorite visitor’s destination – Hong Kong is all this and more. Hong Kong Island itself, with its world-famous skyline, is the center of this archipelago set in the South China Sea, just off the mainland. It enjoys freedom from government interference unrivaled in China. Once a prize reluctantly given to British traders by the former Chinese Emperor after the first Opium War, Hong Kong was returned to the motherland in 1997, very much under its own terms.
Ancient and modern attractions are crammed into Hong Kong Island and its nearby smaller neighbors, and extend to the mainland Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Hong Kong Disneyland contrasts with museums displaying the fabulous artifacts of Imperial China, Buddhist temples, vast colonial buildings, and traditional markets. The city is famed for its seafood, Cantonese, and international cuisine, and its amazing shopping opportunities. Soaring Victoria Peak is still a favorite spot for its magnificent views across the iconic harbor to Kowloon.
English-speaking visitors to Hong Kong won’t have trouble getting around as English is the joint language with Cantonese. Hong Kong is a place of multiple personalities, with aspects of its culture seeming purely British and other facets inscrutably Chinese. That said, Hong Kong people are invariably friendly and proud of their unique position within China. Some of the world’s most exclusive hotels and restaurants are here, and Hong Kong is considered an expensive place to visit. Shoppers will find the money they save across the board more than makes up for the high accommodation and restaurant costs.
The frantic pace of life on Hong Kong Island and the unbelievably crowded streets give way to the mountainous interior and its remote beauty, perfect for walking, hiking, trekking, and exploring the ecosystems. An alternative is a boat trip to a selection of the other islands in the chain, home to famous temples, stilted fishing villages, and small, secluded bays with glorious beaches. Daytrips into the New Territories are popular, with the traditional Chinese lifestyle becoming more obvious the closer to the border you travel.
Transportation options are wide, from Hong Kong Island’s efficient metro system covering almost all major attractions to regular bus services, innumerable taxis, and water-taxis plying their way across the harbor. The public transport system is reasonably priced with opportunities to purchase all-inclusive tickets to save money. There’s a huge choice of private and guided tours focusing on everything from the must-sees to off-the-beaten path activities, and reaching as far as the mainland border with China. Tours by boat travel all around the archipelago, and yachts with or without skippers can be rented for fishing and sightseeing trips.
- Hong Kong Disneyland for fun with Mickey and friends
- Victoria Harbour for its promenades and spectacular views
- Victoria Peak for breathtaking views over the harbor and Central
- Lantau Island’s Giant Buddha
- The Hong Kong Museum of History for a taste of archeology and traditions
- Ocean Park for giant pandas and roller coasters
- Taking in a meet at the Happy Valley Racecourse
- Kowloon Waterfront for night-time views of Central’s stunning skyscrapers