"Hong Kong" Hong Kong by SWFC_Fan
Hong Kong Travel Guide: 8,370 reviews and 20,332 photos
The city state of Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China on 1 July 1997, ending its status as a British colony.
Hong Kong lies on the south east coast of China and consists of a mainland and over 260 islands.
The New Territories and Kowloon are located on mainland Hong Kong, while Hong Kong island (including Central, Causeway Bay, Stanley and Aberdeen) is located directly south of Kowloon and is connected to the mainland by regular ferries and an underwater tunnel.
The hundreds of other islands include Lantau Island (which is actually bigger than Hong Kong island and contains the International airport at Chek Lap Kok) and popular Outlying Islands such as Cheung Chau, Peng Chau and Lamma Island.
How to get there?
Hong Kong has air links with major cities all over the world. Flights land at the relatively new Chek Lap Kok airport on Lantau Island, about 30km west of Central Hong Kong. This airport replaced the old Kai Tak airport in Kowloon which was infamous for the proximity to which aircraft passed by the skyscrapers of Hong Kong island!
I arrived in Hong Kong following a 13 hour British Airways flight from London Heathrow.
Transport options for getting from the airport to the urban area include taxis, the Airport Express train and the A21 Cityflyer bus. The train journey takes approximately 20 minutes to Kowloon and a little further to Hong Kong island. I opted for the A21 bus: heavy traffic meant that the journey to Kowloon was approximately 50 minutes. The cost was 33 HKD and tickets can be purchased from a counter at the airport, or you can pay the driver on the bus (but note that no change is given).
It is possible to arrive in Hong Kong by road or rail from China, passing via Guangzhou and/or Shenzhen, the nearest major cities in China.
Regular ferries connect Hong Kong with Macau throughout the day and night. I visited Macau as a daytrip - the journey is just 1 hour each way and the tickets cost around 140 HKD each way, with prices being slightly higher for night crossings than day crossings.
What is there to see and do?
A few recommendations of things to see and do based on my 10 days in the city:
If you are only is Hong Kong for a short time and you are looking for one "must see" attraction, then a trip to the top of "The Peak" has to be your number one priority! The view over Hong Kong island and Victoria Harbour is absolutely stunning - arguably one of the greatest vistas in the world! The Peak Tram makes the steep climb to Peak Towers at the summit in just a few minutes and for a cost of just 30 HKD return. My first visit to the Peak was on a misty day - eventually the gloom lifted and presented a superb view. I waited for a bright clear day for my next trip up there and then waited for nightfall to see the amazing skyline lit up at night.
Avenue of Stars
For another great view of the Hong Kong island skyline (but this time from ground level) take a stroll along the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. Stars on the pavement mark the achievements of Hong Kong movie stars and producers, while statues, red lanterns and food kiosks line the walkway. This is also a great place to watch the night time laser show, with various buildings on Hong Kong island putting on an impressive show called the "Symphony of Lights".
Take a ferry across the harbour
It is very likely that at some point during your stay in the city you will catch one of the Star ferries between the mainland and Hong Kong island. The crossing takes just a little over 5 minutes and costs a measly 2.20 HKD each way. The views from the upper deck are excellent, and this is considered an experience that encapsulates the feel of Hong Kong. I made the crossing between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central almost every day during my 10 day visit.
Nathan Road in Kowloon is the "Golden Mile" of Hong Kong. Neon signs, electronics shops, frantic traffic, huge crowds of people, restaurants, budget hotels and bars give the area a real buzz at any time of day and night. Quite a seedy area, with dodgy fake watch sellers, persistent tailors and a host of shady characters outside the notorious Chungking Mansions, Nathan Road is not the place to go for a relaxing stroll. A great (and cheap) place to stay and to shop - but I was always happy to leave it behind!
Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong is a cluster of bars, restaurants and nightclubs on Hong Kong island. Popular with ex-pats and businessmen, but also with locals, you can find a huge selection of food and drink here. Prices tend to be significantly above-average, but the variety is good and the atmosphere is vibrant. The Hong Kong Brew House has an impressive beer menu including a large selection of Belgian imports.
Visit the Outlying Islands
Hong Kong consists of over 260 islands. Some of these make great daytrips. For more information, feel free to visit my other pages:
Cheung Chau - sandy beaches, Chinese temples and abundant seafood restaurants;
Peng Chau - a small island with scenic walks and great beaches;
Lamma Island - lush countryside, great beaches, picturesque villages and a reputation for excellent fresh seafood.
A few observations from my 10 days in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong as a stopover destination
Many people visit Hong Kong as a stopover en-route from Europe to Australia, or vice versa. I spent a whole 10 days in the city, treating it as a destination in its own right rather than a stepping stone to somewhere else. I had previously visited two other popular stopover destinations - Dubai and Singapore - and, for me, Hong Kong did not impress me as much as either of those two cities. I feel in hindsight that a few days as a stopover would have been sufficient for me to see the most impressive sights in the city - but on the other hand, I would have missed out on some great walking and relaxing on the Outlying Islands. I would have gone mad if I had spent the duration of my stay in the crowded city. If you are visiting Hong Kong for an extended vacation, be sure to escape the city for a few days! If you are visiting Hong Kong as a short stopover, just be sure to visit the Peak!
Food, glorious food!
Hong Kong rightly has a reputation for great food. This reputation is wholly justified; Hong Kong has a huge selection of restaurants, from upmarket international cuisine to simple family-run noodle houses. In between, there are Thai, Malay and Vietnamese restaurants, fresh seafood restaurants, pizzerias, cafes, street markets and famous fast food chains. In common with much of my stay, I was comparing the food in Hong Kong to that I experienced in Singapore a month previous. While I did find the food in Hong Kong extremely good, I didn’t find it to be as good value as in Singapore.
For the first half of my stay in Hong Kong in January 2006, there seemed to be a permanent mist hanging over the city. On my first walk along the Avenue of Stars, it was impossible to see the tops of the skyscrapers across the harbour on Hong Kong Island. On my first visit to the Peak, I couldn't even see the city below me. If you've only got a short period of time in the city, and only one chance to visit the Peak, pray for a clear day!
Annoyances on Nathan Road
The annoyances on Nathan Road fall into 3 categories:
The least annoying are the "fake Rolex" sellers. You'll hear them uttering these two words (or "copy watches") as you walk along Nathan Road. They are a minor irritant, but they aren't too persistent and can easily be shrugged off!
Much more persistent are the hordes of tailors that stand outside their shops along the whole length of Nathan Road. You'll hear them saying "new suit, boss?" or "quality tailoring, Sir - come see my shop!" or some such variant. They'll follow you for hundreds of yards failing to take no for an answer. Armed with a pile of business cards and an impressive array of superlatives to describe their work, these people should be avoided where possible. In some cases, taking a card from them will be sufficient to shrug them off - but in others, they'll take this as a sign that you're in desperate need of a whole new wardrobe!
But not even the tailors can compete with the Buddhist monks - you'll see them on Nathan Road, particularly around the Peninsular Hotel and the adjacent subway - but more likely, they'll see you first! Decked out in brown robes, they approach you with a gold business card and a greeting of "Peace". I'd encountered them previously in Singapore (collecting funds to repair a monastery, and when I made a generous donation, they crossed out the amount and suggested that I doubled it! The cheek! They won't get another penny from me!) - so this time I was well prepared. A polite "no, thank you" will have no effect as they grab you by the sleeve and follow you along repeating their wish for peace - if only they would leave me in peace!
So many people!
Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world. Walking through the streets is not so much a pleasant stroll as a struggle against a tide of thousands of people. Perhaps because people are used to not getting anywhere very fast, they don't bother making any effort to do so! Instead of walking forward, most people seem to prefer dawdling along speaking into their mobiles. I usually work on the basis of being able to walk a kilometer in a little under 10 minutes - in Hong Kong I had to revise this downwards somewhat, considering it an achievement to cover 1 kilometer in a day!
- Pros:The view from Victoria Peak is world class, and the food is great!
- Cons:Hectic and crowded - so escape the city at every opportunity!
- In a nutshell:A fantastic looking city - but maybe the beauty is only skin deep!
Hong Kong's famous green and white Star Ferry could just as easily be a "Things To Do" tip as a "Transportation"... more travel advice
Avenue of the Stars is located at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade East in the Kowloon area of the city. This 440m long... more travel advice
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