"Maria's Hong Kong" Hong Kong by maria_hz

Hong Kong Travel Guide: 8,584 reviews and 20,956 photos

Humble beginnings for the fragrant harbour

Today, we know Hong Kong as one of the main trading ports and business centres of the world, but this was not always the case.

The area which is present day Hong Kong has been inhabited for at least 6000 years. Han Chinese first settled the area around the Qin period, in the early hundreds AD. Hong Kong was interesting to the local people because of its natural sheltered harbour, and this meant it developed into a harbour of some repute, but nothing matching the harbours of Guangzhou (Canton) and Shanghai.

Starting in the 1500s, China became ever more interesting to the trade-hungry Europeans who wanted to secure their sea trade routes to the Far East and the coveted spices, procelain, silks and tea. Disputes arose about the foreigners' access to Chinese ports. However, following the so called Opium Wars, the British were in luck and acquired Hong Kong and later also the New Territories, to support their trade with China. Under British administration, Hong Kong slowly grew into an important port of international standing.

Financial hub

Today Hong Kong is one of the main financial centres of the world, and also a very busy port. Hong Kong is still very much relying on trade to supply its population with wealth and work.

It seems the handover from British to Chinese administration has not changed the city's position as a financial hub. For many Western companies, Hong Kong is still a preferred gateway into the mainland, and for many Chinese companies, listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange are first steps onto the global market place.

Hong Kong is also known for its great shopping opportunities, from street markets where bargains are to be had, to high-end fashion shops where prices hit the roof and beyond. Some of the best Chinese chefs of the world come from Hong Kong, and you can find food to fit any palate. In recent years, Hong Kong has also focused on entertainment, the most recent addition being Disneyland.

A piece of China

Hong Kong is undoubtedly still very Chinese, despite the recent history of British rule. The facade may look British to some extent (double deckers, left-hand traffic) but the soul of Hong Kong is as Chinese as it ever was. Feng shui is serious business here, and the cultural artifacts and historical Chinese sites that still scatter the region are cherished. Like the Chinese in general, food and tea is a very important part of life and gifts are given in small red envelopes with embossed gold characters signifying luck, wealth or long life.

It has been said that Hong Kong is the most Chinese place on earth. Why don't you go discover for yourself?

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Dynamic and vibrant atmosphere, well developed, English widely spoken
  • Cons:Crowded in some places
  • In a nutshell:Asia's treasure trove
  • Last visit to Hong Kong: May 2006
  • Intro Updated Jun 5, 2006
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Comments (1)

  • CeciliaL's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2006 at 12:41 AM

    Have you try using the "octopus card" in Hong Kong? It is very convenient - can use it for bus, subway, some parking, some shops, etc. I am in Hong Kong this week. Unfortunately we are getting some bad weather from the typhoon.


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