HONG KONG – Asia’s World City
Visiting Hong Kong is an exciting non-stop experience, as I discovered on my short one-week stay on this island. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, with over 6,400 inhabitants per square km (vs Canada’s average population density of 3.2 per sq km!), Hong Kong can make Manhattan look like a provincial town! Expect to see an interesting mix of history, culture and shiny glass buildings in this 21st century city. The city is fast-paced, modern, busy, crowded yet remains quite traditionally Chinese. However, as an island – or rather a cluster of over 200 islands – you can always escape to the many beaches, parks, nature reserves and lakes.
What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hong Kong? Shopping! Hong Kong has a lot of it – from glitzy malls to cool street markets, and from trendy boutiques to traditional Chinese stores. My recommendation is – hit the markets! These are the most fun. You can buy an assortment of collectibles, clothes, fake designer labels, electronic gadgets and a whole range of other ‘stuff’. Unfortunately my ‘rolex’ watch stopped after a few weeks though! In the malls, the designer labels can be quite pricy, but you can get a lot of great bargains in the markets .. and it’s all about the experience!
Tons of things to see – here are a couple of my favourites:
• For the best panoramic view of the city, go to Victoria Peak. To get there, take the Peak Tram, a 120 year old funicular railway which departs from Garden Road.
• A little history and culture perhaps? Visit the 10,000 Budha Monastery – it’s worth the long walk up the mountain!
Traffic is crazy, and the best way to travel around is by public transit – which is extremely well organized! You can get to most places by using the MTR system (subway) or the buses. Don’t expect to get a seat on the MTR though – if you do see a vacant seat, you’ll need to fight for it!
To travel between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, take the Star Ferry. Sit up top to enjoy a wide-angled view of beautiful Victoria Harbour, and if you catch an evening sailing at around 8pm, you can see the Symphony of Lights show on the water.
People are very friendly – most speak some English (as well as Cantonese and often Mandarin), and it’s funny to hear the British accents. If you are lost, they will always point you in the right direction. However, if you are in a line-up, don’t get worked up if they cut in – this is the norm here.
Food is interesting – seafood is abundant of course, and extremely fresh (in fact, still alive). Choose your dish while it’s still swimming in the fish tank and hopefully it will be dead by the time it ends up on your plate (whole!). Dim Sum is famous here – and Peking Duck is also an excellent choice! .
As for nightlife … it’s hopping! The city never sleeps and there are tons of great clubs, bars, live music and cultural events happening 24/7.
Some great websites for you to check out for more information on Hong Kong: