Hong Kong is worth a visit because it has a quite unique combination of East and West, blending Chinese heritage, British colonial influences, high-tech modernity and Cantonese gusto. Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China, with a lot of influence over themselves since China resumed sovereignty in 1997. Prior to that, Hong Kong belonged to the British Empire for more than 150 years as a result of the First Opium War (1839 – 42).
Originally confined to Hong Kong Island, the colony’s boundaries were extended in stages to then Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 and then the New Territories in 1898. Where the Chinese and the Brits signed a lease, renting Hong Kong to Great Britain for 99 years. While obtained by the British Empire during the first half of the 20th century, Hong Kong served as a free port, serving as a warehouse for the British Empire. The British implemented an education system similar to their own model, while keeping the local Chinese population as far away from the European community as the island allowed them. As a result of 150 years of British influence, only cut of by the Japanese occupation during the Pacific War, Hong Kong has a lot of Western influence which combined with the principle of”one country, two systems“, which means that Hong Kong has a different political system from mainland China, has put them on top of the international financial centres, with low taxation and free trade. It basically means that if you want to buy a specific brand, electronics or equivalent, Hong Kong will sell it for a much cheaper price than most other places.
Hong Kong is situated on China’s south coast and is enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea. It is known for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour.
Hong Kong Island is what gives the territory its name, even though it is not the largest part of the territory. However it is the place that many tourists regard as the main focus. The best area to stay in would be considered Sheung Wan, which has all a tourist needs in form of art galleries, restaurants, antique stores and boutique shops, and the famous place Shanghai Lane that specialises in Shanghainese Dumplings. Since the Hong Kong Skyline is one of the cities main attractions, a lot of the top attractions involves viewing this amazing skyline. One is Victoria Peak, that gives a breath-taking view of the skyscrapers, the glittering harbour and the hills of the new territories. It is beautiful any time of day, but for a special experience it can be visited for the sunset over the skyline of the city. The highest point on Hong Kong Island, this has been the city’s most exclusive neighborhood since colonial times.
Another sight is the Avenue of Stars, which pays tribute to the names that helped make Hong Kong the ‘Hollywood of the East’, while giving visitors a panoramic view of the city’s most iconic sight: its glorious skyline, dramatically set against the Peak. Another is the Harbour show; every night the city introduces a light show featuring the tall and beautiful buildings of Hong Kong. When tired of gazing at the skyline, Hong Kong has Mong Kok Ladies’ Market, a one kilometer stretch containing over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs. This is the place to buy all the fake brands. When buying cloth in markets, you are not allowed to try it on to see if it fits, one simply has to take the salespersons word for that it will fit, and more importantly suit you. Make sure to pay no more than half of what they ask. Mong Kok is also the place for buying electronics- genuine not fake. Another market is Temple Street Night Market where you can bargain for just about everything as soon as the sun sets every night. Not in the mood for clothes? Then get your fortune read, buy an authentic tea set, or get a clay pot of rice to consume while watching the theater that is a Chinese night market.
For a bit of Chinese culture visit The Wong Tai Sin Temple. Home to three religions (Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism) its natural setting and beautifully ornamented buildings make it as much a scenic attraction as an important religious center. Another reason to go is that it claims to make every wish come true upon request. If traveling with kids, Hong Kong is in possession of Disneyland and Ocean Park, a 870,000 square metres of fun and education.
Getting around in Hong Kong is easy compared to the rest of China, since everything is written in English as well as Cantonese. Hong Kong has the double decker buses that London is famous for, but remember to have the right amount of cash because the do not give change. Subway system runs all over Hong Kong as well, but it does not give the possibility for spontaneity since you have to give your final destination when purchasing the ticket.
Must-eat : Dim Sum is a specialty, and there are tons of restaurants offering this as a brunch option used by most Cantonese families on the weekend.
Another thing Hong Kong is famous for is Fusion. For a city that has been a crossroads of cultures since its inception, the kitchen is a fusion of flavours of different countries and regions.
In the colonial period, people arrived in Hong Kong from all over China, bringing their regional styles of cooking with them and later blending them together. Then Chinese chefs started adding soy sauce to European dishes, creating a new discipline known as Soy Sauce Western. Last but not least is Chinese Barbecue, in Cantonese Sui mei, which translates as ‘fork burned’. In the mood for fine dining? Michelin has awarded quite a few restaurants in Hong Kong with stars, and this is the one place in the world where you probably can afford it. Insider tip is to go there in the middle of the day to be sure to get a table without waiting days for it.