Hong Kong is Asia’s premier tourist destination. This compact and futuristic city has it all – stunning natural features, cultural attractions and endless shopping opportunities. If you’re looking for a crash course in Asian culture, then look no further. Hong Kong is a veritable melting pot of people and is home to significant populations stemming from Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and mainland China. Mixed in with it all is Hong Kong’s own unique cultural heritage, which has been influenced by its colonial background.
The first feature you notice as you arrive in Hong Kong is its grand scale. 7.1 million people call this area home, making it a crowded place to live to say the least. As a result, Hong Kong has built up rather than out. The most familiar part of the city’s skyline is centred on the Central MTR station. To get the best head-on views of Hong Kong, head to The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, and look across the beautiful Victoria Harbour. For the best overall views of Hong Kong, it’s hard to compete with The Peak. Located just behind the city’s main business district, you can take a Victorian-era train to the top of Mount Austin. From here you’ll have access to captivating views of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour. There are also numerous restaurants, souvenir shops and hiking trails at The Peak.
Descending into the city will reward you with a myriad of sights, sounds and smells. The bustling streets of Hong Kong are a spectacle unto themselves. Nathan Street in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Mong Kok area are excellent places to get acquainted with the city, window shop and interact with locals. Hong Kong is bustling 24 hours a day and is a great city for night owls. To get a taste for Hong Kong’s eclectic nightlife, head to the neighbourhood of Kowloon, which is influenced by a mix of traditional Asian bars, cosmopolitan nightclubs and British pubs.
Hong Kong stems from a long and rich history. The city has come a long way from its roots as a collection of fishing villages, but evidence of Hong Kong’s origins can still be found in Fan Ling and Shau Kei Wan. Fan Ling is home to the 500-year-old walled city of Fan Ling Wai, Taoist temples, ancient villages and historic walking trails. Shau Kei Wan is located on the north eastern shore of Hong Kong Island and is included in many guided heritage walks of the island. The neighbourhood has large collection of centuries-old temples and buildings, which have been preserved to keep old traditions alive in this ultra modern city. Tam Kung Temple is perhaps the most unique and was built to honour Tam Kung, Hong Kong’s patron of fisherman. Inside the temple is a traditional wooden junk ship as well as a dragon boat.
Shopping is a way of life for the residents of Hong Kong and a favourite pastime of tourists as well. For high-end luxury shopping, Causeway Bay is the place to go. This neighbourhood is packed wall-to-wall with shopping centres. The SOGO Department Store is your best bet for upmarket goods, while the Island Beverly Centre is filled with a great selection of boutique shops. Bargains can be found in and around Mong Kok, which is not coincidentally the most crowded part of Hong Kong. The world-famous Ladies Market is located here, and there are several other streets dedicated to a seemingly random selection of goods like wedding dresses, shoes, goldfish and kitchenware.
Though Hong Kong may be one of the most crowded cities in the world, there are surprising amounts of green space dispersed amongst the skyscrapers. Nan Lian Garden and Kowloon Walled City Park are great places to get some breathing room and learn about Hong Kong’s ancient cultural heritage. Located a short walk from the busy Admiralty MTR station, Hong Kong Park is a fairly recent addition to the city and is a favourite with locals looking for a green escape. The park has several Grade II historic houses, a greenhouse, the largest aviary in Hong Kong and a Tai Chi garden. Museums provide another way of learning more about Hong Kong’s history and there are several notable ones located within easy access of the MTR. The Hong Kong Museum of History offers the most comprehensive view of the region’s history and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum focuses mainly on culture.
Hong Kong is a fabulous city and is especially convenient for English-speaking tourists as English is widely spoken throughout the region. The colourful destination allows you to indulge in midnight dim sum one night and watch junk ships sail across Victoria Harbour during afternoon tea the next day. If the centre of the city still isn’t enough, then you can always head out to one of the many smaller islands via high-speed ferry, or even spend the day at Hong Kong Disneyland or Ocean Park Hong Kong. Hong Kong successfully mixes cosmopolitan flair, natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage to create Asia’s top tourist destination.
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