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Hong Kong City

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Welcome to Hong Kong City

Hong Kong City

Hong Kong perches on the edge of mainland China occupying an anomalous position as a territory straddling two worlds. Since the handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a 'Special Administrative Region of China' and no longer a subject of colonial sovereignty. Past and present fuse to create a capitalist utopia embedded within the world's largest Communist country.

Hong Kong offers a dense concentration of stores and shopping malls with a cross-pollinated cosmopolitan culture that embraces Nepalese and British cuisines with equal enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway for travellers to Southeast Asia and China, providing a smooth transition from west to east. As one of the key economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong Island showcases a gleaming landscape of skyscrapers and boasts a highly developed transport infrastructure that makes commuting around it a dream.

Hong Kong consists of four sections, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories form part of the Chinese mainland to the north of Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island, containing the central business hub, lies on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon. The Outlying Islands comprise a composite of 234 islands.

Information & Facts


Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate, with hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters. Winter lasts from January to March, the coldest month being February, when the temperature averages 57°F (14°C) and the city gets cooled by strong, cold winds that blow in from the north. In summer the wind blows from the south, bringing in warm, humid air and a rainy season that extends from spring through summer. Temperatures in summer climb to a maximum of around 82°F (28°C) and Typhoons are possible during both the spring and autumn months.

Eating Out

Hong Kong is quite simply one of the best places on earth to dine out and experience dishes from across the spectrum of cuisines. Some writers have dubbed this the 'World's Fair of Food' and a 'Gourmet Paradise'. One thing is certain: with over 7 million residents, Hong Kong is the third most densely populated place in the world and that means cut-throat competition and very competitive pricing. There are over 9,000 licensed restaurants and countless more traders, stalls and mobile eateries.

Hong Kong is best known for its outstanding Cantonese cuisine and the freshest ingredients and finest chefs can be found here. The city's cosmopolitan mix also ensures that there is a dynamic mix of other cuisines. Sushi joints abound, as do pasta houses, bakeries, sandwich shops and just about every other style of eating you can imagine.

One experience you should not miss is trying the local dim sum. These are delicious, mouth-watering snacks prepared in steaming bamboo baskets and eaten as breakfast or lunch along with copious amounts of Chinese tea. Typical dim sum include steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, beef balls and pan-fried squid with spicy salt are just some of the local favourites.

Hong Kong residents generally eat five times per and most meals our eaten outside the home. Meals are typically small, and always accompanied by a generous portion of carbohydrates such as rice or mein(noodles). For the visitor this means plenty of places to snack and experience a diversity of dishes in one day.

In a Chinese restaurant waiters will commonly bring tea, condiments and snacks to your table, which will be added to the bill. Most restaurants will automatically add 10 per cent to your bill as gratuity. During Chinese New Year, this charge may be a bit higher. Make reservations whenever possible, especially over lunchtimes.

Getting Around

With one of the best and most varied public transport systems in the world and a compact city centre, getting around Hong Kong is extremely cheap, fast and efficient and is easy enough for even inexperienced travellers. It includes buses, minibuses, ferries, trams, light railways and an underground subway. The underground Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is fast, clean, efficient and inexpensive. Single-journey tickets or travel passes like the electronic Octopus card can be used on the MTR to easily access attractions, shopping and dining locations. Bus routes serviced with double-decker or single-decker buses cover all of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories with final destinations displayed in both English and Chinese on the front. Bus fares are low and distance-based; exact change is required, or you can use the ubiquitous Octopus card, which covers all public transport options. Small mini-buses are more expensive but also more flexible, stopping for passengers to board or disembark on request. Hong Kong's old-fashioned trams still follow the same tracks as they have since 1904 and provide visitors with wonderful views of the city from their upper decks. They are also a cheap and convenient way of getting around. On the water, fleets of ferries connect Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the Outlying Islands, Macau and Mainland China. Last but not least there is an abundant supply of taxis, colour-coded according to their area of operation. Taxi fares are low, but many drivers don't speak English and visitors are advised to have their destination written down in Chinese characters.

Travellers can use the Octopus Card to pay for transportation, as well as some restaurants and convenience stores. The Octopus Card is rechargeable, and stays valid for up to three years beyond the last date of use. Visit www.octopus.com.hkfor more info.

Kids Attractions

Bustling Hong Kong may seem best suited as a holiday destination for adults but this fun city also has more than enough to entice and amuse kids. Children on holiday in Hong Kong will be enthralled by a medley of parks, zoos, museums and markets to enjoy. And then there are nearby beaches, islands and nature reserves to explore... With such entertaining options, Hong Kong is a great holiday destination for kids!

There are a number of museums near the Kowloon Peninsula for kids to enjoy. Children can learn about traditional Chinese culture in Aberdeen and the outer islands, which are also very picturesque. Other adventure include the fun-filled Victoria Harbour tours, while Central Hong Kong and Kowloon have markets where children's clothes and toys can be found.

The best time of year to take children to Hong Kong, with good weather for outdoor activities and attractions, is between October and December when the days are warm, sunny and dry, and the evenings are comfortably cool. Children's Day is celebrated in Hong Kong on 4th April each year, a very festive time to visit on holiday.

The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.

The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD); HK$1 is divided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday. Banks and moneychangers charge commission as do hotels that provide exchange services. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widely distributed. Some HSBC 'Electronic Money' machines provide 24-hour cash withdrawal facilities for Visa and MasterCard holders.


Mellow in comparison to Tokyo or Beijing, the nightlife in Hong Kong is somewhat modest, yet there is still plenty to tempt those with an appetite for a party. With plenty of bars for locals and foreigners to choose from, Hong Kong serves its own unique brand of entertainment.

Notoriously naughty Wan Chai has calmed down a lot over the last few decades, and although it has still retained some of seediness and a few girlie bars can be found, there are also many British-style pubs frequented by expatriate locals. The Central district's Lan Kwai Fong is known as having one of the biggest drinking crowds in Hong Kong and the bars to sustain it, and is also a well-known people watching spot. SoHo has a number of ethnic bars and restaurants, and off-the-path Knutsford Terrace is popular for its open-fronted bars and cafes.

Live music is has become a standard feature of many restaurants, cocktail lounges, and bars that actively seeking it out is futile. The Fringe Club is Hong Kong's most well known venue of all things alternative and live acts can be seen here on most weekends, for a price. As it gets later and more alcohol is consumed, most of Hong Kong's small bars tend to evolve into raucous nightclubs while trendy dance clubs impose a strict dress code and often only grant entrance to members.

Those looking for a quieter night out may enjoy seeing Chinese opera, performed at City Hall in the Central district and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Hong Kong Ballet Company and various theatre groups also stage performances throughout the year, though the highlight of the arts calendar is definitely the Hong Kong Arts Festival in February and March.

To find out what's happening in Hong Kong, pick up a copy of the weekly What's On Hong Kongfrom any HKTB branch; or the free HK Magazine, distributed weekly at restaurants and bars.


Hong Kong is considered to be the shopping capital of the world. Two factors translate this bold claim into reality: firstly, all goods, other than alcohol and tobacco, are tax-free. Secondly, there is an unparalleled concentration of high quality goods and vigorous competition. The customer is king here, and with credit card in hand you can rule a shopping empire like no where else on earth.

Best buys include jewellery and wrist watches, especially pieces using gold, jade and pearl; and custom clothing and haute couture. Electronics gadgets and audio-visual gear like cameras and ipods are not the deals they once were, but you may find some good prices.

Some of the most popular shopping districts in Hong Kong include Causeway Bay, which contains giant department stores like Sogo and WTC More; the Central district, with high-end boutiques and haute couture; the Admiralty, with a number of shopping malls; and the Peak area, which has a number of souvenir shops and brand-name stores. Mongkok is the place to go for bargain shopping on clothings and electronics, but be aware of what you're buying as many products do not come with warranties.

The contrast between the gleaming modern stores and old-world markets gives variety and excitement to a Hong Kong shopping experience. Don't miss Stanley Market's historic fishing lanes, filled with vendors selling Chinese handicrafts and silk creations (a great place to buy gifts and souvenirs!) Yuen Po Street's melodious Bird Garden is a magnet for songbird owners while Hong Kong's Flower Market is a bright and busy scene that makes for wonderful photo opportunities. The Ladies' Market in Tung Choi Street is renowned for its handbags, but the touts are just as famous for their pushiness. Other great markets include the Temple Street Night Market, Stanley Market, and Jardine's Crescent. There are several regular Hong Kong weekend markets that have great shopping opportunities as well, including the Sunday market outside the Gold Coast Hotel in Tuen Mun, and the Pokfulam Market, held the first Sunday of every month at Level 4 CyberPlaza, Cyberport 2.

If you have any problems, queries or disputes, hang on to your receipts and call the Consumer Council Hotline on +852 2929 2222 for assistance.


Although better known for its shopping and restaurants, there is plenty to see and do in Hong Kong. The best way to see the city is on foot. It's compact and there are plenty of alleys and interesting detours to explore. When you tire of walking, hop onto the extensive metro system, or catch a ferry into the harbour.

One of the highlights of your sightseeing experience is the exciting contrast between the ultra-modern urban side of Hong Kong, evidenced by the soaring sky-scrapers and luxury shops, and the old-world charm of centuries-old temples like Wong Tai Sin and the thriving traditional markets.

The heart of the city is the bustling Central district, where Western Market and many corporations and gleaming malls are situated. Over to the east are the Wan Chai and Causeway Bay districts where many top restaurants and nightclubs can be found. For museums visit the Kowloon peninsula, and for a glimpse of traditional Chinese culture head out by ferry to Aberdeen and the outer islands.

Ambitious sightseers should get their hands on a HKTB Museum Passwhich gives unlimited admission to a host of museums and provides discounts in the museum shops. Valid for one week, the pass is available from HKTB offices and participating museums.

Local time is GMT +8.

Some 200 years ago, Hong Kong's Aberdeen district was a haven for pirates. Located on the southern shore of Hong Kong Island, it is home to the Tanka boat people and has become a popular tourist destination where visitors can experience on hand the traditional lifestyle of boat dwellers and sample fresh seafood. Aberdeen is a lively marina crammed with junks, sampans, water taxis (kai do), cruisers and yachts. The fishing harbour is a wonderful way to experience the activity of life on water. Tours along Aberdeen's watery stretches can be enjoyed onboard one of the many sampans offering half-hour trips around the harbour and the sensory delights of Hong Kong cuisine can be experienced within the unique environment of the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

The Avenue of Stars is Hong Kong's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrating famous icons of Hong Kong cinema. Situated along the seaside promenade, there are great views of Victoria Harbour. The Avenue is also a good place to view the Symphony of Lights, a music and laser show staged every night at 8pm. The show is presented in English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it is in Mandarin and Sundays in Cantonese.

The Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha, is one of the tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statues in the world, seated near Po Lin Monastery. It is a popular tourist destination and a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong. The 112-foot (34m) high statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar and is surrounded by eight smaller statues of gods. Inside the three floors beneath the Buddha visitors can access the Hall of the Universe, the Hall of Benevolent Merit and the Hall of Remembrance. Visitors can climb the 268 steps to reach the platform where the impressive figure is seated.

The fifth Disneyland Resort in the world, but also the smallest, Hong Kong Disneyland offers a magical adventure in four themed lands similar to other parks, namely Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Mickey Mouse welcomes visitors of all ages to the happiest place on Earth, which also includes attractions exclusively designed for Hong Kong. Particular care has been taken to incorporate Chinese culture into the design, such as a feng shui layout, and the omission of the number four in the numbering of floors in each of the two hotels. In addition to the numerous rides and various events and attractions, shops sell Disney souvenirs and restaurants offer a variety of food throughout the park.

The Hong Kong Museum of Art's five permanent galleries have a large collection of ceramics, cloisonné, bronzes, lacquerware, bamboo carvings, jade, and textiles; as well as beautiful scrolls and examples of calligraphy. While it isn't the biggest art museum in China, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, conveniently located on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, is a great place to visit if you want a taste of Chinese art history on a limited schedule as you can see much of the collections in about an hour. There is also a gift shop and a cafe.

The Hong Kong Museum of History showcases Hong Kong's archaeological, cultural and natural history through a display of cultural objects, artefacts, photographs, traditional costumes and models that span 6,000 years. Glorious period sets tell the story of Chinese life in replicas of village houses, streets and stores. These memorials to the past are contained within an incredible building opened in the year 2000.

Located in a grand old house in Hong Kong Park, the Museum of Tea Ware is an interesting place to visit for those interested in the finer points of one of China's most refined traditions. The Greek revival architecture and decor is typical of the colonial British buildings of over 160 years ago, and houses more than 600 examples of traditional tea ware, ranging from earthenware to delicate porcelain and dating back to the 7th century. Also described are the methods of tea-making and elaborate tea ceremonies that revolve around the beautiful pieces. The museum shop has a good selection of tea ware to take home with you. The whole museum is rather small, and can be seen in under an hour.

The Hong Kong Police Museum showcases a display tracing the development and history of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force from 1844 to today. The main exhibit encompasses a significant number of artefacts relating to the Hong Kong Police Force from uniforms and firearms, to historical archives and photographs. Other exhibits look at the major factions which have influenced the status quo namely the triad societies and narcotics (Hong Kong was founded on the narcotics trade), including a unique look at how heroin is produced. The Police Museum is an interesting visit, which provides insight into the dedication of the officers who served within this elite force.

Four floors of exhibits cover a range of hands-on science and technology related subjects, including light, sound, motion, magnetism, electricity, robotics, virtual reality and much more. This museum is extremely popular because of its hands-on approach, allowing children and adults alike to learn through involvement. The most prominent exhibit is a 72-foot (22m) tall twin tower Energy Machine which, when activated, triggers a series of displays to produce spectacular audiovisual effects demonstrating various forms of energy.

A favourite for kids on holiday in Hong Kong is the Toy Library, on the second floor of Central Library. The library has areas where children can play 'house' or 'doctors and nurses', and there is also a games catalogue available. On the same floor, the Junior Library has a large selection of books in English for kids, as well as a pleasant reading area.

Children on holiday in Hong Kong who want to see crocodiles, butterflies and mangroves should head to the Hong Kong Wetland Park, a man-made oasis. Interactive and educational games are another feature to enjoy at the park, as are the sound booths where kids can compose wetland symphonies using the sounds of this fascinating eco-system.

A good outdoors attraction for children on holiday in Hong Kong is Kowloon Park, which has aviaries, outdoor swimming pools, canals and a waterfall for kids to enjoy. The lake is home to a beautiful flock of flamingos, and the themed sections and open-air sculpture area are also interesting to see. The Chinese garden, playground and soccer pitch are yet more fun features of the park.

Lantau is the largest of the 235 outlying islands in Hong Kong, being almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. It is better known for its walking trails and beaches and provides a pleasant respite from crowds and shopping. The main arrival point to the island by ferry is at Mui Wo (Silvermine Bay). The finest beaches are located along the west coast, most notably Cheung Sha. Besides beaches, Western Lantau is the location of the Po Lin Monastery, the largest temple in Hong Kong. Beyond the doorstep of this vast temple is the world's largest outdoor Buddha. Aptly named Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), the bronze statue sits contemplatively from the reaches of Ngong Ping Plateau.

From the monastery buses will transport one to the quaint fishing village of Tai O. Here little wooden houses perch on stilts and much of life flows from the fishing industry that sustains it. Lantau's north shore is predominantly a farming region. The main attraction here however is the historical Tung Chung Fort, which was built in the early 19th century as part of a short-lived attempt to suppress the opium trade and defend the coastal area from pirates. Six old Qing Dynasty cannons dating back to 1832 stand on the ramparts. Development has changed the landscape of the Northeastern stretches of Lantau, known as Discovery Bay. Here upmarket housing complexes, shopping malls, yacht clubs and golf courses promise to provide the ultimate designer lifestyle at a price.

The cultural influence of Portuguese life threaded through a Chinese framework has produced a unique landscape in Macau, fused with contrast and complexity. Here Baroque churches and colonial mansions appear from the cobbled pavements interspersed with plazas and cafes. Visitors are enticed here by the lure of gambling and the glitz of its promise. Macau's attractions are exemplified in its architectural heritage. St Paul's Cathedral is one such legacy that dates back to the early 17th century. It is an Italian-designed building perched on a hilltop that is most spectacular when illuminated against a night sky. The vantage point from the Fortaleza de Monte is a good place to reflect on the defensive role it played against Dutch assault in 1622 alongside an exploration of the museum and meteorological observatory.

The classic Chinese temple of A-Ma rests at the base of Penha Hill. Its name derives from Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven, or the Honoured Mother. Myth has it that a poor girl saved the fishing vessel, on which she was travelling, from the ravages of a storm. In tribute to her this temple was built and is a place of pilgrimage for Macau's fishing community. Another temple dedicated to the power of female intervention is the Kun Iam Temple, built in honour of the Goddess of Mercy, located in the northern reaches of the peninsula. It was here in 1844 that the first trade and friendship treaty between USA and China was signed. Macau is 37 miles (60km) west of Hong Kong; ferries take around an hour to get there and leave every fifteen minutes.

The Ngong Ping Cable Car is a spectacular four-mile (6km) ropeway that affords panoramic views over the bay and surrounding area on its 25-minute journey to the Ngong Ping Village. As visitors approach the cable car terminal on top of the plateau views will include the huge Tian Tan Buddha Statue and the Po Lin Monastery. The Ngong Ping Village is situated right next to the cable car terminal, which features attractions such as 'Walking with Buddha', the 'Monkey's Tale Theatre', and the 'Ngong Ping Teahouse', as well as an assortment of shopping and dining options. Walking with Buddha plunges visitors into a multimedia presentation that follows the life of Siddhartha Gautama (the man who became Buddha) and his path to enlightenment, while the Teahouse provides demonstrations of traditional Chinese tea ceremonies. The 'Monkey's Tale Theatre' presents a charming and comical show inspired by famous Buddhist Jataka stories that will enchant both old and young alike.

The Ocean Park and Middle Kingdom is a theme park spread over two parts, connected to each other by a cable car. A spectacular aquarium, reputed to be the largest in world, is complemented by a funfair containing a roller coaster, space wheel, octopus and swinging ship amongst its rides. Entrance fee also includes a visit to the ancient Chinese Middle Kingdom.

Located just 40 minutes from downtown Hong Kong by bus, the small fishing village of Stanley is a popular day trip for tourists looking to escape the congestion of the city. A bustling village, Stanley is home to a number of attractions and diversions, including several scenic temples and museums.

The famous Stanley Market is a winding maze of stalls selling souvenirs like t-shirts, keychains, and knock-off goods, although there's a better selection in Hong Kong City. Bars and restaurants along the waterfront provide good food with great views of the harbour, and the amphitheatre hosts free concerts on the weekends.

Stanley is also popular for its beaches. Stanley Main Beach is a pleasant sandy beach only ten minutes' walk from the centre of town. It has good facilities and shark nets, but can get crowded with locals on the weekends. Stanley Main beach is good for windsurfing, and hosts dragon boat races each summer. St Stephens Beach, on the western side of the peninsula, is more secluded but just as popular.

Statue Square is an amalgamation of Hong Kong's contemporary architecture that reaches its most spectacular manifestation in the designs of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and the Bank of China Tower .The most significant feature of the HSBC building is that it has been designed without a central core, a feat of structural engineering blended with the ultimate in aesthetic principles. The Bank of China Tower became a much-debated conversation piece following its construction, largely because of the asymmetrically-designed pinnacle that acquires differing perspectives depending on one's vantage point.

Much of the pleasure derived from a trip to Victoria Peak lies in the journey to its summit. The funicular railway or peak tram has steadily made its way up the mountain since 1888. Energetic travellers can scale the real peak that extends 140m (459ft) above the tram terminus. From the top, marvellous vistas open out onto central Hong Kong and across to Kowloon. Victoria Peak used to serve as a hill station in colonial times and later became the location of exclusive summer homes. Today it is a popular tourist spot offering a cooler perspective from which to contemplate the pleasures of travel to the region. The Peak Tower on the summit houses numerous attractions, like a Ripley's Believe it or not 'Odditorium', shops and restaurants.

One of the best places to buy souvenirs in Hong Kong, this indoor market is held in a four-storey red brick colonial building that was constructed in 1906. After extensive renovation it re-opened in 1991 and now occupies an entire block at the western end of Central Hong Kong. The building houses a variety of shops and stalls that sell a range of products from jade curios and cloissan jewellery to assorted silks and fabrics. From here one can hop onto Hong Kong's ancient double-decker tram headed for Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley.

This grand Taoist temple is one of the most frequently visited temples in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, a legendary hermit who reputedly had healing powers and could foretell the future. A number of fortunetellers ply their trade in the temple complex and there is also a large pharmacy. The ornate temple with its red pillars, gold ceilings and decorative latticework is usually full of people burning incense and making floral offerings. The temple also has a lovely adjacent park called the 'Good Wish Gardens', a peaceful green spot with waterfalls tumbling over rocks.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selction of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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