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Introduction to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic Of China. It is a city state situated on the southern coast of China at the confluence of River Pearl and the South China Sea. Famous for its expansive skyline and a natural harbor which makes it one of the busiest ports on the Pacific side, Hong Kong is also one of the most populated cities of the world. It is 1,104 sq kilometers (426 square miles) in area and houses a population in excess of seven million. Hong Kong is located at 22°16′42″N 114°09′32″E, and has a humid sub tropical climate. Summers are moderately hot and humid with occasional showers and thunderstorms and winters are mild and sunny. Typhoons are a common phenomenon in this part of the world. Summer temperatures range between 28.4 degrees Celsius (83.1 degrees Fahrenheit) and 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit). The currency is Hong Kong Dollar (HK$). Hong Kong has two airports to serve its citizens and tourists travelling in to Hong Kong. The Chep Lak Kok or the International Airport (HKG) & Shek Kong Air force Airport. The Kowloon Bay airport was the most popular airport in early days but it has been shut down and all flight now operate out of the Hong Kong International Airport. Hong Kong follows the HKST which is +8:00 UST. The official website is www.gov.hk.
A Historic Outlook
The name Hong Kong is derived from the Cantonese word Hakka which means fragrant and the word together means ‘the fragrant port’. Archaeological studies through up instances of human presence in the Chek Lap Kok area from 35,000 to 39,000 years ago, and in Sai Kung Peninsula from 6,000 years ago. Both these areas fall within the territory of modern day Hong Kong.
After the first opium war in 1842, Hong Kong was wrested by the British Forces from the Qing Dynasty and ceded to the Great Britain. Thus Hong Kong became a commonwealth colony. During the Second World War, the Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong and took control from the British & Canadian forces. It was again brought under the control of Great Britain in 1945, after the Second World War ended. Hong Kong prospered into a bustling mega-polis and an economic hub within the next few years after the Second World War. On July 1st 1997, Hong Kong was returned to the People’s Republic of China and thus Hong Kong became the second Special Administration Region (SAR) of China. As a SAR, Hong Kong enjoys Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy in all areas except defence and foreign affairs.
Hong Kong Travel Essentials
Hong Kong is also called ‘the shopper’s paradise’ and a trip to Hong Kong is on the cards for almost the majority of travelers. It is an ideal all round the year destination. However if you are too keen to have the best season in the city, September to end of February is the best time to plan a trip to Hong Kong. The weather is slightly cooler and with the festive season most malls and shopping centers offer huge discount sales. The shopping experience is the best during the festive season. A Hong Kong Shopping Tour is also one of the popular tours that are popular with most of the tourists visiting Hong Kong. The city wears a neon bathed look during the festive season and this is the best time to experience the grandeur of this huge mega-polis in its true colors. And the experience of celebrating Chinese New Year at Hong Kong is certain to be a memorable one.
Getting To Hong Kong
Once you arrive at the Hong Kong International Airport, you will feel the sheer warmth and hospitality of this oriental paradise. All of Hong Kong is a WiFi hotspot and every visitor has free access to WiFi. Trains, ferries, minibuses, buses and a number of other transport options are very easily available in Hong Kong and make traveling within the city very easy. You can also hire a car provided you have the necessary permits to drive in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is left hand drive and the traffic follows the right side methodology. Kowloon Harbor is also another entry/exit point. One can enter Hong Kong by land from the main land of China. The peninsula city of Hong Kong has smooth functioning intra-city ferry services too. If you have some time to spare do not miss the ferry ride within Hong Kong. More than 80 international airlines connect Hong Kong with the rest of the world.
How to reach (transport)
You can reach Hong Kong in the following ways :
By Air :
- The most widely used method of visiting Hong Kong is by air. The city is served by the Hong Kong International airport, also called Chek Lap Kok. Flights are available to all major destinations in every continent.
- If you are traveling to or from China, it is cheaper to use the Shenzhen International airport of Hong Kong.
- You can also fly to the Macau international airport and then use the ferry or helicopter shuttle to travel to Hong Kong.
By Sea :
Several cruise ships and long haul vessels also dock at Hong Kong.
By Road :
You can travel from mainland China to Hong Kong by road on buses and cars.
By Train :
Intercity passenger trains connect the city to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong.
When to visit
The best time to visit Hong Kong is during autumn and winter, from the middle of September to February. This time is characterized by clear sunny days and average humidity.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions
Because of its complex cultural history, a variety of festivals are celebrated in Hong Kong throughout the year. These are as follows:
- The Chinese New Year celebrations are one of the most magnificent in Hong Kong. It is held in January or February. Flower markets are held and colorful parades and lion dances are common. Worship is offered at temples and fireworks are displayed. Several sports events are organized.
- Four festivals, together called Hong Kong cultural celebration are held in April and May. It includes birthdays of Tin Hau – the sea goddess, that of Buddha and Tam Kung who could predict the weather. The Cheung Chau Bun festival is also a part of this. Traditional dances, food and ceremonies are held to celebrate these festivals.
- Several summer shopping festivals are organized from June to August.
- The Dragon boat festival is held in every June. Dragon boats race in the Victoria Harbor accompanied by cheers and much music and merriment from the crowds on land.
- The mid-autumn festival is held in September with a fiery dragon, a giant eco lantern structure and a number of street carnival activities.
- The wine and dine festival is held for four days in October and November. It includes wine tasting, feasts and live music.
- The Great Outdoors includes a number of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, cycling and guided tours of the geopark. The event is held from November to February.
- The winter fest is celebrated from end of November to the middle of February. It includes shopping extravaganza and a number of Christmas-themed activities.
The Hong Kong World
Hong Kong has a variety of sightseeing options and the best part is that the options offer different and unique experiences for every traveler. One can find endless things to see and do on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon and the New Territories. If you are keen to indulge in the thrill of adventure, take a ferry and explore the Outlying Islands. There is a Disneyland in Hong Kong that is visited by over a million visitors every year. The Madame Tussaud’s Museum cannot be given a miss. Another popular destination is The Peak. You can get a panoramic view of the bustling Hong Kong skyline from here. The ride on the Peak Tram is another unforgettable experience. The inclined tramways travel so fast and at such an inclined angle that while traveling one feels that the skyline has become inclined. Any tourist to Hong Kong can not miss a trip to The Peak. Ocean Park was opened in 1977 and it is a world class marine life theme Park that houses a variety of marine flora & fauna, offers many kinds of adventure rides, conservation and marine ecology experiences and is located in southern Hong Kong. It has a cable car and Ocean Express Train connectivity with The Waterfront and The Summit. Do not miss the Heritage Tram ride in Hong Kong. It will be a mesmerizing trip down the history of Hong Kong. The Heritage Tram travels to the oldest parts of Hong Kong and relives the magic of the bygone era.
Kowloon has a lot of attractions for the shoppers. From the swankiest malls selling the best brands in the world, Hong Kong boasts of oriental styled markets that sell handicrafts and oriental artifacts that never cease to thrill the tourists traveling into Hong Kong. The Temple Street Night Market is a major attraction for tourists. It opens at 4 in the evening and is open till past midnight. This is a brightly lit expanse of colorful shops selling almost everything from clothes, footwear, and oriental food to gizmos & gadgets. Welcome to the Disneyland in Hong Kong. This is the most visited theme park in Hong Kong and cannot be missed by anyone. This major theme park experience and even the ferry ride to Disney land is an experience to write home about. Be it children or adults the magical spell of Disneyland never fails to charm the visitor. Sometimes the attraction of the Disneyland makes the tourist to plan a second visit to Hong Kong. Another place that will offer a mesmerizing view of the vast expanse of the water body is the Aberdeen Harbour. The sight is simply stunning at night when the reflection of this neon city on the vast expanse of the deep blue sea makes it look like a sky full of twinkling stars. This place is also a haven for junk sea food. It surely has to be on the must visit list of any traveler in Hong Kong. The Ocean Park is also situated in Aberdeen. If you ask the natives they are very likely to recommend the Jade Street Market.
This is an oriental market place that sells and exhibits precious stones. This market does give you an insight into the ancient art of Chinese artistry and of course it gets its name from the precious stone ‘jade’ which is an integral part of the Chinese way of life. You will get all the different varieties of jade here and you can also buy other precious stones. Variety and quality wise this place is one of the best precious stones market in the world. The walled city of Kowloon has a huge historical importance. It used to be a garrison fort when Hong Kong was taken over by the British in 1841, the Chinese mandarin used to keep a watch on the influx into the main land of China, till the British occupied this walled zone from China. During WWII, the Japanese tore down the walls to use the stone for building a runway for the Japanese bombers. After the war, this has been a major settlement of slums but in the 1990s, it was cleared and the fort was open to tourists for a glimpse of history. For the adventure and hiking enthusiasts a must see place is the Hong Kong Global Geo Park of China. It falls within a volcanic zone and has many trails for the adventure traveler. Pack your rucksacks, wear your hiking boots, and set off on a wilderness hike.
Shop Till You Drop In Hong Kong
The tourist visiting Hong Kong is fazed by the sheer variety of products and brands and the wide choice on offer. The shoppers’ delight called Hong Kong can make everyone turn to into an intense shopaholic. From glitzy glamorous malls and arcades to unique street markets Hong Kong offers all that a shopper can ask for. The Ladies Market at the Tung Choi Street is a market that specialises in ladies clothing, fashion accessories, footwear and other articles of importance for the women. It is a unique street market and gives every buyer a good bargain. Do not forget that haggling and bargaining is the way of life in Hong Kong. The oriental market called Stanley Market is the right place if you are looking for something oriental. Be it simple artefacts or Chinese curio or oriental food, Stanley market is the place to be. Another roadside market that offers great value-for-money products is the Jardine’s Crescent. If you are looking for mid market ready to wear clothing’s or simply to get it stitched up within a day you should get to the Li Yuen Street East & West Market. This is the best place for, moderately priced good clothes. These were the street markets but Hong Kong spells many glitzy malls and shopping arcades. The shopping district of Hong Kong has many malls and arcades for the ardent shopper. Times Square is a must-visit mall. It offers the best brands and is a unique place to simply do a bit of window shopping too. Pacific Place is one of the most elegantly built malls of Hong Kong. The shopping experience here is unparalleled. Other malls include Maritime Square, Fashion Walk, Plaza Hollywood. APM, the New Town Plaza & Sincere Company. Clubbing and pubing are other major attractions in Hong Kong. There are innumerable pubs and night clubs that belt out live performances and other activities. The nocturnal reveler is never short of options in Hong Kong.
Dining In Hong Kong
Every visitor to Hong Kong swears by the city’s restaurants and a visit is not complete until you have had a complete gourmet experience here. There are many dining options but for the visitor, the following list has a few ‘can’t miss’ options:
Has been awarded 90th position in the 2010 World’s Best Restaurant Awards. 15 Queen’s Road Central, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong. +852 2132 0066 [email protected]
, boasts an extreme Chinese innovative cuisine, ranked 65th best in the world. Shop 13, 2/f, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. +852 2850 8371 [email protected]
It is a speciality French cuisine restaurant, ranked 96th in the world. Wing Fung Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong. +852 2861 3130; Fax: (852) 2861 2833.
L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon –
Another ranked French cuisine restaurant. Shop 401, The Landmark 4F, Central, Hong Kong. +852 2166 9000 http://www.robuchon.hk/
Lung King Heen –
Speciality Cantonese Restaurant ranked 58th in the world. 8, Finance Street, Central Hong Kong +852 3196 8888
Alfie’s by Kee –
A speciality oriental restaurant. Prince’s Building, 10, Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong. +852 2530 4422 [email protected]
Hong Kong Hotels
Hong Kong has been a tourist haven and there are hotels of all budgets. From the top ranked super luxury hotels to the economy hotels for the budget traveler, Hong Kong as it all.
Super Luxury category
The Peninsula Hong Kong Salisbury Road,
Hong Kong +852 29202888
The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.
1 Harbour Road, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
SAR +852 2588 1234 Fax: +852 2802 0677
Mid Economy category:
The Excelsior Hong Kong.
281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
+852 2837 6840 [email protected]
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
15 Queen’s Road Central, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong.
+852 2881 1288
Block A, 3rd Floor, Chung King Mansions.
36-44 Nathan Road. +852 9468 6479
The Anne Black YWCA Hotel.
5, man Fuk Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
+852 2713 9211, Fax +852 2761 1269