Travel Destinations: Hong Kong, China

Lian Slayford By Lian Slayford, 23rd May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>China>Hong Kong & Macau

This article looks at Hong Kong as the perfect place to visit.

Travel Destinations: Hong Kong Island, China

Travel Destinations: Hong Kong Island, China

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Steeped in ancient history and culture, Hong Kong is the perfect balance of Chinese heritage and modernity.

Hong Kong shot to fame in the 19th century when the British used the island for opium transport. Until then, Hong Kong had been a distant Chinese outpost. However, with the Europeans, especially the British, aggressively importing and exporting opium from Bengal, the Chinese attempted to curb the trade. This led to the two Opium Wars which led the British taking control of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and eventually the New Territories.

With the British governing, Hong Kong’s economy started to rise. She experienced waves of immigrants from the Chinese mainland, especially during the Anti-Japanese War and then later in 1949 when the communists were victorious.

Hong Kong’s economy rose steadily, along with the skyscrapers, making Hong Kong a very rich country. In 1997, Hong Kong was formerly returned to China after the 99 year lease had expired on the condition she was governed differently to that of the mainland. Hong Kong was declared a Special Administrative Region (SARs); China calls in ‘One country, two systems’.

Hong Kong is much more than just towering skyscrapers. Most of the island is actually green hills and mountains that are ideal for those who like hiking and bicycling. There are a whole range of cultural activities for you to discover. It would be best to stay here for at least a week to thoroughly explore everything.

HONG KONG ISLAND:

Victoria Peak is the highest point on the island and the richest area. For a long time under British rule, only the British could live there. Today, it is very different. Still a very prosperous area, many travellers take a tram up to Victoria Peak from Central. On a clear day, the views are simply spectacular and you can see Victoria Harbour. Night time journeys up here are truly beautiful and you escape the smog.

From here, go to Victoria Peak Garden. You can take the easy 3.5km walk around the summit around Lugard and Harlech Roads. From Victoria Peak, you can walk down to Central. The road zig-zags down the mountain to Conduit Road. You can always hike the 50km long Hong Kong Trail which traces its way down the spine of island from Victoria Peak to Big Wave Bay, near Shek O.

Other places to go in the north of the island include the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens in Central. It has a fantastic collection of fountains, gardens, sculptures, a zoo and playground. Hong Kong Park is home to more than 90 types of birds and you will also find the interesting Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. Classes are held here on Mondays and Thursdays.

Take the Mid-Levels Escalator, the longest in the world at 800m, and go west to the beautiful Man Mo Temple. One of the oldest temples in Hong Kong, it was built in 1847 and is dedicated to Kwan Yu, the god of war, and Man Cheung. It has always been popular with the police and other secret organizations like the Triads.

For shopping, head to Causeway Bay where you will be able to shop until you drop (or your credit cards give out). The 17 hectare Victoria Park is another hotspot; during weekday mornings, Tai chi practitioners gather here. East of here is the Tin Hua Temple where people have been worshipping the goddess Tin Hua (the Queen of Heaven) for at least 300 years.

The south of Hong Kong Island is very different to that of the north. Head down to Stanley for the beach where you can rent wind-surfing boards. The Stanley Market is excellent for picking up bargains. Start your haggling.

Repulse Bay is another gorgeous beach area. You can visit the unusual Kwun Yam Shrine where there are several gods worshipped. According to legend, if you cross the Longevity Bridge you add three days to your life.

From Aberdeen, you can visit Ocean Park; a huge amusement park with roller coasters and other rides. There is also an atoll reef and a massive aquarium.

KOWLOON:

Known to locals as Gaolong, Kowloon is on the mainland, a peninsular pointing down to Hong Kong Island. The name means ‘nine dragons’. The touristiest part here is Tsim Shia Tsiu and can be reached from the island by taking the Star Ferry from Victoria Harbour. Here, visit the Hong Kong Cultural Centre where you take in the regular exhibitions and performances held here. Behind here is the Hong Kong Museum of Art where the six floors showcase some amazing displays of Chinese paintings, antiques and modern art.

The Hong Kong Space Museum and Theatre is another great place to go. It has a wonderful planetarium and several halls with different exhibits.

Head southeast from here to visit the Avenue of the Stars where the Hong Kong film industry and stars are celebrated. Here you can also see the incredible Symphony of Light, the largest permanent light show which is projected off the buildings from Hong Kong Island.

North of this area is Yau Ma Tei where you will find the Jade Market; over 450 stalls sell different varieties and grades of jade. You shouldn’t buy high priced jade here unless you know for certain what you’re buying. From here, head to Tin Hau Temple and then onto the Temple St. night market where you can shop for incredible bargains.

In the area called New Kowloon (just above Mongkok), pay a visit to Sik Sik Yuen Tai Sin Temple; a Daoist temple built in 1973, it is a very active and popular temple complex. It is dedicated to the god of healing where the sick go to get cured. To the left, get your future read by the many fortune tellers.

If you are looking for tranquillity, head to Chi Lin Nunnery, a beautiful Buddhist complex complete with peaceful lotus ponds and Buddhist nuns making sacrifices of fruit and rice to the Buddha.

Another great place in this part of Kowloon is the abandoned Kowloon Walled City Park. Originally built in the 19th century, the walls here were once part of a Chinese garrison but turned into a slum under British rule as it was excluded from the New Territories deal. It became a haven for gangsters, prostitutes and gamblers. Eventually, the British relocated the Chinese and renovated it into a beautiful park with pavilions, ponds and other buildings.

NEW TERRITORIES:

The New Territories is a great place to relax and unwind it. It is mostly green hills and lush greenery here. It was named so because the British were only granted rule here in 1898.

Visit Tai Mo Shan, the tallest mountain in Hong Kong. It is quite an easy route up to the peak, and along the way you can explore the 100km long MacLehose Trail. It is best if you pick up a map of the trail though.

Sha Tin is a popular destination; there is the famous racecourse as well as the popular Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Here there are more than 12,000 sculptures which grace the walls of the temple.

The Hong Kong Heritage Museum here has some wonderful Chinese opera objects, fine art and ceramic collections. These are considered to be some of the finest collections in Hong Kong.

OUTLYING ISLANDS:

The Outlying Islands are made up of 234 islands scattered in the sea around Hong Kong. However, only four of these islands are accessible via ferry and have substantial populations.

Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island but has only about 50,000 people living there. From Mui Wo, head to Po Lin, where you will find the enormous monastery and temple complex. The world’s largest seated bronze statue of the Buddha is house here, known as the Tian Tan Buddha statue.

Cheung Sha Bay is Hong Kong’s longest beach and can be reached en route to Ngong Ping where you can catch a cable car between the monastery and Tung Chung. Tai O is a pretty village at the far end of Lantau Island and famous for its shrimp paste.
Hong Kong Disneyland is also located on the island. Disneyland with a few Chinese twists, this is a great place to bring the kids.

Lamma is another island that is quite popular with tourists. It has no cars on the island so if offers the chance to get completely away from the hustle and bustle in Hong Kong. You will find some excellent beaches and some wonderful restaurants.

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Comments

author avatar joeldgreat
22nd Nov 2010 (#)

A very nice place to go shopping. Prices are very, very low. Been there twice already. Thanks for sharing.

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