It’s difficult to define Hong Kong. A city? A state? A country? It’s officially defined as an autonomous territory of China, aptly named “Pearl of the Orient” and “Fragrant Harbor” that is densely populated, the skyline is filled with skyscrapers, countless nationalities all living within the archipelago of 260 islands and a city filled with fun filled activities all compressed into this tiny island territory.
With such diverse history, this metropolis is a boiling mass of traditional vs. modern with great characteristics making it one of the top tourist destinations not only in the Far East, but on a global scale.
This harbor city is sometimes described as Hong Koncrete with its crowded streets full of cars and people from all walks of the Earth. It has a complexity that can’t be defined precisely, yet it provides a certain charm not found in any area nearby. Here are some of the top 10 things to do in Hong Kong:
1. Take a trip on the Star ferry: This ferry transports visitors between the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island. The ferry provides the most scenic route along the harbor showing Hong Kong’s skyline in the most picturesque way possible. For the best photographic opportunities, try to get on at midday then again at night for a spectacular view of the brightly lit skylines each trying to trump the other in height.
2. Victoria Peak or “the Peak”: Considered the highest mountain on Hong Kong island and lookout over the towering city skyline, the scenic lookout overlooks a sea of skyscrapers, the deep blue waters of the waterways and on a clear day even the green hills of the distant islands surrounding the territory. There are many vantage points on the mountain top as well as hiking treks along thee Cliffside paths. It’s best to check the weather forecast before heading out to make sure the weather accommodates the trip to the top.
3. Charter a Junk: Although Hong Kong is considered a modern day metropolis, visitors can get a glimpse of its historical past by hiring a “junk” charter, a traditional Chinese fishing boat that sets off through the scattered islands off the coast of the mainland. Trips usually take around 8 hours as it travels across the waters of the bay then anchors off a remote area so visitors can take dive off the deck for a quick swim. Companies that hire these “junk” charters usually provide meals and drinks but it’s best to check beforehand.
4. Temple Street Night Market: This night market is the liveliest market in the territory, with its lively bargain sellers, bustling atmosphere, a heady mixture of smells from street vendors selling many of the local delicacies, herbalists and the occasional open air Cantonese opera performances. This nocturnal bazaar-like market sells everything from bootleg DVDs to children’s clothing. The marketplace is filled with people flocking the area from 7 p.m. until closing time. Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir from one of the decked out stalls in the area.
5. Take a trip to Ocean Park: You don’t need to travel to mainland China to witness the ever majestic giant pandas in its humble habitat. Ocean Park is a diverse park that also includes a zoo and an amusement park all in one. The park has recently introduced the ever so rare red pandas, living in the same habitat area as the giant pandas. There is the Grand Aquarium, Aqua City Lagoon at the waterfront, a dolphin show, a water dragon light show and amusement rides for those who seek a little bit of adrenaline pump. Ocean Park promises a full day of fun and enjoyment for the whole family.
6. Visit a day spa: Hong Kong provides an abundance of day spas with manicures/pedicures, traditional therapies, waterbed lounges, facials, herbal steam rooms and the list goes on. Spas are not a rarity here, the place is filled with them and one can book an appointment as late as 10 p.m. even. Massage menus span the four corners of the Orient. Travelers can take a couple of hours of their day to wind down and relax in one of the many spas available. Do try the full body massage using warm bamboo to knead and stretch the muscles. Another very interesting spa treatment would be the Imperial Jade Ritual using cool jade rollers to lift and tone the skin. A sure must.
7. Tea at the Peninsula Hotel: During the 150 years of British occupation, many locals still enjoy tea time just as the British do. The Lobby at the Peninsula, with its classic and elegant ambiance, live band playing classical music between glittering chandeliers and lush palm trees sets a great setting to enjoy high tea, 3 tier cake platter, savory canapés and crumpets. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes early to find a seat and do try to ignore weekends since it’s considered to be the busiest.
8. Dim sum, yes please! Literally means “touch your heart”, it’s simply impossible to visit Hong Kong and not try one of their celebrated delicacies. We’re talking steamed, bakes, pan fried, deep fried dim sum filled with rice rolls, shrimp, BBQ beef and the list is endless. Each creation strikes a balance between being traditional in taste and innovative in terms of choice of ingredients.
9. Stroll through Nan Lian Garden: This well preserved garden is one of Hong Kong’s most visited picturesque green spaces with traditional Cantonese architecture, perfectly trimmed bonsai trees, koi ponds and most important, immaculate landscape designs. This green space situated between the skyscrapers takes you back in time to the Tang Dynasty. Known for their vast gardens set for the imperial family, they were created to accommodate scholars, poets and influential personas and basically set an escape from the outside world.
10. Hong Kong Skyline: The highest observation deck in the city is at the 100th floor of the ICC building, Hong Kong’s tallest building. The indoor observation deck offers a 360 degree view of the Kowloon Peninsula. The peak times to visit the observation deck would have to be just around sunset and at night to capture this beautiful city still at the top of its hustle and bustle.
-Asian News Channel