Destination: China: Hong Kong
Hong Kong can seem all business, no play, but because the city has varied terrain—Hong Kong island itself encompasses everything from skyscraper-clad Central to beach-chic Stanley—it’s fun to explore. And thanks to the fact that English is widely spoken and taxis are readily available (and cheap), touring is easy. Here are ten Hong Kong attractions not to be missed. Contact Indagare for help planning an itinerary.
1/ Central Architecture Tour
Striking architecture in Central includes Norman Foster’s Hong Kong Shanghai Bank building, I.M. Pei’s Bank of China building and Cesar Pelli’s International Finance Center (IFC). The latter is a major social hub and has many good dining options (try Isola or Agnes B’s Le Pain Grillé) and many stores, including ex-pat supermarket City Super, a good place to know about if the kids are maxed out on Chinese food.
2/ Peak Tram
The iconic carnation-red funicular tram runs from Central to the top of the Peak and has been doing so since 1888. The ride affords views of the shrinking skyscrapers as you make your way toward the highest, and most dramatic, point on Hong Kong island.
3/ Star Ferry
The Star ferries run back and forth between Central’s Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, zigzagging through the ridiculously crowded shipping lanes of Victoria Harbour. At dusk it is particularly magical, and at 35 cents, it’s the most affordable sightseeing tour in the city.
4/ Happy Valley Races
The horse races (every Wednesday night) in Happy Valley draw everyone from serious gamblers to expats catching up with friends and placing small bets (the lowest is $2.50). Interestingly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is the largest private donor of charity funds.
5/ Edward Youde Aviary
Just as first-time visitors to New York City must be amazed by the Central Park Zoo, so Hong Kong novices are thrilled by this bird sanctuary, literally in the middle of Central’s gleaming skyscrapers. Some 100 species are represented, and the elevated walkways lead straight through the treetops (a delight for young visitors). Hong Kong Park.
6/ Man Mo Temple & Sheung Wan
Incense coils adorn the entrance of the Man Mo Temple (124–126 Hollywood Rd.), the city’s oldest Taoist temple. It’s a great jumping-off point to explore Sheung Wan, which contain Chinese medicine, tea and food stores, as well as small outdoor markets. A good spot for lunch is Italian eatery 208.
7/ Symphony of Lights
Yes, it’s Disneyland meets Las Vegas, but the nightly laser-light show, with multicolored beams crisscrossing the night sky, is entertaining. It’s best viewed from the waterfront boardwalk of Tsim Sha Tsui, or from Lobby Lounge of the InterContinental, in Kowloon.
8/ Big Buddha
There’s nothing old about the enormous Buddha that presides over the mountains of Lantau (it was completed in 1993), but the glass-bottomed cable cars that sweep visitors to its feet make the trip memorable.
9/ Stanley Market
Many will recommend the Kowloon Night Market as a source for made-in-China mementos and knock-offs, but in fact the less seedy version, in the beach town of Stanley, carries many of the same things. And how much more pleasant to cap off a shopping spree with an espresso on the boardwalk rather than with haggling for a taxi in Kowloon.
Lamma island is a fun excursion. Take the thirty-minute ferry from Hong Kong to the village of Yung Shue Wan, then hike to the seaside town of Sok Kwu Wan, which has a cluster of seafood restaurants, including the recommended Rainbow. After lunch, take a boat back to Hong Kong. The walk between the villages takes about forty minutes and can easily be accomplished by anyone in moderate shape.
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