Sheung Wan and the Western District
From Brantley Turner Bradley of China Prep:
“Sheung Wan and the Western District are areas to be wandered on foot. You can pick your starting point and arrive by taxi or you can walk a complete loop from Central, stopping along the way for water or refreshments.
Unique aspects of this area:
Chinese medicine and food markets are concentrated on Bonham Strand East and West, Wing Lok Street. Ginseng and bird’s nest abound.
Neighborhood temples are tucked away throughout the area including Tai Ping Shan and Hollywood Road.
Outdoor fresh food markets are active in many of the alleys from early in the mornings until afternoon.
“Old things” and antiques are for sale at every price level. Hollywood Road and Wyndham St. have the largest concentration.
It is the home of the world’s longest, steepest outdoor escalator, which allows people who live in the area to “escalate” to work. A must see!
It is also home to one of the Hong Kong’s trendiest eating and bar areas known as SOHO (South of Hollywood Road).”
Symphony of Lights
The addition of a laser light show to the already dramatic night cityscape of Hong Kong was greeted with much cynicism when it made its debut several years ago. Why did the neon show need any further augmentation, or Disneyfication, people asked? The naysayers were proved wrong: it is a fabulously entertaining addition, featuring multicolored beams that shoot up from key buildings and crisscross the night sky. The spectacular show is best viewed from the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui; the ideal location is a hotel lounge bar, preferably a place with large plate-glass windows such as the InterContinental. Even better is the hotel’s presidential suite; it costs $11,134 a night and gives its occupants 7,000 square feet of space, an outdoor terrace and infinity pool. The show starts at 8 p.m. nightly.
This should be the first stop on all itineraries. Apart from offering a thrilling, near-vertical ride, climbing 1,805 feet in seven minutes, it also allows a chance to see the layout of the city. Immediately below the Peak are the skyscrapers of the Central district, in the middle is the impossibly busy harbor, with a cast of nautical characters that include hulking container ships and tiny sampans, and beyond the promenade of Tsim Sha Tsui and the imposing mountains of Kowloon.
Most people enjoy the view from the Peak Tower but, given time, the 2.2-mile walk around the tree-lined pathway is worthwhile. The Peak Tower, said by some to resemble an upside-down wok, has recently undergone a major revamp, shedding some of the more touristy shops. Expect, however, to share the space with lots of tour groups, in particular busloads of happy snappers from the People’s Republic.
At night, the Peak Tower takes on a different identity, allowing a splendid view of the shimmering sights below. The dinner menu at the sheer-glass-windowed Café Deco (Level 1-2, Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Rd, 852-2849-5111; www.peakcafe.com) is eclectic and consistently excellent, featuring Chinese noodles, Indian tandoori and New Zealand venison. Return fare to the Peak is about $4.