Hong Kong is an amazing city that, to its’ core, exemplifies where “East meets West”. Vestiges of the former British colony remain, such as colonial buildings dotted throughout the city and bilingual street signs with vehicles traveling on the left side of the road. In addition to cultural juxtaposition, Hong Kong is a place where modern intersects traditional; where new meets ancient. The city truly stimulates the senses and encompasses you in its’ vitality.
Lora’s dad is from Hong Kong. Because of this, she has been fortunate to have traveled to Hong Kong several times throughout her childhood and adult life. Lora has seen Hong Kong through the eyes of local residents as well as a tourist. Lora’s advice to everyone visiting this wondrous city: visit the usual sights, but then take the road less traveled.
Buddhism is widely practiced in Hong Kong. Each visit to Hong Kong, we typically stop at 2-3 neighborhood temples to pray. Even if you are not Buddhist, definitely make it a point to visit a temple. If not a local temple, then definitely make a trip to Lantau Island and visit Tian Tan Buddha (the world’s largest sitting Buddha statue) and Po Lin Monastery. A fun way to reach Muyushan Mountain, where the Buddha and Monastery are located is to take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car.
One “tourist” site that is a must is Victoria’s Peak. If you don’t want to wait in the long tram line up the mountain, take a bus or taxi. The views from the peak are incredible. Another must is a ride on the Star Ferry which connects Central to Tsim Sha Tsui.
Forget about the Chinese take-out you get at home. Food in Hong Kong is incredibly fresh and delicious. Instead of cereal for breakfast, try congee, a rice porridge. Be sure to sample traditional dim-sum. Wonton soup can provide an inexpensive and delicious lunch. Do not leave Hong Kong without trying the street food. Although we typically go to “locals” restaurants, one upscale “tourist” restaurant has become a favorite: Hutong. It is located in Tsim Sha Tsui, 28 floors from the ground and overlooking Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island. If you can be there at 8pm, you will have a fantastic view of Hong Kong’s spectacular laser show. The food is more “northern” Chinese (spicy!) Our favorite dishes are the lamb ribs and soft shell crab covered with dried chili peppers.
Shopping cannot be beat in Hong Kong. From upscale shopping centers to hidden independent shops to the infamous outdoor markets, there is something for everyone. A favorite market of ours in Hong Kong is Stanley Market. The market is a typical outdoor tourist market. What sets this apart from others is the location. The journey to the market is an experience itself. Be sure to grab first row seats atop a double decker bus leaving from the Central district. The winding mountain roads are beautiful, if not a little scary! We also recommend Temple Street Night Market. Located in Kowloon, it is renowned for their street food in addition to typical market goods.
Since Hong Kong truly is a crossroads where east meets west, it’s an easy introduction to Asia. But it’s also a place where you can become immersed into culture and be less influenced by modernity.