Another suggestion for a weekend getaway in Southeast Asia- Hong Kong; more accessible, modern and open minded than the traditional China.
Hong kong a bief history>
It was once a simple fishing village which has undergone several mutations. It was a port of commercial trade, a military port which finally becomes a global financial capital in the last millennium. The island has an area covering 1100 km. It is the largest and most densely populated of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of China (PRC), the other being Macau. Its economy is the ninth highest PNB per capita; HK alone got 33% of foreign capital traded in China.
Its uniqueness and independence was forged by the war like the Opium War (1839-1842) against the Royal Navy. China gave the island to the British for 100 years of occupation. After it was the Japanese who came to occupy during World War II. All this movement has opened its borders and market to foreign investment to proliferate its economy. The return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 failed to change the unique characters and proud citizens of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is not a destination that many from America or Europe choose to visit. But from a neighboring country, ticket prices and the appeal of this unique megalopolis seduce many. Almost all nationalities do not need a visa to stay less than 3 months, which is more than enough. A week allows one to visit plenty of the many attractions of the island.
From the airport surrounded by mountains surprisingly, you can reach easily the island of Tsing Yi by subway (line “Airport Express”).
Hong kong transportation system is well organized
We can easily visit the islands either by subway or by ferry (shuttle boat).
This is an electronic card that you buy (about 50 HKD, about $ 6.50 – average for day trips) and which is charged according to your needs. Whenever you want to use a bus, subway or ferry, you pass the card near the reader at the entrance; the amount of the journey is automatically deducted! This avoids long waiting at the cash to buy a ticket!
Hong Kong for a Westerner can strike hard and fast. The crowd is heavy on narrow sidewalks scouts by hundreds of tower blocks with neon signs bathed by the fragrant steam of the many cafeterias and restaurants along the streets. Once you tame and take the controls of your senses, you realize quickly that Hong Kong offers all the pleasures in a safe and incredibly well organized environment. We can enjoy a bowl of noodles on a small plastic chair and watch the horizon. This city offers all the exuberance and luxury of fashionable Paris, but Hong Kong is also a city of simple pleasures. For only one dollar, you can take a walk or ferry ride and visit places like the amazing Victoria Peak who offers a spectacular view of the city. Indeed the area is quite mountainous in places; we must see the business district or the surprising the Tai O fishing village located on Lantau Island. Hong Kong visitors grows out of their daily comfort zone and then the reward of fantastic discovery exotic like stinky tofu or huge tai chi public sessions in the first light of dawn.
Before leaving Hong Kong, a trip on the boats of the “Star Ferry” is needed. It’s worth it and it is very affordable as well. The “Ferry” takes you on the water for you to see the beautiful skyline of Hong Kong! The ride “ferry” lasts only 7 minutes, but it is long enough to take some good photos of Hong Kong and keep unforgettable memories.
In Hong Kong, you must take the tram that goes through many neighborhoods that are interesting and spectacular. Take the tram and get off wherever your heart pleases you. Visit one of the islands of the suburbs. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised. On Lantau Island, you can visit Hong Kong Disneyland! This attraction is perfect for children and adults of all ages. Hong Kong is generous with beautiful sea views, spectacular rocks and tons of hiking trails and public park.
I suggest you take a small tour. A half a day tour can help you learn faster on the island. After that you can discover the island by yourself by taking its effective transport and consulting the many tourist maps available everywhere including the airport.
HK Price and Cost of Living
The exchange rate of local currency is 9.27 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) for $ 1.19 (U.S. Dollar)
Apart from the products typically European or American as cheese or wine, consumer products are cheaper than in occident supermarkets.
No problem finding a restaurant in Hong Kong. There is a wide variety of restaurants. Neighborhood restaurants “Soho” of Central are particularly valued for their diversity (Asian, Latin American, European …). You can utilise one of the many outdoor escalators to facilitate access to Soho as this neighborhood is in the hills of Central.
As in many Asian countries, many restaurants are usually grouped together on the floor of the Malls (shopping centers). In the same mall, one can find Western fast food and Asian counterparts.
Most hotels are pretty expensive as with all the real estate market in Hong Kong. Perhaps, acceptable budget hotels can be found often with air conditioning, good service and facility for less than 50 USD a night. To find something at a smaller budget, try hostelworld to find rooms between $15 to $ 50
You’ll find everything you need.If you’re the sophisticated kind, you can visit the Harbour City tower (Tsimshatsui area), Times Square (Causeway Bay area) and the Pacific Place (Admiralty area)
For collectibles (antiques, curiousity), go to the SOHO area (west of HK Island). Walk along Hollywood Road.For small gadgets, gizmos and VCDs, go to Mongkok (night market, etc..) For electronic stuff, go to Shamsuipo the gold building. This is the exit right near of the MTR. Just off the west side, along the commercial street. They sell all sorts of electronic items.
Hong Kong offers one of the most vibrant and safe night life of Southeast Asia. Lets go join the party. Things to do: take a luxury night cruise on Victoria Harbour, visit pubs, bars, nightclubs, or stroll the streets seething with people.
Night tour you want to see : Hong Kong on the water at night. I recommend Lei Yue Mun Seafood Village Dinner Cruise. The cruise is for 5 hours starting at sunset ,all you can drink and traditional dinner at sea.
There are three districts in Hong Kong that are famous for their entertainment. The first is Central where most expatriates and locals are connected after work, especially in the areas of Lan Kwai Fong. The second is to Wan Chai, which includes nearby Causeway Bay, with its many bars and nightclubs that close at dawn. The third is Tsim Tsa Tsui in Kowloon, where there is a clear difference between bars exclusively for residents and those who welcome the tourists.
Top Places to visit ithings to do in Hong Kong
1. Ocean Park – take a day if you like theme parks
2. Victoria Peak – The Peak Tram (inclined at an angle of 45 degrees) will take you to a point of high altitude where you can see both Kowloon and Hong Kong sides. Beautiful view. Here, you can also find Ripley Odditorium and a wax museum really nice.
3. Teddy Bear Kingdom – for kids and children of heart
4. Hong Kong Disneyland – a must for kids and those young at heart
6. MTR and Star Ferry – Go to HK and not taking a single trip MTR or Star Ferry is a serious offence
7. Nightlife be electrify by the wild and ingenious club scene
Beautiful, excellent transportation, nightlife, fun, more of a shopping paradise, British roots, exotic food at reasonable prices
Very humid in summer, pollution, English is only used by people working around tourist attractions
A brief visit to Hong Kong offers an interesting cultural experience and sensory for all travellers visiting or residing in Southeast Asia.
This post is also available in: French