I love Hong Kong and have been three times now.
I can still remember my first trip to the birthplace of my parents. The gigantic airport you see today wasn’t there the first time. I remember the shock of the humidity as the plane door opened! I was seven years old at the time and I saw the holiday as a right, something all Chinese people do – go and see where their parents grew up.
I love Hong Kong because while my mum and dad’s tiny little villages still exist (to a certain extent) Hong Kong is as cosmopolitan as any major European city. That means you get the best of both world’s – the traditional and authentic Hong Kong of decades gone by, without sacrificing the comforts of premium designer labels and 4 and 5 star hotels. Anytime someone asks me what Hong Kong is like, I always say ‘see for yourself’ as I don’t want to ruin the surprise!
Having been three times with the best tour guides to the city (my mum and dad), it’s safe to say I have a few hints and tips for any first timers going to Hong Kong.
Choosing the best hotel in Hong Kong
Hotel location is critical if you’re going to enjoy your holiday to Hong Kong to the fullest – I’d go as far to say make or break. Sure, staying outside of the city centre will be cheaper, but the transport options are poor and you’ll soon get frustrated. Treat yourself and stay in the heart of the action. I’d recommend looking at hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui because the area is in easy reach of everything else, not to mention the vibrant area itself.
Shopping in Hong Kong
Shopaholics will be in heaven with malls, shops and markets of all shapes and sizes on their doorstep in Tsim Sha Tsui – Nathan Road is an extremely popular shopping haunt. Think of any item you want and you’ll be sure to find it here. Those looking only for luxury brand names and products should go to Canton Road. If it happens to rain (contrary to belief it does rain once in a while) then retreat to Hong Kong’s largest mall – Harbour City. The name is rather apt as it describes the size of the stunning building perfectly – a city! It’s so big it has been split into four sections to make it easier for visitors!
The Star Ferry
If you’re crossing the beautiful Victoria Harbour, there’s only one way to do it – The Star Ferry! When else do people get excited by going on a ferry? Exactly, and millions do it each year. Founded in 1888, it’s an incredibly inexpensive way to cross the water with adult’s tickets costing just $3.40 on weekends and $2.50 on weekdays. But it’s the history I love most, knowing it’s been in service for more than 100 years. Make sure to bring a camera as the 10 minute journey provides plenty of photo opportunities of both sides.
A Symphony of Lights
Okay, you may think light shows are lame and touristy, but I don’t! I loved it the first time I saw it aged seven and still loved watching it a few years ago at the age of 20. Victoria Harbour is extremely pretty at night anyway, but the lights add just a little something else. A Symphony of Lights is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. It’s a great family spectacle and nice way to end the evening, watching lights and laser beams dance to music.
No holiday to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to Peak Tower. Another feat in transport excellence, the unique Peak Tram which takes you up the steep incline has been running for more than 120 years. At the top you’ll find a stylish structure containing restaurants, shops and entertainment – but it’s the panoramic views millions come for.
The 396 metres-above-sea-level view across Hong Kong from Peak Tower is unrivalled – particularly at night. Seeing the entire city lit up, the huge outline of skyscrapers, the rainbow effect from the harbour and the blackness of the mountains in the far distance stays with you for a lifetime.