Hong Kong Travel Guide

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Lamma Island

Lamma Island

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Hong Kong (Heung Gong in Cantonese, Xianggang in Mandarin, meaning "fragrant harbour") has the big city specials like smog, odour, 14 million elbows and an insane love of clatter and the city. But it's also efficient, hushed and peaceful: the transport network is excellent, the shopping centres are sublime which sell donkey outfits, the cuisine is legendary, and the temples and quiet corners of parks are contemplative oases.

The best thing about being in Hong Kong is getting flummoxed and fired by the confluences and contradictions of a Chinese city with Chinese and Western elements. It's about savouring new tastes, weaving through human gridlock and humming some dumb Cantopop tune while slurping your noodles.

From the vantage point of Victoria Peak, overlooking the world's busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it's like looking down into a volcano. The view is breathtaking.

Despite its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots, and the culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese.  That didn't stop locals from feeling apprehensive about being reunited with the motherland when the British handed the colony to the People's Republic of China in early 1997, but their unease has largely evaporated.

Hong Kong is divided into four main areas - Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories are on a peninsula of the Chinese mainland, on the northern side of Victoria Harbour; Hong Kong Island is on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon.

The city itself is centred around Victoria Harbour. The main business district is Central, on Hong Kong Island. East of Central lies the Admiralty commercial district; Wan Chai, known for restaurants and clubs; then Causeway Bay, a major shopping area. Towering above it all is the Peak, Hong Kong's premier scenic outlook and residential district, which happily has plenty of public green space. In Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui (on the southern tip), Jordan and Yau Ma Tei are busy hotel and shopping areas, while Mong Kok is a bustling residential and shopping area.

Hong Kong Island, the busy financial and commercial centre with its high skyscrapers, has a lot to offer: shops, bars, headquarters from companies and, for those who feel like it, a handful of culture namely a few museums and some sights. Make sure you go to Victoria Peak where you can have astonishing views of the surroundings. One of the nicest beaches, despite its shark warnings, is definitely Repulse Bay. A tram ride is a must. For those who want to see a bit more of the Hong Kong Island, it might be a good idea to visit Aberdeen.

Kowloon is the southern tip of the peninsula and faces Hong Kong island. This paradise of shops, bars and hotels is not only popular with tourists but also with inhabitants of Hong Kong island who can easily take the ferry to this melting-pot of everything relating to spending your money. Besides the important shopping areas, such as the shops and street markets around Nathan Road (sometimes also known as the ‘Golden Mile’) and Mong Kok, there is an abundance of bars and cafés. However, there is even more in Kowloon. Although they are not dipped in neon-lights, there are a few nice temples you can visit, such as the famous Wong Tai temple, and a couple of quite interesting museums.

The Northern part is known as the New Territories. Although many travellers just rush through NT to arrive at the border, it might be an idea to explore this area with its dualistic character. You will see small ancient rural villages alternated with modern towns.

The Outlying Islands simply refers to any of the other 235 islands, including the popular destination of Lantau Island, where you can find the giant Buddha, Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong International Airport, and Tai O - a characteristic fishing village built on stilts. Other smaller islands worth visiting are Lamma and Cheung Chau, both village islands and completely different from Hong Kong Island.


November 27, 2006 change by lpx

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