Top 5 Must Do's in Hong Kong Island

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1. The Star Ferry Terminal

The best place to begin one's tour of Hong Kong's Central District is at the Star Ferry Terminal. Blinking at the right of the Hong Kong piers is the unmistakable polka- dotted Connaught Center, whose distinctive round windows have inspired the Chinese to nickname it the "House of a Thousand Orifices." Hong Kong's Filipino community gathers in strength here and in Statue Square at weekends. Just behind this holy wonder is the General Post Office and the Government Information Service Bookshop, that dispenses handy pamphlets from the Hong Kong Tourist Association. Across the street to the west from the G.P.O. and Connaught Center are the shiny towers of Exchange Square, one of the most modern office buildings in the world and the home of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

2. The Western District

One of the most postcard-like districts of Hong Kong is the Western District, which begins at Possession Street and sprawls west to Kennedy Town. The Western District's atmosphere emerges around Central Market, near the fringes of the busy Central District. Along Man Wa Lane you can find all the chop makers who carve name stamps. Watching a Man Wa Lane chop carver sculpt a man's name out of stone, ivory, jade or wood is quite a fascinating experience. A good place to begin puttering around Western District is at the Chinese Merchandise Emporium, located opposite the Central Market.

3. Traveling by Tram

Hong Kong Island's trams (or street cars) are an intriguing aspect of life in the island. Though they serve as a prime form of transportation for many of Hong Kong Island's millions of residents, they are also one of the best ways to enjoy a charming do-it- yourself tour of the island (at less than a HK $1 per journey, regardless of distance traveled). For a truly unique experience and one that can accommodate any pocketbook, hop on a tram. Trams have a seating capacity of 28 on the upper deck and 20 on the lower deck. However, about an extra 100 people can be stuffed into a tram during rush hour. Trams arrive at stops every few minutes. Once you board a tram, head upstairs and sit up front. The view up in the front, as you might imagine, is amazing.

4. Man Mo Temple

At the corner of Hollywood Road and Ladder Street is Man Mo Temple (Man is the God of Civil Servants and of Literature and Mo is the God of Martial Arts or War), built around 1842 on what must have been a little dirt track leading up from Central District. Tourists regularly visit Man Mo, but this doesn't inhibit the temple's regular worshippers who animatedly create thick and redolent clouds with their burning joss offerings. Guarding the outside of the temple are the 8 Immortals and inside there are 2 solid brass deer (representing long life) and a colorful wooden carving. Near the altar are 3 sedan chairs protected in glass cases. Years ago, when Man and Mo's icons were paraded through Western District on festival days, these were the chairs on which they were transported.

5. Eating in Wanchai

The Wanchai area is host to some superb restaurants. Rigoletto has some of the best Italian food in the island, and a seat by the window of the Fenwick Street restaurant is the place for Wanchai people watching. Perfume River, next to the Singapore Hotel and the Saigon on Lockhart Road, has minty fresh Vietnamese food, and SMI smells of marvelous curries reminiscent of the Straits down south. As for Chinese restaurants, Wanchai has literally thousands, as well as endless outdoor noodle stands. Also, on Lockhart Road, which is Wanchai's main street, are old school bars such as the Old China Hand and the Horse and Groom.
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