If in the western world, New York is often referred to as the city that never sleeps, Hong Kong surely deserves this name in the Far East. This is a fantastic region to visit as part of a cruise and offers everything from cultural heritage attractions to natural parks.
As one of the most fascinating realities in the world, Hong Kong is characterized by a melting pot of cultures and a rich mix of culinary traditions. Divided into three main areas – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories – this region was a colony of the British Empire until 1997, when it returned to the People’s Republic of China with a special administrative status. Thanks to its high degree of autonomy in both economy and politics, today Hong Kong is an international harbor and meeting point for businessmen who then head to main land China.
Hong Kong Island: a futuristic vision
High skyscrapers and a visionary contemporary architecture characterize Hong Kong Island, which is punctuated by shopping malls and colorful Chinese advertisement signs.
Take Hollywood Road and reach the Upper Lascar Row to satisfy your shopping appetite. Antique shops and the local fish market are must-see stops, but don’t forget to visit the Man Mo temple, with its calm atmosphere and the giant incense coils hanging overhead.
If you’re interested in visiting something a bit more “local”, take a bus and reach the fish market at the fishermen village of Aberdeen. Despite recent modernization, a traditional lifestyle still prevails and the fish market is an experience one can’t miss. Rent a Saipan, the traditional boat, and take a tour of the harbor for few HK dollars.
At sunset, there’s nothing comparable to viewing the city from the Victoria Peak. Take a taxi or the Peak tram, which climbs 373 meters, and go up to the hill: in the night the lights of the skyscrapers will make everything even more spectacular.
Kowloon: young and fresh
In Kowloon, walk along the Avenue of Stars and take in the incredible view of the Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island.
Two important markets take place here every week: the Ladies’ and Jade markets. Jade is considered to be a luck amulet and the majority of Chinese people wear it in the shape of bracelets or pendants. It makes the perfect souvenir.
New Territories: wear comfortable shoes
If you feel adventurous, the New Territories offer many hiking trails and places of immense natural beauty.
On the Sai Kung Peninsula, the trekking path of Tai Long Wan is of average difficulty and offers an incredible view of the coastline. The route starts from the Sai Wan Pavillion, which is accessible by taxi or bus, and it takes around 5 hours to get to the sandy beach of Ham Tim Wam. There are some small restaurants on the shore and the food is absolutely fantastic. If you don’t want to walk back to the starting point, you can always take a boat, but the ocean can be very rough so be prepared to feel like you’re on a roller coaster.
Hopefully you will have more than a day to discover some of these incredible sights, but if not, any of these areas are guaranteed to please.
Contributor Nicole Rebeiro is a conservationist, and when she is not away on remote islands nurturing rare species back to health, she is a keen, London-based travel journalist.
Flickr photo by Songkran