Arriving in Hong Kong is an assault on the senses. Its skyscrapers tower over chaotic, narrow streets of traditional markets and brightly-lit neon signs. Its harbour is in a constant state of flux as boats small and large navigate the bay, with the city hemmed in between the water and steep mountains. And it’s fantastic for all of it.
Once you get your bearings, the city starts to make a lot of sense. The shopping districts offer the chance to pick up an array of goods for every budget, and the dining scene serves up some excellent Chinese cuisine.
Though these experiences should never be discredited, there's an abundance of other sights to enjoy in and around Hong Kong.
Shop on Nathan Road
The very first road built in the Kowloon district, Nathan Road, is also known as “The Golden Mile”. It’s home to one of the most popular shopping areas in Hong Kong and is favoured by tourists and locals alike. Start south of the road if you like your designer labels, but the further up you go the more neon signs you’ll see. Keep an eye out for the busy side streets, with a plethora of local traders selling everything from trainers to electronic good, cosmetics to kitsch tourist gifts.
Visit Victoria Peak
Pack your camera because Victoria Peak offers the best photo opportunity in Hong Kong. Taking the Peak Tram to the summit is an occasion in itself. The ride is steep and at times a little nerve-racking, but it’s fun and worth the trip. At the top you'll find the panoramic terrace (after walking through many tourist shops). This is one of Hong Kong's most popular attractions, so expect queues around sunset when people go to capture the stunning view.
See exotic birds
It's worth crossing the mainland to visit Hong Kong Park, which is nestled in between the ubiquitous skyscrapers. Opened in 1991, it is home to Hong Kong's largest aviary. If you are looking for a few hours away from the busy streets, head to the park on a Wednesday morning when you can
join a free guided bird watching walk held by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Drink coffee and stroke cats
Like cats? Then what could be better then going to visit a variety of furry felines and having a “cattaccino” and a biscuit with them? Ah Meow Cat Café on Hong Kong Island is home to around 14 adopted cats, most of which can be found sleeping on cat-shaped cushions and seem happy to be petted. It can only leave you feline good.
Find Ah Meow Cat Café on Facebook.
Holiday in Stanley
Pack a picnic or take a barbecue and head to one of the sandy beaches in the popular Stanley area of the city. Or if watersports are your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to hit the surf here. Each year in June, Stanley also hosts the Dragon Boat championships on the main beach, which is a great time to see the area at its most lively. Where to stay
Intercontinental Hong Kong
Located in Kowloon on the Victoria Harbour waterfront, this five-star hotel looks a little dated form the outside, but step through the doors and you’ll experience world-class service.
The interior is traditional and in the evening you can enjoy excellent food and drinks while watching the light show over Victoria Harbour. Book a deluxe room with views of Victoria Harbour and order breakfast in bed; it's one of the nicest ways to wake up in Hong Kong.
Jockey Club Mt. Davis Youth Hostel
For something completely different – in experience and price – check into this hostel with a view. There are two- to six-person rooms available with basic décor. But it’s all about the view here. As the name suggests, this hostel is perched up high and looks out over Victoria Harbour. It also runs a free shuttle
bus into the city.
Cathay Pacific and Emirates fly direct from Dubai to Hong Kong in around eight hours. It takes about the same time from Abu Dhabi with Etihad, while Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific link Doha to Hong Kong.
The first thing you should do is purchase your Octopus Card so you can easily use Hong Kong’s public transport system. This card can be loaded with credit, and you just need to tap it against readers at stations or on buses and trams. It can also be used to pay for goods at shops around Hong Kong. The Mass Transit Railway, referred to commonly as the MTR, has five underground lines and is the fastest way to get around the city. It has signs and announcements in English, making it easy to use. The trams that run along the northern coast of Hong Kong island are more scenic, but bumpy and slow. Taxis are quite convenient, and not prohibitively expensive.
Don’t miss out on one of Hong Kong’s most iconic experiences. The Star Ferry has been in service since 1888, carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Even though there are now road and rail tunnels connecting the two areas, the ferry remains a firm favourite due to its charming interiors and breath-taking views of the harbour.
If you want to experience the traditions of Chinese culture, then arrive for the Mid-Autumn Festival. This is considered one of the most important festivals, falling on the 15th day of the eight lunar month, which in 2016 will be September 15. Families get together for traditional activities such as making moon cakes, which contain lotus seed paste and duck egg yolk. At this time you will also experience one of the festival’s most famous attractions: the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. The performance lasts three days and boasts a powerful display of smoke and fire as a large dragon float makes its dramatic way through the back streets of Tai Hang. At this time, neighbourhoods also host lantern displays and carnivals, with Victoria Park on of the best places to experience this.