So strong is the fascination of Hong Kong (香港, xiāng gǎng) that you’ll feel the allure of its Chinese roots, British heritage and cosmopolitan influences before you actually get there. Even from the air, the iconic glittering skyscrapers, spectacular mountain peaks and tiny green dots of outlying islands in the South China Sea will capture your attention and captivate your imagination. On the ground, you’ll find that Hong Kong's mix of traditional festivals and finance, the MTR and Hong Kong style milk tea, make it one of the most mesmerising – and safe – cities on earth. During your visit you can expect to eat some of the best food in the world, be bowled over by the stunning harbour and be energised by the sheer intensity  and complexity of this remarkable place.  
And whilst you can’t help but encounter the bewitching, bewildering, chaotic hustle bustle of everyday life in Hong Kong, a slower-paced, traditional lifestyle can still be found. Turn right off the famous Mid-levels Escalator (the longest escalator in the world) and you’ll find people haggling at market stalls for fresh durian and fish that’s so fresh it’s practically swimming. As each new day dawns, locals gather in Victoria Park for free Tai Chi classes and in the intensely incense-scented Man Mo temple, the oldest temple in Hong Kong, people come to pray to their ancestors for success - and also to settle disputes.  
Take a tram out of Central to Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and beyond. You’ll find that among the towering apartment blocks are restaurants, shopping malls, bars, a sprinkling of museums, oases of green and — depending on your luck and your eye for a horse — one of Hong Kong’s most fortuitous spots, the Happy Valley Racecourse. Take a Star ferry across Victoria Harbour to explore Kowloon, straddled across a considerable slice of the Chinese mainland. Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of Kowloon peninsula has a host of high-end shops, excellent museums, and breathtaking views of the Hong Kong skyline across the water. Northwards you’ll find the swarming market streets of Mong Kok, and the beautifully ornamented Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple which claims to ‘make every wish come true upon request’ - just one of the reasons for its immense popularity. Ofr perhaps you could take a private chartered yacht and take some time to cruise round a few of Hong Kong’s 263 islands - Lamma, Lantau and Cheung Chau being among the most popular.
   

People  

Under British Crown rule from  1841 until 1997 when it was handed back to mainland China and became an SAR (Special Administrative Region), Hong Kong’s population of over 7 million reflects its history, being comprised mainly of Cantonese, Shanghainese, Indians and British people. The Cantonese make up the majority of the population and, unsurprisingly, Cantonese culture - and language - is the mainstream. Thus, Chinese concepts like 'family solidarity', 'family glory', 'saving face' and 'modesty' play an important part in Hong Kong's culture. However, over the years many locals adopted western ways of life, making Hong Kong’s cultural spirit a sophisticated fusion of East and West. The result is a  glorious diversity and a people who are open-minded and happily embrace variety.
       

Places  

There are so many things to see and do in Hong Kong that you’ll be spoilt for choice and find it difficult to even know where to begin. To give you a head  start, here are our 5 must-go places.   

Lan Kwai Fong
Originally dedicated to Hawker Stalls, Lan Kwai Fong underwent a renaissance in the mid 1980s and now, in its new incarnation, no trip to Hong Kong is complete without a night out there. A small square of streets in Central Hong Kong, it’s packed with pubs, clubs, restaurants, bistros and bars and the perfect place to dine, drink and dance the night away.  Do be aware, though, that on special occasions like the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, Halloween and New Year’s Eve, the streets get so crowded that they come to a literal standstill.  

Victoria Peak
Perching on The Peak at 396 metres above sea level, The Peak Tower  is one of Hong Kong most architecturally stylish attractions and boasts a 360° viewing platform, Sky Terrace 428. At 428 metres above sea level, it’s the the highest platform in town and offers unparalleled panoramic views of urban Hong Kong and its more rural surroundings. Inside The Peak Tower itself, you’ll find a wealth of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues set against the breathtaking backdrop of the city. The most scenic way to reach the Peak is by the 125-year-old gravity-defying Peak Tram. Rising almost vertically above the high-rise apartment blocks nearby, the oldest funicular in Asia clangs and clatters its way up to the hilltop and and the Peak Tower providing almost vertigo-inducing views as it goes.  

Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha
Sitting on Lantau Island, near Hong Kong International Airport, you’ll find the bronze Tian Tan Buddha (‘the Big Buddha’). The largest outdoor sitting statue of Buddha Shakyamun in the world, it’s no wonder that thousands of visitors from Asia and around the world flock to pay their respects. At 23m high (not including the lotus leaf on which he’s seated), he’s well worth climbing the 260 steps for a up-close view. You’ll also get to see the statues surrounding him and breathtaking views across Lantau.  A popular way to go to visit the Big Buddha is to take the Ngong Ping 360, a 5.7km cable car ride which stretches from Tung Chung (right outside the namesake train station) to Ngong Ping Plateau (a short stroll away from the statue). The 25-minute cable car ride is pleasantly relaxing and you’ll enjoy incredible views of Lantau Island, Hong Kong International Airport and Ngong Ping Village.  

Stanley Markets
While you’re in Hong Kong, a visit to Stanley markets is well worth the trip. The prices aren’t as low as those you’ll find in the city, but the quality of the products is a lot better and include big brand names such as Converse and Adidas. The market offers casual clothing, toys and art on a myriad of stalls set in an enjoyably confusing maze of alleys running down to Stanley Bay. It’s best to go during the week as at the weekend the market teems at the seams with tourists and locals. Good choices for gifts and souvenirs include stone 'chops' (stamps) carved with the owner's name, embroidered baby shoes, and charming (albeit factory, not hand, made) painted wooden boxes. Do bargain here, but don’t be aggressive about it. You’ll also find an array of decently priced pubs and restaurants, often overlooking Stanley Harbour, or if you want to make a day trip of your visit, head a little further to Aberdeen Harbour and take a sampan ride, or dine at the floating Jumbo seafood restaurant.  

Ocean Park
Two words: GIANT PANDAS. Two more words: RED PANDAS. And that is really all you need to know about Ocean Park. More? Oh, go on then. The park is divided into two main sections, the Waterfront (where the main entrance is) and the Summit. The two are linked by cable car and the marine-themed Ocean Express funicular train. The major attractions at the Waterfront are Amazing Asian Animals (PANDAS!) and Aqua City, with the Grand Aquarium boasting  the world’s largest aquarium dome and being home to 5000 fish representing over 400 species. Old Hong Kong is a replica of the old buildings that once graced Wan Chai and older parts of Kowloon, whilst Whiskers Harbour features a variety of child-friendly rides. On the Summit, the Thrill Mountain features plenty of thrilling white-knuckle rides, like the much-publicised roller coaster, Hair Raiser.
       

Pleasures  

Hong Kong knows how to party and makes sure it’s seen and heard doing so. Going out for a drink?  Choose from British-style pubs through high-end hotel bars and hip hang-outs, to karaoke joints frequented by young Chinese customers. In the last few years, a multitude of wine bars and live-music venues have sprung up on the scene, catering to a diverse, discerning and fun-loving population and visitors alike.
The city also has a reputation as a shopper’s paradise and it’s not hard to see why.  Most goods from all over the world, except for wine and cigarettes, are tax free, and the prices are relatively low. You’ll find a wide and exclusive range of products, with clothing, luggage, jewellery, cameras and electronic items offering good, whilst  shops and galleries specialising in Asian art and antiques are also plentiful. There are many famous street markets; Temple Street is the best place to go for a good browse and a good time, whilst Upper Lascar Row – more commonly known as Cat Street – for is the place for kitsch Chinese-style silks, Chairman Mao memorabilia and, occasionally, genuine antiques. Ladies Market is best for bargains on clothing and Ap Liu Street for electronics. For fresh food, try one of the wet markets like Graham Street, Central and Kowloon City - one of the largest markets in Hong Kong.
From street markets to street food is a short hop and here you’ll find some of the best in the world. Dai Pai Dongs (open air food stalls) and the street food hawkers are one of Hong Kong's best food experiences. Try it and you’ll be flooded with fabulous flavours.There’s seafood, roasted meats, dim sum, stir fries, noodles, snacks, all types of food "on a stick", sweets and desserts…the world is your (fried) oyster. Must-eats include Siu Mai (steamed pork dumplings) and fish balls - order them separately, served on a bamboo stick, or get a combination of the two in a bowl. Stinky Tofu (yes, it really is called that) is not for the faint-hearted, but be brave. After biting into its deep-fried crust and tasting the soft, creamy goodness inside, you’ll completely forget about the smell. For dessert on the go, pick up a bowl pudding. Warm, wobbly, soft and sticky steamed cup cakes studded with red beans, they’re traditionally served on two bamboo sticks and addictively delicious.   On the higher end of the food scale, whilst technically, Hong Kong’s cuisine is Cantonese (and you really must make dim sum a part of your dining), what really distinguishes it is its almost unequalled culinary cosmopolitanism. It’s a global crossroads for food, rivalling New York and London where the most appealing and important places cut across all traditions. Among the best restaurants in the city are those with British influence - Tom Aikens’s The Fat Pig’,  and Mediterranean moorings — Spanish at Mercedes Me. There’s even a spot, El Mercado, specialising in Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. In short, Hong Kong is restaurateur to the world - and you’ll have the opportunity to be a world explorer.          

Do   

Wrap chewing gum before you dispose of it.  
Have patience. Walking the crowd at speed is well nigh impossible.   Try and learn a little Cantonese - lei ho (hello), bay baai (goodbye) and ng goi (thank you) will be appreciated.  
Haggle. If you go to the local markets, never accept the first price they offer you. Cut it in half, then again and start there.  
Buy an Octopus card. Pay HK$50 deposit at any MTR station and use the card to get on any form of public transport and to buy drinks and snacks in convenience stores like Circle K and 7/11.          

Don’t  

Keep chopsticks in your hand when you stop to talk or drink tea. Put them down on the provided chopstick rest, or on the table.  
Use a local’s first name without approval. It is considered extremely rude.  
Take taxis during peak times. Hong Kong’s dense traffic makes it a slow-moving nightmare.  
Deal with touts in Tsim Sha Tsui - anything they try and sell you will be a rip-off.  
Limit yourself to Hong Kong Island - the outlying islands are well worth a visit.          

Best time to go  

The nightlife and shopping here are non-stop, which, is why deciding the best time to visit Hong Kong depends heavily on the weather. Hong Kong has a monsoon-influenced subtropical climate which is mild for more than half the year. There are mild, relatively dry winters, and hot, humid, and wet summers. We recommend the months from October to early December as the best time to visit as the weather is sunny, cool, and pleasant and typhoon season (May to October) is over.          

Best way to go  

The best way to visit Hong Kong Island and see its many outlying islands and secluded shorelines is to charter a private yacht and travel in luxury, comfort and privacy. Favourite places to go by boat are to the beach areas and bays off Sai Kung for the great natural beauty, camping, and surfing; to the Hong Kong Geopark areas. Your boat can pick you up anywhere and drop you off wherever you decide, meaning your trip is completely customisable. Your boat’s customisable too…just choose from any of the beautifully equipped vessels.        
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Hong Kong