Hong Kong

Areas

The Hong Kong consists of several areas - Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, The New Territories and Outlying Islands such as Cheung Chau, Lamma, Lantau, Peng Chau, Tung Lung Chau and Po Toi. This page concentrates on the areas, we have visited on our trip - Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Lantau.

Hong Kong Island

Though Hong Kong Island makes up only about 7% of the territory´s total land area, its importance as the historical, political and economic centre of Hong Kong far outweighs its size. It was here that the original settlement, Victoria, was founded. Most of the major businesses, government offices, a good many top-end hotels and restaurants, nightlife areas and exclusive residential neighbourhoods are on Hong Kong Island. Among the highlights belong Central and Western District, Stanly Market and Victoria Peak.

Kowloon

The name "Kowloon" is thought to have originated when the last emperor of the Song dynasty passed through the area during his flight from the Mongols in the late 13th century. He is said to have counted eight peaks on the peninsula and commented that there must therefore be eight dragons there. Of course there are, he was assured by his retainers, and they emerge at dawn to frolic in the harbour. But the young emperor was reminded that since he himself was present, there were now nine dragons. Kowloon is thus derived from the Cantonese words "gau", meaning "nine", and "long", the word for "dragon". Among the highlights belong the areas of Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Nathan Rd.

Lantau

Lantau is a Cantonese word meaning "broaken head", but Chinese call Hong Kong´s largest island Tai Yue Shan  (Big Island Mountain), a name that refers both to its size and elevation. At 142sq km, Lantau is almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island, and its highest point , Lantau Peak is almost double the height of Victoria Peak. Among the highlights belong mentioned Lantau Peak, Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha Statue.

 

Skyscrapers and Transportation

Skyline

While it may not be Manhattan, Hong Kong has an increasingly attractive skyline that is further enhanced by the surrounding water and mountains. Some buildings, such as Central Plaza, seize height at all costs, other are smaller but revel in elaborate detail, i.e. Hong Kong and Shangahi Bank Building. A privileged few are even able to make the audacious choice to go horizontal, i.e. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. For further details, see the description of some of them further on this page.

 

 

 

Transportation

When it comes to public trasport, nobody does it better than Hong Kong. Buses, ferries, trains, subway and trams are plentiful, fast and efficient, but not always too cheap, however you will rarely wait more than a few minutes for the conveyance of your choice. What is more, if you have Octopus card you need never fumble for a coin or a note again. The Octopus "smart card", originally designed for the MTR, is now valid on most forms of public trasport in Hong Kong and will even allow you to make purchases at some branches of 7-11 and Circle K. All you do is touch farededuction processors installed at stations, ferry piers, on minibuses etc. with the Octopus card and the fare is deducted, showing you how much credit you still have left.

Bus: Hong Kong extensive bus system offers a bewildering number of routes that will take you just about anywhere in the territory. Although buses pick up and discharge passengers at stops everywhere along the way, on Hong Kong Island the most important bus stations are below Exchange Square in Central and at Admiraly. From these stations you can catch buses to Stanley, Aberdeen, Repulse Bay etc. The fares are calculated according to the distance.

Subway: Subway, also called Mass Transit Railway (watch for sign MTR),  is a phenomenon of modern urban public transport. You can get almost everywhere, however it costs a bit more than you would expect. In fact, it is one of the most expensive forms of transportation. The fares depend on distance you wish to travel.

Train: Hong Kong has two train systems, I mean, the "real" trail system not taking into account the subway. Kowloon-Canton Railway is a single-line running from southern Kowloon to the border with mainland China at Lo Wu. This route you will probably use if you come to Hong Kong from China and cross the border in Shenzhen. The other one is Light Rail Transit which runs along a track parallel to the road and stops at designated stations.

Double-decker streetcar: Hong Kong streetcars are tall and narrow dobule-decker cars, the only all double-decker wooden sided tram in the world. They roll along the northern side of Hong Kong Island on 16 km of track. They are not fast, but it is probably the cheapest option how to travel in Hong Kong. For a flat rate 2 HK you can go as far as you like.

Peak Tram: The Peak Tram is a cable-hauled funicular railway that has been climbing som 373 m along a steer gradient to the highest point on Hong Kong Island since 1888. While a few residents on the Peak and in the Mid-Level actually use it as a form of transport - there are four intermediate stops before you reach the top - the Peak Tram is really intended to transport visitors and locals to the attractions shops and restaurants in the Peak Tower and Galleria.

Ferry: Hong Kong cross-harbour ferries are faster and cheaper than buses and the MTR. They are also great fun and afford stunning harbour views. Since the advent of the Lantau Ling, ferries are not the only way to reach Lantau, but for the other Outlying Islands, they remain the only game in play. The most famous is Star Ferry. It is said: "You have not been in Hong Kong until you have take a ride on Star Ferry." The Star Ferry operates on four routes, but by far the most popular one is the run betweeen Tsim Sha Tsui and Central. The trip takes about 7 minutes and departures are frequent. Fares are a mere 1.7HK/2.20HK on the lower_upper deck.

Jetfoil and Catamaran: These boats are usualy used for travel to Macau. They departures are frequent and the trip takes about 1 hour. The weekdays tickets are cheaper than those ones at weekends and cost aroud 130HK/232HK depending on the class you buy (Economy/Superior) and 140HK/247HK at weekends and on holidays. Also the night tickets are more expensive - around 160 HK/260 HK.

Among other transportation oportunities belong minibuses, minicabs, and - sure - taxis.

 

Walks

The following text describes walks through Hong Kong´s areas we made. To see the photos, please click on the picture.

Central and Western District   (Hong Kong Island)  

Catch intriguing glimpses of daily life in Hong Kong with a stroll through time in the Central & Western District. Starting in the Western area, you'll discover a world of wonder where the hustle and bustle of this modern city mingles with the colourful age-old traditions of yesterday. Here, among the dried seafood and Chinese herbs shops, you'll see traditions of the past that remain vibrant today. As you continue along the walk, you'll experience time through the ages ending in Central, the financial heart of Hong Kong, full of energy and dynamism. Its modern landmarks, towers of steel and glass, symbolise Hong Kong's success.

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Western Market The Western Market, an Edwardian-style building originally called the Harbor Office, was built in 1906 and later became a food market before closing in 1988. Two years later, it was declared a historical monument, renovated and then re-opened as the Western Market in 1991.

Wing Lok Street (Ginseng and Bird´s street) This street is lined with specialty shops selling ginseng and bird's nest. Both are believed to be essential for longevity, energy and fair complexion. They also make distinctive souvenirs.

Des Voeux Road West (Dried Seafood street) Discover the surprising varieties of exotic dried a seafood available on this street. You'll find rare and expensive items, like abalone, gathered from around the world.

Ko Shing Street (Herbal Medicine street) This is the wholesale centre of Hong Kongs´s thriving herbal medicine trade. It is renowned for its wide selection of herbal medicine and shops with experienced staff.

Bonham Strand West (Ginseng and Bird´s Nest Street) Previously known as Nam Pak Hong after the Nam Pak Hong Chamber of Commerce located there. Bonham Strand West is now an extension of Ginseng and Bird´s Street.

Hollywood Road (Antiques Street) Built in 1844 by the British army, this road took its name from the many holly shrubs lining it. Linking Sheung  An to Central, Hollywood Road is famous for its many curios and antiques shops. You can find items as small and delicate as a perfume bottle to large antique chinese furniture. The shops can help you arrange shipping of large items back home.

Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street) Lined with traditional street stalls, Upper Lascar Row is a great place to pick up a wide variety of antiques, curios and other collectables.

Man Mo Temple One of the first traditional-style temples built during the colonial era, Man Mo Temple´s magnificent external architecture reflects its historical roots. Inside the air is thick with plumes of aromatic smoke from the coils and incense sticks that are said to carry prayers to the spirit world. Gold altares and red shrines pay homage to the Taoist gods of literature "Man" and war "Mo". "Man" with his calligraphy brush and "mo" with his sword. There is also a statue of Pau Kung, the god of Justice, and another of Shing Wong, the god of the city. The plaques near the entrance give and interesting perspecive on the history of the temple and its gods. The temple´s historical relics include a bronze bell dated 1847 an imperial sedan chairs made in 1862.

Central Mid-Level Escalator At 800-meter long, this is the world´s longest covered escalator. It links Des Voeux Road Central near the harbour to Conduit Road in the Mid-Levels. The escalator is a convenient way to see the bustling city hillside which contains great restarurants and shops. Travelling the entire length takes about 20 minutes. The escalator runs one-way downhill from 6am to 10 am, and then uphill from 10:20am to midnight. The escalator is a transit ling for residents of the Mid-Levels. It is best to use it after 9am when the morning rush hour is over.

SoHo This lively dining district takes its name from its location, South of Hollywood road. SoHo consists of Shelley Street, Elgin Street, Peel Street, Staunton Street, and Old Bailey Street. Within this area you will find great food, coffee shops and funky bars.

Former Central Police Station This grey building with its Doric-Style columns and facade was built in 1864 and stands as testimony to Hong Kong´s colonial heritage. It has undergone numerous extensions and alterations over the years with the current edifice dating back to 1919.

Gage Street Billows of steam rise from shops serving Hong Kong-Style noodles, herbal teas and other delicacies. Take a break, here and try something local.

Lyndhurst Terrace Shops selling ancient maps, prints and painting stand next to beauty salons and spas. Walk further and you´ll find linens, fine silks, crafts and antiques for sale. Everything from charming copies to artifacts from early chinese dynasties are available.

Stanley Street If you want a new camera then this popular photographer´s paradise is the place to go with it cameras and other accessories available at treasonable prices.

Pottinger Street Traditional street stalls along this disinctive street of stone-slab steps sell ribbons, bows and buttons. Neighboured with modern building, this is where old and new charmingly mix.

LiYuen Streets East and West You will be amazed by the abundant varieties of casual wear, leatherwear and knick-knacks sold at very reasonable prices in the compact lively alleys of Li Yuen Street West, and its parallel Li Yuen Street East Shops here are open 10am - 7pm daily, and are hotspots for housewives , visitors and central commuters.

How to get there: Sheung Wan MTR Exit B, turn right, walk about three minutes.

 

Tsim Sha Tsui    (Kowloon)

Tsim Sha Tsui is a tourist's dream come true offering everything visitors need for a trip of a lifetime. It is home to a variety of chic restaurants offering a huge range of international cuisine, plenty of large modern shopping malls, historic buildings, fascinating museums and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. The scenic waterfront promenade offers some of the best views of the Victoria Harbour and the mesmerising Hong Kong skyline.

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Hillwood Soho in Tsim Sha Tsui is a hang out favoured by locals with a fun collection of bars and a coterie of restaurants featuring Asian cuisine.

Knutsford Terrace / Knutsford Steps Featuring a wide variety of exotic cuisine, this hotbed of international culinary delights offers something for virtually every palate. It is truly a smorgasbord of taste treats. Befitting an international eating oasis, this district is packed with people savouring the culinary delights that Hong Kong has to offer.

Park Lane Shopper´s Boulevard Bustling with shoppers day and night, this distinctive shopping mall offers a variety of local  and international brand name stores. Open 11am – 10pm daily.

Avenue of Stars At Asia’s first Avenue of Stars, you can see plaques honouring famous celebrities from the silver screen, and those behind the camera. Find out all you need to know about the 100-year development of this Hollywood of Asia and enjoy the star-studded harbour views.

Hong Kong Museum of Art /Hong Kong Space Museum /Hong Kong Culture Centre Discover the beauty of Chinese antiquities, fine art and calligraphy at The Hong Kong Museum of Art. Open 10am – 6pm daily. Close on Thursdays.  Explore the final frontier at The Hong Kong Space Museum with its Omnimax and Sky shows and astronomy exhibits. Open 1pm – 9pm on weekdays and 10am – 9pm on Sat, Sun & PHs. Close on Tuesdays. Experience classic performing arts, both western and Asian, at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

Clock Tower Part of the original Kowloon-Canton Railway terminus, the Clock Tower was completed and came into operation in 1921. This is a landmark from the Age of Steam, a time when people spent days travelling across Europe and Asia to the terminus.

Harbour City This is the largest shopping and entertainment centre in Hong Kong with more than 700 shops and restaurants offering local and international brands. Open daily, 10am – 9pm.

How to get there: Jordan MTR Exit D, turn left, walk along Nathan Road and turn left into Hillwood Road.

 

Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok   (Kowloon)

For a non-stop experience of local, urban Chinese lifestyles, you need look no farther than Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok - the heart of the Kowloon Peninsula. Within these two neighbourhoods are side streets and alleys that are home to one of Hong Kong's liveliest spectacles. You'll be amazed by the teeming masses jostling to and fro in this unique section of Hong Kong. Walking through Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok is an exciting and memorable experience any time of the day or night. You'll love the ambience and the great deals you can get on souvenirs, clothing, electronic goods and much more. Yau Ma Tei means "place of sesame plants" and Mong Kok "Prosperous Point" in Cantonese.  Mong Kok is one of the HK´s most congested working-class residential areas, as well as one of its busiest shopping distriects.

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Yuen Po St. Bird Garden Set within an attractive Chinese courtyard design, the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden is a market catering to bird lovers. They come to the market with cage in hand to find new birds of different types and sizes, buy accessories and food for their treasured pets, or to just take their pet birds for a “walk” and meet up with other bird lovers. Chinese especially men fuss and fawn over their feathered friends. The Chinese have long favoured birds as pets, you often see local men walking around airing their birds and feeding them tasty creepy-crawlies whith chopsticks. The garden, with its many singing birds, offers a pleasant and novel experience. Open 7am - 8pm daily.

Flower Market This hub of Hong Kong’s wholesale and retail floral business will welcome you with sweet natural fragrances and eye-catching colours of flowers and plants sold for very attractive prices. Other accessories, including plant hangers and dried flowers, are also available. Open 7am – 7pm daily.

Gold Fish Market Shops selling colourful fish of different species along with furnishings and decorations for aquariums line both sides of Tung Choi Street. The shops are usually open 10:30am - 10pm daily.

Fa Yuen Street Fa Yuen Street is the place to be if you want to find bargain-priced trendy fashion and casual wear for men, women and children. Open 10:30am – 10:30pm daily.

Ladie´s Market Don’t be deceived by the name. Ladies’ Market has something for everyone with bargain-priced items, including men’s and women’s clothing, knick-knacks, watches and beauty products. Beside the street stalls are Hong Kong-style cafes that offer local favourites. Open noon – 11:30pm daily.

Shanghai Street Don’t be deceived by the name. Ladies’ Market has something for everyone with bargain-priced items, including men’s and women’s clothing, knick-knacks, watches and beauty products. Beside the street stalls are Hong Kong-style cafes that offer local favourites. Open noon – 11:30pm daily.

Jade Market About 450 registered stall-owners sell amulets, ornaments, necklaces and trinkets made from the revered green stone. This is a fun place to browse and to buy an inexpensive memento of your visit, but think twice about buying anything costly unless you are a jade expert. Vendors apparently use a "members-only" sign language to communicate prices between one another, outsiders are likely to get fleeced.  Open 10am - 5pm daily.

Tin Hau Temple This temple is dedicated to the Goddess of  Seafarers, Tin Hau. The temple complex also houses an altar dedicated to Shing Wong, the God of the City, and to To Tei, the Earth God.  Its location in the middle of urban Yau Ma Tei might seem odd, but long ago, before massive land reclamation, it was on the harbour front. The water has receded, but people continue to worship Tin Hau here. You can go inside the temple 8am – 5pm daily.

Temple St Night Market This is the famous night market, open 4pm – midnight daily, where you can find all kinds of bargains, including casual clothes and curios. You’ll also often see fortune tellers, and professional Chinese chess players. It is the liveleiest night market in HK, and the place to go for cheap clothers, food, pirate CDs, fake labels, footwear and everyday items. For street food, head to the section of Temple St north of the temple. You can get anything from a simple bowl of noodles to a full meal. Any marked prices should be considered mere suggestions - this is definitely a place to bargain and bargain hard.  Market becomes busy after 7pm.

How to get there: Take the MTR to Prince Edward Station, then use the Mong Kok Police Station exit. Walk east along Prince Edward Road West to Yuen Po Street Bird Garden.

 

Lantau Island   (Lantau Island )

Lantau is the largest outlying island in Hong Kong, almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. More than half of Lantau Island has been designated as Country Park area. Its tranquil and green environment makes it a popular spot for nature lovers and hikers. Beginning at Ngong Ping with impressive views over Shek Pik, the suggested trail winds around the northern slopes of Lantau Peak. Descending easily into Tung Chung Valley, the trail passes woodland, mountain streams, an old fort and hillside monasteries. The airport, glimpsed in the distance, is a stunning contrast to the peaceful charm of this delightful rural area.

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Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monatery The walk starts near the 26-metre-high Giant Buddha at Ngong Ping Plateau. The world’s tallest, outdoor, seated, bronze Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne above a three-platform altar and weighs 202 tonnes. There are bigger Buddha statues elsewhere - notably 71m high Grand Buddha in Leshan in china - but apparently these are not seated, outdoors or made of bronzze. The statue was cast in a factory in Nanjing, and then shipped in more than 200 pieces to Hong Kong in  1993. The large bell within the Buddha is controlled by computer and rings 108 times during the day to symbolise escape from what Buddhism describes as the 108 "troubles of mankind". Open 10am - 5:30pm daily. Visitors can purchase admission tickets which includes the price of a vegetarian snack or meal at the staircase in front of the Giant Buddha. The nearby Po Lin Monastery, set amid spectacular mountain scenery on the 520-metre-high Ngong Ping plateau, includes a large vegetarian restaurant that caters to hungry visitors. Po Lin or "precious lotus", is a large Buddhist temple complex originally built in 1924. Today it is a fairground as much as religious retreat, attracting many visitors. Most of the buildings you will see on arrival are new, with the older simpler ones tucked away behind them. The temple is open daily 9am to 6pm.

Lantau Peak The trail now descends into Tung Chung Valley. Lantau Peak, at 934 metresHong Kong’s second highest mountain, is on the right. Much of the route wanders through substantial natural woodland, with hillside streams regularly crossing the trail. These rivulets are good habitats for dragonflies, freshwater fish and some rare amphibians. The upper valley is also noted for its valuable woodland and birds. On the way to Lo Hon Temple, the path passes Po Lam Monastery at Tei Tong Tsai; stop a while at this monastery, which commands a good view of Hong Kong International Airport. From here to Lo Hon Temple takes about 40 minutes.

Lo Hon Temple Lo Hon Temple, built by lay Buddhists in 1974, occupies the site of a grotto named Lo Hon Cavern where a hermit from Guangdong practised Buddhism in 1926. Open 8am - 4pm daily.

Tung Chung Fort Occupying a 70-metre by 80-metre site, Tung Chung Fort was built in the early 19th Century as part of a short-lived attempt to suppress the opium trade and defend the coastal area from pirates. Six old Qing dynasty cannons dating back to 1832 stand on the ramparts. The fort was declared a monument in 1979.

Tung Chung Town Centre The whole walk takes about three hours and ends at Tung Chung Town Centre, where there is a variety of shops, restaurants, a cinema and entertainment facilities. There is also a bus terminus and MTR station from where you can get transport back to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island.

How to get there: The hike begins near the Giant Buddha at Ngong Ping. To reach Ngong Ping, you can travel on the MTR to Tung Chung station exit B, then take bus 23 from the adjacent bus terminus to Ngong Ping. Alternatively, you can take a ferry (50 mins) from the Outlying Islands Ferry Pier No. 6 to Mui Wo, then bus 2 to Ngong Ping. Either bus trip takes about one hour.

 

The Peak  (Hong Kong Island)

The Peak is the perfect place to experience the sharp contrast of city, harbour and green. The incredible vistas from The Peak is one reason why it is the most popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong. You can get even more out of your visit by taking a stroll around The Peak. You will experience stunning bird's eye views of skyscrapers that form city canyons, beautiful green mountains and a unique harbour. This walk covers an easy level path, with an optional walking route that will take you from The Peak back to the city. This is definitely a walk that should not be missed. It is sure to heighten your Peak experience.

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Walk along Lugard Road, the start of The Peak trail, just across from The Peak Tower. After about 20 minutes, you'll arrive at the Lugard Road.  Lookout where you'll enjoy the stunning view of the city and harbour below. Information panels en route introduce you to the geology, climate, vegetation and insects found around the trail. Continue along Lugard Road until you reach the junction of Hatton Road and Harlech Road where you can rest at a pleasant picnic area. You have two choices at this point. Harlech Road takes you back to The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria where you take buses or The Peak Tram back to Central. Hatton Road takes you on a longer walk down the hillside. If you go along Hatton Road, you’ll arrive at the historic Pinewood Battery which commands a panoramic view of the western approach to Victoria Harbour. On fine days, you’ll be able to see all the way to Tsing Ma Bridge, the soon-to-be Disneyland, Lamma Island and other outlying islands. Continue down Hatton Road and follow the sign for Kotewall Road. You’ll soon reach University Drive, where you can visit the University of Hong Kong (the oldest university in Hong Kong) or take bus 13 to Central. Alternatively, you can go along Conduit Road for about 30 minutes to the Central – Mid-Levels Escalator and walk down to Central.

How to get there: Central MTR Exit A, take footbridge to Exchange Square bus terminus and then bus 15 to The Peak OR Central MTR Exit K, walk towards the harbour and the Star Ferry Piers, take bus 15C to the Lower Peak Tram Station on Garden Road, take the Peak Tram and get off at the Upper Peak Tram Station.

Stanley Market  (Hong Kong Island)

Stanley Market is the place to find silk garments, sportswear, art, Chinese costume jewellery, other souvenirs and a host of fantastic bargains. And when the shopping is done, you can relax at one of the area's pleasant beaches set in sheltered, sandy coves. One is a favourite destination for Hong Kong's windsurfers. Stanley village also offers an appetising range of restaurants and snack bars.

A trip to Stanley would not be complete without a stop at Stanley Plaza which comprises a six-storey shopping centre featuring shops and restaurants. Right next to it is Village Square which serves as a multi-functional outdoor performance venue. Adjacent to that is Murray House - a former British army officers' quarters and the oldest example of Western architecture. It was dismantled in 1982 and put back together again - brick by brick.Another colonial building worth a visit is the Old Stanley Police Station, one of the oldest surviving police stations in Hong Kong. This landmark was built in 1859. In the area you'll also find the Old Stanley Fort and a cluster of historic military sites.Other sightseeing attractions include an interesting 18th century Tin Hau Temple, huddles of charming cottages and palatial country homes on the village slopes.

How to get there: 1. Take bus no.6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Central (Exchange Square) Bus Terminus. 2. Take MTR to Causeway Bay station (Exit B) walk to Tang Lung Street then take green minibus no.40. 3. Take bus no.973 at Tsim Sha Tsui East Bus Terminus or Canton Road outside Silvercord Centre.

 

Source: This page uses some information from Lonely Planet and www.discoverhongkong.com