Hong Kong - Sightseeing
Aside from Lantau Island’s Disneyland Resort park and gorgeous Kowloon Harbour, most of your time in Hong Kong will be spent in the entrancing open-air theme park that is Hong Kong Island. Part economic powerhouse, part thrilling pleasure-zone, Hong Kong crams more fun into its 50 square miles than any other city of comparable size.
Hong Kong’s freeport status ensures this island has more malls, shopping streets and buzzing gadget super-stores than anywhere else in China.
Fast becoming the place to pick up a bargain, Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui area and the bustling street markets of Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok are alive with opportunities. The sportswear hypermarkets of Fa Yuen Street, the factory outlets of Granville Road and Nathan Road’s bargain-rich electronics, jewellery and clothing stalls are all a must see.
At the Kowloon Park stretch of Nathan Road you’ll find Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard - home to fashions both local and international. But for high end fashion, head to Fashion Boulevard. Here, from Wong Chuk Street to Yen Chow Street, you’ll find made to measure suits at a snip and famous-label ‘seconds’ selling for a steal.
Electronics shopping in Hong Kong is fabulously exciting. Head to Apliu Street Market, with its array of watches, hi-fis, iPod docks and computer games.
Harbour City is Kowloon’s Bluewater Shopping Mall - housing over 700 stores, big and small, and over 50 restaurants. Elements is the designer shopping mall currently exciting Hong Kong shoppers, with its mix of premium-brand fashions, jewellery and home wares. Alternatively, Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong is home to a bewildering array of shopping and entertainment options, including an ice-skating rink and a multiplex cinema.
In Hong Kong Island, the places to head include Central, North Point, Admiralty and the Japanese department stores of Times Square in Causeway Bay. Head to IFC Mall in Central for international chains, cosmetics stores, fashion and electronics, and to Causeway Bay for traditional crafts and local, colourful street stalls plus gold and silverware. While malls are smart and air-conditioned, it’s the side streets and stalls that really give Hong Kong shopping its edge. So browse the street markets of Central, Stanley Market, Temple Street, Times Square and Yau Ma Tei for a slice of authentic shopping.
A suburb of Hong Kong city, Aberdeen still feels like a film-set with its junks and fishing boats plying the waters, and sampans offering ferry rides out in the evening. The view back to the island is breath taking, as the lights illuminate the skyscrapers rising above the tiny, huddled fishing village below.
The show-stopping spectacle of them all, Victoria Harbour is the third largest harbour in the world, lined with Hong Kong’s vertiginous skyscrapers. The Symphony of the Lights choreographs the illumination from 40 of Hong Kong's skyscrapers in a gloriously over-the-top multimedia experience. Your best view is the 554 metre pinnacle of the Victoria Peak. Alternatively the Avenue of Stars, along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, is another great harbour view.
But for a panorama with great photo-opportunities, a ferry cruise is your best bet. Ferries between Hong Kong and Kowloon are fine for viewing the sights, but a ferry cruise with a commentary, and perhaps dinner, is by far the best experience of all. If you’d like to watch the Symphony of Lights, this is your only option. Try the famous Star Ferry for a voyage to remember located at piers 4 or 9.
Tourist central, Ocean Park is a 170 acre maritime attraction, featuring plenty of on-land thrills too. A tour through Hong Kong’s history, The Middle Kingdom’s temples, pagodas, street markets and giant panda enclosures lead on to the Dinosaur Park, and in turn to the dolphin breeding centre.
There’s a huge shark aquarium, a four-storey-tall atoll reef, rays and tropical fish tanks, recreating the South China Seas, and for humans, plenty of watery fun to be had in the Water Paradise aquatic entertainment centre and the white-knuckle rides of Headland Park. You’ll need a full day to do Ocean Park any justice.
Away from the glaring neon of downtown, Repulse Bay is a welcome blast of relaxation with its fabulous beach, warm clear waters and swish beachfront hotels, bars and restaurants. Water sports offer slightly more thrills, with a range of operators offering water-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and the like.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
It’s good to see, amid the commerciality of downtown Hong Kong, a serene spot or two. This Taoist temple is one of the city’s most popular. Perhaps that’s got something to do with the temple’s Hong Kong Sticks, shaken out at random, foretell tourists’ fortunes. In theory, at least!
But take time to look at the temple’s graceful architecture, too. Sturdy ochre pillars, pagoda-style roof, yellow latticework, and carvings, and the three memorial archways within its grounds are typical of Hong Kong temples, many of which have been sacrificed to the ever-increasing commercial quarters.
Disneyland Resort and Lantau Island
Situated on Lantau Island, this multi-million dollar attraction is every bit as good as its Stateside counterparts, but with enough winsome, Oriental touches to give it a distinctive appeal all its own.
Expect all the usual suspects - from the Mainstreet USA nightly procession, to the thrill rides of Adventureland, Disney’s not messed around too much with a winning formula.
Nice touches include the Festival of the Lion King based on ‘The Lion King', Tarzan Island’s jungle capers, Fantasyland’s carnival of our best loved Disney characters, and Tomorrowland’s screaming rides, such as the evergreen Space Mountain. Dining options and evening entertainment ensure that this is one theme park with all bases covered.
While in Lantau Island, take a look at the Giant Buddha Sculpture - and climb to its 34 metre summit. The island’s beautiful scenery is another highlight, culminating in a lofty chain of mountains. Phoenix Mountain, at 935 meters, is the second highest peak in all of Hong Kong, and often climbed just before dawn, for a glimpse of sunrise. The island’s south-east is home to a string of stunning beaches.
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