Hong Kong, the “Pearl of the Orient”
Planning a trip? Well here is what I have to say about HongKong!
Good Looking Skyscrapers: Yes!
Good Weather: Oh Yes!
Good Food: U bet!
Party Scene: A lot of it!
History: Yes! for the rest read through the article 🙂
Considered the one thing in Hong Kong not to be missed, Victoria Peak offers arguably the best views of this jam-packed city. Known colloquially simply as ‘The Peak’, it can be reached by the steep-climbing Peak Tram or by foot (#ComfortableShoes 😉) Keep in mind that this is one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated attractions, so it does get really crowded and you may need to watch a few trams go up and down before you get on.
Here’s my experience…
Hong Kong’s weather changes constantly and this, especially in January. It can switch from clear skies and sunshine to cloudy and extremely foggy in less time it takes you to climb the peak (which I did, I swear!). So, after what I consider of feat of human endurance, I reached the peak by foot, I was rewarded with fog so thick I couldn’t see even one Hong Kong’s countless skyscrapers. And that Instagram photo that was meant to kick off 2018 with a bang was simply not meant to be! #FAIL
Central Hong Kong / Hong Kong Island
They say Hong Kong is one the most densely populated city on earth and that may be true, but to really overwhelm an Indian when it comes to crowded streets, it’s going to have to be ‘really really’ crowded. Hong Kong is simply too smart of a city to feel over-crowded. Outdoor escalators transporting people up and down its hills. Walking bridges allowing people to move around above the streets and traffic below. Trams, double decker buses, metro trains and ferries all efficiently transporting people around the city. Having a car in this city really seems like an overkill! #GoGreen.
Hong Kong is an oxymoron of organized chaos. Everything just seems to flow and getting around is never really a problem. Having said that, I love to walk, and Hong Kong is a pleasant city to walk around in. One thing that really sticks out, whether you’re on the High Streets or in the malls or even in the Metro Stations is the high concentration of high end brands. Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, you name it, you’re never more than a few mins walk from one of their shops. No other city in the world has a higher concentration of high end shops.
If high end shopping is not your cup of tea Hong Kong is famed for is “lane shopping” where bargains can be found between the buildings.
Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens
Hong Kong is busy, there’s no denying that. Skyscrapers as far as the eyes can see, bustling streets with traffic and pedestrians everywhere. Luckily Hong Kong has an oasis in the middle of this concrete jungle. Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens are a green, serene and simply the perfect rest-stop for weary traveller (or local). This popular green spot, situated only minutes away from the Victoria Peak Tram’s lower stop. Arguably the world’s oldest Botanical/Zoological gardens, the garden is free to visit and holds various plants from across the former British Empire and houses tropical birds, monkeys, and reptiles on display. Even though I explored the city extensively over several days. My son liked this place the most and it was difficult to make him move on from the monkey section. #CheekyMonkey
Kowloon is the last part of the mainland and literally across harbour from Hong Kong Island and it has a bit of an identity crisis. Luxury shopping on the same road as cheap knock-offs, makes it every shopper’s dream. Budget hotels and hostels around the corner from the 5-Star hotels, makes it a possible overnight location for everyone. Fancy restaurants down the lane and many local dumpling joints, makes it a foodie’s paradise. Kowloon definitely deserve a visit during your Hong Kong trip. Its easily accessible by Metro or the charming old ferries going back and forth between HK Island and the surrounding areas.
Symphony of Lights
At 8pm, every day, tourists and locals alike gather by the harbour banks of Kowloon to watch the Symphony of Light. A light and laser show performed by the Hong Kong skyline coordinated with a melody. It comes highly recommended by most tour operators and is definitely mentioned in any book or website promoting Hong Kong tourism. In my honest opinion, it was unclimactic and did not live up to the hype. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the show Dubai’s skyline puts on. If you’re in the neighbourhood, do stay and watch it, if not, seriously don’t bother!
Hong Kong’s tallest building and a relatively recent addition to the Hong Kong skyline. What makes this tower stick out (no pun intended), is that it’s not even on Hong Kong island, but across Victoria Harbour in Kowloon. It may have the best vantage point (or second best… I don’t know, it’s still in disagreement with the Peak) to see Hong Kong’s iconic skyline from the ‘other side’. It’s the 10th tallest commercial building in the world with its 393m and offers a 360 degree observation deck on the 100th floor (aptly called sky100).
As you may recall, my experience at the Peak was somewhat hazy. Being Me, I don’t know why I thought my luck would be any better this time around. Having been invited on what was forecasted to be the clearest day of the week, I was greeted with clouds so thick, all could see was a white in every direction. #Jinxed (just could capture this picture)
Luckily it gave me the opportunity to have a lovely pancake and ice-cream lunch at Café 100 by Ritz Carlton, which was simply divine. Sky100 is a place I would definitely like to visit on a clear day. My son really enjoyed experiencing the Virtual Reality device that was put up for the real feel on a cloudy day.
Hong Kong Disney Land
Visiting Hong Kong with a kid would not be complete without a visit to the Disney Land. In all honesty I was just as excited about this part of the trip as my 6-year-old son was. Hong Kong Disney Land can be reached in 30-40 mins by train from Hong Kong Central. The final 10 mins is even operated by Disney Land itself, using a Disney themed train to get your excitement up as you’re being transported to the Magic Kingdom.
Disney Land is fun for the whole family, no matter what age your children are, they’ll enjoy it. Keep in mind though, that while Disney Land lives up to its reputation in terms of fun and activities it also lives up to its reputation of huge crowds and notoriously long queues so be prepared to wait for 40-60 mins for every ride. Wear comfortable shoes!
Even though I was expecting it on some level, given Disney’s acquisitions of Marvel Comics and Lucas Arts, but it seems like Iron Man and Darth Vader have replaced Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck as the faces of Disney. As much as I enjoy the new franchises, I can’t help feeling that Disney has put the toddlers in the backseat and is focusing more to the older kids and teenagers. As fun as I was having, finally visiting a place I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I was a little girl. I couldn’t shake the feeling that some of the charm was lost. Having said that, try to convince a 6-year-old that Disney Land is closing and that we must leave. It’s a task!
Macau, Hong Kong’s little brother, famed for its countless casinos, can be reached by ferry from Hong Island and the journey takes approximately an hour. Macau’s Portuguese legacy is evident the moment you disembark the ferry. With signs, money, and locations all having a Portuguese name alongside it’s English or Chinese names. With the exception of some old churches and buildings, much of the Portuguese landmarks has been lost to modernisation and let’s be honest, Macau of today is a thriving economy thanks to its booming casino business that rivals Las Vegas or Atlantic City any day of the week. I had heard a lot from my friends about the Venetian Hotel and payed it a visit. It was a good experience but I would say it’s not the place to go with kids. If you want to enjoy the casino and have a time with your friends, yes Macau is your choice.