As one of the most popular cities in the world, Hong Kong has her share of tourist traps. Yet she also combines the quirky and authentic like nowhere else on earth. Here's a guide to some incredibly beautiful and unusual things to do in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong glitters at the edge of China, the perfect arrival point for first time explorers of this fascinating country - and continent beyond.
The shiny harbour with its slippery fish stalls and floating sail boats. The sky high rises and intermingling soundtrack of voices, shouts and more than a million songs.
I've visited the city many times, as a couple and alone, and like any great city, there is absolutely no shortage of unusual things to do.
Sometimes you need to look a little harder. Sometimes, they're as easy as opening your eyes.
So, here are my suggestions on how to add an extra slice of adventure to a trip to this bewildering city.
Without further ado, here are 7 unusual things to do while you’re in Hong Kong.
For all its blitz and bling factor, Hong Kong has one of the greatest urban hiking tracks in the world. Once named the ‘best urban hike’ in Asia by TIME magazine, the Dragon’s Back reveals smoke, fire, drama and the divine. Well, OK: mist, clear green paths, the sight of the South China Sea, Stanley and more. You can drop in and out of the sections and cheat to catch a bus home but to do the whole hike, leave yourself a whole day – and take food and water with you.
Once the residence and office of the commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong, Flagstaff House now houses a different segment of history. As a branch of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, it displays a collection of antique Chinese teaware behind the white painted facade of colonial Hong Kong. This includes the world’s oldest known surviving teapot.
After looking at the things, it’s time for a taste as the Lock Cha Tea House next door. Sat at the heart of Admiralty, this is hardly an off the beaten track recommendation, but with its carved wooden screens, blue-spattered porcelain and faded wall calligraphy Lok Cha brings authentic Cantonese tea traditions back to life.
Up on the 49th floor at Cafe Gray Deluxe, sip martinis and watch the taxis zip between ice-lit skyscrapers far, far below. Dining is even better, here, and it’s a cultural necessity to check out the white chocolate pannacotta with a cranberry compote. Ahem.
On Lantau Island at the mouth of the Pearl River, the buffalo come to sleep. Twilight drifts over the neon lights, the gleaming spires and the synthetic shopping malls elsewhere in Hong Kong. But in this part, at least, twilight signals a change of pace.
A string of fairy lights sums up the illumination on the beach, where wild buffalo scuff the sand and settle down as the light fades for a snooze with an oceanfront view. And when that view looks like this, you can hardly blame them, can you?
Hong Kong isn’t all about tall skyscrapers y’know! Catch the ferry to Mui Wo to see the city’s other side. Stroll past the rows and rows of bicycles to reach the open air “food court” on the waterfront and then keep on going to reach the villages on stilts. Boats painted in peeling blue, red and canary yellow bob among ladders and balconies laden with house plants and hanging charms. Smoke drifts from temples, innards hang from markets and older men roll dice on tables in the time honoured tradition of simply enjoying the afternoon.
For a visual stroll back in time, see how the Cathay Pacific uniforms change in tandem with the development of air travel. Through posters, cockpits, and specially constructed exhibits, the Cathay Village shines an interesting spotlight on how the development of aircraft, and airlines, has changed the way we work, live, love and play. It’s tricky to get into, however – you’ll need to arrange an appointment in advance.
An easy detour from Harbour City and the Star Ferry Port, Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui offers a contradictory urban experience: tranquil Chinese gardens with lotus ponds – and a larger than life “Avenue of Comic Stars.” Apparently the first of its kind in the world, it’s slightly disconcerting to see locals reading on park benches while colossal, striped bulbous figures loom overhead.
Disclosure: I’ve been to Hong Kong many times, the last time was part of my #dragonroute project, a trip through China, Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar with the support of Cathay Pacific, my “artistic sponsors” if you will. As ever, as always, I keep the right to write what I like. Otherwise, where’s the fun?!
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