Hong Kong's dynamism is unforgettable. From the vantage point of Victoria Peak, overlooking the world s busiest deepwater port, you can see a city geared not only to making money but feeling good about it. At night, it s like looking down into a volcano. Despite its British colonial past, Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots and the culture beneath the glitz is pure Chinese. That didn t stop locals from feeling apprehensive about being re-united with the motherland when the British handed the colony back to China in 1997, but their unease has largely evaporated. Visitors often find it takes a few days in Hong Kong to get accustomed to the whirlwind pace. If you need some respite, check out the Outlying Islands for a change of tempo and scene.
Visually stunning Hong Kong offers a warp-speed ‘shop till you drop’ lifestyle combined with enclaves of tradition. It is a popular tourist destination and one of the world’s major business centers. Hong Kong’s 260 outlying islands, few of which are inhabited, provide a tranquil alternative to its frenetic energy elsewhere. Hong Kong Island is an eclectic mix of modern skyscrapers, colonial buildings and traditional temples.
Area: 1,098 sq km (424 sq miles).
Population: 7 million
Population Density: 6,375.2 per sq km
People: 95% Chinese, 1.5% European
Language: Chinese and English are the official languages, with Cantonese most widely spoken. English is spoken by many, particularly in business circles
Religion: Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist, with Christian and Muslim minorities, but there are also place of warship for most other religious groups.
Telephone: Country code: 852.
Visas: Not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for the following durations:
(a) 1. British Citizens for stays of up to 180 days (British Overseas Citizens, British Subjects, British Protected Persons and nationals of British Dependent Territories may stay for up to 90 days);
(b) 2. nationals of Australia, Canada and USA for stays of up to 90 days;
(c) 3. nationals of EU countries for stays of up to 90 days (except 1. British citizens for stays of up to 180 days).
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
When to go
Hong Kong’s subtropical climate can make it a punishingly hot and humid destination during the summer months. June to mid-September is the hottest time when humidity soars. Summer is also typhoon season, when tropical storms sweep rain and high winds off the South China Sea.
Even in late spring and early autumn, wandering Hong Kong’s streets can be warm work. The best time to go climate-wise is in early spring (March and April) or late autumn (October and November), when the days are generally warm, fresh and (wind direction and mainland smoke stacks permitting) the air often clearer.
Things can cool down a good deal in winter, when it can often be overcast (as opposed to merely smoggy) and temperatures may even feel chilly enough to don warmer layers
This is the most popular sport among local people. Race meetings, at which vast sums of money change hands, are held from September to June, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and Wednesday evening.
There are over 30 highly-acclaimed beaches throughout the territory. Excellent skindiving, water-skiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing (from a boat or at a reservoir) are available.
Cyclists will enjoy the Tolo Harbour Cycling Track, running from Sha Tin to Tai Po, an easy ride through scenic countryside. Bikes are available for rental near KCR stations. Most of the outlying islands do not allow cars and are therefore very peaceful. They are best visited in the week because they attract many visitors at weekends. Spectator sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket are also popular. Jogging facilities are provided by some hotels. The Fitness Club at the Adventist Hospital offers running and marathon training. There are also good facilities for squash, tennis, riding, bowling and ice skating, as well as health-center facilities.
Attractions - Hong Kong Island
Much of the pleasure derived from a trip to Victoria Peak lies in the journey to its summit. The funicular railway or peak tram has steadily made its way up the mountain since 1888. Energetic travelers can scale the real peak that extends 140m (459ft) above the tram terminus. From the top, marvelous vistas open out onto central Hong Kong and across to Kowloon. Victoria Peak used to serve as a hill station in colonial times and later became the location of exclusive summer homes.
Hong Kong Disneyland
The fifth Disneyland Resort in the world, but also the smallest, Hong Kong Disneyland offers a magical adventure in four themed lands similar to other parks, namely Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Mickey Mouse welcomes visitors of all ages to the happiest place on Earth, which also includes attractions exclusively designed for Hong Kong.
Some 200 years ago, Hong Kong's Aberdeen district was a haven for pirates. Located on the southern shore of Hong Kong Island, it is home to the Tanka boat people and has become a popular tourist destination where visitors can experience on hand the traditional lifestyle of boat dwellers and sample fresh seafood. Aberdeen is a lively marina crammed with junks, sampans, water taxis (kai do), cruisers and yachts. The fishing harbor is a wonderful way to experience the activity of life on water.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
This grand Taoist temple is one of the most frequently visited temples in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, a legendary hermit who reputedly had healing powers and could foretell the future. A number of fortunetellers ply their trade in the temple complex and there is also a large pharmacy. The ornate temple with its red pillars, gold ceilings and decorative latticework is usually full of people burning incense and making floral offerings. The temple also has a lovely adjacent park called the 'Good Wish Gardens', a peaceful green spot with waterfalls tumbling over rocks.