Well over a decade ago, my best friend moved to Hong Kong, and since then, I’ve been multiple times. I’ve been back for the arrival of each of their new family members, and have had the chance to experience the dynamic culture of their chosen home first hand – my (now) husband and I even had our first ‘official’ date in Hong Kong.
We’ve stayed in Happy Valley, have had shoes made to order, ridden a double-decker bus, spent time on a junk (Chinese wooden sailboat), eaten our fair share of divine deliciousness, and found ourselves immersed in the epic pulse of the busy metropolis.
An amalgamation of the old world intertwining with the new, the tradition of Hong Kong is well entrenched in the modernization of all things skyscraper. There you can listen to the voices of the people; experience the cacophony of sound amidst the international accents that flit through the air, and breathe deeply the scents of diverse ethnic cuisines wafting through the alleyways. Find your Zen amidst the Buddhist temples and shrines, learn about Taoism, and experience exercise and mindfulness blending eastern and western mindsets – merging mediation and qi (vital energy) with both indoor and outdoor activities.
Surrounded by the constant flow of people, traffic, and history, Hong Kong delights tourists with heaps to see, learn, and experience. There are the tourist-focused spots like Ocean Park, the Hong Kong Zoo, and Disneyland, of course, but there’s also the sculpture artwork of Nathan Road, the boutique shopping in Soho, and the world’s longest covered escalator found smack in the center of Central’s hustle and bustle. Hop a ride on the funicular to check out the spectacular views of Victoria Peak, or take in the evening light show and waterfront scenery from the Avenue of the Stars. You should also be sure to head into the natural environment: spend some time in island destinations like Lamma, get out on the water in a junk in Aberdeen, check out the beaches of Sai Kung, and find joy on the trails like those that lead to the hidden beauty of Big Wave Bay.
Hong Kong, or ‘fragrant harbor,’ is a walkable city, but its love of transportation extends to the modern modes, including the well-organized ferry system whose main attraction is the Star Ferry crossing between Victoria Harbor and Kowloon. The hub for Cathay Airlines, the entire area of Hong Kong, SAR consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and many smaller islands. And with signage clearly marked in both of the country’s national languages (Chinese and English) – and easy transit to and from the airport – the city is always at your fingertips.
Hong Kong is a fascinating city that’s easy to navigate, and even easier to find yourself making magical memories for years to come.
Favorite Mode of Transport: The Star Ferry
Quintessential Hike/Ride: Victoria Peak (tram)
Get Your Zen On: Tian Tian Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Coolest Escalator Ever: Central
Relaxing Island Visit: Lamma
Most Buddhas in One Spot: 10,000 Buddhas
Epic Waterfront Market: Stanley
Windy Roads & Quirky Beach Town: Shek O
Free Entertainment: Hong Kong’s Waterfront and Laser Light Show
Artsy Wanderings: Kowloon and Nathan Road
Touristy but Worth It: Disneyland
Favorite Drink: Iced-lemon tea (with a dash of simple syrup)
Nightlife Spot: Lan Kwai Fong
Most Surprising Experience: Royal Geographic Society excursion to the Nine Pin Islands
Secret Island Adventure: Hike to Big Wave Bay (Tai Long Wan)
Awesome Vietnamese Restaurant: Nha Trang
Fantastic Singaporean Noodles: Crystal Jade
Signature Day Trips: Macau, Shenzhen, Nine Pin Islands
Easy Hops We’ve Made from There: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia
Stacey Ebert is a freelance writer, educator, event planner, volunteer manager and organizer who has traveled to over 50 of the world’s countries. Writing about adventure, journeys, choosing happy and perspective changing shifts, she encourages travelers to take the leap, use the world as their classroom and get outside their comfort zones. She has lived in Long Beach (New York), Melbourne (Australia) and is presently based in San Diego (California). Check out her blog at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com.