Convention and Exhibition center in the heart of Hong Kong
Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Kong
Double decker bus in the middle of downtown
Hong Kong park
Hong Kong Botanical Garden
Hong Kong Bank of China
Hong Kong Skyline
Hong Kong Harbor
Hong Kong floating restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour
Hong Kong perches on
the edge of mainland China occupying an
anomalous position as a territory
straddling two worlds. Since the
handover in 1997 Hong Kong has become a
'Special Administrative Region of
China', no longer a subject of British
colonial sovereignty. Past and present
fuse to create a capitalist utopia
embedded within the world's largest
Hong Kong offers a
dense concentration of shops and
shopping malls with a cross-pollinated
cosmopolitan culture that embraces
Nepalese and British cuisines with equal
enthusiasm. It is the perfect gateway
for travelers to Southeast Asia and
China, providing a smooth transition
from west to east. As one of the key
economies of the Pacific Rim, Hong Kong
Island showcases a gleaming landscape of
skyscrapers and boasts a highly
developed transport infrastructure that
makes commuting around it a dream.
Hong Kong consists
of four sections: Kowloon, Hong Kong
Island, the New Territories and the
Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New
Territories form part of the Chinese
mainland to the north of Victoria
Harbor. Hong Kong Island, containing the
central business hub, lies on the
southern side of the harbor facing
Kowloon. The Outlying Islands comprise a
composite of 234 islands.
Hong Kong Stats
Location: Special Administrative Region, Guangzhou,
People's Republic of China.
Population: 6,843,000 (SAR).
Ethnic mix: 95% Chinese, 2% Filipino, 0.6%
Indonesian, 0.5% American, 0.5% Canadian, 0.4% Thai,
0.3% British, 0.3% Indian, 0.3% Australian.
Religion: 90% Buddhist/Taoist, 8% Christian, 1%
Muslim, 1% other.
Time zone: GMT + 8 (GMT + 7 summer).
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz; square three-pin
plugs are common, but round three-pin and two-pin plugs
are also in use; adapters available at shops and
Average January temp: 17 C (63F).
Average July temp: 29 C (84 F).
Annual rainfall: 2214mm (88.5 inches).
Cost of Living
One-liter bottle of mineral water: HK$4
33cl bottle of beer: HK$8
Financial Times newspaper: HK$20
36-exposure color film: HK$20
City-centre bus ticket: HK$5.60
Three-course meal with wine/beer: HK$150-200
Previously never a feature of traditional Hong Kong
tourist itineraries, Statue Square is now a
must-see on account of its dazzling ensemble of
architecture. Richard Rogers, headquarters building for
the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
forms the south side of the square, and just to the east
of it is I M Pei's Bank of China Tower. Less
distinguished but equally prominent buildings jostle
around them, towering over the colonial remnant of St
John's Cathedral. In more antiquated contrast, the
Legislative Council Building, formerly the
Supreme Court, on the east side of the square,
houses Hong Kong's partly elected assembly. The square
should be avoided at weekends, however, unless the
visitor is seeking a display of flocks of Filipina and
Indonesian housemaids, taking time out from their
employers to chatter and picnic there.
Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank
Recognizable from most Hong Kong dollar notes, the
bizarre profile of Norman Foster's masterpiece may not
look monumental on banknote paper, but in the flesh (or
steel) it is tremendous. Opening in 1986, it exemplified
the fashion for atriums in world architecture, and an
escalator ride up into the belly of the building, into
its towering air-conditioned interior, is a must. The
building has no central core: bridge engineering
techniques secure the walls and its infrastructure is on
the outside; so all eleven stories of the central atrium
are open and unobstructed.
Des Voeux Road
Tel: 28 22 11 11. Fax: 28 68 16 46.
Transport: MTR Central Station, exit K.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1630, Sat 0900-1230
Bank of China Tower
Travel to Hong Kong can bring you unexpected suprises.
Deliberately planned to dwarf the neighboring Hong
Kong and Shanghai Bank Building, the Bank of
China Tower is now Hong Kong's national monument.
The Chinese-American architect I M Pei developed
Beijing's triumph list intentions into a soaring,
gracefully irregular pinnacle, whose design
characteristics inspire lively debate amongst
connoisseurs of feng shui. Visitors can ascend to the
43rd of its 74 stories by lift for a particularly
stunning view of Central.
Tel: 28 26 68 88. Fax: 28 10 59 63.
Transport: MTR Central Station, exit K.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-2130, Sat and Sun 0930-2330.
Admission: HK$9 (concessions available).
A miniature hill station in colonial times, the Peak
is stratospheric in its social exclusiveness and its
rents. Groundlings can still visit though, ascending by
the vertiginous Peak Tram, a funicular in use
since 1888. Atop the hill is the Peak Tower, a
slightly bizarre viewing platform with displays and
other facilities, and the Peak Galleria shopping
arcade. The amusements and shops on offer vary from the
appealing to the unforgivably tacky, but there are at
least plenty of restaurants and bars to sustain
visitors. The view down into central Hong Kong and
across the water to Kowloon defies description, day or
night. Hikers can scale the real peak, some 140m above
the tram terminus.
Transport: Peak Tram from Garden Road; shuttle bus from
Star Ferry terminal (HK$3, 1000-2400 daily).
A four-storey redbrick Edwardian building dating from
1906 occupying an entire block at the eastern end of
Central, the former market was reopened in 1991 as a
shopping centre featuring small shops, souvenir stands
and curio sellers. Ground-floor shops must sell unique
merchandise rather than chain-store goods, and the first
floor recreates the old 'Cloth Alley', selling silks and
fabrics of all kinds. There is also a dim sum restaurant
and a fine antique-shop café?
Tel: 25 43 68 78. Fax: 25 43 69 31.
Transport: MTR Sheung Wan, exit B or C; bus or tram
along Des Voeux Road to Sheung Wan.
Opening hours: Daily 1000-1900.
The retail plaza to end them all, Times Square is
a vast temple complex to Hong Kong's number one deity:
consumerism. The vast Times Square building houses nine
floors of shops, and has a spectacular exterior with a
huge electronic clock: the venue for the big millennium
countdown in 2000. At weekends, the hosts of sacrifices
ascending the escalator, to be swallowed up in the belly
of this huge idol, demonstrate exactly what the Asian
economic miracle was all about.
Tel: 21 18 89 00. Fax: 25 06 20 22.
Transport: MTR Causeway Bay; bus or tram along Hennessey
Road to Causeway Bay.
Opening hours: Daily 1000-2200.
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea
Situated in the beautiful Hong Kong Park and overlooking
the ultramodern mania of Central, Flagstaff House
is the oldest surviving colonial building in Hong Kong,
dating from 1846. It now houses a fine museum of teaware,
seals and other ceramics.
Tel: 28 69 06 90.
Transport: MTR Admiralty, exit F; bus or tram along
Queensway to Pacific Place.
Opening hours: Thurs-Tues 1000-1700.
Hong Kong Museum of History
It is somehow fitting that this go-ahead territory has
its history commemorated in a dazzling new building.
Opening in late 2000, the new museum building in Kowloon
houses exhibits covering 6000 years of the region,
including some spectacular sets in situ. There
are traditional costumes, a huge collection of period
photographs, replicas of old village houses and an
entire street, c. 1881, with its own Chinese
100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 27 24 90 42.
Transport: MTR Tsim Sha Tsiu, then walk via Granville
Road; or maxi cab no 1 from Kowloon Star Ferry in Tsim
Sha Tsiu to Science Museum Road.
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs and Sat 1000-1800, Sun
Admission: HK$20 (concessions available).
Wong Tai Sin Temple
An ornate traditional temple in the heart of Kowloon,
Wong Tai Sin Temple combines Buddhist, Confucian and
Daoist traditions. Wong Tai Sin himself was a Zhejiang
shepherd/alchemist who supposedly concocted a marvelous
cure-all, and his statue in the main building was
brought from the mainland in 1921. The building is
spectacularly colorful with its red pillars, golden
ceiling and decorated latticework, but not particularly
distinguished. Far more fascinating are the fortune
tellers in their arcade of booths and the throngs of
Tai Sin Road, Kowloon
Tel: 23 27 81 41. Fax: 23 51 56 40.
Transport: MTR Wong Tai Sin, exit B, then follow signs.
Opening hours: Daily 0700-1730.
Admission: Free (donations welcome).
Yuen Po Street Bird Garden
Rearing caged songbirds is a time-honored Chinese
pursuit, and the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden is
Hong Kong's shrine to this obsession. There are about 70
stalls, each with its own chorus, and ornate cages and
cage furniture provide added interest. And while
conditions in the average Hong Kong poultry market would
give an animal welfare activist apoplexy, the birds here
are pampered and cosseted, even fed honey nectar to
sweeten their songs. Just north of the Bird Garden there
is also a fine flower market, and there is a goldfish
market closer to the MTR station in Tung Choi Street.
Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon
Transport: MTR Prince Edward, exit B1 or B2, then follow
Opening hours: Daily 0700-2000.