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Hong Kong is a feast for the senses. There is a vibrancy typical to a major metropolitan center, but in Hong Kong, nothing is ever dull or predictable. To visitors, the sights and sounds of Hong Kong showcase the melding of deep-rooted traditions with modern lifestyles. Locals hold fast to their rituals of incense, prayer and meditation without breaking stride to keep pace with the frenetic commerce that goes on in the street markets and upscale malls that draw millions of shopaholics to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a paradox. Language barrier notwithstanding, it welcomes the world with warm smiles and open arms yet guards its traditions zealously. For the jet set, it is glitz and glamour at exclusive clubs, hotels and boutiques, but budget tourists relish the treasure hunt for great deals on food, clothing and entertainment as well. It is an international hub with many of the world’s largest financial and commercial players represented here, yet there is that unmistakable sense of local dominance as if Hong Kong today is what it was meant to be.
Hong Kong beckons to the adventurous for there is much to do and even more to discover in its markets, museums and the myriads of eateries ranging from street fare to high-end restaurants.
All the world comes to Hong Kong to shop. For those who have the energy, there are endless bargains in the shops and street stalls along Causeway Bay or the Wan Chai area. For upscale designer boutiques, Hong Kong’s Central district is the place to spend a day or two. The outlet mall on Lantau Island is a year-round source of discount merchandise where shopping feels like a treasure hunt with major rewards at stake. The jade market west of Nathan Road offers a wide selection of trinkets and loose stones for shoppers who can pick out the jadeites from the nephrites.
Hong Kong’s dining options are a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights and discoveries. While Cantonese-style is the dominant influence whether one is gorging on noodles from food carts, congee at hole-in-the wall diners or dim sum at sit-down restaurants, other cuisines are well represented in Hong Kong. Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons Hotel is the first Chinese restaurant in the world to be Michelin-rated with three stars. Chinese chefs have mastered both taste and presentation as evidenced by the gourmet masterpieces at Club Qing. Western fare is available for more cosmopolitan diners with world-class chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire holding court at the Pierre Hong Kong.
The total land an area is only 426 square miles, of which a substantial part consists of mountainous areas and parks, but the population exceeds 7 million. Hong Kong is densely populated and the daytime street scenes can be intensely busy, yet there are places of solace amid the frenetic lifestyle in this place also referred to as the Pearl of the Orient. The skyline, especially along the waterfront areas of Victoria Harbor, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, are defined by modern skyscrapers imbued with elements best described as uniquely Asian. Take the tram to the Peak for the best views of Victoria Harbor.
Best Time To Visit:
Hong Kong is a place where the festivals never end as there are historical and cultural celebrations throughout the year. Chinese New Year, sometime in late January to early February, is always fun to watch and join in, but the shops and restaurants are closed, putting a damper on shopping sprees. Additionally, it can get quite chilly in February. Dragon Boat Festivals are traditionally held in June, which coincides with the onset of the rainy season. The Winter Solstice festival is second to Chinese New Year in importance. Held in December around the holiday season, this is a good time to shop, indulge and enjoy Hong Kong’s fabled hospitality.