Proudly proclaiming to be 'Asia's world city', Hong Kong is aunique territory where east meets west. Formerly a subject ofBritish colonial sovereignty, Hong Kong is now a 'SpecialAdministrative Region of China'. Visitors will be immersed in acapitalist utopia of Western ideals punctuated by pockets oftraditional culture and architecture. The different regions of theterritory provide a surprising diversity of landscapes toexplore.
Hong Kong Island is modern and wealthy, backed byVictoria Peak watching over the city. Site of the original Britishsettlement, the island has developed rapidly to form the iconicskyline of the present day. Tourists flock here to experienceendless shopping, exotic cuisines, and a truly cosmopolitanculture. In contrast, Kowloon is gritty and chaotic. Extremelydensely populated, this former fishing and farming community isactually quite friendly. It may not have the skyscrapers of HongKong Island, but it certainly offers the best vantage point,particularly from the modern high-rise bars of Tsim Sha Tsui.
The New Territories, claimed by the British fromChina in 1898, form a curious mix of of farms, villages, towns andcountryside. This region is all about experiencing life in ruralHong Kong. Sai Kung peninsula in particular moves at a slower pace,and is the gateway to the best countryside in Hong Kong.
Most of the 234 Outlying Islands, such as Lantau, arerenowned for their beaches. Cheung Chan, formerly the domain ofpirates, now hosts windsurfers and sunbathers. Lamma is king forbeaches, seafood and hiking. Locals and tourists alike frequent theislands to relax and take a break from the crowds of the city.
It is easy to forget that Hong Kong is so much more than justbright lights and skyscrapers. Each region has its own uniquecharacter and attractions. Visitors arriving on Hong Kong Islandcan admire the city from the deck of Star Ferry, or take Peak Tramup to the summit of Victoria Peak for panoramic views. Tourists cantake in Man Mo Temple, the oldest temple in Hong Kong, visit thetraditional outdoor street markets of Wan Chai or head to HappyValley for the horse racing. To the south, Stanley Beach hostsDragon Boat racing every year during Tuen Ng festival.
Across the bay to the north lies Kowloon, diverse andatmospheric. Shanghai Street offers a fascinating insight intolocal life. Shopping is king in the popular night market of TempleStreet and the vast retail destination that is Harbour City.Guinness World Records recognise 'A Symphony of Lights' as thebiggest permanent sound and light show in the world. Kowloon alsohosts the Avenue of Stars, celebrating icons of Asian cinema.
Sai Kung peninsula in the New Territories provides a welcomechange of pace. Rural life carries on as it always has, and this isthe gateway to some spectacular countryside. The Ping Shan HeritageTrail, to the northwest, tracks past old face brick homes andforts, and abandoned towns from the agricultural age of the region.Tourists will enjoy a trip to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery, home ofcourse to nearly 13,000 Buddha statues.
Of the Outlying Islands, Lantau is the most popular, not leastdue to the presence of Disneyland. The Lantau Trail is ideal foradventurous hikers. Visitors will also enjoy Po Lin Monastery, hometo the largest seated Buddha statue in the world.
Victoria Peak is Hong Kong's number one tourist attraction andits popularity is unwavering. Much of the pleasure derived from atrip to Victoria Peak lies in the journey to its summit. Thefunicular railway or peak tram has steadily made its way up themountain since 1888 and the route is extremely steep and ratherthrilling, with spectacular views. Energetic travellers can scalethe real peak that extends 140m (459ft) above the tram terminus.From the top, marvellous vistas open out onto central Hong Kong andacross to Kowloon.
Victoria Peak used to serve as a hill station in colonial timesand later became the location of exclusive summer homes. Today itis a popular tourist spot offering a cooler vantage point fromwhich to contemplate the pleasures of travel to the region. ThePeak Tower on the summit houses numerous attractions, like aRipley's Believe it or not 'Odditorium', shops and restaurants. TheSky Terrace offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view across theHong Kong skyline - probably the best view of the city you couldfind - and there is the added attraction of The Sky Gallery, whichshowcases the works of the city's talented artists. A lot of peoplechoose to go up Victoria Peak at night when the city lights are attheir most magical.
The fifth Disneyland Resort in the world, but also the smallest,Hong Kong Disneyland offers a magical adventure in four themedlands similar to other parks, namely Main Street USA, Fantasyland,Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Two additional areas, designedexclusively for Hong Kong, are The Grizzly Gulch and Toy StoryLand. In Toy Story Land kids can enjoy a number of new attractions,including the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop and the scary RC Racer. Inthe Grizzly Gulch area the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Carswill draw shrieks of delight. Classic rides like Space Mountain canalso be enjoyed, and kids can explore Cindarella's Castle, Tarzan'sTreehouse and the world of Winnie the Pooh, among other things.Mickey Mouse and many other famous Disney characters welcomevisitors of all ages to the happiest place on Earth. Particularcare has been taken to incorporate Chinese culture into the design,such as a feng shui layout, and the omission of the number four inthe numbering of floors in each of the hotels. In addition to thenumerous rides and various events and attractions, shops sellDisney souvenirs and restaurants offer a variety of food throughoutthe park.
One of the best places to buy souvenirs in Hong Kong, thisindoor market is held in a four-storey red brick colonial buildingthat was constructed in 1906. After extensive renovation itre-opened in 1991 and now occupies an entire block at the westernend of Central Hong Kong. The building houses a variety of shopsand stalls that sell a range of products from jade curios andcloissan jewellery to assorted silks and fabrics. The fabric storesare particularly exciting and the second floor of the building istaken over by a veritable mountain of colourful fabrics of allkinds. There is a small restaurant on the first floor, and toiletson the fourth floor. However, if you aren't interested in shoppingthen this attraction will hold little appeal for you - if you arean architecture enthusiast you can pop in quickly to see thevaulted ceilings but there isn't much to see in the Western Marketapart from the merchandise. Admiring the building from the outsidewill be sufficient for most, and it is often included in walkingtours of the area. From the site one can hop onto Hong Kong'sancient double-decker tram headed for Wan Chai, Causeway Bay andHappy Valley.
The Hong Kong Police Museum showcases a display tracing thedevelopment and history of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force from1844 to today. The main exhibit encompasses a significant number ofartefacts relating to the Hong Kong Police Force from uniforms andfirearms, to historical archives and photographs. Other exhibitslook at the major factions which have influenced the status quo,namely the triad societies and narcotics (Hong Kong was founded onthe narcotics trade), including a unique look at how heroin isproduced.
The Police Museum is an interesting visit, providing insightinto the dedication of the officers who have served within thiselite force. It is a small but informative museum with a littlegift shop attached. It is not an interactive, multi-media exhibitso much as a simple but interesting archive of police history whichwill delight those interested in the subject but probably boresmall children or those indifferent to the subject. There is apleasant park next door to the museum where you can enjoy someshade and refreshments.
Statue Square is an amalgamation of Hong Kong's contemporaryarchitecture. It reaches its most spectacular manifestation in thedesigns of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and theBank of China Tower. The most significant feature of the HSBCbuilding is that it has been designed without a central core, afeat of structural engineering blended with the ultimate inaesthetic principles. There is also a statue of Sir Thomas Jacksonoutside the building. The Bank of China Tower became a much-debatedconversation piece following its construction, largely because ofthe asymmetrically-designed pinnacle that acquires differingperspectives depending on one's vantage point. The square alsocontains the Cenotaph, a memorial to those who lost their lives inthe two world wars.
It is a popular gathering place for locals who meet to sharemeals and socialise; there is a fountain and seating areas. OverWinterfest there are usually Christmas displays, trees and lightsput up in the square, although visitors have reported that thedisplays have become less impressive recently and other squares andmalls have better Christmas arrangements. For those interested inarchitecture Statue Square is a treat, and the attraction is almostalways included in walking tours of the city.
The Hong Kong Museum of History showcases Hong Kong'sarchaeological, cultural and natural history through a display ofcultural objects, artefacts, photographs, traditional costumes andmodels that span 6,000 years. Glorious period sets tell the storyof Chinese life in replicas of village houses, streets and stores.These memorials to the past are contained within an incrediblebuilding opened in 2000. The museum was established much earlier,however, in 1975, and contains artefacts which were originallyhoused in the City Museum and Art Gallery, which was established in1962 and became the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
The main museum has five interesting branch museums in HongKong: the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence at Shau Kei Wan, theLei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum at Sham Shui Po , Law Uk Folk Museumat Chai Wan, Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery insidethe Quarry Bay Park, and Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum at Mid-levels inCentral. There is a museum shop selling a selection of souvenirsand replicas, and a cafe for refreshments on the premises.
This grand Taoist temple is one of the most frequently visitedtemples in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, a legendaryhermit who reputedly had healing powers and could foretell thefuture. A number of fortune tellers ply their trade in the templecomplex and there is also a large pharmacy. There are someEnglish-speaking fortune tellers (although they are more expensive)and they offer a number of soothsaying techniques including palmand face reading. The ornate temple with its red pillars, goldceilings and decorative latticework is in the traditional Chinesestyle and is usually full of people burning incense and makingfloral offerings.
The temple is known as a place where 'wishes come true' andlocals come to pray for good health, success in business andhappiness. Visitors can buy incense to burn just outside of thetemple but there are usually lots of spare sticks left over fromprevious visitors within the temple itself so buying more may provea waste of money. Those who do buy the incense need not purchasethe whole kit as everything other than the sticks themselves willbe taken by the guards at the entrace to the temple proper. Thetemple also has a lovely adjacent park called the 'Good WishGardens', a peaceful green spot with waterfalls tumbling overrocks.
The Ocean Park is a theme park spread over two parts, connectedto each other by a cable car. A spectacular aquarium, reputed to beone of the largest in the world, is complemented by a funfaircontaining multiple roller coasters, a space wheel, a swinging shipand much more. Ocean Park is Hong Kong's most popular theme park,and is regularly ranked as one of the best in the world. Indeed,when Hong Kong Disneyland opened, Ocean Park renovated extensivelyand has managed to maintain its top spot.
The variety of rides is impressive, ranging from big thrillrides to mild fun, and lots for children and adults alike. Therides are interspersed with other attractions, like the animalenclosures - the pandas are a highlight for many visitors, as isthe Dolphin Show. Areas in the park include Marine World, PolarAdventure, Adventure Land, Thrill Mountain, and the Rainforest. Thecable car rides which transport you from one side of the park tothe other are really splendid in their own right. There are manyrestaurants and stalls in the park. Note that although crowds andqueues are usually manageable at the park it is much better tovisit on a weekday if possible, because on weekends and publicholidays there will be long queues for rides and attractions.
Some 200 years ago, Hong Kong's Aberdeen district was a havenfor pirates. Located on the southern shore of Hong Kong Island, itis home to the Tanka boat people and has become a popular touristdestination. Visitors can experience the traditional lifestyle ofboat dwellers and sample fresh seafood. Aberdeen is a lively marinacrammed with junks, sampans, water taxis (kai do), cruisers andyachts. The fishing harbour is a wonderful way to experience theactivity of life on water. Tours along Aberdeen's watery stretchescan be enjoyed onboard one of the many sampans offering half-hourtrips around the harbour. The sensory delights of Hong Kong cuisinecan be sampled within the unique environment of the famous,ornately decorated Jumbo Floating Restaurant.
Recently some tourists have complained that this attraction isnot as compelling as it once was, partly because the population ofpeople living on the water seems to be decreasing and witnessingthis traditional lifestyle was one of the primary draws of thearea. If you are a lover of boats and harbours you will no doubtstill find much to interest you in Aberdeen, but if you are goingsolely to experience the authentic living conditions of localfishermen you may be disappointed.
This fascinating museum is consistently ranked highly bytourists. Four floors of exhibits cover a range of hands-on scienceand technology related subjects, including light, sound, motion,magnetism, electricity, robotics, virtual reality and much more.This museum is extremely popular because of its hands-on approach,allowing children and adults alike to learn through involvement.The most prominent exhibit is a 72-foot (22m) tall twin towerEnergy Machine which, when activated, triggers a series of displaysto produce spectacular audiovisual effects demonstrating variousforms of energy.
The Science Museum is a great option for entertaining andeducating young minds (and old ones) when the weather is bad, andshould keep the whole family occupied for a few hours. For youngchildren there are fun play areas and a toddler's tumble area.
The Avenue of Stars is Hong Kong's version of the Hollywood Walkof Fame, celebrating famous icons of Hong Kong cinema. Situatedalong the seaside promenade, there are great views of VictoriaHarbour. The Avenue is also a good place to view the Symphony ofLights, a music and laser show staged every night at 8pm. The showis presented in English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays;Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it is in Mandarin; and Sundays inCantonese. Although the Avenue is a lovely place to stroll and hassome interesting landmarks, foreigners should bear in mind thatthey may not recognise many of the celebrities being honoured onthe walk. Still, names like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jet Li mayproduce excitement - there's even a statue of Bruce Lee. The realreason for making the effort to visit the Avenue, however, is thespectacular view. It is worth doing the walk at night, even if youdon't intend to see the Symphony of Lights show. It's also a goodpeople-watching post and it is fun to watch the locals celebratingtheir favourite stars.
Children on holiday in Hong Kong who want to see crocodiles,butterflies, birds and mangroves should head to the Hong KongWetland Park. The Wetland Park showcases the incredible diversityof Hong Kong's wetland ecosystem and the park's main objective isconservation and the education of the public about the importanceof preserving this natural system. The park is comprised of avisitor centre, Wetland Interactive World, and a big WetlandReserve. The Wetland Interactive World has themed galleries andexhibitions, a theatre, a gift shop, and an indoor play area(theme: swamp adventure). Interactive and educational games are agreat feature of the centre, as are the sound booths where kids cancompose wetland symphonies using the sounds of this fascinatingecosystem. All the games and displays can be absorbing so be sureto actually go outside and enjoy the beautiful walks and the threebird hides, which children will love. The park also hosts some funevents, like bird watching festivals.
This attraction is consistently popular with tourists and makesfor a really lovely break from Hong Kong's indoor, urbanattractions - it'll delight people of all ages interested in natureand animals and will allow kids to blow off some steamoutdoors.
Established in 1962 and originally housed in the City Hall, themuseum was moved to its current, purpose-built location in 1991.The Hong Kong Museum of Art's five permanent galleries have a largecollection of ceramics, cloisonné, bronzes, lacquerware, bamboocarvings, jade, and textiles, as well as beautiful scrolls andexamples of calligraphy. While it isn't the biggest art museum inChina, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, conveniently located on theTsim Sha Tsui waterfront, is a great place to visit if you want ataste of Chinese art history on a limited schedule as you can seemuch of the collections in about an hour. There is also a gift shopand a cafe.
Another branch of the Hong Kong Museum of Art is the Museum ofTea Ware, located in a grand old house in Hong Kong Park. It is aninteresting place to visit for those captivated by the finer pointsof one of China's most refined traditions. The Greek revivalarchitecture and decor is typical of the colonial British buildingsof over 160 years ago, and houses more than 600 examples oftraditional tea ware, ranging from earthenware to delicateporcelain and dating back to the 7th century. Also described arethe methods of tea-making and elaborate tea ceremonies that revolvearound the beautiful pieces. The museum shop has a good selectionof tea ware to take home with you. The whole museum is rathersmall, and can be seen in under an hour.
The climate of Hong Kong is sub-tropical, with hot humid summersand cool dry winters. Monsoon winds blow in from the north betweenSeptember and March, and from the south between April and August.The winter months of January and February are generally wet andcold, while in the height of summer it is hot and humidity is veryhigh. From June to September (the peak summer months) temperaturesaverage 86°F (30ºC) with 95 percent humidity. Some rain andhumidity can be expected throughout the year. Even during theheight of summer it is worth bringing some warm clothing to combatthe fierce air conditioning in shops and offices.
The best time of year to travel to Hong Kong is in the mildautumn months of October and November when the temperatures arepleasant. It is generally considered a year-round destinationthough, particularly as some of Hong Kong's main attractions, suchas shopping facilities, are indoors. As the Hong Kong streets areknown to get dirty, especially when it is wet, it is advisable towear dark shoes when exploring the city, and always to have anumbrella handy.
The Bostonian has been included in the influential dininghandbook The Hong Kong Best Restaurant Guide and has been a HongKong favourite for more than a decade. The restaurant has a livelyatmosphere and its menu offers a wide choice of American fare, fromthe signature US prime rib to Boston lobster - all in hugeportions! Creole dishes are also popular here, as is the awardwinning collection of Californian wines. The Bostonian is tuckedaway in the basement of the Langham Hotel, with a bar upstairsserving lunchtime sandwiches, and tapas in the evening. Bookingsrecommended for dinner.
Dim Sum is a Chinese tradition: an array of steaming baskets ofdumplings and other delicacies from which diners make a selection,usually for late breakfast or a light lunch. Dim Sum is one of thespecialities for which the Michelin-starred Yung Kee is famed,along with the restaurant's renowned Cantonese roast goose servedup with sweet, tasty stewed beans, nick-named the 'flying goose'because so many visitors have insisted on taking a sample of thisdelicious dish home with them. Enjoy the clean Asian décor of thisrestaurant while being served by their well-mannered staff.
Hong Kong's famous floating restaurant, gently riding the swellsin Aberdeen Harbour, consists of three sections which are allbrightly lit by a myriad of dazzling lights making a fairy-talenight-time spectacle for the thousands who come to dine here everyweek. Jumbo in Chinese means 'gem' or 'treasure', but the westernmeaning fits it just as well with its massive capacity for seating2,300 diners simultaneously. The cuisine on offer is varied, butmainly seafood, which diners can pick out themselves from aselection swimming in a tank - the Flamed Drunken Shrimp isextraordinary. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Homesick Americans visiting Hong Kong will find solace in thecarnivorous cuisine served up at Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill. The menutempts with sumptuous feasts such as rack of lamb roasted withrosemary, or char-grilled porterhouse steaks. Not-so-meatyspecialities on the menu include homemade pasta dishes, as well asthick satisfying soups served in bread bowls. The bar is alsopopular for its informal beer-swilling atmosphere. Reservations areessential for this taste of gratifying down-home cookin'. Opendaily for lunch and dinner.
This elegant and trendy restaurant's sleek interior boasts along table occasionally used as a catwalk, suggesting Felix'sfashion-venue ambitions match its culinary aspirations. TheDungeness crab cake, with an avocado and jalapeño remoulade, andthe lobster risotto top the haute cuisine list but there's notelling what the haute couture has to offer. Reservations arerecommended, open every night for dinner.
One of the most popular restaurants in Hong Kong for localcuisine, Din Tai Fung specialises in dim sum - small tapas-styledishes like Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork dumplings). Earning aMichelin star in 2011, Din Tai Fung is known for its excellentservice and child-friendliness. Be prepared to wait at least 30minutes for a table however, and even longer at peak times.
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), which isdivided into 100 cents. Major banks are open from 9am to 4.30pmMonday to Friday, and 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday. Banks and moneychangers charge commission, as do hotels that provide exchangeservices. All major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are widelydistributed.
The official languages in Hong Kong are English andCantonese. The other main language is Mandarin.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The UK-stylethree-pin plugs are standard.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastone month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. ExpiredBritish passports endorsed British Dependent Territories Citizen orBritish National (Overseas) issued in Hong Kong are accepted,provided they are accompanied by a Hong Kong Permanent IdentityCard. For British passport holders endorsed British Citizen, novisa is required for stays of up to 180 days. For British passportholders endorsed British Subject, British Overseas TerritoriesCitizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Citizen orBritish Protected Person, no visa is required for stays of up to 90days.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days. Visa exemptions applyto holders of an APEC Business Travel Card, provided that the backof the card states that it is valid for travel to Hong Kong, for amaximum stay of up to 60 days.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. Novisa is required for stays of up to 30 days (two months, if inpossession of a Hong Kong Travel Pass).
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at leastone month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. No visais required for stays of up to 90 days.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least onemonth beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. No visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for atleast one month beyond the period of intended stay in Hong Kong. Novisa is required for stays of up to 90 days. Visa exemptions applyto holders of an APEC Business Travel Card, provided that the backof the card states that it is valid for travel to Hong Kong, for amaximum stay of 60 days.
All foreign visitors to Hong Kong must be in possession ofonward or return tickets (except when in transit to mainland Chinaor Macao), the necessary travel documentation for their nextdestination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay inthe country. Note that admission and/or transit will be refused toany national holding a passport issued by Kiribati, and endorsed"N-Kiribati" or "Investor". NOTE: It is highly recommended thatyour passport has at least six months validity remaining after yourintended date of departure from your travel destination.Immigration officials often apply different rules to those statedby travel agents and official sources.
There are no specific health risks associated with travel toHong Kong. Food and water are generally safe, although visitorsshould consider only drinking bottled water for the first few daysof their stay. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A andinfluenza. Take precautions against mosquito bites, as there is aslight risk of Dengue fever. Outbreaks of Hand, Foot and MouthDisease are reported annually. Hong Kong's health facilities arefirst class, but expect to pay cash. High quality medical care iswidely available but comprehensive medical insurance is recommendedto cover expenses.
A 10 percent service charge is usually added to restaurant billsin Hong Kong, but waiters will still expect some loose change inaddition to this. If no service charge is included, a 10 percenttip is expected. Taxi fares are rounded up to the nearest dollar(usually automatically by the driver).
Hong Kong is considered a safe travel destination, althoughcaution should always be exercised when travelling. Pickpockets arelikely to target unsuspecting tourists so one should minimise thisrisk through vigilance and by leaving valuables locked up in hotelsafes when possible. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers, asreports of spiked drinks are on the increase. Robbers have recentlytargeted walkers in Hong Kong's Country Parks so it is advisable tostay on marked trails and not to carry large amounts of cash orcredit cards. All street protests and political gatherings shouldbe avoided.
The typhoon season is usually between April and October, and theheavy rains may cause flooding and landslides.
Large-scale political demonstrations have taken place in variousparts of Hong Kong since June 2019, including popular touristareas. Many protests have led to violent clashes between the policeand protesters, or between protesters and people who oppose thedemonstrations. Police have used tear gas, rubber bullets, watercannons and other crowd control measures, often causing injury toprotesters. The unrest is likely to continue.
Littering and spitting are illegal in Hong Kong and will incurspot fines. In Hong Kong the concept of 'face' is very important;avoid causing someone to 'lose face' by publicly insulting them orcontradicting them in front of others as this is considered veryimpolite. The Chinese have great respect for hierarchicalrelationships.
Despite its close proximity to China, Hong Kong's businessculture is worlds apart. There tends to be a heavy Britishinfluence on business culture in Hong Kong. However, one typicallyAsian aspect is the concept of saving face. Saving face representsan awareness of positive appearances and perceptions of otherpeople or companies. Bad news should never be presented in front ofothers and keeping ones cool is vital. Open displays of emotion,such as anger and irritation, are frowned upon, as is causingembarrassment to another person.
Business culture in Hong Kong is quite conservative. Dressstyles are formal and deference to senior members of companies isvital. Business suits are usually in dark colours. Avoid wearingbright ties, or blue or white coloured clothes, as these coloursare associated with mourning. When greeting business associates,either shake hands or, if no handshake is offered, bowing isappropriate. Respect for personal space is important and physicalcontact should be avoided. Gifts are given during introductions,but never opened in front of the giver. Timepieces as gifts areinappropriate as they are associated with death. The businesslanguages in Hong Kong are both Mandarin and English. Tone shouldalways be even and measured and cultural sensitivity and etiquetteare vital.
When tea is served at a business meeting never sip from your cupuntil your host has taken his first sip. Business in Hong Kong isconducted efficiently and formally and punctuality is vital. It isadvised to allow for sufficient travel time before meetingsconsidering the high traffic congestion. If you are tardy, effusiveand repeated apologies are in order, regardless of whether youcaused the delay. It is customary to exchange business cards(printed in English on one side and Cantonese on the other) at thestart of a meeting, along with a handshake. Business cards shouldbe given and received using both hands, with the Cantonese sidefacing the recipient, and should be treated with respect. It iscommon to greet the more senior person first. Businessentertainment is usually in the form of a lunch or dinner that isorganised by the hosting partner. Food is also usually ordered andpaid for by the host. Finally, the phrase 'have you eaten,' is asubtle form of greeting which generally means 'are you well.'Business hours run from 9am to 5pm during the week and 9am to 1pmon Saturdays.
The international access code for Hong Kong is +852. Theoutgoing code depends on what network is used. City codes withinHong Kong are not required. Prepaid Discover Hong Kong SIM cardsare available at any 1010 centres, convenience stores and at HongKong International Arrival Hall. Internet cafes are widelyavailable, and free wifi access is available at most coffee shops,shopping malls and hotels in town.
There are no restrictions on the import and export of local orforeign currency. Travellers to Hong Kong over the age of 18 yearsdo not have to pay duty on 1 litre of spirits and a reasonableamount of wine or any other form of alcohol containing less than30% of alcohol; 19 cigarettes or 1 cigar or 25g of tobacco.
Hong Kong Tourist Office: +852 2508 1234 orwww.discoverhongkong.com
Chinese Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 4952266.
Chinese Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 72994049.
Chinese Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 3434.
Chinese Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 431 6500.
Chinese Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6273 4780.
Chinese Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 1707.
Chinese Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 4749631.
United States Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2523 9011.
British Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2901 3000.
Canadian Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2810 4700.
South African Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2577 3279.
Australian Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2827 8881.
Honorary Irish Consulate, Hong Kong: +852 2527 4897.
New Zealand Consulate-General, Hong Kong: +852 2525 5044.
Lantau is the largest of the 235 outlying islands in Hong Kong,being almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. It is best knownfor its walking trails and beaches and provides a pleasant respitefrom crowds and shopping. The main arrival point to the island byferry is at Mui Wo (Silvermine Bay). The finest beaches are locatedalong the west coast, most notably Cheung Sha. Besides beaches,Western Lantau is the location of the Po Lin Monastery, the largesttemple in Hong Kong. Beyond the doorstep of this vast temple is oneof the world's largest outdoor Buddha statues. Aptly named Tian TanBuddha (Big Buddha), the bronze statue sits contemplatively lookingover the reaches of Ngong Ping Plateau.
From the monastery buses will transport visitors to the quaintfishing village of Tai O. Here little wooden houses perch on stiltsand much of life flows from the fishing industry that sustains it.Lantau's north shore is predominantly a farming region. The mainattraction here, however, is the historical Tung Chung Fort, whichwas built in the early 19th century as part of a short-livedattempt to suppress the opium trade and defend the coastal areafrom pirates. Six old Qing Dynasty cannons dating back to 1832stand on the ramparts. Development has changed the landscape of theNortheastern stretches of Lantau, known as Discovery Bay. Hereupmarket housing complexes, shopping malls, yacht clubs and golfcourses promise to provide the ultimate designer lifestyle at aprice.
The cultural influence of the Portuguese, combined withtraditional Chinese life, has produced a unique landscape in Macau.Here Baroque churches and colonial mansions rise from cobbledpavements interspersed with plazas and cafes. Visitors are enticedhere by the lure of gambling, but many of Macau's attractionsresult from its architectural heritage. St Paul's Cathedral is onesuch legacy that dates back to the early 17th century. It is anItalian-designed building perched on a hilltop that is mostspectacular when illuminated against a night sky. The vantage pointfrom the Fortaleza de Monte is a good place to reflect on thedefensive role it played against Dutch assault in 1622, and it isworth exploring the museum and meteorological observatory.
The classic Chinese temple of A-Ma rests at the base of PenhaHill. Its name derives from Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven, or theHonoured Mother. Myth has it that a poor girl saved the fishingvessel, on which she was travelling, from the ravages of a storm.In tribute to her this temple was built and has been established asa place of pilgrimage for Macau's fishing community. Another templededicated to the power of female intervention is the Kun IamTemple, built in honour of the Goddess of Mercy, located in thenorthern reaches of the peninsula. It was here, in 1844, that thefirst trade and friendship treaty between the USA and China wassigned. Macau is 37 miles (60km) west of Hong Kong; ferries takearound an hour to get there and leave roughly every fifteenminutes.
The Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha, is one of the tallestoutdoor seated bronze Buddha statues in the world, and can be foundnear Po Lin Monastery. The giant Buddha is a popular touristdestination and a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong. The112-foot (34m) high statue sits on a lotus throne on top of athree-platform altar and is surrounded by eight smaller statues ofgods. Inside the three floors beneath the Buddha visitors canaccess the Hall of the Universe, the Hall of Benevolent Merit andthe Hall of Remembrance. Visitors can also climb the 268 steps toreach the platform where the impressive figure is seated, andadmire the view from the top.
The Tian Tan Buddha is a lovely excursion from the city and theshort trip is a great break from the crowds and noise of Hong Kong.You can take the cable car either one way or both - some peopleprefer to either hike down through the hills after taking the cablecar to the site, or to get there on the ferry and buses beforetaking the scenic cable car route back down into the city. Thereare many places to get refreshments at the site with bothtraditional meals and international fare like Starbucks on offer.Try to visit the Buddha on a clear day, when the views are at theirbest.
The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is a spectacular four-mile (6km)ropeway that affords panoramic views over the bay and surroundingarea on its 25-minute journey to the Ngong Ping Village. Asvisitors approach the cable car terminal on top of the plateauviews will include the huge Tian Tan Buddha Statue and the Po LinMonastery. The Ngong Ping Village is situated right next to thecable car terminal, which features attractions such as 'Walkingwith Buddha', the 'Monkey's Tale Theatre', and the 'Ngong PingTeahouse', as well as an assortment of shopping and dining options.Walking with Buddha plunges visitors into a multimedia presentationthat follows the life of Siddhartha Gautama (the man who becameBuddha) and his path to enlightenment, while the Teahouse providesdemonstrations of traditional Chinese tea ceremonies. The Monkey'sTale Theatre presents a charming and comical show inspired byfamous Buddhist Jataka stories that will enchant both old andyoung.
The cable car is an incredible experience and there are avariety of packages to choose from. For instance, you can choosebetween the more expensive Crystal Cabin - which has a transparentfloor - and a regular one. Note that queues for this attraction canget very long.
One of the most dramatic sacred sites in Hong Kong, the TenThousand Buddhas Monastery is perched at the top of a hill in thetown of Sha Tin. Visitors must climb more than 400 stairs to reachthe temple and the famous nine-storey pagoda. The monasteryactually contains nearly 13,000 Buddha statues within its wallsalone, and many more stand sentinel along the pathways and stairs.The statues come in a great variety of shapes and sizes and thetemple complex is breathtakingly colourful with beautiful views.Sadly, there are no resident monks and the temple is managed bylaypersons; you do not therefore feel as though you are visiting anactive monastery. However, unlike many famous temples in Hong Kong,the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery has retained its tranquilatmosphere and still feels like a holy place. It is notcommercialised and is seldom swamped by crowds. This is partly whyit tends to make such an impression on tourists. There is a smallrestaurant selling simple refreshments at the top but it isadvisable to bring your own water for the climb, which some findtiring. In some parts of the complex photography is not allowed -be sure to take note of the signs.
Located just 40 minutes from downtown Hong Kong by bus, thesmall fishing village of Stanley is a popular day trip for touristslooking to escape the congestion of the city. A bustling village,Stanley is home to a number of attractions and diversions,including several scenic temples and museums.
The famous Stanley Market is a winding maze of stalls sellingsouvenirs like t-shirts, keychains, and knock-off goods, althoughthere's a better selection in Hong Kong City. Bars and restaurantsalong the waterfront provide good food with great views of theharbour, and the amphitheatre hosts free concerts on theweekends.
Stanley is also popular for its beaches. Stanley Main Beach is apleasant sandy beach only ten minutes' walk from the centre oftown. It has good facilities and shark nets, but can get crowdedwith locals on the weekends. Stanley Main beach is good forwindsurfing, and hosts dragon boat races each summer. St StephensBeach, on the western side of the peninsula, is more secluded butjust as popular.