When you think of Hong Kong, you think of skyscrapers. And rightly so; Hong Kong has gained the moniker of ‘World’s Most Vertical City’ due to it’s expansive skyline that is dominated by illuminated skyscrapers. With 7 million people crammed into it’s small space, Hong Kong has become a fusion of East and West, perfectly blending it’s Chinese roots with leftover western influences from it’s time spent as a British Colony. This exotic slice of the orient with hints of familiar western features makes it irresistible to Western tourists, craving the orient they’ve seen in the movies. To get around as quickly as possible, follow the locals as a massive 90% of them rely on public transport – on of the highest figures in the world!
Flower Market Road-
As ‘Hong Kong’ actually means ‘Fragrant Harbour’ it makes sense to start this trip bright and early, heading straight for Flower Market Road in the Mong Kok area of the Yau Tsim Mong District. Vendors, locals and tourists flock to this refreshing early-morning sight – as much for the photo opportunities as for the buying opportunities. Around Chinese New Year, the market gets especially busy as locals buy traditional plants symbolising good luck and prosperity. If you wander to the very end, you’ll find yourself at the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden, the beautiful bird song a complimentary ending to the flower blooms just witnessed.
Hong Kong Museum of History –
To get a real taste of the city you’re in, allow some time for the Museum of History. With exhibitions spanning right across the ages, you’ll find something that interests you, and at only $10 admission fee (and free on Wednesdays!) it won’t break the bank. Allow around 4 hours and stop to have lunch at the museum café. The Museum is located between the Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom MTR stations.
Victoria Harbour and The Peak –
As evening arrives, take a walk along the TST promenade and the Avenue of the Stars (modelled on the Hollywood walk of fame) which offers views overlooking the harbour out towards the Hong Kong Island skyline. However Victoria Peak will give you the postcard-picture-perfect view of the skyline you want. Head over to Central then catch the infamous Peak Tram from the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus. The 20 minute ride will give you amazing views of the surrounding scenery but most importantly, once the light begins to fade and you reach the top, you’ll be offered unparalleled views of the Hong Kong Skyline.
Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha)-
Spirituality is an important aspect of Chinese culture and to really understand this, it’s important to immerse yourself. Big Buddha is located in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island and carves an impressive 34 meter tall figure out of the Lantau skyline. The Buddha can be reached by bus, taxi or the Ngong Ping 360 cable car for the most scenic route. Once there it’s a measly 300 steps up to the Big Buddha, but don’t let this put you off – you’ll gain a 360 degree view of the surrounding greenery and seaside. At weekends and special holidays Tian Tan Buddha can get a bit crowded due to the number of pilgrims flocking to this iconic site.
Po Lin Monastery –
The Monastery of the Precious Lotus is located just opposite Tian Tan Buddha and sets a beautiful scene in which to recuperate after the hike up to the Buddha. Po Lin is still a fully functioning monastery and provides vegetarian restaurants for you to dine at as well as gardens for you to wander.
Temple Street Night Market –
From the serene to the slightly seedy, arrive back in Central Kowloon and make your way to the Temple Street Night Market. This market is the living embodiment of the ‘china town’ you’ve no doubt constructed in your head. Named after the Tin Hau Temple located somewhere in the midst of the market, wander through the stalls, haggle for your wares and enjoy the traditional Chinese cuisine right there on the street.
Man Fat Sze (10,000 Buddha’s Monastery)-
Get in your morning cardio by waking up early at the 10,000 Buddha’s Monastery which is just a short walk from Sha Tin station (directly linked to Central by rail). It’s a long hike to the Monastery, including 460 steps, which is paved with golden Buddhas and offers ample places to rest and take in the scenery. Once you reach the top, you’re greeted by more than 10,000 individual Buddhas with more waiting if you keep hiking. There is also a restaurant at the top serving vegetarian food for you to rest and refuel.
Once you’ve returned to Central you have your pick of markets: Li Yuen Street market, Cat Street market or Peel Street market.
Li Yuen Street East & West offers clothing and accessories with an oriental twist. Think oriental bazaar meets modern consumerism.
Upper Lascar Row/Cat Street is the vintage lover’s paradise – offering antique wares of all shapes and sizes, art galleries and the opportunity to haggle your way to a special treasure to take home, whether that is jade, silk or oriental embroideries.
Peel Street Market begins at Queen’s Road Central. Beginning as a fresh food market, it slowly transforms into a foodie’s haven offering street food to haute cuisine.