When you are on the island of Hong Kong you get to explore, close-up, the skyscraper postcard scenery made famous throughout the world. At the heart of the very chic "Central" district, you can mingle with high-flying bankers and admire the contours of the Bank of China's tower, designed by Pei, and those of the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporations, designed by Foster. This almost futuristic 'towering' city has nevertheless kept some traces of the British Empire, as seen in the ancient supreme court and St-John's Cathedral. In this part of the island, you make your way from one level to the next thanks to gangways that link huge shopping malls and residential buildings. If shopping is your thing, you will go absolutely wild here; the choice is incredible, especially at Causeway Bay, which is as busy in the day as it is at night, with its neon-lit atmosphere. There are many of these temples dedicated to retail in Hong Kong, but in between these districts, the small streets of Wan Chai offer a more authentic picture of the island. On Des Voeux Road, the incessant passage of imperial trams makes for a perfect snapshot. When you make your way further inland, you have to climb numerous stairways that lead to the very trendy district of Soho and Lan Kwai Fong, where the expats congregate. Antique dealers are found in the charming and winding Hollywood Road. Alternatively, let yourself be carried away by the longest escalator in the world, the "Mid-Levels" named after one of the most luxurious residential districts in the city. If you want to reach the highest point on the island, take the famous Peak cable car, built according to the design of the first 1888 model! From here, you can see the bay of Hong Kong as you rub shoulders with skyscrapers. On the other side you will be able to admire huge green parks where you can enjoy pleasant walks and hikes. If you feel like taking a dip, you should join other bathers and flock to the southern tip of the island on the beaches of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay. In Aberdeen's harbour, sampans take you to floating restaurants where delicious seafood is served. If you're a fan of horse racing, or even if you're not, visit Happy Valley where you can witness the local passion for horse racing and gambling.
Take the Star Ferry that links Kowloon peninsula and the island of Hong Kong: you will never tire of this mythical service which you share with the cosmopolitan population, allowing you to admire the towering architectural compositions.
Try to take part in a karaoke session, which is a 'must' when you're here! Don't miss the afternoon tea either, which is a huge institution in this former British colony! The tea on offer in some of the prestigious hotels is impossible to resist. A ride on the Peak cable car is a voyage back in time to admire the progress of 19th-century technology, with the added value of a superb view when you reach the summit. You should also enjoy a stroll through the bustling streets and superb parks; stop at Lan Kwai Fong for a drink and a bit of dancing; climb to the 46th floor of the Central Plaza; go to the horse races at Happy Valley, etc.
Each district has its own magical feel, which you can discover at night-time, during the day, or both. The hustle-and-bustle of Hong Kong will mean that your eyes are everywhere, not wanting to miss a thing. In the heart of the antique dealers' hub in Hollywood Road, Man Mo is the oldest Taoist temple in town. Other sites that you must be sure not to miss are the outdoor markets, the luxury shops housed in huge shopping malls, the neon lights of Causeway Bay, the "Exchange Square" mall, the former British Supreme Court, Hong Kong's conference and exhibition centre on the seafront, etc.
Surface area : 426 sq. mi. km2
Population : 7,055,071 inhabitants
the place as possible!
Learn a few words of Chinese, your efforts will be much appreciated, and revise your English too!
As you go where the wind takes you, with your head in the clouds, you will be an easily recognisable tourist in this bustling city. However, be careful of the trams and cabs that zoom around in every direction. You must constantly be on the ball to avoid all to frequent accidents!
You don't need a visa to get to Macau, half an hour away by boat, but you will need one to get into China.
Be careful to respect local ways and customs! For example: In the event of an invitation to someone's house (which is rare as the locals prefer eating out), it is customary to bring a small gift. Do not be surprised by the high volume of the noise and conversations in the restaurants, as it is customary in China to show the pleasure that you take from eating by making all sorts of sounds.
Check what the weather is like in Hong Kong before packing; the temperatures in the winter are sometimes below 10°C and can reach 35°C in the summer. Spring and autumn are the best periods to visit this city.
Note to smokers: smoking has been forbidden in public areas since the 1st of July, 2009. In addition to the restaurants, bars and other entertainment facilities, smoking is also forbidden on public beaches, around swimming-pools, at bus stops and on escalators, etc. Don't ever throw you cigarette stub in the street, the fine is heavy!
When you eat at the table, never touch your food with your fingers, use the chopsticks.In the event of a disagreement with a local, don't get angry, don't raise your voice and don't make him lose face.Except at the markets, it is not customary to haggle over prices.Do not let yourself be tempted by counterfeit goods!
All different types of Chinese cuisine can to be found here, from Canton and Shanghai to Beijing or Sichuan. There is also Japanese, Mexican, Italian, French, Indian and Thai cuisine: in othe words, dishes from all over the world! On pavements, in huge shopping malls, at the top of gigantic skyscrapers or underground, on water, etc. The cheapest food is to be found in small Chinese stalls on street corners, and the most expensive in gourmet restaurants of global renown that are part of legendary hotels or independent restaurants. Exceptional specialities are on every menu and we recommend the Kobe beef, the truffle, the foie gras, the fugu (moon-fish), etc. With settings ranging from traditional to ultra-trendy, the different worlds are very contrasting and very pleasing both to the eyes and the taste buds. As is often the case in these regions, the biggest priority is given to the freshness of the products: The fish and seafood are excellent, for example. You need proof? The first Michelin guide written for Hong Kong and Macau, published in 2008, awarded no fewer than 22 restaurants.
In Hong Kong, you can shop around the clock, depending on your budget of course. In the most luxurious shopping malls in the city, such as "Pacific Place", "Times Square", "Amiralty" you can find all the famous brands. However, some shopping malls are more affordable and you can buy tons of clothes, jewellery, bags and amazing gadgets. In Hollywood Road, the antique dealers offer some real treasures from Asia and elsewhere. Art is also found everywhere here in numerous art galleries displaying paintings, sculptures, etc. Twice a year, Hong Kong becomes the destination to be if you're looking for bargain sales.
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