By Annie Shustrin
Hong Kong is a city of contrast. Though the iconic skyline and modern style defines it as a world city, its heart and soul is Chinese tradition. In Hong Kong’s winding alleyways and older neighborhoods, you’ll find Cantonese cuisine at its best, along with traditional shops and Taoist temples. On the main roads of Central and The Mid-Levels, you’ll find another world made entirely of expensive jewelry, western fashions and global business. Both are key to Hong Kong’s unique personality – both are must-have experiences.
For a Taste of Modern Hong Kong
Take the funicular up this steep hill to get a bird’s eye view of the high rises of Hong Kong Island and, on a nice day, a view of the outer islands. This is probably one of the most touristy attractions in the whole city, but the view is absolutely worth the trip.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Every city has its beloved sport or sports teams. In Hong Kong it’s all about horseracing and the Happy Valley Racetrack is the center of it all. On a Wednesday night the track comes alike with beer-seeking expats, travelers and some serious gamblers. Come for a race and for some great people watching.
Nathan Road, Kowloon
Over in Kowloon, a generally more traditional part of the city, there is still plenty of big modern style. Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is lined with designer shops, high end hotels and enough of jewelry for several queens. At nighttime the streets light up with hundreds of neon signs and the view of the harbor and Hong Kong Island is unforgettable.
For a Taste of Traditional Hong Kong
A visit to Hong Kong isn’t complete without a trip to one of its many traditional Taoist temples. Though there are plenty on Hong Kong Island (Like Man Mo temple in Sheung Wan), my favorite is the Wong Tai Sin temple complex in Kowloon. The complex boasts plenty of gazebo and temple structures, along with open areas and quiet corners to relax and reflect. Come here for peaceful way to experience Hong Kong Taoist spirituality.
Oh, the food. When you think of Chinese cuisine, chances are you are thinking of Cantonese food. This is what Hong Kong does best. Dim sum – a traditional feast of small plates of fried, steamed and fresh dishes, is an absolute must-have meal. My favorite dish? Char Siu Baau. (BBQ pork buns)
Temple Street Night Market
Night markets are extremely popular in Asia, and it’s no different in Hong Kong as Kowloon hosts the Temple Street Night Market. The market hosts booths selling everything from steaming bowls of soup to souvenirs, traditional jewelry and sneakers. Even if you are not in the market for a jade bracelet, a visit here is a quintessential Hong Kong experience.
CheapAir readers, have you been to Hong Kong? What were your favorite experiences?
Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now. She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels, and is now based in New York City. She writes for her blog TravelShus.com, as well contributing articles to other online travel publications. Though Indonesia and New Zealand are amongst her favorite destinations, her favorite travel memory was in China, where she got to hold a baby panda on her very own lap.