Oh, and when you’re done, you can check out our travel deals to Hong Kong. Seriously, why not? They’re only the best rates you can find anywhere (nobody else is even close – TRUTH).
Before we get started, here are a few Hong Kong facts that our Editor-in-Chief thought you’d be interested in (gratuitous writer fact inclusion begins here):
- Hong Kong is a financial hub for China and much of Asia
- For centuries, a port of trade
- The British acquired Hong Kong in 1898 as part of a 99-year long lease of the land.
- It was returned to China in 1997
- Though still a part of China today, people here enjoy many personal freedoms, less common across the People’s Republic.
- It is stacked with towering skyscrapers all around Victoria Harbour – a greater concentration than anywhere else in the world.
- The people speak Cantonese and English
See, that wasn’t so bad. And we won’t have to get scrutinized for content omissions by El Jefe. Now … the fun stuff (in no particular order):
Lantau Island Big Buddha
Located on the largest island in Hong Kong, the official name for this big statue is the Tian Tan Buddha. Even though it only dates back to 1993, it is hugely popular. That’s likely because it’s both super awesome and well, huge.
To visit – you’ll have to take a ferry. Then, you’ll have to climb 268 steps up to its platform. We know what you’re thinking but that’s so much better than the 1,710 you’d face in the Eiffel Tower. What’s more, just beneath the statue are three floors, each consisting of a hall. Visiting the statue is free, but roaming the subterranean chambers will cost you a few shekels.
Second on this list is Victoria Peak. Or, as they say locally, “The Peak”. It sits atop Hong Kong’s tallest mountain, and overlooks the city and Victoria Harbour. There are days where the view is shrouded by weather or modern day, “man made” clouds (think L.A.). But usually, the view is spectacular.
Housing was built on Victoria Peak during the 1800s way before the introduction of the Tram cars. Early residents were either super-savvy real estate investors or just simply gluttons for punishment. These days, The Peak is more expensive p/sq.ft. than anywhere else in the world. A home recently sold for $230M USD.
The good news is you can take in the views without having to buy property. Head up day or night or both as the views are both extraordinary and completely different.
Hong Kong Disneyland
In 2005 Hong Kong Disneyland opened its doors, boasting a tasteful mix Chinese and American culture. It is also the only Feng Shui designed Disney Park (sweet). Only 34,000 visitors per day can pass through the Magic Kingdom gates (fire code? who knows?). Even so, the park still sees 5M annual visitors … with the last few seeing nearly 9M. Impressive if not just a bit Goofy. (Sorry)
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s other major theme park. And yes, it’s right there on Lantau Island. More traditional theme park than your typical marine mammal park, it’s been around since the late 1970s. Sadly we have no evidence that the Brady Bunch ever visited, during their variety show days. The park is a big draw for residents of mainland China. And even in the shadow of the much newer competition from Disneyland, attendance is still strong. Hey, when in Lantau …
This park was named after Lord Stanley, Britain’s Colonial Hong Kong Secretary during its UK cession. He later became the country’s Prime Minister. There is no telling if the NHL’s championship cup ever made it here. Never mind that though – the Stanley Market is a bustling district of street vendors and food markets. The street food is outstanding and the little retail shops will fill your bags with cute trinkets and memorabilia. Oh, and the bars are cool, too. Yeah, it’s what we call a Must Do around here.
Star Ferry to Kowloon
For 125 years, Star Ferry Company has been running passengers from Victoria Harbour to Kowloon City and back. It is perennially rated as one of the world’s best Ferry Rides. It’s great for sightseeing and still the best way to get to (wild) Kowloon.
Hong Kong Observation Wheel
Another one of those good both day and night things. These observation wheels are popping up everywhere. I think some of us Must Doer got drunk on the one in Vegas on a team road trip. (Okay, we did). This one is pretty cool and gets about 1M visitors p/year.
The Sky100 is a 360-degree Observation Deck located on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon. The building is massive, and provides fantastic views. And if that’s not enough, located on 101st floor is an amazing international cafeteria.
Victoria Harbor Dinner Cruise
Beyond all the top flight vantage points we’ve shared, another great way to see Hong Kong is from the water. At night time, the neon glow and outlined skyscrapers stretching skyward, provide a romantic dinner backdrop.
There are quite a few options for on-vessel dining, and your price point will likely dictate your choice. So whether you go table-cloth or ramen, the views are magnificent no matter the ship.
Hint: Go to the street markets. Hint #2: Do this at the Temple Street Night Market
Immediately hit up Dim Sum to try disparate varieties of local chow. Once you’ve eaten (or while you are) grab some beer and enjoy a site-seeing spectacle of epic proportions.
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