This fast-paced city is the ultimate stopover destination, but Hong Kong deserves more than just a 24-hour layover. Hong Kong is known, worldwide, as being a global financial hub and an economic powerhouse, which is evident in its sweeping skyline populated by impressive skyscrapers. This Asian super-city is known for many things but shopping and cuisine are top the list. From ultra-exclusive bespoke tailors to lively night markets, Hong Kong appeals to all shopping budgets. In terms of cuisine, the sheer mix of cultural influences ensures it remains the world’s ‘Culinary Capital’! From street eats to fine dining, foodies flock here to indulge in some of the best gastronomy on the planet.
A sublime city, Hong Kong is officially a special administrative region of China. One of the most densely populated places on the planet, it’s home to over 7.5 million residents, squeezed into just over 1,100 square kilometres of territory. A vertical playground of shiny skyscrapers reflected in the glistening waters of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong holds all the promise of an unforgettable city escape, filled with eateries, late-night bars, museums, galleries and sights. From ancient Chinese traditions to harbour-side buskers, Hong Kong is full of opportunities for cultural exchange. It would take a lifetime to tire of the endless events, museums and concerts on offer here.
If you visit Hong Kong you’ll notice that its colonial past has given it a distinctively different atmosphere to mainland China. With its own currency and economy, Hong Kong has long been a popular travel destination, particularly for Westerners longing to sample the delicacies of East Asia without compromising on the comforts of home. Undoubtedly, you’ll find everything you could dream of from a city; the arts, food, shopping and sightseeing on offer here are simply endless. But, there’s more to Hong Kong than the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong Island. The Kowloon Peninsula, Lantau Island, Cheung Chau and Po Lin are all just a ferry ride away and well worth a visit if you travel to Hong Kong. Indeed, head out of the city and you’ll find spectacular mountain scenery, nature reserves and country parks. The best time to take a trip to Hong Kong is during the winter months of October, November and December due to the cooler temperatures.
History of Hong Kong
The British colony of Hong Kong came into existence in 1841 as a result of the First Opium War, when China’s Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island to the British, followed by the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860. The British were granted a 99-year lease of the Hong Kong territories in 1898, therefore in 1997 the entire territory was transferred back to China, yet retained its autonomy as a special administrative region.
Although the years of British colonialism were shadowed by the Japanese occupation of World War II and the Chinese Civil War on the mainland, many relics of the British influence in Hong Kong have been left behind. From cultural institutions to street names and driving on the left-hand side, if you travel to Hong Kong you’ll surely notice the British legacy. It is perhaps most noticeable in the colonial architecture of the Central District, home to the Victoria Prison, where Ho Chi Minh himself was once imprisoned, St. John’s Cathedral, the oldest church in Hong Kong and the iconic Old Supreme Court.
These days, history is still unfolding in Hong Kong, with political debate on the future of the relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China still ongoing.
Nature in Hong Kong
Surrounded by the South China Sea, Hong Kong’s natural situation has made it one of the worlds most important centres of maritime trade. Furthermore, this collection of islands is home to some pretty incredible landscapes if you know where to look. In fact, only 25% of the territory is actually developed, so there are plenty of opportunities to get out into nature when you are on holiday in Hong Kong. You might even be surprised to learn that Hong Kong boasts a number of beautiful beaches, some of which are even part of protected maritime parks, making them the perfect destination for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts.
Home to eight Geo-Areas of cultural and natural significance, Hong Kong offers plenty of things to do if you’re craving some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Some of the most popular natural attractions to include on a Hong Kong tour are Kam Shan Country Park, famed for its population of cheeky macaque monkeys, the wildlife-rich Hong Kong Wetland Park and the tropical beaches of Kiu Tsui Country Park, the ideal place to spend a day in the sunshine!
Culture of Hong Kong
What makes travelling to Hong Kong so appealing is its captivating cultural fusion of traditional Cantonese and Western influences. Both English and Cantonese are official languages in Hong Kong, so you’ll be able to mingle with the locals with ease. Hong Kongers are proud of their distinct culture and you’ll surely notice a distinctively more laid-back attitude and way of life in Hong Kong in comparison to mainland China. This is the result of decades of minimal government intervention and a society shaped by the value of freedom in all areas of life.
Indeed, Hong Kong has long been considered one of the ‘freest’ countries in East Asia and is notorious for its free economy, attracting business interest from around the world to this island of skyscrapers. As one of the wealthiest cities in the world, income, fashion and materialism are seen as status symbols in Hong Kong culture. You’re sure to notice the popularity of high-end designers and the widespread adoration of the finer things in life if you visit Hong Kong. But, this focus on wealth and achievement doesn’t come easily, and Hong Kongers are extremely hard-working people. The importance of education and academic achievement cannot be underestimated in Hong Kong’s culture.
Nevertheless, Hong Kong does not forget its roots and many locals enjoy celebrating traditional Han Chinese culture, values, customs and festivals, alongside more Western holidays such as Christmas.