When you think of visiting Honk Kong, you likely think about the exotic food, the cities full of people from everywhere in the world and the great, low-price shopping opportunities to be had.
However, there is so much more to Hong Kong than food and shopping. It is a gorgeous city with a vibrant culture and a history as rich and interesting as any city you can find in China. There are a million reasons to visit Hong Kong; however, here are seven of the best.
If you are from New York City, LA or somewhere else with a thousand skyscrapers in every direction, you may be wondering what exactly makes the Hong Kong Skyline so special. Well, for one thing, it is widely considered to be the most beautiful skyline in the entire world.
The Hong Kong Skyline can best be seen from the water along Victoria Harbor. When looking at the Skyline from that angle, the view is unbelievably beautiful; it almost doesn’t look real. The vibrant splash of colors across every building and the thousands of lights almost make it look like an interactive painting.
The skyline contains the Two International Finance Centre, the Bank of China Tower, Central Plaza, which houses within it the tallest church in the world, and the International Commerce Centre, which is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the centerpiece of the skyline.
Each night in good weather, these buildings work together to perform a free show for the public known as the Symphony of Lights. Lasting a little under 15 minutes, the Guinness Book of World Records refers to it as the “world’s largest permanent light and sound show.” It has to be seen to be believed.
A Walled Village
Walled villages are another must-see when visiting Hong Kong. Many of the other cities and providences of China have gotten rid of or moved away from their walled villages; however, there are still a few places left in Hong Kong where you can find them.
Walled villages are just what they sound like – villages built behind high walls. It is the history behind these villages that make them so interesting. During the Qing and Ming dynasties in China, the country – and Hong Kong in particular – became a hotspot for pirate attacks.
The natural lay of the land made Hong Kong a haven for pirates because they could easily find places to hide and ambush unsuspecting people and villages. In response, the people began to build walls around their villages to protect themselves, even spacing cannons throughout to counterattack when they were attacked.
There are five main walled villages people like to visit in Hong Kong today: Kat Hing Wai, Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen, Fanling Wai, Tsang Tai Uk and Sheung Shui Wai. These villages are rich with the history of Hong Kong and are still largely unchanged from when they were first built, some as long ago as the 17th century.
If you enjoy a mixture of old and new or Eastern and Western, then Lamma Island is the perfect place for you. Only accessible by ferry, it combines the best of both worlds. Lamma Island was first established as a fishing community, and parts of the island are still dedicated to this pursuit today. This means, of course, that you can get some of the freshest and most delicious seafood imaginable on Lamma Island.
However, a short walk away from the fishing villages will bring you to a gorgeous beach area where you can easily waste an entire day lying on the sparkling white sand, swimming in the gorgeous blue water or hiking through the lush green hills. It’s an amazing place to explore nature, sightsee or bird watch.
The island also gives you an amazing view of the Hong Kong Skyline, and it is a great place to get some exercise. There are no vehicles on the island, save those used by service personnel, so walking and biking are the only ways to travel. However, if you aren’t in tip-top shape, don’t worry; the entire island can be crossed in a little under two hours.
Okay, so part of the draw to Hong Kong is, of course, the great opportunity for shopping. There are parts of Hong Kong that are exactly like giant flea markets, meaning you can always find something you want at a price you’re sure to love. These markets are not just shopped by tourists either; locals frequent them, as well, so the markets sell everything from groceries to clothes to electronics, and everything in between.
Three of the best markets are as follows:
This is perhaps the best market to visit if you’re new to Hong Kong, not adept at haggling for lower prices and are looking to buy some souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
This one is perhaps the most well-known of all the Hong Kong markets. It sells almost everything for both men and women, and it is the most oft-visited market in all of Hong Kong.
Temple Street Night Market
Held at night, this market caters to those looking for gadgets, electronics and tech. It’s also a great place to get food and entertainment, as karaoke is popular here.
These are just three of the many markets to be found in Hong Kong.
Ngong Ping Cable Car
You may be wondering why on Earth you should make time to visit a cable car. It’s a fair question. The answer is because it is awesome! In fact, it is one of Hong Kong’s most popular attractions.
It is a gondola-type cable car whose trip is 5.7 kilometers (a little over three and a half miles) and takes riders through the gorgeous mountains of Lantau Island, across the South China Sea and into Ngong Ping village, home of one of the world’s largest Buddhas, the 110-foot Tian Tan Giant Buddha.
The whole ride takes about 25 minutes, and tickets are an extra expense, but the views from the car are worth every penny spent. Upon arriving at Ngong Ping village, you will be able to see and take pictures with the giant Buddha, interact with some interactive videos about Siddhartha’s becoming Buddha, shop in the many shops and enjoy the numerous street performers.
Although many people don’t realize it, religion is an integral part of the Chinese culture, and exploring the many temples of Hong Kong is a great way to delve deeper into the city’s history and culture. There are several temples in Hong Kong all reflective of the varied beliefs of the Chinese people. Some of these temples are Buddhist temples; others are for Taoists. There are several Confucian shrines, and there are even a few temples and shrines dedicated to other, lesser-known deities.
One popular temple is found on Lantau Island in the Po Lin Monastery, right near the Tian Tan Giant Buddha. The Wong Tai Sin Temple is also incredibly popular because it is quite unique in that it is a temple dedicated to all three of the major Chinese religious beliefs. It is also a favorite of tourists due to its architecture, which is very typically traditional Chinese.
Other popular temples available to tourists include: Man Mo Temple (Buddhist), Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Buddhist), Pak Tai Temple (Taoist), Che Kung Temple (other deity), Chi Lin Nunnery (Buddhist), Man Mo Temple in New Territories (other deity) and numerous Tin Hau Temples (other deity) scattered throughout Hong Kong.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Happy Valley Racecourse is one of the most popular horse racing tracks not just in Hong Kong but in the entire world. Shaped like a giant horseshoe and offering many horseshoe shaped novelty items, Happy Valley is pretty much one-of-a-kind.
In addition to the horse racing entertainment, Happy Valley also offers other entertainments, as well. There are live bands, performers and various themed events throughout the year. In the fall, they hold Oktoberfest, and the summer months are dedicated to their “French Nights” theme.
The decorations are beautiful to see, and there are a ton of interactive games for visitors to play and win. Furthermore, the food is absolutely delicious, and the drinks are plentiful. In short, Happy Valley Racecourse is just an all-around great time.
It doesn’t matter why you’re visiting Hong Kong; there is literally something for everyone there. If you want to shop and find great bargains on anything from snacks to TVs, visit the markets. If you are a history buff who wants to learn more about China’s history, culture and religions, visit the temples and the walled cities.
If nature is your thing, there are beautiful beaches and amazing mountains, and the cable car can give you the best possible views of it all. If you’re looking for entertainment, there are numerous options from which to choose, including the racecourse, the skyline and all the amazing nightlife across the city.
Hong Kong is one of the few places left in the world where you can visit and be five minutes away from both the hustle and bustle of major metropolitan cities and the rural villages and historical sites. It truly is the place for everyone.