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Review: Hong Kong

City/Town/Region/Island

China

Hong Kong - vibrant, hectic, fun !

  • By SilverTraveller mconway

    4 reviews

  • Nov 2014
  • Partner

66 people found this review helpful

As we all know, the real name of Hong Kong is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. But for the purposes of this review I'm just going to call it Hong Kong! Now they might have minimalised the name, but everything else about this ex colonial jewel seems mammoth. Starting with the airport itself. It's said that after they'd reclaimed sufficient land from the sea to create the runways of Chek Lap Cok, the land mass of Hong Kong increased by 1%. Seriously, you could spend your vacation here. Cafes, bars, restaurants, video booths, it has them in abundance. As for shopping, the main terminals rival most High Streets here in the UK.



Being on a man made island Chek Lap Cok is some way out of the centre. However it takes only 24 minutes to reach Hong Kong centre by rail and the airport is also well served by shuttle coaches and taxis. You can even take a ferry to destinations along the Pearl River Delta. Oddly if you do this, you are not considered to have properly arrived in Hong Kong and you must show your passport at disembarkation in the port areas.



It was a special occasion when we visited so we pushed the boat out and stayed at the Harbour Grand Kowloon. As you'd expect from the name, we did indeed have a wonderful vista, from the 17th floor, of Victoria Harbour. Everything about the hotel is quality, we even had a staff member knock at the door every evening to ask if all was OK and if we needed anything. Now that's service. And I do like my rooftop pools. One day I'll do the Infinity Pool at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, it's rated the world's finest. But this surely couldn't be that far behind, the views were simply amazing.



Hong Kong is called Earth's first vertical city and certainly the high rises compare with anything New York or Chicago offers, especially as these American skyscraper cities are built on the flat. Both have good points, New York tends to have clearer days and if you're atop the Empire State Building you will have fantastic clarity and be able to see for many miles. Hong Kong can be the reverse and the views can be ruined by poor visibility. But HK gets voted the Number One high rise destination by many because it's unrivalled after dark. Millions upon millions of lights make for a spectacular feast. We were lucky to have good air quality whilst there and the visual experience was first rate.



Again to compare with its American cousin, this time San Francisco, the HK trams are superb. They move every bit as slowly as those in California but the scenery is just as stunning. Get a front seat on the upper deck and I don't think there's a better method to see this vibrant city. They do get busy, and I mean BUSY but at about 20p a journey you wont get a better value experience anywhere. Just make sure you leave plenty of time to make a round trip. They aren't just slow as I mentioned earlier, they stop a lot. We jumped off a tram and got straight onto a ferry to take us across the harbour. You have to save your legs as much as you can I feel and anything that offers an ever changing outlook comes high on my list of priorities. Especially if it's cheap which again it was.



After saving all those Hong Kong transport dollars we felt it was time to get a bit reckless. So we headed off to Happy Valley Racecourse for a few beers and more than a few speculative punts. The racecourse is central, meetings are held on an evening and the venue is surrounded by the ubiquitous skyscrapers. So it's a beautiful and spectacular place to be at night, especially if you're winning. We weren't but we still enjoyed it. The horses pass within touching distance of the punters and the atmosphere is very friendly if a little raucous.



After all of the hustle and bustle, the throngs of people and bumper to bumper vehicles, we needed a little bit of tranquility and assumed we'd need to get out of the city. But Hong Kong Park is a small oasis of calm among the hubbub. It has some wonderful walks among the lily ponds and there's turtles and fish in the lake, an aviary with 80 different species, a greenhouse and some quite therapeutic fountains. There's even a wedding chapel.



NOT therapeutic or relaxing in any way but definitely worth the trouble is Victoria Peak. The tram in both directions was overcrowded, the day was sticky and it was incredibly busy at the summit. But the view is what you'd expect, awe inspiring. Hong Kong is commercial full stop. But Victoria Peak is a money making machine if you let it be. Restaurants vie with candy stores who in turn fight for custom with trinket shops. It's madness up there and if you aren't stopping to eat, most people are on their way back down with twenty minutes. But as I say, worth the elbows and the shoving and cursing even if you only do it once.



The food I don't need to tell you about so that's just about it. Except to say don't worry about the political situation. As far as tourism goes nothing has changed since the colony reverted to Chinese rule. Beijing pretty much let HK continue as before without much interfrence in this direction. We did see political protesters but only in small groups and they weren't noisy or intrusive. Certainly we felt as safe here as anywhere else we've travelled. There's a good number of police as you'd expect in the touristy areas and crime rates are very low anyway.



Thanks for reading.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 3 Comment(s)

  • allium
    almost 5 years ago
    Thanks for the good review. I agree it is an exciting destination and we stayed at the same hotel, very efficiently run. The view of Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon side is worth the flight alone! We watched the fireworks too.
    One thing we found very confusing was the metro system. This we used to go from the waterfront in Kowloon to the market areas further inland. Luckily we are used to the London Underground, so managed to work out the coloured destination signs, but I think it would take sever tries before you got the hang of it. Cheap though.
    We had bought Octopus cards, which are combined travel cards for ferry etc.
    Our shopping trip was caused by wanting to buy strong pain killers (for possible gout in toe) and it proved difficult to find a Pharmacy, the kind you can see in the UK and USA.
    No green crosses hanging outside the pharmacies there. In fact the counter we did find was a bit hidden, right at the back of a general goods store. The good thing was that the pharmacist was very helpful and spoke good English. So we did get the pain killers, but spent the whole of one morning on this one task.
  • mconway
    over 5 years ago
    Have a great time Sandra and congratulations, whatever your special occasion happens to be.
  • sandra63
    over 5 years ago
    Thank you for this insightful review. We are travelling to Hong Kong in October and have booked the very same hotel as, like you, it is for a special occasion. You have got me so excited now! I think the heat and jostling will be worth the experience but hoping to find a little calm at the hotel!