Where is Hong Kong?
What’s the weather like in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate, but is cooled in winter by sea breezes. Summer (June to September) is long, humid and hot with temperatures often exceeding 32°C (90°F) and with night time temperatures that do not drop below 25°C (77°F). Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less (see natural disaster section).
Winters are generally very mild, with daytime temperatures of 18-22°C (64–72°F) but with nights dipping into 10°C (50°F) and below sometimes, especially in the countryside. Christmas in Hong Kong is considered warm compared with many other Northern Hemisphere countries. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold (10°C/50°F), wet weather; this is because winter in Hong Kong tends to start out mild and dry and then turn a bit cool and wet later, though the cool weather is brief.
Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November/December) have average temperature between 21-24°C (70-5°F). Autumn is probably a more comfortable season as spring tends to be more humid and rainy.
If a single image could encapsulate Hong Kong, it would be the panorama from Victoria Peak. Looking down at the city from this famous vantage point, you'll see one of the finest harbors on Earth and a skyline so improbable, audacious and lofty that Manhattan's looks provincial by comparison. Beyond the mountains to the north of the city, the rest of China simmers and strains. Everything you've heard about Hong Kong's restlessness and energy is dramatically reaffirmed by the view from the Peak. Even the most cynical locals never tire of visiting. It reminds us why we live here. You can reach the peak via the Peak Tram, the 120-year-old funicular railway that departs from its terminus on Garden Road (nearest MTR: Central). Plan to arrive a half-hour before sundown and watch as the city lights come on in their varicolored brilliance.
Victoria Harbour is a natural landform harbour situated between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in Hong Kong. The harbour's deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on the South China Sea were instrumental in Hong Kong's establishment as a British colony and its subsequent development as a trading centre. Throughout its history, the harbour has seen numerous reclamation projects undertaken on both shores, many of which have caused controversy in recent years. Environmental concerns have been expressed about the effects of these expansions, in terms of water quality and loss of natural habitat. It has also been proposed that benefits of land reclamation may be less than the effects of decreased harbour width, affecting the number of vessels passing through the harbour. Nonetheless Victoria Harbour still retains its founding role as a port for thousands of international vessels each year. Long famous for its spectacular views, the harbour is a major tourist attraction of Hong Kong. Lying in the middle of the territory's dense urban region, the harbour is the site of annual fireworks displays and its promenades are popular gathering places for tourists and residents.
Kowloon (九龍, "nine dragons" in Cantonese) is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. The mountains that overlook Kowloon account for eight of Kowloon's nine dragons while, as the story goes, the ninth dragon refers to the emperor who counted them. Of the eight mountains that overlook the crowded city, the most famous is Lion Rock, which when seen from the right angle, really does deserve its name.
With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square km, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep. Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) pronounced "Tzeem Sah Jeui", the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon's main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels. Further north, Mong Kok (旺角) has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a squarekm.
"Kowloon side", as it is often known, managed to escape some of the British colonial influences that characterize "Hong Kong Island" side. While prices on Kowloon side tend to be cheaper, it is also less tourist-friendly and English proficiency is not as strong as on the Hong Kong side.
The Kowloon Waterfront
The Kowloon Waterfront offers splendid views of the Hong Kong island shore and skyline. This is the best place to experience the classic view of Hong Kong, and nobody on their first trip here should miss out on promenading along the waterfront. The best views are to be had at night when the lights of global capitalism provide a powerful spectacle. If you are not proficient with night-time photography, you can pay a modest sum for a professional to take your photograph against one of the world's most iconic backdrops. Start at the Star Ferry terminal, and begin your walk by inspecting the historic clock tower which is all that remains of a railway station that once took colonial officials back to London via the Trans-Siberian railway.
Temple Street Night Market
This rowdy thoroughfare in central Kowloon starts at Temple Street's junction with Jordan Road, terminates five blocks north on Kansu Street and looks like every B-movie director's dream of Chinatown. Under the glare of bare light bulbs, hawkers flog everything from bizarre patent medicines to counterfeit watches. Prostitutes work the low-rise tenements, fortune-tellers cluster by the multistory car park and impoverished Chinese opera troupes busk for a few dollars just outside the public toilets. Outdoor food stalls display still-twitching, unnamable crustacean and old men and junkies gamble on games of Chinese chess in the concrete square outside the eponymous temple. Ghetto heaven.
When the local tourism board refers to Hong Kong as "Asia's World City" it's referencing the well-ordered worldliness of big banks, fine hotels and a philharmonic — not the worldliness of Bangladeshi hash dealers and Nigerian men trading used PCs by the container load. But this other Hong Kong can be found on the Kowloon peninsula, in the great sleepless citadel known as Chungking Mansions. The complex of five 17-story towers is home to residential apartments, low-rent guesthouses and offices, money changers, restaurants and shops. Some 5,000 people live here, but the population swells daily by an extra estimated 10,000 multinational visitors, buying and selling everything from secondhand mobile phones to old clothing. According to one estimate, 20% of the mobile phones now in use in sub-Saharan Africa have passed through this high-rise souk. Go to the three-level arcade to see world trade in its rawest form, then finish up with a curry at one of the dozens of South Asian restaurants on the floors above. Brace yourself.
Tsim Sha Tsui
More than a mere district, Tsim Sha Tsui is a giant world bazaar, where Hong Kong’s glittering harbour is met by an alternate sea of stalls, shops, markets and malls. Even if you’re penny-pinching, merely taking a stroll along Nathan Road and the streets crossing it is an experience worthy of attention. Here you’ll journey past Bollywood-themed memorabilia, Shanghainese tailors, sweet-talking restaurant touts, gorgeous gems and jewellery, flashy cameras, international brand name stores and Asian street label boutiques. You can also escape the hustle and bustle of what’s called ‘the golden mile’ by slipping into a number of spacious and plush malls, including iSQUARE, The One and K11. Take a short walk over to Canton Road where you’ll be confronted with the best the world has to offer in luxury designer goods, not to mention Hong Kong’s biggest shopping mall – the enormous Harbour City and 1881 Heritage, a unique experience that blends history with luxury shopping. Tsim Sha Tsui’s shopping also extends beyond these two roads. To the east is the Tsim Sha Tsui Centre and Empire Centre, which invite you to rest those protesting feet for a while at a harbour-side alfresco bar and restaurant strip.
Avenue of the Stars
If you continue your stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront you will soon find yourself walking along Hong Kong's version of Hollywood's walk of fame. You have to look down to appreciate the Avenue of the Stars where so many local film stars have pawed the wet concrete. You might not recognize their names, but it goes to show how big Hong Kong's film industry is. The experience is targeted at tourists from mainland China and the piped music gives it a slightly cheesy feel, but the statue of film legend, Bruce Lee, provides a welcome photo opportunity even for those who might know very little about Cantonese cinema.
The New Territories (新界)(also N.T.), so named when the British took more land from China in 1898. Often ignored by travelers who have little time to spare, the New Territories offers a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know. Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China. Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible if you dare to get out and explore this offbeat place. You won’t find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will doubtlessly find something that will surprise and cause you to reach for your camera.
Castle Peak Monastery
Castle Peak Monastery, (near Light Rail Tsing Shan Tsuen station) is classed as a Grade I historic building that has been standing for more than 1000 years. These historic monuments have stood through the ages in a tranquil woodland area. The striking and picturesque surroundings create an enjoyable view, as well as a solemn ambiance. Upon entering the monastery, you will notice the words "香海名山" (Fragrant Sea and Prestigious Mountain) engraved on the portico. The Tsing Shan Temple is among the three oldest temples in Hong Kong. Inside the temple, there is a main worship hall. Walking up the stairs leading to the hall, you will see "一切有情、同登覺地" (which means Everything on Earth Has Ties and Reaches Nirvana Together). The peaceful environment of this Buddhist temple offers an abiding sense of harmony.
With the opening of the Lantau Link, a road and rail connection between the airport and central Hong Kong in 1997, Lantau Island is now firmly connected to the mainland of the Kowloon peninsula. The new airport at Chek Lap Kok has led to the establishment and rapid expansion of a new town, Tung Chung, and the improved transport links have brought further development in the shape of Disneyland, a cable car to Ngong Ping monastery, and an entire new road to southern Lantau. Sizeable sections of Lantau Island are declared country parks, though the island seems poised for more development.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Asia's second Disneyland was opened in 2005 and features some of the Disney favourites. The park is accessible via the MTR. Change at the Sunny Bay station on the Tung Chung MTR line for the Disneyland Resort Line. It has a number of themed areas: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point. . Being relatively new, there are fewer rides than the other Disney theme parks, though as it has expanded, there are more (and more thrilling) rides coming online. The big advantage of Hong Kong Disneyland, is that it's fairly cheap for most overseas visitors, owing to the exchange rates into Hong Kong Dollars and the (relatively) cheap prices in the park (though a bottle of water will still cost three times as much as a convenience store in downtown). Compared to other Disneylands, or other theme parks (such as Movieworld, Gold Coast, Australia), prices for accommodation, food, drinks and souvenirs are reasonable. The Park has done Disneyland, with an "Asian" perspective. Accordingly, a few rides have a slightly different take on them, but there is little unique here. Some rides, such as Buzz Lightyear, are simply identical to other parks.
Ngong Ping 360
Hong Kong's newest tourist attraction combines a spectacular 5.7 km cable car journey that takes in an impressive cultural themed village and the Tian Tan Buddha. At the themed village there are a couple of attractions. The Walking with Buddha attraction gives an interesting introduction to Buddha, and has different stages, with headphones giving the narration in a variety of languages. The Monkey's Tail is simply a silent animated movie, with a simple moral. A little trivial overall. Combined tickets can be bought to cover all three attractions. There are about 10 restaurants in the village, serving a variety of food, all a little on the expensive side for what they are. There are some other restaurants in the true village, beyond the themed section. The cable car station is adjacent to the Tung Chung MTR. Note that there are often lengthy queues to go up the mountain, especially on weekends - if the queue extends downstairs, expect a two hour wait. To avoid you can take a bus up the mountain and the cable car back (queues are much shorter, especially if buying the Crystal Cabin). Alternatively, buy a guided tour or the Journey to Enlightenment package, both of which bypass most of the queue for the cheaper tickets.
What to eat in Hong Kong
Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (drinking tea), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus, teahouses were established along the roadside. An imperial physician in the third century wrote that combining tea with food would lead to excessive weight gain. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.
The most widely used method of cooking by Maori Culture for over two thousand years and not forgetting our fellow Island neighbors in the Pacific who also use this method we all refer to as the Umu. Today for economical reasons, the traditional hangi cooking principals are now used primarily for special occasions.It is a process where steam is used as a medium of cooking the food while it is beneath the ground. Foods are prepared in three sections, meats (pork, beef, lamb, shell fish, fish) - kumara, potato and vegetables and puddings (yes that's right everything goes in together).
Hong Kong-style milk tea
Hong Kong-style milk tea is a kind of drink that originated in Hong Kong. Hong Kong-style milk tea is made from black tea and milk (usually evaporated milk or condensed milk). It is usually part of lunch in Hong Kong tea culture. Although originating from Hong Kong, it is also frequently found overseas in restaurants serving Hong Kong cuisine and Hong Kong-style western cuisine. In the show Top Eat 100 aired on 4 February 2012, Hong Kong-style milk tea is ranked number 4 in Hong Kong cuisines and Hong Kongers consume a total of 900 million glasses/cups a year.
Cart noodle is a kind of à la carte noodle which became popular in Hong Kong in the 1950s through independent street vendors operating on roadsides and in public housing estates in low-income districts, using carts. Many street vendors have vanished but the name and style of noodle endures as a cultural icon.
Crispy fried chicken
Crispy fried chicken is a standard dish in the Cantonese cuisine of southern China and Hong Kong. The chicken is fried in such a way that the skin is extremely crunchy, but the white meat is relatively soft. This is done by first poaching the chicken in water with spices (e.g. star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, Sichuan pepper, ginger, fennel, and scallions), drying it, coating with a syrup of vinegar and sugar, letting it dry thoroughly (helps make skin crispy), and deep frying. The dish often served with two side dishes, a pepper salt (椒鹽) and prawn crackers (蝦片). The pepper salt, colored dark white to gray, is dry-fried separately in a wok. It is made of salt and Sichuan pepper.