Think of a cocktail – not just the kind that you drink but one that is all-consuming. Hong Kong is a cocktail of culture, history and modernity. With elements from its age-old Chinese culture and the British-occupied colonial era, and now to the swanky cosmopolitan it has emerged to be, there is a lot on offer when you visit Hong Kong.
While we associate Hong Kong with neon lights, a bustling energy and great night life, its natural significance is a well-kept secret. One of the best deep water harbours in Asia, Hong Kong is the ideal spot for cruises to start, end or halt at. So, if you happen to get the opportunity to be on one of these, plan for a few days and jump right in! You will have plenty of things to experience, and enough time to cover them too. Here’s the exciting line-up of things to do and places to see in this amalgamation of all things beautiful (and cost-effective, if you plan well!) –
How to get around
The best thing you can do once you deboard at Hong Kong, is to get one of the local rechargeable cards, called an Octopus Card. It is prepaid and usable at all Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations, which is the local train in Hong Kong. With a HKD 50 refundable deposit, the ideal Octopus Card for tourists is the On-Loan Octopus. What is excellent about this prepaid card is that apart from the MTR, it can be used on buses, ferries such as the popular Star Ferry. Additionally, some vending machines, supermarkets such as 7-Eleven, eateries and shops accept payment via Octopus Cards.
Scenic, birds-eye views
Most cruise trips provide a suggested itinerary. But you may also tailor your own. For those drawn to nature, Hong Kong has several hiking trails. The four major ones include the Hong Kong Trail which takes you up to the iconic Victoria Peak. The others are the Wilson Trail, the Maclehose Trail and the Lantau Trail. The many smaller trails make for good options if you want to pair them up. Most of these trails are also accessible via any public transport, which makes for convenient access. For those who don’t enjoy trekking, you can always take the Peak Tram or a local bus. Even some bars in Hong Kong have scenic views.
Those willing to indulge beyond their cruise can head to Ozone at The Ritz-Carlton, which, situated at the hotel’s 118th floor, is one of the highest rooftop bars in the world. All these places offer atmospheres of either solitude, excitement or both, and give one great opportunities to take some of the most breath-taking pictures.
Once you’ve experienced the many delectable meals while on-board your cruise, there seems to be little that will do justice after that. However, Hong Kong has a variety of scrumptious food, from street food to fine dining options. The street food is a must try, for authentic Cantonese cuisine, often branching off to Hakka, Teochew and Shanghainese types.
Dim sum culture is huge in Hong Kong, it is by far the most popular type of food to eat there. There are numerous varieties found all over, and – this may be news to some – ‘dim sum’ can be in the form of dumplings, steamed buns or rolls. Food generally comes in generous portions, hence it’s best to prepare to share. There is lots to choose from, and both vegetarians and non-vegetarians have delicious options. The best indication of a great restaurant is one which is full of locals.
Shopping spree(s) like never before
Put on your bargaining hat and a comfortable pair of shoes before you head to the many, many market streets of Hong Kong. Temple Street’s kilometre-long night market is famous for its food and shopping alike. Additionally the Ladies’ Market has plenty of shopping stalls with inexpensive clothes and accessories. It is open between 12 noon to 11 pm every day. Additionally, shoe-enthusiasts can head to the popular Sneakers Street, for the latest sneakers at budget prices. A real treat for children, Tai Yuen Street, is known for its array of toys. Finally, don’t miss the Jade Market to take back a souvenir for yourself or friends and family. There’s a huge list of shopping places in Hong Kong, and chances are, no matter how hard you try, you will only be able to cover a few!
Entertainment and family time
Of course we look for entertainment wherever we go. Hong Kong’s spectacular ‘A Symphony of Lights’ is the world’s largest permanent sound and light show. It takes place every night at 8:00pm across Victoria Harbour, and is 14 minutes long. Additionally, Lantau Island is home to the Po Lin Monastery, one of the world’s biggest Buddha statues – the Tian Tan Buddha. It is truly a sight to behold. To have a look around the city (literally), take a cruise that shoots off from your international cruise to a local one with your family. Enjoy the Harbour cruise along the Victoria Harbour and soak in the beauty of the sea, the stars and the towering skyline of the city.
To go further and explore countries that are around Hong Kong cruises such as Royal Caribbean International’s package cruises that take you to Singapore, Malaysia or China are a good option. There are several activities for entertainment and recreation on-board for all age groups. These include food curated by master chefs, live performances, and children’s play areas. So, families can enjoy themselves and indulge in food and culture while they are away from the shore too. Hong Kong is bound to give you the experience of a lifetime!