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Shopping and Walking in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an ideal destination to visit over the next few months but it should not be viewed as a concrete jungle! This great city offers so much and to many visitors surprise a huge amount of walking opportunities in green open spaces. It is a city oozing with culture the minute you walk out your hotel door. Here are a few ideas to tempt you into visiting one of the worlds most exciting cities.

Whether you base yourself on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon getting about Hong Kong is easy. There is a plethora of transport. Taxis are reasonable and metered however know where you are going or maybe have the hotel porter write your destination  for you in Chinese. The underground system MTR is clean and efficient. Buy an Octopus Card to let you hop on and off with ease. The buses are also frequent and easy to use. Kowloon and Hong Kong Island are separated by Victoria Harbor.  The Star Ferry has been bobbing between the two since 1900 and is a great way to get across. When on Hong Kong Island many of the neighborhoods are connected by trams and this is a must do form of transport to really experience the real Hong Kong.

Any trip to Hong Kong should include a trip up Victoria Peak to get your bearings. The best way to tackle Victoria Peak is by The Peak Tram. This tram has been making the journey since 1888. The start of this journey begins at Garden Road Peak Tram Terminus. The Peak Tram was the first cable funicular in Asia, extending 1,350 meters and connecting 5 intermediate stations. Once at the top the view is breathtaking. At the Peak Tower you can find restaurants and entertainment. If you feel energetic I would recommend a walk around the Peak by doing the Hong Kong Trail. This walk takes just under an hour and is well sign posted from the Peak Tower. It is an easy walk winding through a lush tropical forest with views of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Harbour and the Outlying Islands.

After lunch head down to the Star Ferry and take a trip across the harbour. It is well know as one of the best value for money sightseeing trips. The ferry operates between 6.30am to 11.30 every ten minutes and costs HK$2.50

When on Kowloon side treat yourself to afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hotel. The hotel is a short walk from the Star Ferry and  has long been  hailed as one of the finest hotels in the world and to this day it still lives up to its reputation.  Enjoy feasting on an array of pastries, sandwiches and cakes plus an extensive choice of teas. One note of warning do not turn up wearing flip flops as they will not let you in!

Central District is the heart of all the commercial activities where many banks and multi-national companies have their offices. Central will give you a real feel for the buzz of Hong Kong – smartly dressed bankers will rub shoulders with Hakka ladies pushing the rubbish trolley, gleaming buildings such as HSBC and the iconic building of Bank of China stand next to buildings shrouded in bamboo scaffolding. There are two main streets in Central, Queens Road East and Des Voeux Road in between these two roads are “the alleys” of Li Yuen Street East and West housing some real shopping bargains. Antique lovers should take the worlds longest outdoor escalator up to Hollywood Road and Cat Street where there is a myriad of antique and furniture shops selling rattan, Blackwood chests, snuff bottles, and porcelains. Stroll along to Man Mo Temple to take a look inside and view the immense incense spirals that dangle from the ceiling. Enjoy lunch in the trendy cafes of Soho. After lunch head back down to Central and hop on a tram marked “Western District”. Try and get upstairs on the tram and enjoy slowly weaving in and out of the streets filled with Chinese medicine shops, rice traders, and shops selling Chinese paper lanterns and incense. There is an array of dried seafood items such as abalone, sea cucumber and shark’s fin.

It’s time now to get some souvenirs so head over to Stanley Market which offers a great choice of souvenirs to take back to friends and relatives. To get there either hop in a taxi or the more fun way is to take a bus. Look out for bus numbers 6, 6a, 6x or 260 from Exchange Square bus terminus in Central. Once on board head up stairs and enjoy the ride as the road hugs Hong Kong Island snaking through upmarket neighborhoods past popular beach side communities such as Repulse Bay and through deep dense tropical hillsides. The bus drops you off right at the market where you can buy an array of Chinese souvenirs and enjoy a bit of bargaining.

If you are not into shopping but want some fresh air I urge you to enjoy the countryside there is so much of it. Further on down the road from Stanley is the start of The Dragons Back Trail.   This walk is section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail and is a relatively easy walk taking you from Shek O through trees of bamboo, across small rivers and over a ridge to Big Wave Bay. The walk commands some beautiful views of the sea and mountains.

If you have time to explore further afield you could visit one of the hundreds of outlying islands. The nearest islands to Hong Kong is Lamma. This can be reached by taking a ferry from Central to Yung Shue Wan. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Check out the small town and enjoy some dim sum before embarking on an afternoon walk to So Kwu Wan. The walk is about an hour and a half along a paved path, but there are some hills. On the way you will pass small beaches and caves rumored to have once been used as Kamikaze naval bases where the Japanese were going to hide Kamikaze speedboats for attacking warships. The path is sign posted from Yung Shue Wan. There you can enjoy some seafood before taking the ferry back from Sok Kwu Wan to Central.

This is just a snapshot of what to do in this fantastic city – the list is endless but when you do go don’t just make it a quick stopover on route to another destination make it your only destination and really experience the real Hong Kong – the city and the countryside, the glamorous Hong Kong and the down to earth Hong Kong.

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