Hong Kong is known to many as an iconic center of business and culture in Asia. The surprisingly small cluster of islands that make up this former British colony are home to a myriad of unique attractions. Fusing Chinese traditions and modern capitalism, Hong Kong offers visitors sobering temples, an impressive downtown center, and a dizzying array of shops and eateries. However, this republic’s success has made it one of the most expensive cities to visit in Asia. Don’t be surprised if your Hong Kong hotel is tiny – you’ll want to leave it behind anyway to explore all the islands have to offer.
Ride the Iconic Ding Ding Tram
Photo by Ding Yuin Shan via Flickr.com
The Cantonese-speaking locals have referred to the tiny tram as the ‘Ding Ding’ tram for over a century. Thanks to the small bells that warn pedestrians of its approach, you’ll often hear the tram before you see it trundling along. Make use of the slow-paced $2.40 tram to get a sightseeing overview of Hong Kong island. Hop on near Sai Wan and ride as far as Chai Wan before changing direction and heading back. You’ll pass from high-end malls and skyscrapers to small fishing villages with humble Buddhist temples.
Visit the Giant Buddha Statue on Lantau Island
Photo by Iris Young via Flickr.com
An unexpected delight among the small islands of Hong Kong is the Tian Tan Buddha statue and Po Lin Monastery. Nestled amongst bright green foliage of Lantau Island, this gigantic Buddha is truly a sight to behold but the journey there is just as breathtaking. Take the bus or MRT to the Tung Chung station where you can board the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car. This cable car will carry you over dizzying, green hilltops and clear blue inlets until you arrive at Ngong Ping village. From here you can explore the monastery or take the 270 steps up to the base of this remarkable statue.
Take the Longest Covered Escalator in the World
Photo by Michel Heiniger via Flickr.com
A truly inspired solution to the problem of hilly Hong Kong, this escalator and walkway system connects the bustling downtown Queen’s Road Central to the posh neighborhoods and eateries near Hollywood Road. You’ll enjoy a bird’s-eye view as you elevate nearly 500 feet past apartment buildings, pubs, and swanky restaurants. Be sure to remember your favorite spots so you can find them once you’ve hopped off. Finding the starting point of the escalator is tricky: Find the Central Elevated walkway near Queen Road Central, next to the 100QRC building, and hop on.
Ferry Over to Kowloon
Photo by Andy Cao via Trover.com
Visitors to Hong Kong should venture over to Kowloon, just on the other side of Victoria Harbor. The most scenic way to do so is by the Star Ferry, a reliable and historic mode of transport for over 120 years. For just a few dollars you’ll get breathtaking views of downtown Hong Kong against a striking green backdrop. After disembarking, take a stroll along the waterfront and then head into the city toward Miramar Shopping Centre for some serious exploring. You’ll find fantastic local restaurants and small, quirky shops along the way, selling everything from electronics to eccentric anime fashion.