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Stopover in Hong Kong E-mail

Available as a download: click hereSurprisingly Hong Kong is on a direct route from Europe to New Zealand. It’s the perfect shopping stopover, you can indulge in 20+ modern shopping malls with up to 700 brand name shops (Harbour City Mall) or browse along interesting street markets for your unique exotic bargain. With the extremely dense population, noisy streets and futuristic architecture it’s quite a contrast to New Zealand, adding some extra spice to your journey.

Hong Kong Central skyline from Kowloon

The skyline is maybe the most spectacular in the world, it is still rapidly developing, Victoria Peak behind the business towers, the harbour in between and the tall apartment blocks along the shore are all truly remarkable. Hong Kong is more extreme and interesting than Singapore but also more challenging. While city transport is easy and well signed you can’t expect English translations in all shops and restaurants (if you don’t trust Chinese menus you might end up with chicken noodle soup for most of your meals). The climate can also be extreme if you’re unlucky - wet and windy, hot or cold. On the other hand you get an authentic Asian experience while you can enjoy pure 5 star luxury or go the with cheaper options.

Hong Kong - view from The Peak

Hong Kong: Central

The cheap ferry ride between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island is a must and the view to Central is definitely the more interesting one. It feels like Wall Street among the towers. The Hong Kong Park and Zoo are free to explore or take the 800m long commuting escalators for some change of scenery. The steep Peak Tram leads to two shopping malls with a breath-taking view, but be prepared for a very commercial experience with Mme Tussaud and Burger King (instead try the second mall rooftop which is free of charge). Contrary to this the old Man Mo Temple in Hollywood Road with its smoking incense coils is an atmospheric delight you won’t forget.

Hong Kong tram Hong Kong Central Hong Kong Central Hong Kong Central
Hong Kong two ifc tower Hong Kong guard lion Hong Kong fruit market Hong Kong Man Mo temple

Hong Kong: Kowloon

With lots of foreigners, Indian and African immigrants, Kowloon is more colourful than other parts of the city but not necessarily more interesting. The Peninsula Hotel and the Cultural Center are here, the Kowloon City Park draws hundreds of Phillippine maids at weekends while the Harbour City Mall draws the cruise ship passengers. The Chinese Film Walk of Fame on the waterfront is maybe a bit artificial but the amazing view of the Hong Kong skyline is definitely worth it (don’t miss the daily laser light show at 8pm).

Hong Kong Kowloon Nathan Road Hong Kong Kowloon Nathan Road Hong Kong Chungking Mansion Hong Kong cruise ship

Hong Kong: Mon Kok

Once next to the old airport, Mon Kok is now a trendy super-populated crazy Chinese quarter north of Kowloon. On a rainy night it’s like something out of Blade Runner, extremely exotic corners next to a billion dollar shopping mall, thousands of neon signs above the crowded streets that turn into pedestrian areas at night. The long, narrow and packed street market parallel to Nathan Road also caters for tourists with souvenirs, fake items and cheap t-shirts. Further up at Argyle Street is the electronic goods centre with dozens of small shops and good prices. There’s also a shoe shop street and a gold fish street where you can buy puffed up creatures and mutated monsters with two tails, or exotic fish babies. Behind a flower street the bird market waits in a little park with old men and a thousand singing birds in tiny cages (these markets are indicated on the maps that hotels distribute for free).

Hong Kong Mon Kok market Hong Kong Duck Hong Kong Mon Kok street market Hong Kong - Mon Kok neon
Hong Kong - Mon Kok goldfish market Hong Kong - Mon Kok goldfish market Hong Kong - Mon Kok goldfish market Hong Kong - Mon Kok night market

Hong Kong: Cheung Chau island

As an alternative to the developed market towns of Aberdeen and Stanley you can also take a half hour ferry ride to the little island of Cheung Chau and enjoy a glimpse into the past. The town sits in a scenic location between the water, the main harbour is filled with fishing boats and there’s a swimming beach on the other side. It’s lovely to stroll through the alleys, walk along the green coasts, look at the temples or just relax in one of the many restaurants.

Hong Kong - Cheung Chau island Hong Kong - Cheung Chau island Hong Kong - Cheung Chau island Hong Kong - Cheung Chau island

Hong Kong travel tips

  • Prepare early if you want to visit China because of the visa processing. Otherwise enquire about an express visa at the airport after arrival, but you might need to organise other documentation in advance (check at the Chinese embassy in your country).
  • Mon Kok is an exciting place to stay, buses connect every ten minutes to the airport, the Kowloon ferry and other areas, the metro line heads directly into Central. The discreet locals never stare and the absence of tourists is probably a bonus for safety.
  • Catch a cheap tram ride in Central and take the front seat on the second floor, you can stay all the way to the terminal and return or get out anywhere on the way.
  • Cantonese OperaTry some cultural highlights like a Cantonese Opera at the Ko Shan Theatre or visit the Tea House in Hong Kong Park to sample a traditional tea. The Hong Kong Tourism Board organises interesting activities, such as classes on Feng Shui, Tai Chi, Chinese medicine, traditional cake-making, Cantonese Opera or tea preparation. They also run a good value Junk Cruise around the harbour. Enquire at the tourist office in the Star Ferry Pier in Kowloon (see Things to do in Hong Kong).
  • As far as shopping malls go there’s probably a new favourite every year. Our favourite was Langham Place in Mon Kok, a vertical super mall with a spiralling walkway down along dozens of shops only the below 25 ever heard of. The funky food court offers Japanese style dishes and desserts with colours and textures you’ve never seen, it looks like plastic but tastes delicious. Ever tried Tobiko Salmon Flakes with Ao Nori and Kimchi? Also not far from the bird market near the Mongkok KCR station is Grand Century Place with its cool food court on the fifth floor called “An Urban Dining Room”.
  • Kowloon is also home to the weird Chungking Mansions with 80 budget guest houses and 360 tiny shops, all Indian (or Pakistani) and African owners, just imagine the poor bloke who has to collect the rent every month! If you dare to go in you might be rewarded with an excellent bargain or Indian meal.
  • Be careful only to bring processed food and items according to the biosecurity criteria of New Zealand.
Hong Kong - Mon Kok bird market Hong Kong - Tea appreciation class Hong Kong - Duk Ling junk cruise Hong Kong - expensive black tea
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