Christmas has been and gone and New Year’s day is a fading memory. You may think the festive season is over but you’re wrong. The Chinese New Year of the Monkey is waiting around the corner and there’s no better place to celebrate it than Hong Kong city.
Probably the most exciting city in the world, Hong Kong is the perfect getaway to beat the rain, snow and chilly winds of January and February, with the added bonus of celebrating the Chinese New Year while you’re there. Enjoying temperatures reaching 20°C at this time of the year, (namely their Winter from December to February) Hong Kong offers everything and more for families, couples or single explorers alike.
Handed over to China in 1997 after 156 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong offers the best in entertainment, technology, architecture, culture and shopping. With about 7 million people crammed into 1000 square kilometres, it’s ranked up with Brazil as one of the most populated places on Earth, but don’t think you can’t get away from the crowds if you want to.
With a 45 minute boat ride, you can reach the outer-laying Islands, of which Lantua is the biggest, alongside 262 others. Total solitude, peace and quiet. Fine seafront restaurants and views to die for. The South China Sea is a marvel to set your sights on and explore.
Accessible from the mainland district called Kowloon by ferry, taxi or the subway, Hong Kong Island is nothing but amazing. The future is now in Hong Kong. Bustling streets, sky-scrapers, hustle, bustle, character, sight and smells. Hong Kong is an explosion for all your senses. Street corner food stalls and luxurious restaurants. Hong Kong will cater to all your wants and needs. The very first thing any tourist must do is to start at the top and work downwards.
Divided into Hong Kong’s lower, middle and higher levels, either take the Peak Tram to the top of the island or do something different and take a bus. The tram will take you there directly, while on the bus you’ll see a lot more but take longer to arrive. The Peak offers sights across the region. Panorama views guaranteed, though on a cloudy day you’ll be left disappointed for sure. With refreshments and a restaurant to rest and recharge your batteries, it’s a must for any tourist visiting the island.
Hong Kong is truly a marvel of the 21st century which wouldn’t look out-of-place in the 22nd Century. Having booked into your hotel, be it a 5 star hotel or a hostel in any number of Mega City type blocks, hitting Hong Kong’s night life is an adventure in itself. Back on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, a visit to Temple Street market is an absolute must. Day or night it offers an array of merchandise on sale. Toys, computers, cameras, food, clothes, exotic animals, chickens, birds, snakes; you name it, you’ll find it.
Explore Temple Street market at your leisure. In the evening, street theatre performances will make you stop in your tracks and look on in awe at the finely dressed and heavily made up artists perform their shows. Temple Street market oozes Chinese culture, spirit and character. From Chinese medicine shops, to tarot reading, to massage; every box is ticked and the experience will stay with you forever.
No doubt you’ll be ready for a drink and something to eat. With the British colonial influence evident throughout Hong Kong, you’ll have a choice of whether to visit an authentic Chinese restaurant in which their menus are written in Chinese, which you’ll only know what you have ordered by the accompanying picture, or alternatively one of the many British style pubs and bars which still exist.
From Mad-Dogs, to Pomeroy’s, to Delaney’s, to Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, every nationality is catered for. Hong Kong is a haven for ex-pats from across the world and you’ll never feel far from home by walking into the right bar or pub. Thenonto the Wan-chai district to party the night away. Seedy on one side and respectable on the other, Hong Kong is a den of vice which can easily tempt you to the other side.
Topless bars to strip joints, discos to cocktails bars, it’s easy to have so much fun that time runs away and before you know it, you’ll be exiting a dark night club into the bright morning sunshine. After all the hustle, bustle, noise and throng of people, you’ll be in desperate need to stretch your legs and get some space.
There’s nothing easier than jumping on a boat and getting away from it all. As close as the other side of Hong Kong Island, to the outer islands only 30-40 minutes away, peace and solitude is always in touching distance. Lantua Island’s biggest tourist attraction is the humongous Buddha at the top of the hill at the Po Lin Monastery. Attracting thousands of visitors a day it’s the perfect excuse to put on your trekking boots and go for a healthy trek up a hill.
Smaller islands such as Lamma and Cheung Chau are great to visit for the same reason. The beaches are often deserted but always covered in fine golden sand. Go for a healthy walk and hit a seaside restaurant for a delicious fish meal before catching the high-speed boat home. Share a bottle of wine as you watch the Sun go down. The images of the South China Sea bathed in the setting reds and oranges of the setting Sun are intoxicating and serene; beautiful and surreal.
Why not book yourself a junk boat for the day? Cheap and easy to hire, it’s perfect for families or a big group of friends. With everything you need served on board, the skipper will drop anchor at any island you wish to stretch your legs and explore, before sailing you back to where you set off.
The shopping is second to none. With all the well-known brands around the world tendering their wares, Hong Kong is the perfect place to pick up a fake Rolex, an Armani suit, the latest Sony camera, tablet or just a finely craved Chinese chess set. Everything is on sale, tacky, beautifully craved, hi-spec or just fun. Shopping in Hong Kong is both cheap, expensive, fun and exciting. You’ll be sure to find products you never knew existed, wanted or items that should never be sold at all.
Shopping, food, night life, tourist attractions and shows. Visit Macau and with a bit of luck you can return home with a fortune. After all the British were not the only colonial powers to get their hands on the South China Sea islands. Portugal did the same and now Macau is considered the Las Vegas of the region.
Happy Chinese New Year, good fortune to all and happiness for 2016. The Chinese peopleare famed for their belief in good fortune and the help of their ancestors and generous spirits. Traditionally celebrated as a Lunar New Year from between 21 January to 20 February, people across Asia come together to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck.
Walking the streets of any Asian city be it Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok, windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Watch out for the street parades, including larger than life dragons, fireworks, firecrackers and copious amount of toy money in red paper envelopes given in appreciation and honour for their deities and ancestors.
All in all, Hong Kong is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveller. If you haven’t been already you really must, and if you have been, it’s always good to return to see what’s different in this ever-changing city. Hong Kong really is the most exciting city in the world and there is no better time to visit than during the Chinese New Year.