Chinaful Insider Guides: What to SEE in Hong Kong
Visiting Hong Kong? You’ll no doubt learn from your hotel and travel guides that you must spend a day at the Big Buddha, a bronze behemoth and one of five large buddha statutes in China. You’ll also hear that you should take a ride on the tram to Hong Kong’s Peak for the views and dinner. See these, sure — but then check out Chinaful’s favorites. After living in Hong Kong, and staying there for business throughout the years, these are the places I visit every chance I get. It’s these spots that give you a look into the heart of Hong Kong culture and daily life.
Hong Kong Lotus Flowers
Hong Kong’s Markets – Hong Kong is known for its shopping, and not just its luxury brands. Street markets are throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon–you can find just about any good that you can imagine. At the Flower Market, you can see flowers like lotus, orchids. On Des Voeux Road West, learn about Eastern medicinal tonics and take pictures of bizarre dried seafood. Walk the Hong Kong Island Wet Market to see live sea creatures and exotic produce for sale, or roasted ducks hanging in a window. And even though you’re unlikely to buy a bird on your visit, enjoy the sights and songs in the Bird Garden, where colorful birds sing from their bamboo cages.
Songbirds at Kowloon Bird Garden
Stanley Beach and Market – A short drive from Central, the Stanley Market has a beachy vibe that sharply constrasts to most of urban Hong Kong. Come here for a stroll on the beaches, and check out the markets for souvenirs and knock-offs. (Be prepared to bargain!) Stop in for a quick drink or coffee at one of the cafes, or catch a sports game at a local pub. You’ll leave this slice of serenity relaxed and ready to face the subway crowds once again.
Temples – Europe has its churches, and China has its temples. While Hong Kong’s temples aren’t the top of our list in China, they are certainly worth checking out during your visit. Man Mo Temple is the most convenient for a quick visit given its location in Central. Man Mo is still an active temple, with coils of incense burning from the ceiling and parishioners making offerings to the deities. If you’re up for an adventure, take the subway to the New Territories and see the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas at Sha Tin – this temple on a hill houses a collection of tiny golden buddhas, if you can brave the stairs. The temple also serves as a mausoleum, with photos of deceased on tiles that contain urns. You may see family members bring offerings to their ancestors, or even perform “kowtow” bowing to show respect.
Temple of 10,000 Buddhas
Mid-Level Escalators – Essentially a novelty, the mid-level escalators in Central turn you into a kid again as you glide up, up, and away. It’s worth a ride, if not because it’s the longest escalator in the world, then as an efficient transport to some excellent restaurants. (More to come on food in a later Chinaful Insider Guide dedicated to Hong Kong’s delicious eateries.) It may seem silly, but I always get excited to step on to these escalators.
Traveling to China and want to know Chinaful’s recommendations? Leave a comment or email chinafulblog.com, and you might see answers to your questions on an upcoming post.