Planning to visit Hong Kong? In this first feature for our new “Treasures of Asia” series, we showcase this distinctive city, highlighting its history and culture, along with the best things to eat and see on your trip.
Known for its spectacular skyline, picturesque harbor, and cheap Michelin-star restaurants, Hong Kong offers a unique mix of both Western and Eastern attractions. With over 7 million people living in a densely populated area, Hong Kong makes a first impression like no other when it comes to food, shopping, and architecture, as this futuristic “vertical” city lures travelers in with a chance to experience some of the world’s most vibrant street markets, delectable dim sum dishes, and dramatic city views.
A Brief History of Hong Kong
With its prime location on the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, Hong Kong has evolved into a world-renowned cosmopolitan city. Back in the 7th century, Hong Kong was settled by the Han Chinese dynasty and by the end of the first Opium War in 1842, Britain gained control, transforming it into a major port trade with southern China. Hong Kong’s rich history includes stories of powerful clans, sleepy fishing villages, and European traders, but in recent decades its seen an emergence of international trade. Now part of China and observing a “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong maintains its autonomy by retaining its capitalist system, free trade, and freedom of speech.
Hong Kong’s Vibrant Culture & Heritage
A blend of past (Britain) and current (China) sovereigns, Hong Kong is an Asian megacity where even the most well-traveled visitors can relish in its cultural contrasts. The tightly populated “Pearl of the Orient” showcases its hidden gems and cultural attractions by taking travelers up escalators and hills away from street level, offering a seemingly endless amount of ways to experience its mixture of modern architecture, centuries-old walled villages, and Taoist temples. With 1,000 years of culture under its belt, Hong Kong shines a light on its Chinese traditions and rich blend of multiculturalism through the art of feng shui, tai chi, and reflexology.
What to Eat in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a culinary mecca perfect for food lovers, where it’s not unheard of to find Michelin-star cuisine for under $5. Eat your way around this dynamic city by sampling popular dishes such as roast goose, pineapple buns, and cha siu bao, which is delicious barbecued pork stuffed into a bun. Celebrate Hong Kong’s east-meets-west heritage with traditional Cantonese dim sum, barbecued meats, wonton noodles and egg tarts, then unwind with a cup of local milk tea topped with evaporated or condensed milk. Plus, don’t miss out on Hotpots, which are a favorite communal dish where you can cook a variety of meats and vegetables in a sizzling soup.
Highlight Attractions in Hong Kong
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the number of top attractions in Hong Kong, but a visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Victoria Peak. Admire Hong Kong’s glittering city skyline from over 1,800 feet above sea level at the observation deck, where you can take in views of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon’s eight mountains on a clear day. Back down on the bustling city streets, don’t miss browsing for bargain knick-knacks and quirky “I Love HK” souvenirs sold at the open-air Stanley Market.
Take a break at nearby Repulse Bay, a crescent-shaped stretch of sand and Hong Kong’s most exclusive residential area. Aberdeen Floating Fishing Village is another must-see, as this picturesque fishing port is dotted with traditional sampan boats and old-fashioned junks that serve as floating homes for local fishermen and provide a stark contrast against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s modern skyscrapers.
An Exciting Day Trip from Hong Kong
Only an hour away by boat, Macau is a popular day trip destination from Hong Kong. Nicknamed the “Las Vegas of Asia,” this former Portuguese territory boasts a glitzy casino strip and a collection of notable cultural attractions. Walk around this alluring destination to discover stunning colonial architecture and historic churches sitting alongside traditional Chinese temples, then sample local delights that combine Portuguese cuisine with Cantonese cooking. Don’t miss seeing the A-Ma Temple, the oldest temple in the city, or admiring the beautiful stone facade of the 16th-century Ruins of St. Paul’s.
A Multicultural Experience You’ll Never Forget
Hong Kong is a fascinating cultural hub of Asia that will take even the most seasoned traveler by surprise. With so many exciting attractions at your fingertips, your time in Hong Kong is sure to be filled with memorable bucket list experiences. Hong Kong is a feast for the senses, where you can sample irresistible dim sum, explore bustling street markets, relax on soft sandy beaches, and take in iconic birds-eye views of the city.