10 reasons to visit Hong Kong - including direct flights from Dublin!
As the first direct scheduled flights between Dublin and Hong Kong are confirmed, David Dawson shares his top tips for the city.
See the Symphony of Lights
Victoria Harbour at night is a dazzling spectacle. At 8pm, however, the show is taken to a different level as the gigantic skyscrapers on either side of the harbour begin synchronising their lights to music. According to Guinness World Records, this is the largest permanent light and sound show in the world. The accompanying music is broadcast on radio, so you can enjoy it from any point you like - from the heights of Victoria Peak or right on down to the waterfront.
Take a food tour
A walking food tour is great way to explore the city, as is its food. Hong Kong really is a melting pot of cultures, and this comes through in the mouthwatering cuisine. It's also unique in that it still has traditional wet markets and food stalls nestled between skyscrapers. Try some delicious roast pork or duck with rice at one of the last places to cook their food on the island. I loved the Chinese treats, like sugared ginger.
Ride the Victoria Peak Tram
Hong Kong has excellent public transport, particularly the subway. However, there's something special about getting the tram up to Victoria peak. It goes up a steep incline, with the skyscrapers falling away as you rise past them. When you get to the top there is a well laid out area with near 360-degrees views, across Victoria Harbour on one side and across the islands into the South China Sea on the other. See thepeak.com.hk.
Sail on the Star Ferry
This is how locals used to get around, and was rated by National Geographic as one of the top things to do in your lifetime. As it crosses between Hong Kong island and Kowloon the trip is short enough, but with the skyline on both sides the views are beautiful, especially in the late afternoon or at sunset. If you are getting the ferry in the morning, follow the local tradition and grab an egg tart for the trip... very tasty! See starferry.com.hk.
Temple Street Night Market
A Chinese market at night is more than a collection of stalls - it’s theatre, festivity and selling trading all rolled into one. In the relative cool of the evening there are lights, brilliant colours and haggling going on with jade, electronics, antiques, tourist t-shirts all thrown in together. As a photographer I loved the vibrancy of it all, and the energy is infectious.
Make time for Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel (hongkong.peninsula.com) is most famous, and hard to beat. Even harder to beat though is afternoon tea at the Intercontinental (intercontinental.com), located on Kowloon waterfront itself. Sit back and raise those pinkies, along with views of ships and sampans negotiating the busy harbour.
Try the Mid-Level escalators
The world’s longest covered escalator system, built in the early nineties, was not rated by the locals in its early days. That's changed. Now, Up to 55,000 commuters and tourists use it daily, and it makes for a novel way to get from Central to some of the older districts, markets and watering holes in Mid-Levels.
Drink the highest cocktails on earth
The Ozone Bar in the Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarlton.com) touts itself as the highest bar in the world. The cocktails themselves are not cheap, but entry is free. If you weigh it up against some of the prices to go to the lookout decks on the skyscrapers; I would much rather enjoy a cocktail in the clouds in a classy atmosphere. The drinks themselves are good, and it’s much quieter and less crowded than a lookout decksome of the alternatives. Best enjoyed at sunset or at night.
Visit Man Mo Temple
The oldest temple in Hong Kong, Man Mo is on Hollywood Road just off Central, so should be on most people’s itineraries. Built in 1847, it’s a historic monument and still an active temple to the gods of literature (Man) and the god of war (Mo). Students studying for their civil exams still sometimes patronise the temple, seeking good luck. Preserving the original appearance, it’s an open way to observe a traditional Taoist temple along with some of the practices and rituals carried out there.
Direct flights from Dublin
Cathay Pacific will operate a new, four-times weekly service from June 2, 2018. Return fares are currently priced from €642 on cathaypacific.com.
It’s very quick to get into the city from the airport on the MTR so you lose little precious exploring time on a short stopover.
See also discoverhongkong.com.