If Hong Kong Island is the yuppie brother with a hip edge, then Kowloon is the sassy sister who never forgot her Chinese roots. Kowloon is south of the mainland, part of Hong Kong’s New Territories, forming a peninsula that juts down toward Hong Kong Island. Visitors will find it easy to travel back and forth between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island; with the most popular method being the Star Ferry, which is boarded at the waterfront. In addition to being convenient and cheap (about $2), the Star Ferry affords magnificent skyline views, especially at night.
A Princess Cruise ship in Victoria Harbour.
Kowloon is the most densely populated part of Hong Kong. Restaurants and shops abound and the flow of people is nonstop. It’s all part of Kowloon’s charm.
A good place to start a day of sightseeing is from atop Lung Cheung Road Lookout Point, the highest point of land in Kowloon. The site provides panoramic views of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.
The streets of Kowloon are busy, crowded and colorful.
Other places of interest include the Hek Kip Mei Estate, a neighborhood that preserves the way Hong Kong looked in the 1950s; Chi Lin Nunnery, a Buddhist temple with Tang dynasty-style architecture; and the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, a revered Taoist temple.
Museums of note include the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Space Museum.
One of Kowloon’s biggest draws is its markets, where travelers can bargain for a wide range of goods. The Ladies’ Market is the district’s largest, where shoppers can find knock-offs of designer goods and electronics. The Night Market, which sells a little bit of everything, opens around 6 p.m. and runs until midnight. Two colorful markets, the Flower Market and the Bird Garden, adjoin each other.
Most Kowloon hotels are in Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui East. Kowloon is busiest when it hosts international trade shows, which normally take place in the months of January, April and October. For these peak periods, book at least one month ahead.
A Horizon Club Harbour-View room at the Shangri-La Kowloon.
The Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong offers unobstructed views of Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour and the city’s skyline. For the ultimate vistas, book Deluxe Harbour View, Horizon Harbour View rooms and the Harbour, Premier, Specialty and Presidential Suites. There are 86 connecting rooms at the hotel, and larger families can opt for a suite with adjoining rooms.
The Horizon Club of the Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong is high above the harbor on the top floors (19-21) and offers a hotel within a hotel for executive travelers. Horizon Club guests receive a complete range of special privileges, including exclusive access to two lounges and personal purser service.
Although the hotel doesn’t have a spa, guests can arrange beauty treatments, aromatherapy, massage and reflexology services in the health club, which has three treatment rooms. Arrange treatments ahead of arrival by contacting Patrick Lau, the health club manager (852-2733-8729, [email protected]).
The hotel’s Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant serves Cantonese specialties in a gold and red decor reminiscent of the Sung dynasty. Executive Chinese Chef Ip’s signature dishes include Fillet of Lobster Sautéed with Dragon Fruit in Hawthorn Sauce, and Sautéed Assorted Rice with Crab Meat, Egg White, Wolfberries and Diced Mushrooms.
Nadaman Japanese Restaurant’s Head Chef Takaya Ishizuka’s signature dishes include Homemade Bean Curd with Sea Urchin, and Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu Beef.
Angelini, located on the Mezzanine Level, offers traditional and healthy Italian cuisine with sweeping views of Victoria Harbour in a contemporary, relaxing setting. The emphasis is on healthy, authentic creations from the southern regions of Italy, along with a dash of Mediterranean. Angelini’s Chef’s Table is located directly outside the kitchen and allows guests to view their meal being prepared.
Agents with VIP requests are welcome to contact the General Manager, Mark J. Heywood (852-2721-2111, [email protected]). The travel agent liaison is Emily Ma, director of sales (852-2733-8788, [email protected]).
A room at the Langham Hotel, Hong Kong.
The Peninsula Hong Kong is observing its 80th anniversary this year. It’s the oldest hotel in Hong Kong and after opening in 1928, it soon became the focus of Kowloon’s social life, earning the sobriquet “The Pen.”
One of the ways the hotel is honoring its past throughout the rest of 2008 is by bringing back the hotel’s traditional afternoon tea dances. The afternoon tea dances are held in the lobby every first Sunday of the month through December. The lobby, already sporting marble-topped tables and Tiffany chinaware, is transformed even further back in time, with a live band playing swing music and waiters and waitresses in period costume. The afternoon includes ballroom dancing, accompanied by a Deluxe Afternoon Tea Set, including a glass of champagne, for $64 per person. Guests should make reservations for the afternoon tea dance, which at press time was booked three months ahead.
The Deluxe Harbour View rooms on the 17th to 27th floors in the hotel’s new tower have prime views. For even more luxury, book the Deluxe Harbour View Suites, which are located at each corner of these floors.
Even as the Peninsula celebrates its heritage, it still remains cutting-edge. To this end, the hotel has created a luxurious program that introduces guests to the unexpected natural settings of Hong Kong. The new excursion takes guests in Peninsula’s rooftop helicopter to some of the territory’s remote wild spaces, accessible only by sea or air, before boarding a luxury yacht for a champagne lunch and then returning to the hotel by chauffeured Roll-Royce. The excursion is priced at approximately $7,800 for up to four persons.
The Peninsula’s director of sales, Charis Yim, can field agents’ requests. She can be contacted at 852-2920 2888 or [email protected].
Langham Hotel, Hong Kong is located in Kowloon’s Tsimshatsui district, directly across the harbor from Central Hong Kong. The hotel is Hong Kong’s only member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
For the best view, book the deluxe city-view rooms, where at night you can see the glittering streets of Kowloon Drive. The hotel has 26 suites. The Premiere Suite (Room 1328) represents the hotel’s ultimate in accommodations. It’s a one-bedroom suite with a bar, sitting area, dining area, study, and 2-1?2 bathrooms (one with a Jacuzzi).
Langham Hotel Club Floor rooms are popular because of their access to the exclusive Langham Hotel Club Lounge located on the 11th floor. The lounge serves breakfast, all-day unlimited snacks and canapés and evening cocktails. The lounge also has complimentary PC terminals with scanners, printers and broadband connection.
The hotel’s main restaurant is T’ang Court, chosen as one of Hong Kong’s Top Dining Tables by Gourmet magazine, and specializes in Cantonese cuisine. Agents can make advance reservations for their clients by contacting Danny Tse, chief concierge ([email protected], 852-2375-1133, ext. 81).
Travelers can take comfort in the tastes of home at The Main St. Deli, Hong Kong’s only authentic New York deli. Favorite items are the Reuben sandwich, pastrami sandwich and matzo ball soup.
The hotel is a favorite of an eclectic mix of celebrities, including designer Kenneth Cole, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, actor Edward Norton and singer Christina Aguilera. During the evenings of December 24 and 31, the street in front of the hotel becomes a pedestrian zone. Guests checking in or out during those hours will need to allow extra time to get to the nearest spot for car pickup or dropoff.
The travel agent liaison is Raymond Tong, assistant director of sales, travel trade ([email protected], 852-2378-9304).
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Getting There: The main entry point is Hong Kong International Airport. The airport was voted best in the world by Skytrax from 2001 to 2005, and again in 2007.
Entry Requirements: A visa is not required of U.S citizens for tourist stays of up to 90 days.
Electric Current: 220 volts.
Language: Cantonese is Hong Kong’s main language. Given Hong Kong’s British heritage, English is widely spoken.
Currency: Hong Kong dollar. The exchange rate at press time was $1 U.S. to $7.80 Hong Kong.
Tour Operators: Tour Operators selling Hong Kong include China Travel Service (U.S.A.) (800-899-8618); Gate 1 Travel (800-682-3333); GTS Globotours (800-988-4833); Orient Flexi Pax Tours (800-545-5540); Pleasant Holidays (800-448-3333); Ritz Tours (800-900-2446); SITA World Tours (800-421-56430); Tauck World Discovery (800-468-2825); and Viking River Cruises (888-505-7984).
Contact: For more information, visit the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at www.discoverhongkong.com/usa.