Frank Rumpf, DPA, October 18, 2011
Hong Kong is experiencing an economic upturn and is also witnessing a record number of visitors. The former British colony in the South China Sea is constantly changing but also manages not to forget its traditions. Ten highlights that no tourist should miss:
1. Star Ferry
A rocky trip on the double-decker Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour is the ideal way to start a visit to Hong Kong. A ticket only costs around 40 cents and offers superb views of Hong Kong's impressive skyline.
2. Peak Tram
Another tourist tradition can be found close to the central ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island. The Peak Tram runs up to Victoria Peak and its starting point on Garden Road can be reached by shuttle bus. Kowloon on the opposite harbour side and the island of Lantau can be seen on a clear day.
3. Afternoon Tea
The social tradition of afternoon tea can be enjoyed at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui at the tip of Kowloon. Rooms in the five-star hotel are expensive but afternoon tea is well within the budget of most travellers.
4. Chinese doctors
No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without an evening stroll through the streets of Kowloon, enjoying the neon lights of Nathan Road. This is the world of street traders, taverns and stories about the legendary high-end call girl Suzie Wong. A visit to a Chinese doctor at the 400-year-old Beijing Tong Ren Tang chain on No 6 Cameron Road requires a translator as the doctor only speaks Cantonese.
5. Night market
The night market on Temple Street can be reached by foot, where everything from car radios to silk underwear can be purchased. Tourists should be warned that an Asian "XL" is the equivalent of a European "M" size and there is often a question mark as to whether brand names are genuine or fake.
6. Avenue of Stars
The Avenue of Stars on the quayside of Kowloon honours local stars such as Bruce Lee. Another reason to visit here at night is to enjoy the spectacular view of Hong Kong's skyscrapers when they are lit up.
7. Markets in Central
The street markets of Central on Hong Kong Island are another must-see for tourists. It's here where locals from the nearby high-rise apartment blocks buy fresh produce daily, including fruit, vegetables, poultry and a wide selection of seafood.
8. Dim Sum
It is essential to try some Dim Sum, a Cantonese term for snack which more typically refers to food prepared as small bite-sized portions of shrimp, pork or vegetables, traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. For decades, the Luk Yu Tea House at 24-26 Stanley Street has been the best address for Dim Sum in Central.
9. The beach
Hong Kong boasts more than 40 official sandy beaches, the most well known of which is to be found at Repulse Bay, a former pirates' hideaway situated a 20-minute bus or taxi ride from Central. Colourful shrines dedicated to Taoist deities can be seen on the eastern end of the beach. An unusual culinary experience can be savoured at the Repulse Bay Arcade: foie gras and lobster ice cream.
10. Horse racing
Horse racing is the most popular past-time in Hong Kong. There are Wednesday night cards between September and April in Happy Valley and at the weekend in Sha Tin. The Hong Kong Jockey Club offers several packages for tourists which can be reserved.