Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Located on the eastern bank of the Pearl River, Hong Kong further distinguishes itself: ancient traditions coexist with ultraliberal economics.

Many generations of Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans and Russians have come to Hong Kong to do business since the 1830s. The city now shows a face that bears the graceful traces of cultural diversity. Because if the 1997 handover of the New Territories shed a light on the country and the island's dissenting views, Hong Kong still managed to make the best of it. These defining features have made the megalopolis a symbol of success in Asia. Discover this extraordinary piece of land, made of skyscrapers, beaches, temples and foreign flavours.

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Arrival in Hong Kong

5:35 p.m. After half a day spent on a plane, you're finally beating the Hong Kong pavement, carried away by the liveliness of its busy streets. On Lantau island, drop your suitcases and rest your heavy legs on the velvety beds of the Tai O Heritage Hotel, a former British police station built in 1902 to combat local pirates. It was restored in 2016 in an elegant colonial style. From your bedroom window, admire graceful pink dolphins swimming by the other shore. They contrast with the shades of green dressing the nearby hill with a touch of romanticism.

Tai O Heritage Hotel
14 Shek Tsai Po Street
Tai O, Lantau Island
Outlanding Islands
Hong Kong
+852 2985 8383
www.taioheritagehotel.com/eng

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Days 1 and 2: detour by the Hong Kong, Lamma and Lantau islands

The Tian Tan Buddha, turned towards the skies
At the foot of the stairs leading to its stone seat, the Tian Tan Buddha stands out with the lush plants of the Ngong Ping plateau. During your athletic climb, you will notice its heavy figure progressively revealed behind the moving branches of the Lantau hill. Built on a base platform inspired by the sacred locations of the Altar of Heaven, the 111-feet high bronze statue watches over Chinese people. With its head slightly inclined and right hand raised, the Buddha protects passersby with benevolence and humility. Go out of your way to the Po Lin Monastery down the slope, as it welcomes some of the greatest minds of the Buddhist religion.

Tian Tan Buddha
Ngong Ping
Lantau Island
Outlying Islands
+852 2985 5248
www.plm.org.hk/eng

An image of the world from Victoria Peak
Board the funicular in Central. Skyscrapers pierce through the clear fog to reach for the sky and open the doors of a spectacular panorama: from Kowloon to Macau, you'll discover a bucolic side of Hong Kong, with wooded slopes and empty beaches hidden between mountain peaks. Walk up the Legard path to Harlech Road riddled with hibiscus, bamboo and fern. Since the colonial period, Victoria Peak has attracted walkers looking for incredible sensations, as well as some cool – the reason why expensive villas have been built there, slightly concealed from view.

Victoria Peak
The Peak Tram
33 Garden Road
Central
Hong Kong
+852 2522 0922
www.thepeak.com.hk/en

High-flying activities in Ocean Park
Launched in 1977, Hong Kong's ocean theme park now celebrates its 40th birthday. This year, it brings back the scent of 1970s street food with an added touch of modernity. 915,000 sqm of aquariums and attractions offer visitors a chance to see spotty sharks, arctic foxes, king penguins, capybaras and kinkajous. “Polar Adventure”, “Shark Mystique”, “Old Hong Kong” and “Thrill Mountain” are names that well reflect the magic of the proposed attractions: sensory shows, fascinating reconstructions as well as interactive experiences. Note that Ocean Park is committed to promote and insure animal safety around Asia. Thus, a portion of the Park's admission revenue proceeds to support the Hong Kong Conservation Foundation.

Ocean Park Hong Kong
Wong Chuk Hang
Hong Kong
+852 3923 2323
www.oceanpark.com.hk

Where to eat?
Halfway between the Lantan and Hong Kong islands, Lamma island will catch your drift and invite you to a verdant table. The South China Sea is brimming with culinary wonders. Lobsters, geoducks, clams, bay scallops, razor shell clams, groupers and sea basses will find a way to your copious plate, served in restaurants on stilts. It also has to be said that grilled cheese lobster has long been a Cantonese speciality.

Tai Yuen restaurant
15 First Street Sok Kwu Wan
Lamma Island
Hong Kong
+852 2982 8386

Where to sleep?
In the north of the Hong Kong island, the Mira Moon Hotel's contemporary structure and decoration are architect Marcel Wanders doings, with elements of Chinese mythology injected for good measure. Bright red armchairs and curtains contrast with the whiteness of the walls and floors. Smartphones are provided within the hotel for you to use freely, as you wander around and enjoy various etchings, offering modern and abstract recreations of the Moon Festival and its legendary Chinese folk references.

Mira Moon Hotel
388 Jaffe Road
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
+852 2643 8888
www.miramoonhotel.com

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Day 3: spotlight on Kowloon

Back to the past with the Hong Kong Museum of History
Opened in 1975, the Hong Kong Museum of History tells the story of the region, from the Devonian times when it was just an alluvial plain, to the handover from the British to the Republic of China. 400 million years are told through an entertaining and didactic exhibition, relying on graphs, meticulous scale models as well as interactive booths. You'll roam the museum at your own pace, crossing paths with the first local hominids and great Chinese dynasties alike, through the business district and the 19th century opium wars.

Hong Kong Museum of History
100 Chatham Road South
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon
Hong Kong
+852 2724 9042
www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/History

Waterfalls and bonsai trees at the Chi Lin nunnery
The heart of the city beats strongly. As you make your way among tourists with fascinating effervescence, an oasis of peace and tranquillity suddenly opens up to you by Lung Cheung Road. Built over 33,000 sqm according to the Feng Shui philosophy, the Chi Lin nunnery has been remarkably built like a Tang dynasty monastery and is nestled among green gardens and lotus ponds. The structure is composed of 95,000 pieces of hard wood elegantly put together. It houses invaluable Buddha relics as well as wooden, clay and gold statues.

Chi Lin nunnery
5 Chi Lin Drive
Diamond Hill
Sheung Yuen Leng
Hong Kong
+852 2354 1888
www.chilin.org

Where to eat?
The Yan Toh Heen restaurant is often said to be one of the very best Cantonese restaurant in the world and it was awarded two Michelin stars. Served in jade dishes, scallops are adorned with bird's nest and golden leaves. From peppered Hong Kong dim sum to fried and diced wagyu beef, the menu's many flavours are subtle and elusive.

Yan Toh Heen
Intercontinental
18 Salisbury Road
Hong Kong
+852 2313 2323
hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com/en/dining/yan-toh-heen

Where to sleep?
Located on the Yau Ma Tei, the W Hong Kong hotel takes on the city vibes. Immersed in the long outdoor swimming pool, you'll enjoy a breathtaking view onto the city heights and lights. In your room, the large picture windows invite you to go and explore the riches of a bustling island. You'll likely waste no time and join the frenzied and captivated crowd, flooding the Hong Kong streets.

W Hong Kong
1 Austin Road
Jordan
Hong Kong
+852 3717 2222
www.w-hongkong.com

 

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Days 4 and 5: Hong Kong's heart, east to west

Set out in Hong Kong's parks
Put on your hiking boots, Hong Kong's beautiful parks are eager for you to visit. From Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun, the Tai Lam park spreads over 5,000 hectares and the eponymous reservoir. Whether on bike or by foot, it gives excursion amateurs and lovers a chance to wander around the emerald bays and precious islets before going down towards placid lakes and wavy slopes.
As the highest peak in Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan is covered in slanting rocky and veined terraces, originating in the volcanic nature of the soil. Move further east on the island and discover the Sai Kung peninsula. It unpredictably upsets the idea you may have had of Hong Kong: from Pak Tam Chung onwards, the MacLehose trail is a gem for all serious climbers!

MacLehose trail
Tai Po
Hong Kong
+852 3105 0767
hiking.gov.hk/eng/longtrail/mtrail

Small air detour to Macao
If you happen to be near Tuen Mun, you can go to Macau by ferry in less than one hour. However, we recommend you come back to Kowloon and live what is an astounding experience. After only a short drive, you'll climb up to the 30th floor of the Peninsula Hotel, where you'll board a helicopter! As you fly over the Hong Kong skyscrapers, euphoria erases any possible fear of heights and makes you forget about the frenzy in the city at your feet. The countryside, mountains and beaches all pass before your eyes at an incredible speed before you reach Macau, peaceful neighbour still living off the nostalgia of the former Portuguese administration, which still pervades local food and culture today.

Peninsula Hotel
Suite 1801, 18th floor
Chinachem Johnston Plaza
178-186, Johnston Road
Wanchai
Hong Kong
+852 2802 0200
www.heliservices.com.hk

Where to eat?
Relax and enjoy the famous afternoon tea time. In the large Peninsula Hotel lobby, gargoyles perched atop the ivory and gold columns are keeping an eye out for you. Overhanging the room, a violin quartet quietly plays for the enjoyment of all food lovers. Tea time is an iconic – even classic – tradition widely celebrated by Hong Kong people, who happen to love a drop of milk in their cup.

High Tea Peninsula Hong Kong
Salisbury Road
Hong Kong
+852 2920 2888
hongkong.peninsula.com/en/the-lobby-afternoon-tea

Where to sleep?
Tomorrow, you'll be ready to explore the mysteries of the Chinese border, but tonight, we recommend you to stay at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel, where you'll fall asleep to the soothing sounds of deep and dark waters. On par with the lobby, the children's bedroom should pretty much awaken your family's imagination. Will you go for prehistoric times or a galactic experience?

Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel
1 Castle Peak Road
Tuen Mun
Hong Kong
+852 2452 8888
www.sino-hotels.com/hk/gold-coast/en

 

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Travel notebook: destination Hong Kong

Day 6: hit the road towards the Chinese border

Migrate to the Mai Po Nature Reserve
The Autumn breeze bows down your neck and migratory birds chirp all around. When the weather becomes milder, the Mai Po Nature Reserve becomes home to thousands of feathered visitors seeking refuge in the mudflats and ponds of the region. They share the land with fiddler crabs, rockfishes and otters, feeding off other fish and shrimp inside Inner Deep Bay's mangroves. Famous all over the world, the Mai Po territory gathers some 380 animal species, some of them being of global conservation concern like the Saunders' Gull and the Black-faced Spoonbill. In utter respect for biodiversity, you can take guided tours with other observers, naturalists and curious parties!
On your way to the Chinese border, make a stop in a small popular restaurant. There, you'll be able to store various dim sum and soft buns. Ready, steady, eat!

Mai Po Nature Reserve
Mai Po, Yuen Long
New Territories
+852 2526 1011
www.wwf.org.hk/en/whatwedo/water_wetlands/mai_po_nature_reserve

Welcome to the Splendid China Folk Village
As you move closer to the border with Mainland China, you take the plunge and go wander around Shenzhen. The largely industrialised city is home to some of the most modern buildings in the world. We invite you to discover the Splendid China Folk Village, a popular theme park reflecting on Chinese history, culture, art and customs among the country's various regions and ethnic groups. Developed by the tourism company China Travel Services into two definite sections, the landscaped park spreads over 30 hectares of rides, shows and scaled models of monuments and villages.
After this getaway, you'll only have to get back to the international airport. It is almost time to go home, your mind full of wonderful images and sensations you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

Splendid China Folk Village
9003 Shennan Avenue
Nanshan Qu, Guangdong Sheng
Shenzhen
+86 755 2660 0626
www.cn5000.com.cn