Of all the European imperialist powers, it was the Portuguese who first set their sights on Southern China in the sixteenth century, a move which led to military incursions. Following the expulsion of all foreigners, it was the British who next developed profitable trade relations with China during the eighteenth century exporting opium. However hostilities erupted into the now famous Opium Wars, which ultimately resulted in the various regions which now constitute Hong Kong being individually ceded to Britain by 1898. A century later in 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to China. Today, Hong Kong beats with a vibrant, pulsating heart as one of the globe’s great destinations – a towering metropolis punctuated by a famous harbour.
The weather in Hong Kong makes visiting the city possible year round. Summers, however, are hot and humid with temperatures rising on average to around 31 degrees. In winter the mercury peaks at around 18 degrees. Rainfall is more likely in summer but nothing that significantly prevents exploration.
Hong Kong celebrates Chinese New Year in spectacular fashion with lion dances, fireworks and parades. The Spring Lantern Festival is a beautiful traditional Chinese festival. Other significant cultural festivals include the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Man Literary Festival.
Hong Kong’s International Airport is located on an island just north of Lantau and is connected to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island by an extremely efficient train system dubbed the Airport Express. Airlines that fly from Australia to Hong Kong include:
Direct flights are available from Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong and take around nine and a half hours. Many airlines stopover in regional Asian transit hubs such as Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok and Seoul before proceeding onto Hong Kong.
Although Hong Kong has been reunited with mainland China, it is still considered as a special administrative unit. Therefore there are border formalities for visitors wishing to explore China proper. There are six land checkpoints between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the industrial city neighbouring Hong Kong.
As one of the world’s major economic centres, there are dozens of luxury hotels that cater both to international businessmen and discerning travellers. In fact many of China's hotels are considered some of the best in the world. Famous names competing for your attention include the Four Seasons, InterContinental, Ritz Carlton and the JW Marriott.
The most popular Cantonese dish, dim sum, literally means, ‘to touch your heart,’ so why not take delight in having your taste buds tantalised with a food tour? As a melting pot of cultural fusion, gastronomic delights abound in Hong Kong. Experience the rich variety of culinary history with a specialised food tour that will explore the flavours of the orient. View Food Tour options
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
Much the pleasure of Hong Kong lies in soaking up the frenetic pace by strolling through the streets and becoming overwhelmed by the relentless action - from the controlled chaos of Kowloon to the somewhat more orderly Hong Kong Island. Wander along the promenade to admire the world-famous harbour where junks previously traversed the waters and check out the Avenue of Stars. Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island offers tremendous views across to Kowloon and therefore is a must do attraction.
At 34 metres high, the Tian Tan Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island was the world’s tallest outdoor seated Buddha when it was completed in 1993 and can be seen from Macau on a clear day. Today it remains a major tourist attraction. While on Lantau Island, have a wander through the Parklands as a peaceful break from the hectic pace of Kowloon.
On a rainy day, Hong Kong offers fascinating museums demanding exploration including the Hong Kong Museum of History, which boasts innovative exhibitions detailing the city’s colourful past. The Hong Kong Museum of Art displays historic and contemporary Chinese art, while the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in the New Territories examines Chinese culture.
Don't leave home without...
Hong Kong is a modern cosmopolitan city so if you accidentally forget your favourite moisturiser, chances are it can be easily replaced in a supermarket or chemist.
Being close to the manufacturing factories of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, clothes and other goods can be purchased relatively cheaply. Consider saving some space in your suitcase to fill for the return journey.
When eating food with chopsticks, never stick the utensils vertically into a bowl of rice because according to local customs, they resemble incense sticks associated with the death. Also don’t use the chopsticks to move bowls or plates; they’re purely for delivering food from the bowl to your mouth.
Things to be careful of…
Hong Kong has very strict laws involving illicit drugs. Do not test the law or the patience of the judicial system or your visit to Hong Kong may last a little longer than you intended.
It’s always advisable to wait for the green signal to cross roads. Jay walking and crossing against the lights is an offence, so it's best to remain on the safe side of the law and safety.
Much of the area of Hong Kong is natural wilderness, which provides great hiking opportunities. If you plan to hike, take plenty of water and a good map. Hikers have died exploring the terrain.