The Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin is a great place for the whole family to learn about Chinese culture, arts and landscape. The children's section is fully interactive and has a great room with a whole host of toys manufactured in Hong Kong from the 1890s on. The ceramics and art collection provide examples from all periods in Chinese history (2000BCE on). The history of Cantonese opera exhibit was great too.
After a trip to the museum enjoy the walk along the river back to Shatin train station and through New Town Plaza - a shopper's paradise.
There are supermarkets and cheap eats in the Plaza as well as a park and library nearby.
Che Kung Train station is closest, then a 15-20 min walk from either Tai Wai or Shatin Train station. Or get a 80M bus from Kowloon Tong train station.
A local chain of Italian-style eateries. Adapted to local tastes but excellent value, very large portions and very family friendly (kids will love it).
There are about six branches dotted around Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. One is in Soho half way up the big escalator; www.fatangelos.com
Within the concrete jungle of Central and away from the shopping malls, is a haven: beautiful gardens containing exotic shrubs, sculptures and fountains, a fantastic zoo housing shy orang-utans, noisy monkeys and pretty birds. And surprisingly, it is FREE.
Entrance is on Albany Road. Open daily.
A beautiful place about an hour's ferry ride from Central. I lived in HK for 4 years and this was my favourite spot to relax and unwind. Take in a walk around the island, enjoy the village atmosphere compared to the mania that is HK island. From memory there is a Bun Festival in/around May which is worth a trip.
Cheung Chau Island
For a near-free tour of HK island's major attractions, travel on the upper deck of the old electric tram, from Kennedy Town in the west, through central to Quarry Bay and beyond in the east. You can peel off at Wan Chai for Happy Valley and the horse races.
Though very slow, you see virtually the whole of HK island and savour its flavour at street level, jumping off wherever you want - each trip is just HK$1-2 (20p). Avoid rush hour. Watch out for pickpockets. Anyone tall should find a seat quick, or face a crick neck all week.
If there's a few of you, hire your own tram, complete with its own bar for a Friday night trawl. Ask the tourist board.
All major HK island MTR stations, just look for the tracks, listen out for the clanking bell
A hidden first-floor restaurant with authentic German food. Yes, I know it’s German but it’s amazing and very popular with locals and bizarre expats who treat it as their own and welcome anyone who enters its tiny door.
After the good food try Ned Kelly’s down the street, where the band is the best in HK at what they do. Good old sing alongs and classics that keep the crown entertained well into the night.
Weinstube: First floor, Ashley Rd, TST, Kowloon
Ned Kelly: street level on Ashley Rd
Both are reachable from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR
Fabulous restaurant on Lantau Island. There’s an enormous patio (stoep) under the trees on a wide, sandy beach, serving South African food (interesting, quite delicious with a Malay influence, and some of the best bread I have ever tasted).
Really friendly staff with a good, relaxed approach makes for a welcome break from the frantic pace of Central. Great stop-over on a day trip to Lantau for a long lunch, some sunbathing and swimming.
Near Tong Fuk village, Lantau Island
On most Wednesday nights throughout the race season (September to June) catch the night racing at the Happy Valley racetrack. Hemmed in on all sides by tower-blocks, each meet can attract up to 60,000 people, though about 25,000 is the norm.
Pay HK$10 (about seventy pence) to enjoy the action from the public stand, and whilst there get some of the cheapest lager in town. Either watch the horses hurtle past you from touching distance on the uncovered ground floor, or catch the elevator to the 7th floor of the stand to watch from up high. A wet afternoon in Uttoxeter will never be the same again.
Happy Valley - behing Causeway Bay shops on HK Island. Either get off the MTR at Causeway Bay or get the tram directly to the track
One of many luxury hotels in Hong Kong but this one is just that bit special. Extremely well located on the Kowloon side, it’s just a few steps from the Star Ferry terminal and the malls of Ocean Terminal. Opposite it is the Hong Kong space museum and it is not too far from the Hong Kong science museum – both great venues for children. And of course the hotel has a shopping mall of its own.
Rooms are spacious and elegant and the service is as you would expect. However the best part of it is that the hotel does relatively affordable helicopter rides. A fab way to see Hong Kong or to buzz yourself to the airport.
It also has Rolls-Royces to transfer you to the airport – very comfortable and only a fraction of the price of what you would pay for a car transfer from Narita to Tokyo.
An excellent alternative to the noise and bustle of Central Hong Kong but easy to get there, with the locals, by ferry - which is two minutes from the hotel. Close to the airport (about 40 mins by taxi, 60 by bus). Excellent value.
D.D. 2 Lot 648 Silvermine Bay, Mui Wo, Lantau Island
Tel: (852) 2736-0922 Fax: (852) 2405-0922
You're in the tropics: it's going to rain. But when it does, you can still see Hong Kong in this breathtakingly modern complex. The display walks you from the geological origins of the island through the dinosaurs, cavemen, ancient dynasties, colonisation, world war two and the final handover in 1997 - all of it an engaging fashion that brings the exhibits to life.
100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong (next to the Hong Kong Science Museum - nearest Metro is Tsimshatsui) Tel: 00 852 2724 9042 hk.history.museum
An impressive mountain on Hong Kong island, either walk up it (takes about one hour or more) or take the funicular railway. Queues for the rail can be harsh though, especially at the weekend - make sure you get there early. Once you get up to the top you have a fantastic view of Hong Kong and over to Kowloon on the coast and surpass tallest building on the island, quite exhilarating!
Hong Kong Island, buses go to the funicular regularly from the harbour station
Once the home of expat boho types, Lamma Island has gone upmarket since the handover and the advent of fast ferries, and is now home to expat architects, designers and journalists: it even sports a sushi restaurant now. Still, it preserves its rural Chinese flavour, with chicken coops, banana plants and paddy fields dotted about the paths forking off the main thoroughfare, which is full of chain smoking old fishermen playing mah jong.
Dubbed the "Idylic Island Shangri-La" because the ugly power station destroyed what once resembled a Greek fishing village. There are no cars allowed, so watch out for the hilarious toy fire engines and ambulances straight out of Postman Pat. Arts and crafts and expat drinkers fill up Main Street (it's basically just a path) at weekends). There’s plenty of great seafood restaurants and western-style bars in Yung Shue Wan. The island also boasts great beaches and a breathtaking, albeit light walk, five miles over the hills to its sister fishing village - also linked to Central.
Great seafood restaurants at both villages. Ask for the Pigeon, one of Chris Patten's favourite haunts, high on a hill overlooking a sandy bay, a 10-15 minute walk from Main Street. Serves gorgeous fried and roasted pigeon.
About 25-50 minutess by ferry from Central's outlying islands ferry pier. Fast hoverferries now operate until 2.30am
Ensure you get on the Yung Shue Wan ferry; the other Lamma island village is five miles away, with fewer return sailings and no hotels shoudl you get stranded.
At the edge of Victoria Park, near the harbour and the highway, lies a little known but huge open-air swimming pool complex, with kiddies' pool, diving boards, licensed bar and restaurant. Certainly helps you cool off in the HK humidity, if your hotel is the run-of-the-mill shoebox without a pool. Entrance is about HK$19 for adults. There is also a public pool at Sai Ying Poon, aka Western district or Kennedy Town, but it's far less exotic and much less central, although it's just as cheap.
Hing Fat Street, Causeway Bay; tel: 2570 4682; nearest station: Tin Hau MTR; open: late March to November (it's too cold otherwise, apparently)
I am amazed that nobody has mentioned the outdoor activities in HK. 40% of Hong Kong's territory has been set aside for parkland, and although the highest point is only 900m above sea level, the terrain is amazing. There are several hundred trails available to the public, covering every part of the territory.
We lived on Lamma Island, and walked the length and breadth of the island. The hiking on Lantau Island is also very good (you can also mountain bike on all the hiking trails). The hike from the back of Lantau from near the airport, up over Lantau peak and then down to the big Buddha at Po Lin is amazing. Such an incredible contrast, seeing the new airport below you in the beginning, then down to a statue that attracts Buddhists from all over Asia.
There is also great hiking/mountain biking in the New Territories, the MacLehose Trail in particular (100km from Sai Kung in the east to Tsuen Mun in the west). This is the same trail where they have the endurance race every year (in the middle of summer), which was traditionally won by the Gurkhas, but they have been overtaken by professional race teams, (who complete it in about 20 hours - it is normally a hard four days’ walk.
Speaking of summer - it gets very hot and humid, so start early and bring plenty of water and sunblock. Winter (October through to April) is perfect for hiking and biking in HK as the weather is cooler and it rains less.
And the best thing about hiking in HK - finishing at an amazing sea food restaurant like the ones mentioned at Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island.
A brilliant library with facilities and a collection that many library visitors in the UK would give their right arm for. Excellent free internet facilities and - while you wait - a great selection of English language fiction to browse. For those of an impressionable nature, there are transparent lifts to play with - oops, that was me!
This is a fabulous, much under-visited museum which offers fantastic insights into Hong Kong in the context of Chinese Culture. There is a superb display of pre-British archaeological and cultural artefacts, fantastic recreations of Hong Kong's past, present and possible futures, and some entrancing mock-ups of Chinese opera and theatre.
Not hugely easy to find (hence under-visited) but take the KCR to Shat Tin (New Territories) and then either take a short taxi ride or make your way through the Festival Walk Shopping Mall, heading South and East and you'll come to signposts.
There's a lot of history squeezed into Hong Kong's 150 years as a British colony, and much of it is contained here at the former Lei Yue Mun Fort. More than just a display of guns and steel, you can get a picture of how Hong Kong came to be what it is today, and see how the garrison used to live and fight.
175 Tung Hei Road, walkable from Shau Kei Wan MTR station; tel: 852 2569 1500
It's often a cliche when you hear people talk of 'seeing the other side' of a city, but there are such contrasts in Hong Kong that it's well worth doing. Take one of the guided minibus tours that leaves from the lobby of the Peninsula hotel and get to know a few little corners of old Hong Kong; ancient houses, incense-filled temples, bustling markets and open country.
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