Over 150 years ago, Hong Kong was described as a “barren rock.” Today, it’s a dynamic, 21st century city that has gone from British Colony to florist one of the world’s must-visit tourist destinations. Its colonial charm is still to be found in the historic mansions dotted around The Peak and quaint customs like firing the Noon Day Gun, yet this is an international city proud of its Chinese heritage and Cantonese gusto.
After the handover from Great Britain in June 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. While some things have changed, you’ll marvel at this melting pot of east meets west.
Where else can you gaze in awe at a Manhattan-style skyline filled with iconic modern architecture by IM Pei and Norman Foster, and just a few streets away, bargain your heart out for silk and jade at a local laneway market. That’s Hong Kong for you. It’s fast, efficient, entrepreneurial, yet truly Chinese at heart.
Location is everything.
Situated at the south-eastern tip of China on The South China Sea, Hong Kong is actually just one island out of a group of 263. Most visitors spend their time on Hong Kong itself, the popular Kowloon Peninsula and the more rural New Territories. Take a ferry trip to one of the outlying islands such as Lamma, Lantau or Cheung Chau and see how lush and green the scenery is. Hong Kong offers the nature lover wonderful treks across mountains tops and amazing scenery, so when you’ve had enough retail therapy, head for the hills.
When it comes to serious shopping, Hong Kong has it all.
What hasn’t been said about shopping in Hong Kong! Right across the Island, you’ll discover that retail must have been invented here. In Central, slick designer shopping malls such as Landmark and Prince’s Building, cater to expensive tastes. A who’s who of labels, brands and temptations that will entice your credit card time and time again. In contrast, there are street markets like Li Yuen East and Li Yuen West, not forgetting factory outlets where you can go bargain spotting at great prices.
Wan Chai: Wan Chai’s streets are steeped in history and you can happily spend an afternoon exploring the shops and the “wet” market. (It sells food, fruit, flowers, fish, meat – quite different from a US supermarket experience.) Spring Garden Lane between Queen’s Road East and Johnston Road, is a good place to pick up clothes at very competitive prices. The market stalls sell products originally meant for export, meaning quality and price are very competitive.
Causeway Bay: This has become known locally as “Little Japan” because of the major Japanese department stores in the area. It is hip and young, with stores specializing in shoes, electrical appliances and fashion. Don’t miss the small street market called Jardine’s Bazaar, filled with low-cost fashion and accessories.
Stanley Market: Jump on a bus or take a taxi to Stanley, famous for its warren of stalls, shops and restaurants. (The ride along Repulse Bay Road is spectacular with superb views across the sea to outlying islands.) Here you’ll find paintings, curios, cashmere, silks and ceramics, along with cut-price fashion. Open from around 10:00am to 6:00pm daily.
Hungry for more. A world of exquisite, mouth-watering dining options.
As you would expect, good Chinese restaurants are found everywhere in Hong Kong. Some of the best can be found in major hotels and shopping complexes. Most specialize in one or more of the following: Cantonese, Chiu Chow, Hunan, Szechuan, Peking, Shanghainese or Chinese Vegetarian. If you’re hungry for a taste of home, you can find just about everything – from American-style burgers to homemade Italian pasta. Day and night, Hong Kong’s gourmet delights are plentiful – whether you want to pick up a snack or get dressed up and hit the clubs of Lan Kwai Fong, it’s all waiting for you.
What’s new to see and do in Hong Kong now. A Symphony of Light.
As if Hong Kong wasn’t colorful enough, at night’s it’s electrifying. This new multimedia show creates an all-round vision of lights, laser beams and searchlights, performing an unforgettable spectacle synchronised to music and narration that celebrates the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong.
Already named the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by Guinness World Records, it has been expanded to involve 33 key buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour. If you are in Hong Kong during a festival, special pyrotechnic displays launched from the middle of the harbour add extra sparkle to the show.
Hong Kong Disneyland. Visit the magical kingdom.
Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau Island, the fifth in the world, opened in September 2005.It has proved to be a huge draw card for both international and local visitors, so if you’re planning to go, it will busy. You can discover a magical kingdom of thrilling adventures, wonderful journeys and beloved Disney Characters. The park consists of four themed lands similar to those in the other Disneyland parks: Main Street, USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. By the way, this Adventureland is the biggest one out of all the Disneyland parks.
If you’re keen to actually stay here, you can. There are two enchanting hotels offering unique shopping, imaginative dining and family recreation — all delivered with the style and service you expect from Disney.
Take a journey of enlightenment.
Ride the stunning 5.7km cable car ride up the side of a mountain on Lantau Island to a culturally themed village next to the Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. The Ngong Ping Skyrail travels from Tung Chung adjacent to the airport over spectacular countryside offering panoramic views, across the South China Sea, the mountains and monastery. This is planned to open in mid 2006.
Hong Kong Wetland Park.
Located next to the internationally recognised Mai Po Marshes bird sanctuary, this huge park is designed to demonstrate the diversity of Hong Kong’s wetland ecosystem. You can get closer to nature through integrated themed education and recreation facilities, with audio visual shows, interactive demos and wetland simulations.
Hong Kong Hotels to match every budget.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s top ten travel destinations. You’ll find every type of accommodation available to suit your budget – from major 5 star international names to smaller hotels offering great value rates. Book online and see what hot deals you can find. During holiday time and special Chinese festivals, it pays to book ahead. Web sites such as have dozens of choices, in all the shopping, business and nightlife districts.
Hong Kong is easy to get around with safe public transport, a reliable subway, trams and ferries, so you’re never far from a bargain or for that matter, a memorable time.
Although Thais tend to believe (mistakenly) that Hong Kong and Singapore are the shopping meccas of southeast Asia, you can buy virtually anything in Bangkok, often at bargain-basement prices. Imports, notably foods, tend to be expensive, so if you must eat cornflakes, cheese, and pickles, expect to pay through the nose! Thailand’s industrial base has expanded enormously in the past thirty years, and the country now has a range of factories producing electrical goods, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and so on. If you want to go on a shopping spree you will find most of these local products reasonably priced and of good quality. Some foreigners get annoyed because they feel they are being charged more at markets than a Thai would be, but vendors tend to price their goods according to a person’s ability to pay and they reason, correctly, that a foreign tourist is well-heeled compared with most of the Thai customers.
If you feel you are getting a raw deal, be prepared to bargain; this is expected of you. If you can bargain in Thai, a vendor will be so surprised and delighted that he (or, more likely, she) will be more willing to give you a reduction. Department stores, supermarkets, and hotel boutiques tend to have fixed prices, which are clearly marked. A number of foreign retailers have branches in Thailand, but generally speaking the smaller shops are much more fun. The Siam Square and Pratunam areas have a very wide range of shops, but you have good shopping facilities in most areas of Bangkok, including the major business area around Silom and Suriwong.
There are several excellent markets, including the famous Floating Market, which is often the ultimate destination of city canal tours. In the provinces you will also find a wide range of goods on sale, even in the smallest townships. Most of the large hotels and tourist centers have souvenir shops selling Thai handicrafts. Thai silk, bronzeware, lacquerware, Celadon pottery, and wood carvings are among the most attractive items. Caveat Emptor Buyer beware! Every year thousands of visitors are conned into buying objets d’art they believe to be genuine, but which are not.
At archaeological sites like Ayuthaya, for instance, people will approach you offering to sell you genuine antiques that turn out to have been made last week and skill fully aged. A genuine antique is likely to be expensive, and if you plan to take it out of the country, you may well need to procure an export license. You need to exercise particular care when buying jewelry, especially when approached in the street. Reputable dealers do not solicit in this way, nor do they organize special promotions. All claims as to the value of the object need to be verified carefully, and if you have any doubts as to the reliability of a jewelry dealer you should check with the Tourist Assistance Center of the Tourist Authority of Thailand. The Tourist Authority Web site is tat.or.th.
Lisa is a Pattaya flower shop owner and trained florist from Pattaya. Lisa has spent her whole life in Thailand and loves being near the sea at her home town of Pattaya. Lisa likes all aspects of working with flowers from getting up early in the morning and going to Pattaya flower market to buy the freshest flowers, to dealing with customers and getting the flower orders for the day, to delivering these flowers to customers in Pattaya. Lisa owns a Pattaya flower shop close to the beach on Walking street. She can organize Pattaya flower delivery on the same day if customers order by noon and have these delivered to most areas in the city.