Underneath the glass and steel of Hong Kong’s commercial persona is a dynamic cultural landscape where its Chinese roots, colonial connections, and the contributions of its home-grown talent become intertwined. Here, you’re just as likely to find yourself applauding at Asia’s top film festival as joining in dawn taichi or reading the couplets of a local poet to the drumbeat of a dragon boat. Culture could also mean indie music by the harbour, Chinese opera in a bamboo theatre, not to mention the thousands of shows staged year-round at the city’s many museums and concert halls.
From off-the-rack Chinese gowns to bespoke speciality knives and vice versa, the sheer variety of products in Hong Kong’s shops is dizzying. Every budget, need and whim is catered for in ‘can do’ spirit by a similarly impressive assortment of venues – glitzy malls where the moneyed shop, chic side-street boutiques and vintage dens where fashionistas find their gems, nerdy gadget bazaars, and a mix of markets where you can haggle to your heart’s content. The city has no sales tax so prices are generally attractive to visitors.
One of the world’s top culinary capitals, the city that worships the God of Cookery has many a demon in the kitchen, whether the deliciousness in the pot is Cantonese, Sichuanese, Japanese or French. So deep is the city’s love of food and so broad its culinary repertoire, that whatever your gastronomic desires, Hong Kong will find a way to satiate them. The answer could be a bowl of wonton noodles, freshly steamed dim sum, a warm pineapple bun wedged with butter, a pair of the sweetest prawns, your first-ever stinky tofu, or the creations of the latest celebrity chef.
Neighbourhoods & Islands
Hong Kong’s enchanting neighbourhoods and islands offer a sensory feast. You may find yourself swaying along on a historic double-decker tram, cheering with the hordes at the city-centre horse races, or simply gazing out at the glorious harbour. Over 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and sprawling country parks, some also home to geological and historical gems. Escape the city limits on one of the world’s smoothest transport systems and spend your day wandering in a Song-dynasty village, hiking on a deserted island or kayaking among volcanic sea arches.
Why I Love Hong Kong
By Piera Chen, Writer
Hong Kong has a complexity that defies definition. It’s the only place where I can be searching for colonial military relics near the Chinese border, lunching with a Buddhist at a Sikh temple, trying to decipher the aesthetics of Chinese Revival architecture, or splurging on a set of knives – all within five hours – followed by a night of Cantonese opera, karaoke or poetry, anywhere I choose. Hong Kong is so intense and so full of possibilities that I’m glad there’s the Rule of Law (and an awesome transport system) to stop it from whirling into chaos.