Hong Kong, which roughly translates to “Fragrant Harbor” in Cantonese, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. The government is unitary, which means towns and cities are not recognized as subsidiary administrative units. Up until 1997, Victoria was considered the capital of Hong Kong. However, due to its unique status as an SAR, many countries consider Beijing (the capital of China) as the capital.
Located on the coast of the South China Sea, Hong Kong is home to seven million people. It is known for its colorful history, expansive skyline, deep transition harbor and vivid cultural diversity. Hong Kong bills itself as Asia’s World City and with good reason. It is a major trade and financial hub and enjoys strong political and legal independence. It is regarded as an Alpha+ city and was ranked fifth in the Global Cities Index of 2014.
Hong Kong’s Transportation
Hong Kong boasts a highly-developed transportation network, both internally and externally. It is well connected with all the major cities and countries in the world. The Hong Kong International Airport, which has been labeled the “World’s Best Airport” eight times by Skytrax, connects Hong Kong to all major cities in North America and Europe with one daily flight at least. Flights to and from Asia and Oceania are also frequent.
Sightseeing in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known for its tall buildings and one-of-kind activities for tourists. The most popular attractions include:
Victoria Peak Tower: Commonly called just “The Peak”, the tower is stylish, entertaining and thrilling to say the least. It is home to The Sky Terrace – city’s highest 360-degree viewing platform, among other fascinating things.
Ozone Bar, Ritz Carlton: The highest bar in the world, Ozone sits on the 118th floor of the building and offers unmissable views of the vibrant city.
Hong Kong’s Cuisine
Hong Kong holds the much-deserved title of “World’s Fair of Food” and “Gourmet Paradise” and it spoils you for choice. The city’s unique east-meets-west style reflects in its cuisine as well and you can see popular global fast food joints or hot pot and dim sum restaurants flourishing alongside traditional Chinese Haute Cuisine establishments as well.
This makes it a good place to eat for both – travelers who want to experience the traditional Chinese cuisines and those that are homesick and have had enough of the Chinese food. It is also a good place to eat for travelers who want premium dining experience. Four among the world’s best 100 restaurants are in Hong Kong, as per the Restaurant Magazine. And you can easily use the Michelin Guide or Open Rice to find and locate other great places to eat.
Things To Do in Hong Kong
Apart from sightseeing, Hong Kong excels in offering a multitude of activities for travelers of all tastes. These include shopping, clubbing, hiking, trailing and even gambling. Among other things, Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise.
Shops in the city are marked by zero VAT, zero sales tax and fierce competition, which make it easier for shoppers to find quality items. However, don’t expect the costs to be cheap everywhere and be ready to put up your fiercest bargain if you want cheap shopping. Mong Kok in Kowloon is the major shopping district in the city. Shopping malls are abundant and the most popular ones include Landmark, City Plaza, IFC Mall, Pacific Place, APM, Festival Walk and Times Square.
Before Visiting Hong Kong
You will need a passport and visa to get in Hong Kong, even if you are entering via mainland China. You can apply for a visa at the Chinese embassy or at Hong Kong's Immigration Department. Details of the entry requirement can be found at the Immigration Department's website as well.
The official currency of the city is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), denoted by “$”. So if you see a dollar sign, consider it HKD and not USD. Prices listed in US dollars have the “USD $” sign before them. The standard exchange rate is USD1 = HKD0.80 but banks may offer some slight variations. And airports as well as hotels will offer the least competitive exchange rates of all.