Hong Kong is an independent territory situated at the eastern part of the Pearl River estuary in South China. Its location has made it one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and thriving places.
The former British Colony hosts over 7.4 million people of different nationalities. Thus, it’s the 4th most densely populated country in the world.
The Hong Kong we know today was formed when the Chinese Qing dynasty was strongly defeated by Great Britain in the first opium war far back in 1842. After their defeat, China handed over the beautiful Island of Hong Kong to Great Britain. 60 years after the war, the neighboring 235 Outlying Islands, New Territories, and Kowloon were altogether leased over to Great Britain.
Such a rich history has given Hong Kong a colorful culture and heritage with interesting stories about marauding pirates, European traders, and conquest of powerful clans that can captivate anyone. Hong Kong has also served as a center of international trade from its earliest days as a British Colony.
In the early 20th century, when Hong Kong was facing turbulence, its population was bolstered by many Chinese refugees. The enormous influx of these Chinese immigrants assisted Hong Kong in taking on a new role as a manufacturing hub. This development brought economic growth to the city.
As their host country, Mainland China, experienced an upwelling in their economy over the years, they closely followed suit. They kept experiencing more development over time which led them to becoming an important gateway to the world’s largest market as well as a service based economy.
Fast forward today, this former British Colony has grown to become a great place for tourists and expatriates, so much that it’s more fun to visit than mainland China. To prove this point, here are 20 reasons why your vacation should be planned for Hong Kong, instead of China.
20 It’s The Home Place of the Milk Tea
If you are a fan of “Pantyhose milk tea,” you can be assured that you will be getting the best of the best in Hong Kong. For those that aren’t familiar with the pantyhose milk tea, this sensational brew is a rich blend of black tea and milk strained via pantyhose.
The result is a brew that looks like a silken mixture which carries a taste absolutely incomparable in the world of caffeine drinks. In 2017, Tai Fat restaurant in Yuen Long won the award for “the restaurant with the best milk tea.” Thus, anytime you are in Hong Kong, you can visit them.
19 No One Makes Better Pastries Than They Do
There are so many things Hong Kong learnt from their former colonial masters – one of them is the act of making delicious pastries. In fact, a taste of their locally made pastries might make you agree that they would give their teachers, the Brits, a run for their money or even do better.
They’ve got a ton of them. From the flaky puffs stuffed with smoky char siu to the velvet egg custard nestled in buttery shells. Hence, we can categorically say that you haven’t tasted pastries until you taste the ones in Hong Kong.
18 If You’re Bored, Just Protest Peacefully!
It’s obvious that Hong Kong is ripe for civil disobedience, compared to their reactionary neighbors like Singapore and Mainland China. According to figures gotten from the Hong Kong Police, over the past two years, you will likely see Hong Kong citizens organize peaceful protests at an average of 2.7 times every day.
It’s so clear that these peaceful protests have become a fun thing for Hong Kong residents – because where else on earth can you peacefully march for causes like "protest against insufficient social security assistance to buy your kids Japanese comics and sunglasses” or “protest against the funeral business infinitely expanding?”
17 Great Late Night Parties and Night Life
If you’re a party animal and you are in Hong Kong for vacation, you’ll not be missing much as the party gets started at midnight. Even if you are the non-partying type, you can still benefit one or two from the never dying night life.
For instance, if you need to do a quick impromptu shopping late at night, you can go out as late as 12am to get whatever you need from the mall. At the mall, you can find retailers open up till 2am in the morning.
You could also get a Cinema ticket by 3:30 am and have the whole cinema to yourself, if you’re lucky, and still end up fueling your belly at some restaurant before you return home.
16 You Get the Luckiest Buns Ever
In Hong Kong, Cheung Chau pulls crowds of about 60,000 spectators as they get entertained watching bun-snatchers participate in a race to build three 60-foot towers with their buns. The citizens believe that the highest buns tower brings some sort of luck when it’s shared amongst the town’s resident after the competition.
The buns festival has always been held by the Cheung Chau's fishing community since the 18th century. Ancient folktales believe that the festival is done to pray for good sailing and ward off evil spirits. During this festival in May every year, everyone on the Island also goes vegetarian.
15 You’ll See One of the Best Racecourses in the World
Hong Kong's horse racecourses are well renowned in the world. Thus, if you’re on a vacation to this beautiful place, whether you’re staying in the suburbs or in the city center, you can’t avoid the racecourses.
The Sha Tin racecourse which has the world's lengthiest Diamond Vision television screen, is known for hosting one of horse racing’s biggest events. The Diamond Vision screen size which is measured at 70.4m gives a clear view for patrons to know what they are betting on, especially during crucial competitions like the Hong Kong Derby and the Hong Kong International Races.
14 The Best Ferry Ride That Leaves All Others In Its Wake
The star ferry in Hong Kong is the perfect signature of the city. Since 1988, passengers have been faithfully transported by the charming star ferry boats from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back.
Up till today, millions of people still board the star ferry boats every year, despite the fact that the 2 sides of the Victoria Harbor are bridged by a world-class infrastructure system of rail tunnels and road.
Even though the ferry boats are a very old means of transportation, many tourists take rides on them just to get a closer view at one of the world’s most beautiful and photographed harbor.
13 Enjoy Some Drinks at the Rooftop Bar
You can catch a stunning panoramic view of the city on an open-air rooftop terrace while you get juicy steaks and a delicious meal at Wooloomooloo. From the rooftop of the Australian steakhouse, you can get a ”not-too-grungy” view of Victoria Harbor, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Wan Chai without feeling left out from the city.
In this Australian steakhouse, the price of the cocktails may be quite expensive, thus it’s better if you just stick to a good bottle of red wine to wash down your steak. You could add this to one of your “go-to places” when you visit Hong Kong next.
12 Go Partying On a Junk Boat
Over time, renting a junk boat has become one of the most prevalent activities tourists do in the summer. Most times, you will see a group of friends or family members sailing out to the sea for a whole day. The name “junk boat” is gotten from a traditional Chinese craft.
The Junk season starts from the month of May and ends when the weather gets cold. There’re a ton of companies that lease out junk boats, giving a whole lot of options to choose from. Just ensure you make inquiries before making your choice.
11 Go Fishing At the Tai O Fishing Village
The Tai O fishing village is just located at the river bank. If you want a complete dose of traditional fishing and interesting fisherman folks which has existed for generations, the Tai O fishing village is your sure bet.
The Tanka people who are descendants of Hong Kong’s first settlers are the citizens that make up this village. They are very friendly and helpful, especially to tourists. Most of their houses are erected on stilts over the river. Between their houses are narrow lanes where you find the shops of fish sellers.
10 A Scenery of Tropical Paradise for Tourists
One of the interesting things about Hong Kong is that about 40% of its territory is protected by country parks. This lands in one of the highest proportions in the world.
If you decide to take a twenty-minute drive from anywhere in the city, you’ll find yourself going through peaceful beaches, hiking trails and lush green mountains.
You also have the opportunity of diving off the coast, trolling for pink dolphins, paragliding off a mountain, and cruising on a speedboat in about 24 hours. With all these events, you’d still have time left to get decked out for a glamorous night on the town.
9 One of the Largest Convenience Stores in the World
When it comes to convenience stores, Hong Kong has them on almost every street in the city. The sweet thing about the convenience stores is that each of them has all sorts of things that you can purchase in them.
Due to this factor, people that live in Hong Kong don’t bother storing so much food in their homes because the stores are located within a short walking distance from their homes.
Apart from having the largest convenience stores, it would interest you to know that the stores are usually opened 24 hours a day. If you have a thing for sweets, you could get busy with the Japanese or Chinese candy.
8 The Sweet Scent of the Atmosphere
If you have a thing for sweet-scented atmosphere, then Hong Kong is one of the best places to experience it. Causeway Bay and Wan Chai are districts in Hong Kong that have a particular smell.
The good part is that the sweet smell isn’t altered with any bad smell at any point in time, unlike Bangkok in China. Bangkok usually has a smoky coconut smell with an underlying smell of sewers that disrupts your thoughts.
The smell of the atmosphere in Hong Kong is a combination of barbequed pork, exhaust fumes from vehicles, fish balls, perfume and cigarette smoke that keeps you engaged.
7 The Beautiful Country Parks
When you’re visiting Hong Kong for the first time, it is normal to expect it to be a cross between downtown Tokyo and downtown Manhattan or a concrete jungle. However, it is not 100% that.
The interesting thing is that Hong Kong has open spaces and hills. In fact, about 70% is occupied by open spaces and a lot of that area is Country Park.
People that live in Hong Kong love the country parks. This is because they get the chance to get fresh air and do fun activities like hiking and doing barbeque. If you decide to do barbeque, getting supplies for it isn’t a problem because it’s just one bus away.
6 The Healing Power of Congee
If by any chance you get to Hong Kong and you are down with a stomach problem, don’t fret, because the solution to this problem is not as difficult as you think. When you visit the doctor, congee will be recommended to you.
Congee as a name may seem like a scary drug, but it is one of the most effective solutions to a stomach upset. And before you think of it as a drug, take note that Congee is actually a dish. Yes! It’s a dish that looks like porridge. It’s actually made of various garnishes such as ginger, chicken, preserved eggs and shredded pork. It’s also made of rice and salt.
Even though it is a solution to stomach upsets, most people would still eat this dish despite having a healthy stomach. Why? Because it’s delicious.
5 Live Freely
If you’re in search of a place that offers you the freedom to live as you want then Hong Kong is a fantastic choice. This is because Hong Kong is one of the freest places you can ever imagine. It practically has no democratically elected government.
Hence, as long as what you want to do isn’t illegal then you can go ahead and be free. You can even go as far as walking up to a policeman on any street in Hong Kong, drinking a beer. Why? Because it isn’t illegal.
4 Beautiful City Lights at Night
If you love darkness then Hong Kong would definitely blind you. This is due to the fact that Hong Kong doesn’t take a break from lights not even at night. These lights do more than just illuminate the environment at night. They also beautify Hong Kong as a whole, at night.
The lights are bright to the extent that if you choose to read a book at 1 o’ clock in the morning without your own lights, all you need to do is climb up to your roof and read along.
If you pay attention to details, you’d observe that so many buildings are designed with the purpose of entertaining residents and tourists alike, not just to illuminate the city.
3 Feast Out at the Sea
Hong Kong has got a lot of iconic landmarks. This landmark in particular took more than four years to build. Millions of dollars were put into it as well. It is called the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. And yes, the name does justice to its description.
The restaurant has an ancient Chinese palace look. It also attracts a lot of locals as well as tourists. Some of the celebrities that have dined in this restaurant include Queen Elizabeth II, Chow Yun Fat, and Tom Cruise.
For most guests, this restaurant offers an array of quality seafood dishes and dim sum. If you wish to visit this restaurant, then all you’ll need to do is hop onto the free ferry that moves from Aberdeen Promenade.
2 A Visit to The Hong Kong Maritime Museum Will Wow You!
The rich heritage of Hong Kong’s maritime and trade history is located in the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. In order to help you paint the right picture about the history, there are over 1,000 artifacts on display.
These beautiful artifacts assist you in appreciating the importance of trade in making the self-proclaimed “world city” what it is presently. You can be sure that you’d never get bored in this museum because every section of the museum has “hands-on” exhibits.
These exhibits entertain guests for at least a couple of hours. The museum also has the view of Victoria Harbor out of the second and third story windows. This feature adds relevance to everything you see.
1 Meet Two of the Biggest Pandas In the World at The Ocean Park
In Hong Kong, the Ocean Park is located at the Southside of the island. Presently, the Ocean Park is the home of two giant pandas.
The two giant pandas are Le Le first and Ying Ying. The fun doesn’t end there though. You can treat yourself to a view of an array of marine animals and exotic birds. But to do this, you just have to embark on a journey over dramatic cliffs in a cable car.
The Ocean Park is quite popular for its month-long and astonishingly scary Halloween attractions – in case you find yourself in Hong Kong during this period.