7 Reasons to Visit Hong Kong Now
Hong Kong has flourished for more than 150 years as a gateway between East and West. As one of the world's most expensive, fast-paced, and elegant cities, it's become a true global power player—and its allure for travelers has never been so grand. Here are 7 undeniable reasons to visit now.
This summer marked the inaugural Art Basel in Hong Kong, creating another stop for jetsetters who snap up contemporary art at annual Basel extravaganzas in Switzerland and Miami. The show draws significant art devotees, celebrity dabblers, and paparazzi from around the globe, and it's testament to Hong Kong's arrival on the serious-money-meets-serious-fun scene. HK will host its next Art Basel in May—clear some wall space now.
Return of the Dragon
The city celebrates hometown hero Bruce Lee with a new multi-media exhibition that launched last month at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The collection features documentary videos, photography, holograms, and more than 600 pieces of the movie star's martial arts memorabilia and costumes, including his famous nunchucks. It's expected to draw about 1.6 million visitors in the next two years, paying homage not only to Lee's street-fighting skills, but his philosophical gems: "Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo survives by bending with the wind."
Floating over the city are some of the tallest—and most splendid—hotels on the globe. The Upper House is an exquisite luxury boutique that begins on the 38th floor and is consistently ranked as the number one hotel in Asia and one of the top five best hotels in the world. The accolades are well earned: magnificent panoramic views of Victoria Harbor (that you can admire from the floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding your own bathtub dais), its divine Cafe Gray Deluxe restaurant (helmed by James Beard "Best Chef in New York City"-winner Gray Kunz), a rooftop lawn built for yoga and cocktails, an elegant signature scent piped through the hotel, and a beyond-chic crowd. (On the hunt for a British billionaire, a Chinese artist, or a Swedish super model? This is your spot.)
Its sister property, EAST, attracts a more business-driven cool crowd—with a fun lunch and supper global-infusion restaurant called Feast, an infinity pool, and a terrace cocktail lounge, Sugar. Those searching for more traditional sophistication can check into The Peninsula Hong Kong, which is marking 85 years as a sanctuary in the city (and which just won a Fodor's 100 Hotel Award for 2013!).
Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Hong Kong's iconic Peak Tram, a thrilling funicular that speeds up Victoria Peak at steep inclines of up to 27 degrees. (Trust us, it's far more terrifying than it sounds.) A mini-museum in the boarding area explains that before the tram was built in 1888, wealthy (mostly British) residents relied on locals to carry them up the peak on bamboo sedan chairs—ugh. The tram's cars still sport a vintage look while spiriting up to the most spectacular views in Hong Kong. Just be careful of looking down on your way up!
In a real-life version of Disney World's Electric Light Parade, Hong Kong's skyscrapers come to life every evening at 8 pm in a magical show set to a stirring soundtrack. "A Symphony of Lights" was named the largest permanent light and sounds show by the Guinness Book of World Records and involves 45 buildings on either side of the harbor, resulting in a sparkling display along the waterfront each night.
Hong Kong has long been a foodie's paradise. Now, with some of the best chefs in the world flocking to this global crossroads, you can feast on different cuisines practically every night of the year. But don't neglect heavenly local favorites like the Anthony Bourdain-approved Under Bridge Spicy Crab (go ahead and ask for a bib and a jug of water/beer—the "mild spicy" would be four-alarm anywhere else) and the ornate Luk Yu Tea House (24 Stanley Street) for its famous old-school dim sum (order some authentic "big bun" dim sum—yum).
After a long day of shopping in Hong Kong, there's no better way to unwind than with some sophisticated sips. The city's thumping nightlife scene (Hong Kong more than lives up to its work-hard-play-hard ethos) includes many hidden cocktail gems. Some of our top-secret favorites include the Japanese-fave Butler, the speakeasy 001 , Boujis (which features cocktails like the Potinger Pornstar), and the kitschy-cool Honi Honi tiki bar. Gom bui, Hong Kong!
Photo credits: Art Basel Hong Kong courtesy of Art Basel; Bruce Lee statue Hong Kong via Dreamstime.com; The Upper House courtesy of The Upper House; Victoria Peak via Dreamstime.com; Symphony of Lights courtesy of Flickr/Francisco Diez; Luk Yu Tea House courtesy of Flickr/Cloudy Wind; Honi Honi bar courtesy of Honi Honi
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I'm also a teenager based in Europe, however, I'm fortunate to travel annually to Hong Kong.
The first attraction that comes into mind is the Peak Tram (above) and The 360 Ngong Ping Cable Car. The former is a tram that travels at a 27 degree gradient up to Victoria Peak and is a feeling that must be experienced as it is hard to replicate in photos. Whilst up there, the view looking down on the densely populated city with the most skyscrapers in the world, is magnificent if the weather is good.
Also recommended if your group is unafraid of heights is the Ngong Ping Cable car. I highly recommend the 'Crystal floor car' if you are a first time visitor to the attraction. Although this is more expensive than the regular car, with the glass flooring, you get a better view of Hong Kong's scenic areas away from the bustling city centers. Whilst up there, you can visit the Tian Tian Buddha.
Hong Kong is also an amazing place to shop! Not only does it have the high-priced designer areas and is one of the world's most expensive (as stated in this article), it is also a great place to get great bargains! There are many trendy malls and plazas frequently scattered around Hong Kong which many Hong Kong teenagers spend time at. Here you can buy anything from video games, manga comics, collectibles,candy, cool stationary, clothes and many more! If you are stuck for where you can find these places, I recommend Causeway Bay.
Additionally, if you do wish to snap up a great bargain aslong as you can barter well, Ladies Market is a great place to go!
Depending on the interests of your teenagers, there are also two major themeparks in Hong Kong (Disneyland and Ocean Park). I particularly recommend Ocean Park if your group is a nature lover to see the pandas and red pandas!
I hope that my suggestions helped. I'm not sure how to reply to your comment so I hope that you manage to read this! Enjoy your time in Hong Kong!
There are certain cities -- Paris, London, Rome, New York, Tokyo -- that a person absolutely must see (if they have the means): Hong Kong is one of them.
Great article above, and I would add some others: Bo Innovation (Top 50 restaurant with affordable lunches), the Big Buddha, 10,000 Buddhas, Dragon's Peak -- although I realize that with these aren't necessary topical (Bo Innovation excepted.)
I'm sorry I did not know about the secret cocktails until now -- love kitschy cool.
More HK suggestions: http://www.esmetravels.com/category/travel-blog/hong-kong-travel-blog/
We are going for New Year with 3 teens - any suggestions?