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New Years Eve (Western version) in Hong Kong

New Years Eve (Western version) in Hong Kong

Old Aug 16th, 2009, 06:33 PM
  #1  
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New Years Eve (Western version) in Hong Kong

Can anyone tell us about New Years Eve (Dec 31) in Hong Kong? Is it celebrated? Are there massive throngs like those in New York, London or Paris? Which areas will be the livliest? Any thoughts, experiences, insights would be appreciated.

We are also trying to decide between staying in central (Conrad or JW Marriott) or in Kowloon (Sheraton or Langham Place). Again, any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks
darnestown is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2009, 02:32 AM
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There are outdoor celebrations in several areas of Hong Kong: in Times Square (our version, much, much smaller than the NYC version both in terms of the area in which it occurs and size of the crowd, but they do have a ball drop), in Lan Kwai Fong (primarily younger expatriates, kind of a frat party atmosphere) Soho (also expatriates but tends to be a slightly older crowd) and then on the waterfront areas along both sides of the harbour, primarily on the Kowloon side along Salisbury Road in front of the Peninsula and the Sheraton, and also on the Hong Kong side along the area by the Convention Centre (i.e. in front of the Grand Hyatt).

Also, most restaurants, in hotels and otherwise, will have set price meals (at fairly high prices) which you must participate in if you want to eat at midnight; if you want to eat earlier you can usually go a la carte. You may want to make a booking shortly if you are interested in one of the view restaurants or a name restaurant like Nobu, etc.

In some past years (like 2008 and last year) there have been fireworks in the harbour at midnight. If someone is willing to pay for them, they will have them this year, hard to say and it probably won’t be known until a few days before December 31. I have my doubts that there will be any this year (there were no fireworks for National Day this year, the first time I can recall this in 10 years.) If they do have fireworks, they are of course really something, and having a window table in a restaurant or a harbour view hotel room is a big plus. If not, just having a harbour view hotel room could be fun in any event. (A boat trip is also possible, but this could be kind of cold, make sure there is at least some indoor space. Dress in layers and bring gloves.)

If you are at all claustrophobic, you might want to avoid places like Times Square or Lan Kwai Fong which can get really, really crowded. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but several people were crushed to death in 2003 or so in Lan Kwai Fong, it’s a narrow hilly series of streets lined with bars open to the street.) I have not been on Salisbury Road at midnight, but have been there on Christmas Eve on several occasions. It tends to be a more family crowd and is a larger area so you may be able to get around a bit more easily. I believe the same is true of the Convention Centre area, although there is closer access to the bars of Wan Chai from here. If you choose the Sheraton, this may be good for getting away from the crowd if you decide it is too much and you can watch from the windows. Note that if there are going to be fireworks, the public areas on both sides of the harbour will start getting crowded several hours before the fireworks start, another reason to have a harbour view hotel room.

I am not a huge fan of the Langham, mostly due to it’s location, and getting back to Mongkok that night could be a royal pain. If you choose to stay there, IMO you should then stick to celebrations which are walkable from that area. If you are walking back from the Kowloon waterfront to the Langham, it’s about 2 miles, almost a straight shot up Nathan Road and virtually flat the entire way, but whether you want a walk of 2 miles is up to you. If you decide to go out on the Hong Kong side, you may want to choose a hotel on the Hong Kong side which is walkable to the festivities, or just be ready to walk a bit (not bad in the weather, it can be cool but will be relatively flat and it’s completely safe). As with any major city, getting a taxi after midnight may be problematic, and things like the subway will be jammed and lines for the Star Ferry could be quite long.

Personally, if this were my trip I would book a harbour view room at the Sheraton and hope that there are fireworks, or if not, then you can hop out onto Salisbury Road to join in the street party for as long or as short as you want. If you want to do a pub crawl, then stay on the Hong Kong side. Hotels like the Conrad or JW Marriott would be a very good location if you want a pub crawl night, as you could walk to and or from Lan Kwai Fong/Soho or even walk to the waterfront by the Convention Centre. In addition to Lan Kwai Fong and Soho mentioned above, there are bar areas in Wan Chai area around Star Street and Lockhart and Jaffe Roads (Lockhart and Jaffe are more downscale pubs however, and a few girlie bars mixed in). Times Square is kind of out on its own in a remote area (it is a looooong underground walk to the MTR from Times Square although you can’t tell this from the map…and it would be a long walk back to the Conrad or Marriott), if you are seriously interested in that, I would actually look at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which is walkable in a few blocks from Times Square. See http://www.cosmopolitanhotel.com.hk/ (have never seen the rooms, but like some of their restaurants.) The Holiday Inn Express Causeway Bay would also work, as it is right in Times Square.
Cicerone is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2009, 12:57 PM
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Cicerone,

Wow, what an incredibly comprehensive and helpful reply! Thank you so very much.

My wife and I (ages in the mid-60's and physically fit) will be in Hong Kong for 5 nights (12/30-1/3) and your original post certainly gives all the info we need regarding New Years Eve. If you can offer any thoughts regarding a hotel location for the other four nights, it would be most appreciated.

We typically like staying in a hotel from which we can walk (in 10 to 15 minutes) to an area of restuarants and pubs. Is there such an area around the Sheraton. Ditto around the Conrad/JW Marriott? We don't mind doing public transit or taxis during our touristy daytime pursuits but like to avoid public transit at night (taxis ok) Any thoughts on which area would suit us best?

Thanks again for your help. It is appreciated.
darnestown is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2009, 07:34 PM
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Thanks for the info on yourselves, that is helpful. It’s always a tough call between staying on the Kowloon side and the Hong Kong Island side. The reason is that the Kowloon side has The View, but the Hong Kong side has most of the main tourist attractions and frankly the better restaurants and more interesting neighborhoods. The tip of Kowloon, where the major hotels are located, is quite touristy and just has pretty bland restaurants (with a few notable exceptions), rather boring shopping (chain stores, expensive retailers and camera shops) and some tailors (but it is not necessary to stay on the Kowloon side if you want to go to a tailor). Again there are exceptions like the jade market, the Hong Kong History Museum and Chinese Arts and Crafts, but none of these necessitate staying on the Kowloon side. But it does have that picture postcard view. My general advice is usually that if you can’t get a room with a harbour view on the Kowloon side, then don’t bother staying on the Kowloon side, as you won’t see the view any more than you would from the Hong Kong side, and you will spend more than necessary in transit. But as you have a choice of the Sheraton, and if you get a harbour view room that is a good choice. And if there are fireworks on New Years Eve and you have a harbour view room, then that would be something. A hard choice.

While I am generally not an advocate of moving hotels, as you have 5 nights you could consider it. This is especially so given what you have stated as your preferences, as I don’t think you would find what you are looking for within walking distance of the Sheraton. And it's a longish and fairly expensive taxi ride back from Hong Kong side restaurants over to Kowloon. If you decide to stay at two hotels, I would probably do 2 nights at the Sheraton (one being NYE) and then the rest at the JW Marriott or Conrad.

I like the JW Marriott and Conrad because you can walk in moments to the Star Street area which has many good restaurants, you can also walk to the lively and interesting Wan Chai market area (which has other interesting restaurants), and you can also easily walk to Central. You can also walk to the base of the Peak Tram through the lovely little Hong Kong Park (which has an outdoor aviary and the interesting Tea Ware Museum which has a very good dim sum restaurant as well). While a longer walk, you can get to Hollywood Road and Soho restaurants and shopping via either the escalator in Central or other pathways. A taxi to or from that area to either hotel would take about 5 minutes. The hotels are on the subway line, many major bus lines (the #6 bus to Stanley stops here as does the #15 to the Peak) and the tram line. It’s hard to beat this area for location and access to public transport, IMO. While views are not of course as good as you will get on the Kowloon side, they can be quite interesting, and the convenience of the location can make up for a lot. That being said, I would try to get the largest room with the best harbour view you can. Go for the highest floor. At the JW, they have rooms with two double beds which are larger than their rooms with king beds, so I would try to get one of those rooms if you can. (Rooms at the JW can be small.)
Cicerone is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2009, 08:10 PM
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Sorry, I also meant to mention that I have a list of restaurant recommendations for Hong Kong which is now 40-pages, which I am loathe to post here as I do not like the new format and the list is way too long anyway. I would be happy to e-mail it to you if you want to send me a message at [email protected]. It is broken down by view, no view, area, price and food type/region.
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Old Aug 19th, 2009, 06:17 PM
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Cicerone,

This is the best guidance I have ever recd in a forum type exchange. We will be staying at the Conrad. Thank you very very much.
darnestown is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 07:19 AM
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The lightshow for 2008 and 2009 were centered around the ifc building in Central. It is different from the fireworks over the harbor on 2nd night of Chinese New Year.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2009, 07:08 PM
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I would agree that the fireworks in 2008 and 2009 were centered around the IFC building on the Hong Kong side; however, I was actually in Hong Kong for both firework displays on NY Eve 2008 and 2009 and saw them from different sides of the harbour each year. I don't think that rkkwan was in town either year. I can tell you that the views of the firework from the Peak area on NY Eve 2008 was quite good, so IMO you can be on either side of the harbour for the fireworks. I saw them from the Kowloon side last year, and while you could appreciate the lighting on the IFC building better from that side, the firworks themselves were good from either side.
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