There are two types of hotels in China: Sino-foreign joint venture hotels, which are Chinese-owned properties with foreign management; and wholly Chinese-owned and -managed hotels.

The Chinese government ranks hotels on star system whereby five-star accreditation is handed out by a central authority, while four-star and below ranks are determined by local authorities, none of whom are beyond a little (or a lot of ) wining, dining, and palm-greasing. Five-star hotels have the complete facilities and services of any international luxury hotel, but even among its ranks, quality varies more than it should. Four-star hotels come close, often lacking only a few technical requirements (such as a swimming pool or other facility). Both levels are popular choices for Western travelers, providing English-speaking staff and clean, comfortable, even luxurious accommodations. Foreign-managed hotels have foreign staff at the top levels, though increasingly the Chinese are filling more of these positions even in joint venture hotels. For Western travelers, your first choice should be foreign-managed hotels followed by the top Chinese-managed outfits.

Three-star hotels are almost always Chinese-managed and provide basic rooms. Few of them have English-speaking staff. In the bigger cities, three-star hotels are adequate for the budget traveler who merely needs a decent place to spend the night. In many parts of China, however, the three-star hotel is the best you’ll find.

Due to the comparative lack of cleanliness, two- and one-star hotels, as well as unrated hotels and basic guesthouses catering to the rugged backpacking traveler, are generally best avoided, if possible.

In general, most hotel rooms, no matter how basic, have the following: a telephone whose line you can plug into your laptop computer; air-conditioning, either centrally or individually controlled, which often doubles as a heater; a television which usually receives only local Chinese channels, if that; and some sort of potable water, either in the form of hot water thermoses which are delivered to your room after you check in, or bottled water and an electric kettle.

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With a history of revolution, migration, incessant trading, the witty and streetwise Cantonese are the New Yorkers of China, and make up the majority of Hong Kong’s population. There are also large communities of Shanghainese, Hakka (Kejia) and Chiu Chow (Chaozhou) people.


A large British population remains, including a small but influential community of native-born. Influences are everywhere, from street names (“Lambeth Walk”, “Rutland Quadrant”) to school blazers.


The traditional role of this community of mixed European and Asian descent – as cultural and commercial brokers between East and West – remains undim-inished. If anyone can claim to truly embody Hong Kong’s intriguing duality, it is this young, wealthy and internationally-minded community.


In the Pearl River Delta since the arrival of traders in the 16th century, the Portuguese have inter-married extensively with the Cantonese. Aside from a clutch of surnames (da Silva, Sequeira, Remedios), a lasting influence has been the fostering of an addiction to egg tarts and pastries.


The history of Hong Kong’s substantial Indian population (there are Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) dates from the arrival of the British in 1841. Like the Eurasians, young Indians have rejected purely Western or Asian notions of identity, pioneering instead a synthesis of both.


Hong Kong has one of the oldest Jewish communities in east Asia, producing patrician business dynasties (the Sassoons, the Kadoories) and one of the most colourful governors (Sir Matthew Nathan, 1903–1906).


Hong Kong’s White Russians were once numerous, and you still find borsch on the menu of every takeaway and coffee shop.

Overseas Chinese

The surging growth in British-, American- and Canadian-born Chinese has been a characteristic of the last two decades, as the well-educated children of emigrants return in search of roots and white-collar work.


Most members of the largest ethnic minority stoically perform the low-paid occupations that Hong Kongers shun, working as domestic servants, drivers, wait-ing staff and bar room musicians, and remitting most of their income back home to the Philippines. Filipinas promenade in their thousands every Sunday at Statue Square.


Working mostly in business and the media, the size of this community is reflected in the fact that it boasts the largest Australian Chamber of Commerce outside of Australia, and one of only two Australian International Schools in the world.

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Spa-ing Bout

Check into the Peninsula for a stress-busting retreat at th brand new ESPA spa.

Rubbed the Right Way

Go for a deep-tissue Chinese massage and get the blood circulating.

Breath of Fresh Air

Enjoy the buzz at Oxyvital’s Central “oxygen bar”.

In a Lather

A Shanghai-style shave at the Mandarin Oriental will leave your face feeling like a baby’s bottom.

Love Potion No. 9

Boost your staying power with a tonic drink from one of the many kerbside Chinese medicine shops.

Geomancing the Stone

Make sure your house and garden are in tune with the elements with a private feng shui consultation.

Pins and Needles

Loosen up with an acupuncture session.


Splash out at the Grand Hyatt’s 11th-floor spa with outdoor pool.

Put Your Feet Up

Fans rave about the traditional Shanghai pedicure at the Mandarin Oriental.

The Doctor Is In

Try some alternative medicine from a traditional Chinese doctor.

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“A dream of Manhattan, arising from the South China Sea.” For succinctness, modern travel writer Pico Iyer describes Hong Kong. This is the hedonistic engine room of cultural fusion: East meets West in high style, and the results astonish and delight. Prepare to experience one of the most dramatic urban environments ever conceived.

The Peak

Take the tram to the lofty heights of Victoria Peak for an amazing view of the city.

Statue Square

Hong Kong Island’s northeast is the region’s admin-istrative centre. old remnants and exciting modern architecture stand next to each other around Statue Square.

If you would like to combine your trip in China with Greece Tours you can simply contact their sales department and ask for convenient direct flight options from many major cities of China or direcly from Hong Kong

Happy Valley Races

Horseracing below the high-rises: Happy Valley is where Hong Kongers go to play.

Star Ferry

Ignore the subterranean road and rail links between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The thrilling way to cross the water is on the Star Ferry.


An old fort steeped in old history and reminders of World War II, Stanley on the Southside of Hong Kong Island is a peaceful diversion from the frenetic city.

Temple Street Night Market

Kowloon is at its most atmospheric at night. Head up the peninsula to the narrow lanes of Yau Ma Tei for some serious haggling.

Heritage Museum

Near Sha Tin in the New Territories, Hong Kong’s best museum is a must. Splendid high-tech audio-visual displays cover the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural history.

Tai Long Wan Coastline

The remote, rugged Sai Kung Peninsula in the New Territories is the place to find Hong Kong’s finest beaches.

Cheung Chau Island

Of the many islands around Hong Kong, tiny Cheung Chau is arguably the loveliest, with traces of old China.

Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

In the middle of hilly Lantau Island, Po Lin Monastery is a major destination for devotees and tourists alike. The extraordinary seated Big Buddha image facing the monastery can be seen from miles away.

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Feel the earth move beneath thundering hooves as you cheer the finishers home in the ultimate Hong Kong night out. Races have been held at Happy Valley – the widest stretch of flat land on Hong Kong Island, originally a swamp – since 1846. Today the action takes place beneath twinkling high-rises making for one of the most atmospheric horseracing tracks in the world.

Wednesday Night Races

The most exciting scheduled races are fortnightly on Wednesday evenings. For the full atmosphere, jump on a Happy Valley-bound tram and bone up on the form in the Wednesday Racing Post on the way. The first race is usually at 7:30pm.

The Big Screen

The huge screen facing the stand carries all the statistics race goers need from the results of the last race to odds on the upcoming one. There are also live race pictures or replays, ensuring no one misses any of the action.

Racing Museum

The small and neat museum at Happy Valley details Hong Kong’s racing history along with a selection of Chinese art celebrating the horse. Learn the story of the old trade in prized Mongolian and Chinese ponies. Don’t aim to combine it with an evening at the races, however. It is closed during meetings.

View from Moon Koon

For a fantastic track-side view while you eat, head to the Moon Koon Restaurant. Racing and dining packages are available.

Come Horseracing Tour

Splendid Tours and Grey Line both run the Come Horseracing Tour during scheduled race meetings on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tours include entry to the Members’ Enclosure, welcome drink, buffet meal and guide service.

Silver Lining Skeleton

Silver Lining, Hong Kong’s most famous horse, was the first to win more than HK$1m. The equine skeleton takes pride of place in a glass cabinet at the Racing Museum.

The Crowd

Happy Valley has a 55,000 capacity but is so popular that it sometimes sells out before the day. Stand in the open next to the track where you’ll get the full effect of the roar from the stands and a good view of the finishing line.

Types of Bet

Different ways to bet include simply guessing the winner; a place; a quinella; and a quinella place (predicting any two of the first three horses in any order).

Where to Bet

Bets are placed at the counters at the back of each floor of the main stand. Pick up the right betting slips next to the counters, fill them in and take them to the counter with your stake money. If you win, wait for a few minutes after the race, then go to the same counter to collect your winnings.

Jockey Club Booths

For help and advice on placing bets go to the friendly, helpful Jockey Club officials at the booths between the main entrance and the racetrack. The Jockey Club is the only organization allowed to take bets in Hong Kong. Jockey Club profits go to local charities.

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Spend a Night at the Opera

Cantonese opera might sound like discordant screeching to the untrained ear, but make no mistake, this is a fine and ancient art. It combines song, mime, dancing, martial arts and fantastic costumes and make-up and can go on for six hours or more. Call the HKTB for details of performances.

Ride on a Junk

We’ve all seen that iconic image of the junk, blood-red bat-wing sails unfurled as the sun sets over Victoria Harbour. Unfortunately, it’s usually the same boat. The Duk Ling is one of the few masted sailing junks left.

Feast on Dim Sum

Dim sum is commonly translated as “touch the heart”, although in some establishments it may also touch your wallet. The small steamed snacks in bamboo baskets are delivered by grumpy old ladies with trolleys.

Visit a Market

Hong Kong’s wet markets can bring on instant culture shock for those tourists who are more used to the orderly atmosphere of supermarkets. Tiptoe through rivers of blood, past gizzards and buzz-ing flies as hawkers yell and housewives bargain.

Go for a Traditional Tonic

For a taste of the real China, try a tonic restaurant. Chefs whip up dishes with all sorts of herbs and spices, in accordance with the principles of “heating” or “cooling” foods. A tonic lunch at the Treasure Inn Seafood Restaurant includes fried snowfrog and bamboo fungi.

Try Foot Reflexology

Hands seek out pressure points linked to vital organs. The procedure is painful, and you might be embarrassed about your feet, but you will feel so good when they stop. Reflexologists abound in Happy Valley. Try On Wo Tong.

Aim for Everything Zen

For a modern take on ancient China, check out the Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon. This gorgeous replica of a seven-hall Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) complex took 10 years to build, using traditional techniques and materials. Bliss out as stubble-headed nuns chant to the Sakyamuni Buddha.

Experience Unbelievable Gall

She Wong Lam in the northeast of Hong Kong Island is the place to sup on snake wine, a traditional winter tonic. The speciality is a fiery brew containing the gall bladders of five snakes.

Watch a Lion Dance

Lions are thought to bring luck, which explains why the opening of a new building often features a troupe of wiry youths prancing about beneath a stylised lion’s head. Common around Chinese New Year.

Practise Tai Chi

Turn up at the clock tower near the Star Ferry in Tsim Sha Tsui at 8am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and you can enjoy an hour’s free instruction in this gentlest of martial arts.

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Hong Kong’s newest museum, on the outskirts of Sha Tin in the New Territories, is by far its best (although the revamped History Museum in Kowloon is also worth a visit). Opened in 2000, the Heritage Museum covers the culture, arts and natural history of Hong Kong and the New Territories. Exciting audio-visual exhibits and a good interactive section for children make for a fun day out.

Architecture and Design

The Heritage Museum building is based on the traditional Chinese si he yuan style, built around a courtyard. The style is still visible in the walled villages of the New Territories

Orientation Theatre

For a brief overview of the museum, visit the Orientation Theatre on the ground floor opposite the ticket office. A short film in English and Cantonese explains the exhibits and the main aims of the museum.

Children’s Discovery Gallery

The brightly colored gallery is a vibrant, fun way to introduce children to local nature and archaeology, and the history of toys. Interactive exhibits and the child-size 3-D models are very popular with young children.

Cantonese Opera Hall

Cantonese opera is an obscure subject. However, the sumptuous costumes, intricate stage sets and snatches of song from the elaborate operas of Guangdong and Guanxi go some way to illustrating the attraction.

Thematic Exhibitions

Five halls on the first and second floors house temporary exhibitions focusing on subjects varying from popular culture, contemporary art and social issues in Hong Kong, to traditional Chinese art and history.

Chao Shaoan Gallery

The delicate ink on scroll paintings of artist and one-time Hong Kong resident Chao Shaoan are known far beyond China. There are dozens of fine examples in the gallery


For fresh air and interesting surroundings, head to the shaded courtyard in the centre of the complex.

New Territories Culture

Large mock-ups of old maritime and village scenes recreate the old days. The growth of the new towns, such as Sha Tin, are also covered.

New Territories History

The rich fauna and flora of the region are exhibited along with 6000-year-old artifacts from the early days of human habitation in Hong Kong.

TT Tsui Gallery

The works of art dating from Neolithic times to the 20th century include porcelain, bronze, jade and stone artifacts, furniture, laquerware and Tibetan religious statues.

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Stand in Central district’s Statue Square and you’re right in the region’s financial, political, historical and social heart. Among the steel and glass of sleek skyscrapers surrounding the square are a few old remnants, including the handsome Neo-Classical Legislation Council Building where Hong Kong’s usually low-key. Shopping, a much more popular Hong Kong pursuit, goes on inside the swanky boutiques opposite.

Bank of China Tower

Looming over the HSBC building is the imposing 70-storey Bank of China Tower. It was designed by the renowned architect I M Pei. The tower is a dizzying 368 m high.

Shopping Malls

Two of Hong Kong’s most up market and, of course, pricey shopping malls – the busy Landmark Centre and the less busy Prince’s Building – sit next to Statue Square. Within these hallowed temples to conspicuous overspending are many of the city’s most exclusive and elegant boutiques, including the likes of Armani, Gucci and Prada.

The Cenotaph

Standing at the northern edge of Statue Square, the Cenotaphis a memorial to those who died in the two World Wars.

Chater Garden

Despite the prime real-estate value on the site of what used to be the old pitch of the Hong Kong Cricket Club, the small but well-tended Chater Garden sprang up instead of a skyscraper. It’s free to enter and makes a good place to enjoy a cold drink and rest tired legs.

Court of Final Appeal

Behind the HSBC building, a hand-some 150-year-old redbrick building used to house a French Catholic mission and the old first Government House. Today it serves as one of Hong Kong’s courts of law.

The Legislative Council Building

One of Hong Kong’s last remaining old buildings, the elegant Neo-Classical Legislative Council building, which used to house the Supreme Court, now serves as Hong Kong’s parliament.

Mandarin Oriental

It’s hard to believe, but the Mandarin Oriental was once Hong Kong’s tallest building. Today its graceful exterior seems overwhelmed by the ceaseless traffic, but inside it’s still one of Hong Kong’s finest hotels.

Thomas Jackson Statue

Appropriately enough, one of Hong Kong’s few remaining statues, of a 19th-century banker, is in Statue Square.

HSBC Bank Headquarters

On its completion in 1985, Sir Norman Foster’s bold building was the most expensive ever built, costing more than HK$5bn. The edifice is said to have the strongest feng shui in Hong Kong. Rubbing the paws of the bank’s hand-some lions is said to bring good luck.

Sunday Filipino Fiesta

Hundreds of young Filipinos and Indonesians, mostly domestic workers enjoying their only day off, occupy almost every spare bit of public space in Central.

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With Hong Kong’s most spectacular views, cooler climes and quiet wooded walks, it’s no wonder Victoria Peak is so popular with tourists and the super rich who occupy the exclusive properties clinging to its high slopes. The Peak Tram takes under 10 minutes to reach Victoria Gap, pinning you to your seat as it’s hauled up the sheer slope at the end of a single cable.

Peak Tower

The Peak Tram empties into this mall, revamped in 2005, containing shops, cafes, restaurants and viewing gallery. The refreshment and tourist trinkets inside don’t inspire, but children may enjoy the fantastical motion simulator Peak Explorer ride or Madame Tussaud’s waxworks.


Although the imposing Peak Tower mall is hardly sensitive to its grand setting there is a good range of places to eat and drink inside its Galleria, with great views down onto city and harbor, and across to Lamma Island.

The Peak Lookout

The new incarnation of this much-loved, up-market drinking and dining favorite retains a lovely garden terrace, great food and friendly ambience.

Barker and Plantation Roads

These usually quiet roads are worth wandering for a peep at some of the Peak’s pricier properties, including 23 Severn Road. Most have amazing harbor views. But dream on. You would have to be a millionaire just to afford a two-bedroom flat here.

Pok Fu Lam Country Park

For a gentle half-hour ramble, head down Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road, then catch a bus back into town.

Victoria Peak Garden

The steep struggle up Mount Austin Road or the longer route along the Governor’s Walk to these well-tended gardens is worth the effort. The viewing platform faces Lamma Island.

Old Peak Rd

The old footpath up to the Peak before the Peak Tram arrived is pleasant and shaded. But the traffic can be busy at the bottom of Peak Road so it’s best to detour onto Tregunter Path near the bottom.

View near Summit

The summit itself is fenced off and covered by telecom masts, but the views from the edges of Victoria Peak Garden are excellent.

Lugard and Harlech Roads

The effortless way to see most of the best views on offer from the Peak is on the shaded, well-paved, 2-mile circular walk along Lugard Road and Harlech Road. It also makes a terrific jogging track with a view.

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One of Hong Kong’s best-loved institutions, the Star Ferries have plied between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island since 1888. The portly green and white 1950s and 60s relics are still used by commuters despite the advent of rail and road tunnels beneath the harbor. A ferry ride offers a thrilling perspective on the towering skyscrapers and the jungle-clad hills of Hong Kong Island. Take an evening voyage for the harbor’s neon spectacle, especially the elaborate light displays at Christmas.

The Fleet

In the early days, four coal-fired boats went back and forth between Hong Kong and Kowloon. Today 12 diesel-powered vessels operate, each named after a particular star (with the night-time glare and pollution, they may be the only stars you’re likely to see from the harbor).


Standing next to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry, the landmark clock tower is the last remnant of the old Kowloon railway terminus. This was the poetic final stop for trains from the mainland, including the Orient Express from London. The terminus has since moved east to prosaic Hung Hom.

Star Ferry Crew

Many Star Ferry crew members still sport old-fashioned sailor-style uniforms, making popular subjects for camera-toting visitors. Watch out, too, for the pier crewmen catching the mooring rope with a long billhook.

Star Ferry Routes

The Star Ferries run four routes: between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central; Tsim Sha Tsui and Wanchai; Central and Hung Hom; and Hung Hom and Wanchai.

Skyline South

As you cross Victoria Harbor, on the far left are the glass and flowing lines of the Convention Centre in Wanchai and above it the 373m tower of Central Plaza. Further left are the Bank of China’s striking zigzags, and the struts and spars of the HSBC building. The new kid on the block is Two International Finance Centre, the island’s tallest skyscraper, towering a colossal 420 m above Star Ferry Pier.

Victoria Harbor

Victoria harbor is the busiest stretch of water in Hong Kong, teeming with activity. Keep your eyes peeled at the weekend for the last remaining batwing sailing be found in this part of China.

Sightseeing Bargain

At HK$1.7 to ride on the lower deck and HK$2.2 to ride the top deck, the Star Ferry is Hong Kong’s best sightseeing bargain.

Ferry Decks

The lower and upper decks used to be first and second class compartments. Today the extra cents buy access to the air-conditioning section during the hottest months, and afford a better view of the city and refuge from sea spray on choppy days.

Ocean Terminal

Just north of the Tsim Sha Tsui terminal, Hong Kong’s cruise ships dock, including, on occasion, the QE2. Some US warships also dock here during port calls.

Skyline North

As you approach Kowloon with Hong Kong Island behind you, you’ll see the Arts and Cultural Centre, closest to the shore. Behind it rises the grand extension of the Peninsula Hotel and the tapering tower at No. 1 Peking Rd. The craggy hills of the New Territories loom in the background.

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Originally a sleepy fishing haven, Stanley was the largest settlement on Hong Kong Island before the British moved in. The modern town, hugging the southern coast, still makes a peaceful, pleasant escape from the bustle of the city. Traffic is minimal, and the pace of life relaxed, with plenty of excellent places to eat, good beaches and a large market to search for clothes, silks and souvenirs. Stanley is also the place to glimpse old Hong Kong and an older Chinese tradition seen at the Tin Hau Temple.


Reasonably priced clothes, shoes and accessories as well as plenty of tourist tat are to be found among Stanley’s pleasant, ramshackle market stalls. Although it’s not the cheapest or best market in Hong Kong, you may as well potter among the hundred or so stalls before heading to a café or one of the seafront eateries.

Old Police Station

The handsome building was built in 1859 and is Hong Kong’s oldest surviving police station building. Today it houses a restaurant.


The pretty waterfront makes a pleasant promenade between the market area and Murray House. The harbor was once home to a busy fleet of junks and fishing boats, but is now empty.

Stanley Beach

This fine stretch of sand is perfect for a dip and a paddle. It’s the venue for the fiercely contested dragon boat races in June when the beach fills with competitors and revellers.

Tin Hau Temple

Lined with the grimacing statues of guards to the sea goddess Tin Hau, the gloomy interior of this temple is one of the most evocative in Hong Kong. It’s also one of the oldest Tin Hau temples in the region, dating back to 1767.

Stanley Fort

The old British army barracks at the end of the peninsula.

St Stephen’s Beach

Another good stretch of sand, St Stephen’s is also the place for sailing and canoeing. The small pier is the departure point for the Sunday boat bound for the remote island of Po Toi.

Pubs and Restaurants

One of Stanley’s best attractions is its excellent range of restaurants and bars. A host of eateries, from Italian to Vietnamese, are lined along Stanley Main Road, facing the sea, many with out-door seating. Murray House also contains good restaurants.

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Beneath the bleaching glare of a thousand light bulbs, tourists and locals alike pick their way among the stalls crowding the lanes of Yau Ma Tei’s Temple Street. The overwhelming array of cheap goods includes clothes, shoes, accessories, CDs, and a generous helping. Prices here may be a bit higher than in Shenzhen, just over some of Hong Kong’s less well-known markets, but Temple Street is unbeatable for atmosphere.

Fortune Tellers

A dozen fortune tellers operate around the junction of Temple and Market streets. Most are face and palm readers. The caged white finches are trained to pick a for-tune card from the pack in return for some seeds.

Canto Opera Street Performers

On some evenings musicians and singers perform popular Cantonese Opera numbers next door to the fortune tellers.

Dai Pai Dong

Tighter health regulations have made dai pai dong food stalls a rare sight, but they are alive and well at Temple Street, selling a variety of Chinese snacks, savoury pancakes, fishballs, seafood kebabs and meat offerings.

Reclamation St Canteens

If you haven’t had your fill from the dai pai dong, try the cheap noodles and rice-based food at the covered stalls on Reclamation Street.

Best Watches

It’s likely to be a decent timekeeper but with no guarantees. The local makes and Western are usually good value for money. One stall offers genuine, secondhand watches.

Best Clothes

Good buys include cheap t-shirts, elaborate silks, beaded tops and cotton dresses. Have a look at the stall on the corner of Kansu St. Further down, tailored trousers can be ordered with a four-day turnaround.

Best Leather Goods

Leather is not really Temple Street’s strong point. But belts are cheap, and there are plenty of leather handbags and shoulder bags.

Best Shoes

From the very cheap flip flops to the reasonable suede or leather shoes, bargain footwear is available almost everywhere on Temple Street, although the variety is not huge and the styles not that elegant. Don’t forget to check the shops behind the stalls.

Best Accessories

Cheap sunglasses are easy to find in the market. Embroidered and beaded handbags and shoulder bags are also worth looking out for.

Best Knick-knacks

Mao memorabilia, old posters, coins, and jade are found on Public Square Street. Temple Street’s northern extremity is rich plastic cartoon merchandise, including Hello Kitty clocks, Afro Ken and Pokemon.

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Temple Street

Comes alive at night. Hundreds of stalls are jam-packed by 9pm, offering all manner of goods. It used to be known as Men’s Street, and many stalls still stock less-than-fashionable attire. Venture past the market and you’ll stumble onto a lamplit coterie of fortune-tellers and possibly a Chinese Opera recital.

Western Market

The Western Market (in the northwest of Hong Kong Island) is situated in a gorgeous old Edwardian building, but the pickings are slim. Best bet is the excellent selection of antique and second-hand watches on the ground floor. Also a good range of fabric shops, although bargains are scarce. In a former life it housed a meat and vegetable market.

Ladies Market

No designer labels – unless they’re fake. What you’ll find here is inexpensive women’s clothing from lingerie to shoes. There’s a decent selection of jeans, cheap food and knick-knacks galore.

Jardine’s Bazaar and Jardine’s Crescent

An open-air market area in the heart of Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts. All sorts of goodies here, from run-of-the-mill fashion shops to traditional barbers and Chinese medicine sellers. Sample a glass of fresh soy bean milk.

Cat Street

No, there are no more cats here than anywhere else in Hong Kong. Cat Street refers instead to the Chinese slang for odds and ends. It and nearby Hollywood Road are chock full of antique and curio shops. This is the place for silk carpets, elegant Chinese furniture, Ming dynasty ceramic horsemen.

Jade Market

As you might suppose, jade sellers abound – more than 450 of them at last count. Don’t attempt to buy the top-grade stuff unless you’re an expert and know what you are doing. But there are plenty of cheaper pieces to be found.

Stanley Market

Full of tourists of the badge-sporting, flag-following variety. If you’re not claustrophobic, join the hordes thronging the narrow lanes to gorge on tacky rubbish.

Bird Garden

More than 70 stalls showcasing all manner of songbirds and (mostly legal) exotica, bounded by elegant courtyards, full of old men with white singlets rolled up to bare their bellies (one of Hong Kong’s odder fashion statements). A flower market is also nearby.

Goldfish Market

Popular spot for locals, as a fishtank in the right spot is thought to ward off bad luck. Hook a bargain on underwater furniture with an oriental flavour.

Gage Street

This one is worth a peek if you happen to be in Central but hardly worth a special visit. Lots of blood and guts, especially for early birds.

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The local patois, which freely uses sinicized English words like sahmunjee (sand-wich), bahsee (bus), lumbah (number) and kayleem (cream).


Many borrowings, including praya (waterfront road), joss (a corruption of deus, or god) and amah (maid).


Several words, including shroff (cashier), nullah (channel or watercourse) and tiffin (lunch).

Mo Lei Tau

The impenetrable slang used by young Cantonese. Based on surreal and seem-ingly nonsensical phrasing.


All-purpose slang term meaning “cool”, “excellent”. (As used in the Hollywood film Wayne’s World.)

“Yau Mehr Liu?”

Translates roughly as “What’s your talent?” but used as a streetwise greeting; a bit like “what’s up?” or “wassup?”


Hong Kong English for warehouse or storage facility; a contraction of “go put your load down”.

“Whiskey Tangos”

Hong Kong police slang for “white trash”


The universal exclamation of disappointment, surprise or regret.


Prefix added to names when denoting affection, as in “Ah-Timothy”, “Ah-Belinda”.

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Chinese New Year

Hong Kong’s most celebrated festival is a riot of neon and noise. Skyscrapers on both sides of the harbour are lit up to varying deg-rees depending on the vicissitudes of the economy, fireworks explode over the harbour, shops shut down and doormen suddenly turn nice, hoping for a handout of lai see (lucky money).

Spring Lantern (Yuen Siu) FestivalAlso known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, this festival marks the end of the traditional Lunar New Year celebrations.

Tin Hau Festival

This is the big one if you make your living from the sea. Fishermen make floral paper offerings to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, hoping for fine wea-ther and full nets. (Her views on overfishing and dragnetting aren’t clear.) Try the temples at Stanley, Joss House Bay or Tin Hau Temple Road.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Talk about a bunfight. Young men used to scale 8-m (26-ft) towers covered in buns until in the 1970s they started falling off and the practice was banned. It was revived in a tamer form in2005.

Ching Ming

Also known as the grave-sweeping festival, ching ming literally means “clear and bright”. Chinese families visit the graves of their ancestors to burn “Hell money”, which resembles Monop-oly money.

Dragon Boat (Tuen Ng) Festival

Drums thunder and paddles churn the less-than-pristine waters of Hong Kong as garish craft vie for top honours. The festival commemorates Qu Yuan, a 3th century poet statesman who drowned himself to protest against corrupt rulers.

Hungry Ghost (Yue Laan) Festival

From the 14th day of the seventh moon, Chinese believe the gates of hell are thrown open and the undead run riot on earth for a month. Lots more “Hell money” goes up in smoke, as do various hillsides. Not a good time for hiking.

Mid-Autumn Festival

One of the most picturesque of Hong Kong’s festivals. Families brave the most appalling traffic jams to venture out into the country parks to burn candles and feast on yolk-centred moon-cakes. Unfortunately, the intricate paper lanterns have increasingly been supplanted by glowing, blow-up Hello Kitty, Doraemon and Pokémon dolls.

Chung Yeung Festival

Put on your hiking boots. This festival commemorates a Han Dynasty scholar who took his family up a hill and came back to find the rest of his village murdered.

Christmas Day

Not a traditional Chinese festival, of course, but Hong Kongers have wholeheartedly embraced the more commercial aspects of Christmas.

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Although only a few miles from urban Hong Kong, the re-mote, pristine beaches on the eastern edge of the rugged Sai Kung Peninsula seem like another country. There is no rail link and few roads, so you will have to make an early start, taking a bus to Sai Kung town, another bus to Pak Tam Au, then walk the hilly 4-mile footpath to the beach. The reward for your effort will be glorious surf, delightful hidden pools and shaded cafes.


There are three excellent beaches at Tai Long Wan. Tai Wan is the most remote and unspoiled; the smallest beach, Ham Tin, has a good café and camping area; Tai Long Sai Wan is the busiest.

Natural Swimming Pools

A lovely series of waterfalls and natural swimming pools is the area’s best-kept secret. Reach them from the path running alongside the small river at the northwestern end of Tai Long Sai Wan beach.

Beach Cafes

Noodles, fried rice and hot and cold drinks are available from the modest, reasonably priced cafés on Tai Long Sai Wan and the Hoi Fung cafe at Ham Tin.

Ham Tin to Tai Long Path

Take the steep half-mile path between Ham Tin and Tai Long Sai Wan for lovely views down onto Ham Tin, Tai Wan and the mountains behind.

Surf Action

Tai Wan usually has reasonably good surf. Gentle body-boarding should always be possible, and you may even be able to surf properly when storms raise bigger swells.

Pleasure Junks

Most privately hired junks drop anchor at Tai Long Sai Wan, and their passengers head to the beach in smaller craft, making this the busiest of the three beaches.

Hakka Fisherfolk

Tai Long village may have been first settled in prehistoric times. It was a thriving Hakka fishing village until the 1950s, when most people migrated to the city or abroad. A few elderly residents remain.


The area just east of Ham Tin village is the best place for overnight campers, with flat ground, public toilets and a stream for fresh water. There are no hotels.

Sharp Peak

The prominent 468-m summit of Sharp Peak is clearly visible from Ham Tin and Tai Wan. The arduous climb up its very steep slopes rewards with spectacular views over the peninsula.

Ham Tin Bridge

If you want to keep your feet dry, the only way onto the beach from Ham Tin village is via a rickety bridge. Marvel at the makeshift engineering from nailed-together driftwood and offcuts.

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