Reader's Digest Asia Pacific
7 must-do Hong Kong experiences
Chinese tradition and British colonial influence have shaped Hong Kong and its outlying islands
1 THE BIG BUDDHA AND PO LIN MONASTERY
Take a spiritual journey to Po Lin Monastery on Lantau, one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands. This monastery atop a mountain was founded in 1906. Next door is Tian Tan, built in 1993, the second-largest outdoor sitting Buddha in the world. There are 268 steps to negotiate to get close to the statue, or you can take a gondola offering panoramic views of the South China Sea.
MURRAY HOUSE The relaxed seaside town of Stanley is a quiet residential community on the southern part of Hong Kong Island. The town boasts views of Stanley Bay, waterfront promenades, several public beaches and Murray House, a Victorian-era building that is one of the oldest surviving public buildings in Hong Kong. It served as barracks for the British Army and was named after Sir George Murray (1772-1846), a British army officer and politician. It was moved stone by stone from the central business district to this new location. The building houses a restaurant and shops.
3 THE PEAK TRAM
Make your way up to Victoria Peak on the cablepulled tram, operating since 1888. At its opening it was the first cable funicular in Asia and was considered an engineering marvel. Enjoy the ride as you travel 396 metres above sea level to take in the superlative views of the cityscape. The journey takes you along a 1.4 km-long railway track and the ascent forces you to sit back as it goes up 27-degree slopes.
4 BOARD A STAR FERRY
Cruise across Victoria Harbour – one of the busiest harbours in the world – on one of the iconic Star Ferries, which have been operating since 1888. The seven-minute journey takes you between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. The doubledecker ferries have wooden decks and bench seating. A trip offers the traveller a different perspective of the city’s skyline at an economical price.
5 HIGH TEA AT THE PENINSULA HOTEL
Experience high tea like the British colonials did at the famed Peninsula Hotel. This elegant neoclassical hotel from 1928 is one of Hong Kong’s most expensive, and a historical landmark. This is where the British governor of Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese in 1941. The high tea is not your average
coffee break but a refined foodie experience that will leave you feeling nostalgic for the colonial past.
6 TAKE A RIDE ON THE ANTIQUE TRAMS
Explore the city on the historic, rickety double-decker trams, in operation since 1904, which traverse the busy north shore of Hong Kong Island. The contrast between the old trams and the modern skyscrapers is what Hong Kong is all about. A window seat on the upper deck will give the best view of many colourful neighbourhoods.
7 TAI O STILT VILLAGE
This traditional fishing village on Lantau Island dates back more than three centuries and is home to the Tanka people, who built their homes and businesses upon stilts. The village is divided by the river and the two sides are linked by a manual drawbridge. A tour of this village offers a rare glimpse into a sleepy rural community from Hong Kong’s past.