November 6, 2012 by Sarah's Toothbrush
As the perfect place to explore Asian culture, Hong Kong is the melting pot of East meets West. This duty-free port, located at the Southern tip of China, is known for so many things; from their shopping destinations, enriching culture and history, to the visually stunning views, Hong Kong will appease any type of traveler. Before you travel to Hong Kong…. First, before you worry about the language barrier the majority of residences may speak Cantonese, but because of an international presence, English is widely spoken. One of the best seasons to plan your trip is from September until February. During this season the climate is warm and sunny; flights are also cheaper during non-holidays and weekdays. For overseas travelers, a passport is required; however, certain countries are granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival. Upon arrival from the airport, renting a car seems atypical for tourists, but plan on taking public transportation to avoid high costs, heavy traffic, and expensive parking; numerous modes of public transportation are available. For easier payment when traversing public transportation use an electronic access card, also known as the Octopus card. Major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) are accepted, but it’s probably simpler to exchange your currency for the Hong Kong dollar (HKD. As a safety precaution, look for money exchangers authorized by the Quality Tourism Services Scheme (QTS).
1. Ngong Ping Village
A culturally themed village and one of the top attractions of Hong Kong, Ngong Ping Village is located on Lantau Island, the largest island of Hong Kong. Despite having a commercialized atmosphere, Ngong Ping’s traditional Chinese architecture reminds visitors of the cultural roots of Ngong Ping Village. Upon arrival at this quaint village, visitors are treated to a shopping and dining expedition. After tiring of shopping, travelers can wander over to the several adjacent attractions: The Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, the Lantau trails, the Monkey’s Tale Theatre and the Ngong Ping Tea House.
To travel here, visitors hire cable cars at Tung Chung for a 25 minute cable ride, which provide a 360 panoramic view of the area. Be warned, the lines can get long during high tourist season and the cable car expense can get costly. Despite this, former visitors to Ngong Ping Village recommend when traveling on the cable cars, hire out the crystal cable car for the added experience and the gorgeous scenic view.
2. Nightly Multimedia Shows
Cap off your night with what the Guinness Book of World Record named as the World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show. To make this nightly multimedia show a phenomenon, more than 40 buildings collaborate on both sides of the harbor. If on your honeymoon, this is a perfect excuse for a romantic stroll to impress your new spouse with a delightful experience. The shows are a synchronization of both music and narration made apparent by the use of search and colored lights. Each staccato and breathtaking note moves to 5 major themes: Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership, and Celebration. The best places to viewthis are along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront or the promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square.
3. Tantalizing Food
Follow the locals to their chosen and most frequented restaurants. Here are three different types to choose from when planning your next hearty fare.
Originating in tea houses, dim-sums are scrumptiously served steamed or fried. Most locals prefer the steamed version, especially in the morning. Translated as “touch your heart,” these snack-sized portion pairs well with delicious tea; also, known as “yum cha.” Usually steamed, these dumplings come in so many varieties and have more than 150 ways of preparation. Find everything from steamed pork spare ribs, shrimp dumplings with translucent skin, or mini spring rolls. Find the best shrimp dumplings at U-Banquet or nibble on delicious shao mai, the concoction that combines pork, shrimp, mushrooms, ginger, and seasoned with rice wine and soy sauce.
Siu Mei: Chinese barbeque
Slowly cooked, this delicious, flavorful meat is prepared either roasted on a spit over an open fire or in a wood burning rotisserie oven. The meat flavor is glazed with special made rubs: honey, spices, or fermented rice wine. Choose between beef, pork, duck, or goose. This type of dish is indicative to Chinese communities because of how they are presented in the restaurants: visibly hung to entice any passerby both by smell and sight. The perfect pairing to this succulent dish is with rice or noodles. Try goose. Thinly sliced, the crispy skin, and served with an accompanied sauce, usually plum based, make this a popular choice of Siu Mei.
Hotpot: Chinese Fondue
While the name speaks for itself and best eaten during colder months, hotpot is best enjoyed and shared amongst friends. Similar to the alternative of the European version of fondue, a hotpot is cooked inside a metal pot and heated by a portable gas stove. Contained inside the hotpot is a seasoned broth while the main ingredients are placed on dishes for diners to mix into the broth: thinly sliced meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, lamb, or goat) and vegetables (bok choy, spinach, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, etc.). Dependent on the type of ingredients used, cooking time varies, but the main focus of this fare is to enjoy the company. Even without a social experience and only for one person to enjoy, the ingredients of this stew showcase the local flavor and preferences: custom dipping sauces, spiciness of the broth, etc.
4. Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Shek O Country Park
Located on the southeastern side of Hong Kong and away from the bustle of city life, this country park has three hiking routes ready to challenge even the most outdoor lover.
Honesty Minute: This was a guest post.