Hong Kong

Festivals

festivals
Cheung Chau Bun Festival

長洲太平清醮. this is takes place on the tiny island of cheung chau. in the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns. after the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978, due to an overload of people, the competition was abandoned. it was resumed again in 2005 with better safety measures.

festivals
Chinese (Lunar) New Year

農曆新年. although this may seem like an ideal time to go to hong kong, many shops and restaurants close down during the chinese new year, so visitors will not see hong kong at its best. however, unlike christmas in europe where you can hardly find shops open on this big day, supermarkets and convenience stores remain open, so you can still get food and daily products easily during the lunar new year period. the week or two leading up to the chinese new year as well as the period just after the third day up to the fifteenth day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to chinese new year songs being played in the shops.

festivals
Spring Lantern Festival

元宵節. if you go to victoria park in causeway bay, you will be able to experience this traditional chinese festival. a number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time.

festivals
Ching Ming Festival

清明節. this festival in spring is also known as grave sweeping day. to show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area. paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money.

festivals
Tuen Ng Festival

端午節. this is a festival in memory of a national hero from the spring and autumn period of chinese history. dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many.

Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong and the territory has a total 9 universities, of which the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are considered to be world class and attract students from far and wide. Most of these universities have exchange agreements with foreign universities, and these are a good way for one to experience living in Hong Kong for up to a year if your university has an exchange agreement with one of them. Courses for exchange students are often conducted in English.

Visitors to Hong Kong will soon notice that school children wear 'British-style' uniforms that have been adapted to the sub-tropical climate. It is a tradition for school students to sell 'flags' and collect money for charity on a Saturday morning.

music

Hong Kong is one of the main centres of Chinese pop culture with a huge and vibrant entertainment industry, and is home to many famous singers and actors such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Wong Ka Kui Beyond, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and locally Eason Chan, just to name a few. In addition to the locals, any foreign bands touring Asia are pretty much guaranteed to perform in Hong Kong, and concerts by famous singers are often a sell out affair.

exploring

Ride the tram between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan. The journey takes round 80 minutes and costs $2.30. The Hongkong Tramways run between the West and East of Hong Kong Island. Starting from the old district Kennedy Town, you can see the residental areas, followed by the Chinese herbal medicine and dried seafood wholesalers in Sai Ying Pun - Sheung Wan. Then the tram goes in the famous Central district with high rise commercial buildings and banks. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the districts popular with shoppers and are always crowded with people at all times. Travelling further east are North Point and Shau Kei Wan areas, which are of completely different styles from that in Central and Causeway Bay.

hiking and camping

Hiking is the best kept secret in Hong Kong, it is a great way to appreciate Hong Kong's beautiful landscapes that include mountains, beaches and breathtaking cityscapes. The starting points for many hiking trails are accessible by bus or taxi. Hiking is highly recommended for active travellers who want to escape the modern urban world.

Hiking in Hong Kong can be strenuous because of the steep trails, and during the summer months, mosquitos and the hot, humid, weather combine to make even the easiest trek a workout. It is highly recommended that you wear suitable clothes, and bring plenty of water and mosquito repellent. It is fairly unlikely that you will have a close encounter with venomous snakes, although they are present in most rural areas. Most local people choose the winter months to undertake the more demanding hiking trails. If you are not especially fit you might plan your route so that you take a bus or taxi to the highest point of the trail and then walk downhill.

Campsites in Hong Kong are plentiful and free of charge. Most are located within the country parks and range from basic sites serviced with only with a drop-toilet, to those that provide campers with modern toilet blocks with cold showers. Some sites have running water and sinks for washing dishes. A few campsites have places to buy drinking water and food, whilst many are serenely remote. Weekends and public holidays are predictably busy, especially in the more accessible places close to roads. Many Hong Kong people like to camp in large groups, talk loudly and stay awake until very late, so if you are noise sensitive try to find a remote campsite or learn to keep your temper.

There are four major trails in the Hong Kong SAR:

Lantau Trail on Lantau.

Hong Kong Trail on Hong Kong Island.

Maclehose Trail through the New Territories. Oxfam organizes an annual charity hike of this 100Km trail every November. Winning teams finish in around 11-12 hours but average people take 30-36 hours to finish the whole trail, which starts from the eastern end of the New Territories Sai Kung to the western end Tuen Mun.

Wilson Trail starting on Hong Kong Island and finishing in the New Territories.

Hong Kong has some exceptional rural landscapes but visitor impact is an issue. Please respect the countryside by taking your litter home with you. Avoid using litter bins in remote areas as these are not emptied on a regular basis and your litter may be strewn around by hungry animals.

Hong Kong Outdoors (http://www.hkoutdoors.com) and Journey to Hong Kong (http://annatam.com/catego...) are packed with information on hiking and camping, and other great things to do and places to go in the wilderness areas of Hong Kong.

gambling

Horse racing may get all the media attention, but mahjong 麻雀 ma jeuk also forms an integral part of Hong Kong gambling culture. Mahjong also has had a strong influence on Hong Kong pop culture, with a history of songs and films based on a mahjong theme. The game played in Hong Kong is the Cantonese version, which differs in rules and scoring from the Japanese version or the versions played in other parts of China. Mahjong parlours are ubiquitous in Hong Kong, though they do not advertise their services openly and many require a fair amount of effort to find. They also have many unwritten rules that visitors may find hard to understand.

Betting on world-wide football matches is also available at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

swimming pools

Other than swimming pools in hotel, Hong Kong offers a series of public swimming pools which are maintained to a very high standard. It costs $19 for adults and $9 children. Swimming pools are children friendly with shallow pools and fountains. All swimming pool complexes offer swimming lanes, hot showers, lockers, and most have swimming clubs for serious swimmers.

The Kowloon Park swimming pool complex Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit A1 is centrally located and offers visitors a wide range of services. Indoors is a main pool that is Olympic sized, a slightly smaller training pool, a diving pool and a leisure pool for younger swimmers. During the summer months the indoor pools are air-conditioned, whilst in winter the water is heated. Outdoors, during the summer season, they have four leisure pools to meet the needs of all ages. In summer, the pool is popular with teenagers but all age-groups make good use of the pools. A limited number of sun loungers are available.

The pools in Kowloon Park open at 6:30AM and close at 10PM. There are session breaks when the centre closes for lunch at 12PM until 1PM and then it closes for another hour from 5PM to 6PM. Most public pools in Hong Kong have similar opening and closing times with session breaks.

Family changing rooms are available in addition to the regular changing rooms. Males and females have separate changing areas but changing rooms do not offer much privacy between users of the same sex. Swimmers are expected to provide their own towels and toiletries. A $5 coin is needed to operate a locker or you can provide your own padlock you can get back the $5 coin after you unlock the locker, its right behind the keyhole. An Octopus card or coins are needed for payment to enter the complex.

There is at least one pool in each district of Hong Kong. For the address and opening schedule, see the government website (http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/be...).

sailing

You can rent out a Junk Boat for a sailing trip with your family and friends. A typical junk boat can accommodate more than 30 people and can be rented for the day to take you on a tour of your choice. Sai Kung is a popular spot for the trip to start and you can sail to nearby beaches for a more secluded time. A cheaper alternative is to hire a much smaller water taxi 水道 to take you to where you want to go.

beaches

You are never far from the sea in Hong Kong and going to a good beach is only a bus-ride away. However, if you want a really good beach, then it is worth making the effort to travel, possibly on foot, and seek out the beaches of the New Territories. With more than 200 outlying islands, as well as an extensive coastline that is jam-packed with impressive bays and beaches, you will surely come across some good looking beaches to while the whole day away. Hong Kong's urban beaches are usually well maintained and have services such as showers and changing rooms. Where beaches are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Dept. shark nets and life guards are present. Dogs and smoking are not permitted on these beaches.

The best beaches to use include:

Repulse Bay is a large urban beach on the south side of Hong Kong island. It has recently had money spent on its facilities and will appeal to those who have young children.

Middle Bay is popular with gay people and is a 20 minute walk from the crowds at Repulse Bay. Middle Bay has lifeguards, showers, changing rooms, shark nets and a decent cafe serving drinks and snacks.

Shek O is a beach popular with many young Hong Kong people. It is away from the bustle of the city but is well served by restaurants and has a good bus service from the north side of the island. The Thai restaurant close to the beach is worth a try.

Big Wave Bay This beach is smaller than others on Hong Kong Island but still has good services which include a number of small cafes close to the beach. Big Wave Bay, as the name suggests, has the sort of waves that appeal to surfers. From Big Wave Bay it is possible to take the coastal footpath to Chai Wan where you can find the MTR and buses. The walk to Chai Wan is about one hour, or more if you are not used to the steep climb up the mountain.

Hung Shing Yeh Beach is highly regarded as the most popular beach and is located on Lamma Island. This beach is Grade 1 and shows off powdery, fine sand as well as clear water. This beach is well-appointed by means of changing facilities, a barbecue area, and a refreshment kiosk. To arrive at this beach, take the ferryboat from Central Pier to Yung Shue Wan. Expect to walk around 20 minutes from the ferry terminal to the beach buses and taxis are not an option on Lamma.