The most striking thing about Hong Kong is its pervasive mix of old and new. With ramshackle apartment buildings flanked by uber-modern high-rises, a rickety street-level tram clanking by above a state-of-the-art underground system, and wheelbarrows being pushed through the streets alongside Rolls Royces, Hong Kong is a study in contrasts that constantly surprises. Add the former British colony's strange brew of Asian and Western cultures to this endless series of odd contradictions and one thing's for certain – this is a place you'll never get tired of exploring.Find Cruises Sailing to This Port
The Pearl of the Orient is brim-full of eccentricities but one of its most charming is the sight of birds in wooden cages displayed like hanging plants outside homes and shops. You'll see them all over town but you can also find them all in one place at the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. A stroll through its courtyards to the lilting strains of prized Chinese songbirds is a must. Just ask the locals who take their own feathered friends there for regular outings.
Hiking is all the rage in Hong Kong and there's no shortage of scenic routes to explore. Just head to Lantau Island and the MacLehose Trail in the New Territories. Or you could polish up your golf swing because golf is extremely popular here too. In fact, Hong Kong boasts some of the finest public facilities on the planet. Then again, you might want to rent a bike at Tolo Harbour and ride around the city's vast circuit of cycle paths.
For an authentic taste of Chinese life, try yum cha, which combines the ancient custom of tea drinking with another Chinese tradition: dim sum. Along with your fragrant tea, you'll be able to sample a variety of Hong Kong cuisine, including congee, a thick rice porridge with meat plus your choice of preserved eggs, seafood or vegetables.
Contrary to popular belief, there's a lot more to Hong Kong than shopping – although the retail therapy here is arguably among the world's best. Besides the sheer magnitude of the shopping scene, at least two other factors contribute to the exuberant consumerism the city is known for – it's a duty-free port and there's no sales tax. Clothing is one of the best buys, especially custom-made suits and designer fashions. Porcelain, jade and silks are good bargains as well.
The basic unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD). Visit banks for the best exchange rates. Look for cash machines at banks, MTR underground stations and the Star Ferry concourse in both Tsim Sha Tsui and Central Hong Kong.
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Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.