Hong Kong

With a thriving business center, world-famous skyline, numerous shopping malls, and an excellent transportation system, Hong Kong is easily one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities. Yet at the same time, one can still uncover many examples of old world charm and ambiance, whether it be afternoon tea, tai chi in the park, or the Cantonese opera. The city is truly a blend of yesterday and today, and a honeymoon destination ripe with discoveries and new experiences.

Located on China’s south coast, Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. With a landmass of 426 square miles and a population of more than seven million people, the region is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Hong Kong has a long history as a colony of the British Empire, though presently is considered a city-state after China resumed sovereignty in 1997. It’s also viewed as one of the world’s top international financial centers and one of the most modern cities in the world. In addition to boasting one of the highest overall per capita incomes, Hong Kong has the longest life expectancy of any country on the planet.

Surrounded by the South China Sea on three sides, the territory’s area consists of several principal islands such as Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and Lantau Island, plus more than 200 other offshore islands. Meanwhile, much of Hong Kong’s terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, so less than 25 percent of the region is actually developed. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the land area has been maintained as nature reserves or parks, including Tai Mo Shan, the SAR’s highest peak at 3,140 feet.

In terms of top areas of interest, start with the Central District on Hong Kong Island. This is Hong Kong’s center for business, banking, and entertainment, and home to massive skyscrapers and some of the world’s most innovative architecture.

As far as dining and nightlife districts, look toward SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong. Based around Shelley, Staunton, and Elgin streets, SoHo is a magnet for exciting culinary destinations, trendy bars, and intimate cafes. All the while, with its mix of all-night bars, restaurants, and live music, Lan Kwai Fong is quite popular with the 20s and 30s crowd.

Finally, Tsim Sha Tsui is another notable district for the SAR, located on the Kowloon Peninsula just across Victoria Harbour from Central. This is one of Hong Kong’s top areas for visitors due to its impressive concentration of restaurants, shops, museums, parks, and hotels.

Due to its subtropical location, Hong Kong’s weather is overall mild in the winter and very hot and humid during the summer. In terms of rain, Hong Kong receives about 90 inches of rain annually, with the majority of it arriving during the summer months.

With its seaside location, Hong Kong can sometimes be a target for tropical storms, or typhoons. Although unlikely during your trip, these storms are most prevalent between May and November, but especially in September. Don’t worry too much, however, as the city features an excellent typhoon warning system. For more information, visit the Hong Kong Observatory’s website at www.hko.gov.hk.

Activities and Attractions

Hong Kong statue

  • Boat Excursions — Hop aboard Star Ferry for one of the most picturesque and romantic – albeit short – boat rides in the world. Be sure to grab a seat on the top deck (only about 28 cents each way) and don’t miss out on the unique vantage point from the harbor. Try to go right before 8 p.m. for the famous Symphony of Lights Show, a nightly spectacle featuring incredible lights, laser beams, and a kaleidoscope of colors – all signifying the vibrant energy of Hong Kong.

    For another memorable boating experience, hire a junk. That’s right, set sail on a traditional Chinese fishing boat for a romantic journey around Hong Kong, which is actually an archipelago of more than 250 islands. Look toward companies like Saffron and Jaspas to hire a charter, many of which feature treks as long as eight hours. Also, a number of tours offer cold beverages and onboard lunch with waiter service.

  • Victoria Peak — Take the funicular to Victoria Peak for incredible views of the skyline, Victoria Harbour, South China Sea, and lush hills in the distance. After soaking in the sights, go for a hike and grab a meal at Café Deco. Be sure to reserve a harbor-view window seat for a most memorable dining experience. If you can swing it, stick around until sundown for a majestic nighttime scene.

  • Local Opera — For a memorable honeymoon activity, look to sign up for a free Opera Appreciation Class through the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Located at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, visitors will be able to view the elaborate costumes worn by performers and even attend a live operatic performance by a local troupe.

    Meanwhile, for performance buffs, there’s Opera Hong Kong, the first opera company to be established in Hong Kong. Recent performances include Carmen, Aida, and La Boheme. In addition to the Opera Class, the tourism board’s Meet the People program offers a wide variety of exciting cultural activities for visitors, covering everything from tai chi to feng shui to Chinese tea.

  • A Taste of Hong Kong Cuisine — For some top-notch Dim Sum, you’ll want to head straight for Luk Yu Tea House (24-26 Stanley St., Central). Complete with wooden booths and throwback ambiance, it’s one of the city’s oldest restaurants and remains popular with regulars and visitors alike. For an elegant and romantic meal, try Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Expect first-rate service, excellent drinks, harbor views, and delicious French cuisine.

    Finally, you can’t leave Hong Kong without experiencing Dai Pai Dong, the delicious and authentic cuisine served from traditional outdoor food stalls. For the best dishes and overall atmosphere, pull up a stool at Ping Kee (5 Shepherd St., Tai Hang) or Sing Kee (9-10 Stanley St., Central). Both are open daily.

  • Monasteries and Landmarks— Start with an excursion to see the extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha), erected in 1993. Sitting 112 feet high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws visitors from all over Asia. Opposite the statue, the Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist shrines and has been dubbed “The Buddhist World in the South.”

Where to Stay

Hong Kong hotel

  • Hotel Icon This acclaimed boutique hotel is all about haute style, architectural cool, and affordable luxury. The “creative buzz” of Hong Kong has inspired every detail here, from design and art all the way to food. Meanwhile, gorgeous public spaces, a beautiful vertical garden, grand sweeping stairs, comfortable modern guest rooms, and vibrant dining spaces pay testament to both Asian and Western contemporary style. Additional amenities include a panoramic bar, three restaurants, swimming pool, health club, and relaxing lounge.

  • The Langham Hotel This terrific property offers a refined European-style haven in the heart of the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui tourism district. The five-star, 16-story property stands out with its spectacular lobby with impressive marble staircase, rock-crystal chandeliers, marble and onyx columns, and international art. All the while, spacious “Grand Rooms” come with timber and leather-paneled walls plus wool carpets. Rounding out the impressive amenities list are a health club, swimming pool, spa services, and top-notch restaurants.

  • J Plus Boutique Hotel This 57-room boutique hotel features whimsical furniture in the lobby and minimalist, high-tech décor and gadgets in the guest rooms. In addition to free breakfasts and evening cocktails, rooms are divided into distinct living, dining, and working areas complete with kitchens and home theater systems. To round out the experience, the hotel features a spacious outdoor podium/lounge, top-notch fitness room, laundry facilities, and a Michelin-rated Italian restaurant.

  • The Peninsula Hotel Dating back to 1928, the Peninsula is a Hong Kong Institution and the city’s oldest and arguably finest hotel. Don’t worry though, it’s not “antiquated” as the property manages to blend old world charm with new world sophistication. The hotel boasts the most lavish lobby in Hong Kong and retains the atmosphere of a colonial past, even straight to its tremendous restaurants, Gaddi's, and the Verandah.

    Not to be missed, guests can participate in the Peninsula Academy, which offers unique learning experiences for those looking to gain insight into Hong Kong’s culture. Activities may include dim sum making, Chinese brush writing, or consultations with a Feng Shui master. Also, don’t miss out on afternoon tea, a one-of-a-kind honeymoon experience. This is easily one of Hong Kong’s (and the world’s) finest hotels and a “honeymoon splurge spot” – even if it’s just for a night or two.

Where to Eat

Hong Kong upscale restaurant

  • Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong - Book a table for two at Caprice if you’re looking for that ultimate romantic meal. Expect first-rate service, excellent drinks, harbor views, and delicious French cuisine.

  • Luk Yu Tea House - A fabulous choice for some top-notch Dim Sum. Complete with wooden booths and throwback ambiance, it’s one of the city’s oldest restaurants and remains popular with regulars and visitors alike.

  • Food Stalls of Hong Kong- Finally, you can’t leave the city without experiencing Dai Pai Dong, the delicious and authentic cuisine served from traditional outdoor food stalls. Meanwhile, for the best dishes and overall atmosphere, pull up a stool at Ping Kee (5 Shepherd St., Tai Hang) or Sing Kee (9-10 Stanley St., Central). Both are open daily.

Getting There

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is Hong Kong’s main airport and the 10th busiest in the world. The airport is located about 21 miles from the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui. The facility offers rental car companies, taxi services, shuttle buses, ferry services, and rail transportation options.