A few weeks ago Flight Centre caught up with Ben Alcock, one of our favourite Australian travel bloggers. Ben has spent so much time in Hong Kong, he could nearly call it home. We asked him what he loved about Hong Kong and his reply was "What's not to love about Hong Kong?” Here are Ben's five fantastic tips about Hong Kong.
So many things come together on this dramatic, rocky outcrop in the South China Sea, where a totally 21st century city erupts from every bit of available space.
There's a hand-hauled cart loaded impossibly high with goods going to market for every millionaire's Ferrari. And there's a knock-off Burberry bag for every real one under lights in the gleaming retail beacons that draw many visitors to this place.
I've been lucky enough to visit Hong Kong more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. It's a place that gets under your skin. It's equal parts pulsating megalopolis and peaceful sanctuary. It's go-go-go. Neon lit. Noisy. And always completely now.
Hong Kong is the kind of place that almost every visitor experiences differently. So, rather than get too prescriptive about what I think you should see and do, here are a couple of general tips to help you connect with this place, and make your visit to Asia's Big Apple pretty special.
Take a big bite
Hong Kong moves at a furious pace. It's on 24-7-365. Don't be shy. Grab it by the horns and climb aboard for the ride of your life. Get out there and walk the streets. Breathe in the kaleidoscope of smells. Tip-toe through the wet-markets. Explore the supermarket aisles, then refuel with a packet of dried, shredded cuttlefish and a can of Fanta Lactic and go for it.
If the window is steamed up and bursting with BBQ'd meats, if the place is lit with too many flouro lights, and the tables and chairs are fixed to the floor, and they're using toilet roll for serviettes, then take a seat, ask for an English menu and dive in - it will be delicious. If eating alfresco is more your thing, try the streets around the Temple Street markets. Plastic tables on the footpath, live seafood in polystyrene tubs nearby, and ice-cold beer. Total perfection.
Play MTR Roulette
Open yourself to the orderly chaos of life at street level. Get an Octopus Card and explore Hong Kong on the sparklingly clean and uber-efficient subway (MTR) system. Randomly select a destination from the network map at any MTR station and take off on your very own urban adventure. For example, why not compare and contrast Wan Chai from Chai Wan? Your Octopus Card also works on the iconic Star Ferry, and the double-decker buses and trams.
Take a Break
If MTR Roulette wears you out, take a day to hit the water and escape the city. Both Lamma and Lantau Islands offer great respite from the pace of life in one of the world's greatest urban environments. In less than an hour by ferry, you can feel as remote as you ever have anywhere, tucking into a fresh seafood banquet on Lamma, or a tasty vegetarian feast at Po Lin monastery on Lantau. Hong Kong's massive personality will seem like it's a million miles away.
It's Childs Play
Take the kids. They'll love the double-decker buses and trams, the noodles and dumplings on the iconic Jumbo floating restaurant, and the hair-raising Peak Tram and Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride to the mighty Tian Tan Buddha. And if all else fails, there's a Disneyland and Ocean Park to put wider smiles on their faces.
There really is nowhere quite like this treasure island. Even if it's a little more Louis Vuitton than Robert Louis Stevenson these days. And, trust me, no matter how many nights you spend here, you'll wish you'd booked at least one more.
To chat with him more you can find him @DisarmDoors on twitter.