Hong Kong travel guide
Hong Kong Island
Beaches are probably not the first thing that will pop into your mind when thinking of Hong Kong, but being a city spread out over several islands, it does boast many sandy stretches. At the more popular beaches along the southern shore of Hong Kong Island, the water is even clean enough to swim in. Some have swanky lifeguard towers, no smoking signs and even shark nets, while others are more rural. Find the one that fits you, or just try them all: Deepwater Bay, Repulse Bay (featured here), O Shek or the surfers' beach at Big Wave Bay.
36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
This grim looking tower block has been the epitome of budget travelling in Hong Kong for decades. The 17 floors are packed with residential cells, tiny tailor shops and budget accommodations of the smallest kind, for space in downtown Hong Kong is a luxury. Besides saving money, it is worth staying there just so you can say that you've done it. If - or when - this backpacker silo is going into flames, things will turn ugly, but until then it is a classic within the travelling community.
Gambling in Macau
Though Macau can not be categorised as being in Hong Kong, it is only a one-hour ferry ride away and can therefore easily be included in a trip to Hong Kong. The whole feeling of Macau is very different from Hong Kong. It is more Chinese with a bit of southern European flavour, like small plazas and balconies on the buildings. It has become a very popular place for mainland Chinese to visit and they head straight to the casinos. Macau has now turned into the gambling capital of the world, surpassing Las Vegas in revenues. Try your luck at the 50-cent slot machines or go high rolling at the 1000-HKD minimum bet tables.
HSBC headquarters, Central, Hong Kong
The first time you encounter this social phenomenon, you think that something must be going on - but it is quite the contrary. Foreign maids, mostly Filipinos, who work as domestic helpers, meet under the HSBC building every Sunday on their only day off. Here, they hang out with fellow maids and chat in their native lingo. Sitting on blankets on the pavement, they share home cooked food, gossip, polish each other's nails or just nap. It is a strange sight, but this is the way they get recharged for another week of domestic work away from their own family.
Red-light districts in Hong Kong
Wan Chai (Lockhart Road) and Mong Kok (Portland street), Hong Kong
During the Vietnam War, Hong Kong was a favoured place for R&R (rest and recuperation) for American soldiers, and before them, the sailors got boozed-up in Wan Chai district in downtown Hong Kong. Like other R&R places (like Singapore, Tokyo and Taipei) Hong Kong has pulled its act together. Today, the bars in Wan Chai are mostly drinking pubs with the occasional bargirl, while the red-light district has moved to other parts, like Mong Kok across the bay, and has become less obvious. The only thing you see from the street are signs offering girls of any colour.
Across Victoria Harbour
Another classic Hong Kong transportation, besides the double-decker trams, are the Star Ferries. They go from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and back by four routes. They were put into service back in 1888 and are still an icon for Hong Kong. Besides being cheap transport, they give you some of the best view of Victoria Harbour, especially at night time when the skyline on both sides lights up.
Central Hong Kong
A great, and cheap, way to see downtown Hong Kong is a ride on one of the double-decker trams. They are a piece of Hong Kong's history and some still look like something from the 1950s. A seat at the front will give prime view of street life from above. Just remember to have the exact fare, as the drivers don't give change.