Area : 1098 sq km (424 sq mi)
Population : 6.7 million
People : 95% Chinese, 1.5% European
Province : Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Time Zone : GMT/UTC +8
Telephone Area Code : 852
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China’s south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour. With a land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Hong Kong’s population is 95 percent ethnic Chinese and 5 percent from other groups. Hong Kong’s Han Chinese majority originate mainly from the cities of Guangzhou and Taishan in the neighbouring Guangdong province. As one of the world’s leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade
January: Chinese New Year.
February: Lantern Festival, with lanterns being lit at homes, restaurants and temples.
February: Hong Kong Arts Festival.
March: Hong Kong International Film Festival.
April: Tin Hau Festival, a Taoist festival.
June: Dragon Boat Festival, with dragon boat races taking place in Hong Kong and Outlying Islands.
November: The Festival of Asian Arts.
Beaten Track :
The Sai Kung Peninsula, in the east, is popular with hikers, campers, swimmers and boaters. The Mai Po Marsh attracts bird-watchers while cyclists and walkers head to the Plover Cove Reservoir. The 100 km-long MacLehose Trail is popular with hikers. You will find carved roofs and traditional-style Chinese houses in Shui Tau, a walled village on the outskirts of Kam Tin.
Not all of the 234 islands are inhabited. The biggest of them all, Lantau, is 142 sq km in area. It houses many important monasteries, including Po Lin Monastery with its enormous bronze Buddha. Other noteworthy islands include Cheung Chau, Lamma, Peng Chau and Poi Toi.
A daytrip up to the Shenzhen SEZ (Special Economic Zone) will provide you with an up-close look at China’s embrace of the free market. Hong Kong shoppers swear by the bargains they can strike here. There are numerous theme parks too, including one called Splendid China which promises to let you ‘visit all of China in one day’. There is also a very good gallery of modern art in the region.
It was in 1841, following the Opium Wars, that the British took control of Hong Kong. European trade with China had been taking place since the 16th century. But as European demand for tea and silk grew, the balance of trade became more and more unfavorable to Europeans, who were paying in silver. In 1773, the British unloaded 70,000kg of Bengal opium. The Chinese taste for the ‘foreign mud’ zoomed. Alarmed at the drain of silver from the country and the increasing number of addicts, the emperor banned the drug trade. The Europeans, with the help of corrupt Chinese officials, managed to keep the trade in opium going until 1839, when the emperor again issued orders to stamp it out.
The British sent an expeditionary force to China to exact reprisals, secure favorable trade arrangements and obtain use of some islands as a British base. The force blockaded Canton (now called Guangzhou) and a number of other ports, ultimately threatening Beijing. The British pressured the Chinese into ceding Hong Kong Island to them in perpetuity. A series of conflicts followed. In 1898, the British gained a 99-year lease on the New Territories.
Prior to WW II, Hong Kong began a gradual shift away from trade to manufacturing. This move was hastened by the civil war in China during the 1920s and by the Japanese invasion in the 1930s. Hong Kong’s existence was threatened again when the Communists came to power in China in 1949 and during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. In December 1984, the British agreed to hand over the entire colony when the lease on the New Territories ran out in 1997, rather than hang on to a truncated colony consisting of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong has suffered fallout from Asia’s economic crises in the late 1990s, and has experienced rising unemployment, falling property prices and close to zero growth. However, although not as robust as it has been, it is still a vibrant financial center – and one of the world’s great cities. China’s official policy with regard to Hong Kong is ‘one country, two systems’. The common view is that as long as Hong Kong continues to make money (and little noise) its autonomy is assured.
Getting There :
International air service is excellent and fares are relatively cheap in Hong Kong, a major gateway to China and much of East Asia. Earlier serviced only by the Kai Tak in Kowloon, Hong Kong opened its new international airport (Chek Lap Kok) in 1998. The Airport Express train connects Chek Lap Kok with Hong Kong station in Central. It stops at Kowloon along the way.
The only way into Hong Kong by land is through Mainland China. Connecting places range from as close as Shenzhen to as far as Beijing. Although the Hong Kong SAR is now an integral part of China, visas are still required to cross the order with the mainland. Trains run regularly between Hong Kong and Guangzhou (Canton), Shanghai and Beijing.
Getting Around :
Public transport is the most practical way to get around in Hong Kong. Even though the bus system is bewildering you will need it to explore the south side of Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Hong Kong’s ultra-modern and efficient Mass Transit Railway (MTR) connects to many destinations. The Kowloon-Guangzhou (Canton) Railway (KCR) is a quick way to get to the New Territories. Double-decker trams run along the northern side of Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong’s ferries are usually faster and cheaper than buses and trams. Metered taxis are red with silver tops (and green with white tops in the New Territories). They’re inexpensive compared to other big-city cabs, but the MTR can often be better value and quicker. Car rental is available but only the foolish visitor would think of driving in Hong Kong.
Pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures make November and December the best months to visit Hong Kong. January and February are also good to go. Warmer temperatures make March and April pleasant months to go. But from May onwards the humidity starts increasing and it becomes uncomfortably sticky.
Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, is part of the renowned chain of wax museums founded by Marie Tussaud of France. The Hong Kong branch houses nearly 100 wax figures of internationally-known personalities, with Asian figures taking up more than a third of the total.
Hong Kong Disneyland
The park opened to visitors on 12 September 2005. Disney attempted to avoid problems of cultural backlash by attempting to incorporate Chinese culture, customs, and traditions when designing and building the resort, including adherence to the rules of Feng Shui. The park consists of five themed areas: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Toy Story Land.
TSL Jewellery is a leading jewellery group in Asia, principally engaged in jewellery design, retailing, export and manufacturing. The founder of TSL Jewellery commenced jewellery manufacturing out of a jewellery workshop. The Group was established in 1971. The fundamental success of TSL Jewellery is the outstanding achievement in original jewellery design, which is well recognized in the industry. Currently, TSL Jewellery has already established its strong market position as a preeminent jewellery enterprise in the region and one of the largest scale jewellers in Asia.
Avenue Of Stars
Discover what makes Hong Kong the Hollywood of the East at this tribute to the professionals who have contributed to the territory’s hundred-year history of filmmaking. The Avenue of Stars features commemorative plaques, handprints of movie celebrities, descriptivec milestones, kiosks with movie memorabilia, a towering Hong Kong Film Awards statuette, and a life-size statue of the legendary kung-fu action star, Bruce Lee. The location on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade offers incredible panoramic views of the famed Victoria Harbour and the memorable Hong Kong skyline. It is also a good place to watch the spectacular A Symphony of Lights, a nightly multimedia show
with added pyrotechnics on special occasions.
On one of the southern tips of Hong Kong Island, Aberdeen is the largest satellite town with a population of about sixty thousand. It was a pirates’ den two centuries ago and later turned into a simple fishing village. In recent years, with local high-rise building developments, Aberdeen has modernized, and now it becomes a vibrant waterfront resort for people from metropolitan Hong Kong.Despite modernization, traditional fishing life still prevails. Hundreds of junks and sampans, old-fashioned boats serve as floating homes for thousands of people. They crowd in the narrow harbor, dramatically juxtaposed against a modern high-rise building that spreads up the nearby hillsides. If you were lucky, warm-hearted fishers would invite you onto their dwellings, from where you can glimpse the life of the boat-people. If no invitation forthcoming, you can always take a sampan ride yourself. Butdo place caution and safety first. You should take rides only with licensed operators.Besides experiencing the traditional life of boat-dwellers, you may also enjoy tasty seafood here. Two magnificent floating restaurants,
namely Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Bak Seafood Boat are available. They are anchored in the Aberdeen Harbor, where guests can take a free ferryboat shuttle to reach them for a feast of delicious seafood.
Named after Tin Hau Temple, Temple Street is located at Yau Ma Tei,Kowloon and is a Hong Kong famous open air night market.Temple Street is well-known partly due to the many Hong Kong films set here, including ‘The Prince of Temple Street’, ‘The Mean Street Story’, and ‘God of Cookery’. Although the street in the film is often portrayed as the home of underworld figures and prostitutes, Temple Street exudes a joyful and welcoming feeling for stall-keepers and tourists. It is known as ‘the Night Club of the People’.Temple Street is also often referred to as Men’s Street as the area formerly specialized in selling items for men. Nowadays, almost any item can be found here and the street really comes to life after dark.Hundreds of peddlers appear after sunset along with visitors and customers looking for a good deal. Inexpensive items in the market include electronic products, clothes, jade articles, coins, toys, CDs,music boxes, lighters, ties, jeans, T-shirts, Western-style clothes and leather wares, among others. Visitors often find great buys at bargain prices. The market extends 600 meters (656 yards) along both sides of the road.
Repulse Bay, located in the southern part of Hong Kong Island, is the most spectacular bay in the region. Its name comes from a 19th century battle in which the British army repulsed attacking pirates.Today, Repulse Bay is a luxurious residential area for dining, relaxation,and aquatic activities.The beach stretches long with clear azure blue water gently lapping the seashore. Its sand is golden and soft. With water temperatures ranging from 16 C (60.8F) to 26 C (80.6F) year round, it is a mecca for locals and visitors alike to escape the heat.Swimming is obviously popular and the bay is outfitted for safety with shark prevention nets and floating platforms. During the summer,lifeguards are on duty.Besides aquatic activities, there are extensive facilities for visitors.Barbecue racks are available under the shade near the beach. In addition,the area is dotted with hotels, supermarkets, and cafes. Alighthouse near the beach is a popular place to take photos. Watching the sunset is another popular pastime for visitors. The Zhenhai Tower Park, built in the traditional Chinese style, is located near the beach. Huge statues of the Queen of Heaven and the God of Mercy (Kwan-yin) sit in front of the park.
If Hong Kong is a city of jade during the day, it becomes a luminous pearl with a sea of lights twinkling in the streets after dark. Where is the best place to enjoy the multi-colorful night scene that encompasses Hong Kong and Vitoria Harbor? Victoria Peak is a good location to view its night scene. Being 554 meters (about 1,817.6 feet) above sea level, Victoria Peak is the highest point within Hong Kong and occupies the western part of the island.
How to reach Victoria Peak? Tourists can take the Peak Tram, a pleasant ride ascending the mountain. The tram has been in operation for over one hundred years, and to date, no accidents have ever occurred.Your journey aboard the tram will take eight minutes and upon reaching the summit you will see a seven storied building in the shape of a ship. This is the Peak Tower in which there are several attractions namely, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, and the Peak Explorer Motion Simulator.
If you want to take a photo with your favorite movie or sport stars,then please visit Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. This museum exhibits over 100 waxworks of celebrities from all works of life from the middle ages to the present day, including President Hu Jintao.
On the second and the third floors of the Peak Tower is a museum called Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.
From its name, tourists may image how bizarre the more than 450 exhibits collected from all over the world are. On the fourth floor is the Peak Explorer Motion Simulator. It is very welcoming to all visitors and equipped with hightech projectors, sound system and motion chairs. Sitting on the chair and looking at the images on screen, it appears that you are actually there and witnessing what happens around you. Here you will enjoy an exciting journey.
Viewing Hong Kong at night is a must! The panoramic vista is one of the most beautiful night scenes in the world so a visit to the Lion Pavilion on the peak is a must. Standing upon the pavilion and overlooking the Victoria Harbor and the Kowloon Peninsula, a spectacular night view will unfold in front of your eyes. The Victoria Harbor is one of the world’s busiest harbors and has a constant ebb and flow of shipping all year round. With row upon row of skyscrapers stand prominently on the Central District which is Hong Kong’s financial and economic hub. The most spectacular are the Bank of China Tower and the Central Plaza. The Bank of China Tower, with 72 stories soars skyward and is designed by an American-born Chinese architect Bei Yuming (Ieoh Ming Pei); with the bamboo-shaped outlook of the tower symbolizing that the Bank of China aspires to get better and better. The Central Plaza is a reinforced concrete building with 78 stories.
Apart from shopping there are numerous other activities you can indulge in while holidaying in Hong Kong. These include yachting, tennis, gyming, biking, fishing and golfing. Lantau Island and the MacLehose Trail in the New Territories are good areas for hiking. There are good beaches everywhere except Kowloon and the north side of Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong visa requirements
Hong Kong is now a special Administrative Region of China. Indian Nationals do not require a visa for a period of stay of up to 14 days either for tourism or business. Visa is required for a stay exceeding 14 days for on arrival visa passenger should have a passport valid for 06 month from the date of return, confirm return ticket and foreign exchange minimum 500 USD
HONGKONG VISA ( SHORT STAY )
FOR A STAY OF LESS THAN FOURTEEN DAYS IN HONGKONG , VISA IS GRANTED ON ARRIVAL AT HONGKONG AIRPORT
FOR INDIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS .
1 . Original Passport , having minimum Six months validity and at least two blank pages .
2 . Original Confirmed Return Air Ticket showing exit from Hongkong , within fourteen days .
3 . Foreign Exchange duly endorsed on the passport or must hold valid International Credit Card .
Time : Hong Kong is 2 1/2 hrs. ahead of India.