A glistening, exotic island, Hong Kong is a tourist paradise that offers every kind of amusement and entertainment to anyone who visits it as a tourist or business destination. The island has grown not only vertically but also horizontally adding the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories over the years.
Despite the exit of the British, the colonial hangover still continues and flourishes with English being spoken by a section of the Chinese population and the retention of many a architectural heritage in the mainland.
Attracting tourists mainly from mainland China as well as the world, Hong Kong is dependant on tourism revenues to a large extent apart from income from banking and financial sectors. For a tourist from India, it is mesmerizing to see such a well planned infrastructure and connectivity that includes trams, cable cars, metros and ferry services. Although the density of traffic is very high, it is easier to traverse from the airport to Kowloon across the Victoria Harbour or to the New Territories easily and comfortably unlike Beijing which is chaotic and hazy with traffic emissions.
Most people when they visit this island make it a point to view it from the highest point as the massive futuristic buildings surrounded by the sea along with its exotic bridges and greenery looks amazing. The tallest buildings in this city are : International Commerce Centre (484 metres), two International Finance Centres (420 metres), the Central Plaza (374 metres) and many more such high-rise structures that houses museums, shopping centres, offices, banks, hotels, convention and exhibition centres.
The view of Hong Kong is absolutely breathtaking from Victoria Peak which is one of the most popular tourist destinations. This is the highest point on the island and once people used to flock here for its cool and salubrious weather. But today it is not so as there is a huge rush of people to get a glimpse of the sparkling island in all its modernity.
Locally called The Peak or Mount Austin, it is situated at a height of 1,800 feet in the western part of the island. To go to the Peak, one has to take the public buses or green mini-buses to reach the Peak Galleria or the tram services from the Central District to reach the Peak Tower.
From the Peak, one can see as far as the verdant green ranges of the New Territories apart from the Harbour and the skyscrapers literally jutting out to the skies. It is better if you take a peek not only in the morning but also in the night.
The shimmering and glittering scenario unfolding before you takes your breath away. I had seen this galactic sight only in one of the Hollywood movies of Batman but I never imagined I would one day be standing aloft from this peak, hanging on to dear life and treasuring memories for posterity.
There is a large viewing platform at the top of the wok shape of the Peak Tower at a height of nearly 400 metres which sees lot of people and crowds especially during the holidays jostling to get a view of the Harbour. But make it a point to visit the platform only on a clear day otherwise, it is a wasted effort and your will have to spend time in shopping and buying souvenirs. Apart from this, the Tower is nothing but a shopping and leisure complex housing every type of entertainment for the young, adventurous and the old.
Hong Kong is a city truly worth exploring for its ancient civilization juxtaposed with modernity that can be seen in its new structures as well as heritage spots like Buddhist temples, museums of every kind, mountain trails, ferry rides, Disneyland and ocean parks. December is the best season to visit with the onset of winter festival including Christmas and the Chinese New Year.
With my hotel situated on the other side, I was fortunate to traverse from Hong Kong island to the Kowloon peninsula through one of the cross harbour tunnels that serves as an important linkage between the two places. This gave me an opportunity to gaze at the ethereal sights of the harbour in the night.
An international trading centre, the Victoria Harbour is the jewel in the crown as far as tourist destinations are concerned. Sandwiched between the Island of Hong Kong and the Kowloon Peninsula, the Harbour was once a group of fishing villages.
But today it has grown leaps and bounds with continuing reclamation followed by controversies and protests to become one of the busiest ports for thousands of international vessels. It is estimated that more than 2.2 lakh shipping vessels both cargo and passenger visit the Harbour every year.
The view of the harbour from any of the tallest buildings is beautiful with the skyline of the skyscrapers providing the right backdrop. Even if you take a ride on the star ferries, it unfolds a stunning panoramic view.
Every night at 8, the Harbour is panoramically lit with thousands of tourists gathering to see the ‘symphony of lights’ providing an atmosphere of festivity during the festival season.
When I visited Hong Kong, the buildings on both sides of the Harbour in the Central Business District was covered with festoons and decorations heralding the Chinese New Year.
An iconic symbol of Hong Kong, the Victoria Harbour with its waterfront, light shows, fireworks and live music (on the Promenade) is a must for all visitors if it’s not foggy or smoggy.