Known as a shopper’s paradise, Hong Kong is actively trying to position itself as the major arts hub in Asia.
International names such as Gagosian, Ben Brown and White Cube launched their first Asian outposts in the city last year and there is a great deal of anticipation about the multi-billion-dollar M+ museum set to open in 2017.
The grassroots scene is also expanding rapidly. While soaring rents have pushed many galleries to the Chai Wan and Aberdeen districts, you can see the burgeoning local scene on Hollywood Road in Central and in the trendy “PoHo” area in nearby Sheung Wan, where independent galleries are cropping up.
The Hong Kong Fringe Club at 2 Lower Albert Road in Central hosts daily events ranging from live music to exhi-bitions. Relax on the tranquil roof garden, just a stone’s throw from chaotic Lan Kwai Fong.
The Hong Kong Ballet, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Academy of Performing Arts also hold regular shows.
For film buffs, take the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to the teeming Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Here you can walk down the Avenue of Stars, modelled on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and take a photo with a bronze statue of Bruce Lee.
At the venerable Wan Chai and Graham Street markets, you can see vendors selling everything from meat and dried seafood to Chinese medicine and incense.
Ride the Peak tram for a steep and historic journey to view the city’s spectacular skyline. Built in 1888, the tram was the first cable funicular in Asia. Take in expansive views of the city’s soaring high rises and abundance of green landscape.
If you are feeling energetic, stroll back down towards Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels district along Lugard Road. Easy sloping paths, frequented by dog walkers and joggers, take you past remnants of an old fort and stunning views of the water as you descend towards the city’s covered escalators.
Take a hike along one of Hong Kong’s many scenic trails. The Dragon’s Back in Shek O Country Park on the eastern side of the main island is a leisurely three-hour walk with breathtaking beach views and is a good choice for families.
There are also good hikes at Tai Lam Country Park on the southwestern side of the peninsula and at Ma On Shan and the two Sai Kung country parks to the northeast. Sai Kung town, on a sheltered harbour, has a variety of restaurants and cafés to refuel after a stroll on the trails.
Visit the Happy Valley Racecourse during racing season to experience one of Hong Kong’s true passions — horse racing. The public stands offer food, drink and live music.
Two amusement parks — Ocean Park and Disneyland — are other popular attractions.
Outlying islands like Lamma, Lantau and Cheung Chau, all about a 30-minute ferry ride from Central, have a laidback pace and are great to enjoy fresh seafood by the ocean.
Take a trip to nearby Macau, a former Portuguese colony. Experience old Portuguese charm in the Coloane district or head to the sprawling resorts which offer Michelin-star dining, luxury shops, spas and entertainment.
High-speed boats leave Hong Kong for Macau from the Tsim Sha Tsui and Sheung Wan districts, along with the Sky Pier near the international airport on Lantau. The frequent sailings and one-hour journey each way mean that Macau can be a day trip.