WELCOME TO HONG KONG
East meets west, old meets new, dim sum meets Michelin stars, wilderness meets shopper’s heaven – Hong Kong is a dynamic, entrepreneurial, rapturous, crazy city that offers something beautiful for everyone. This tiny territory, home to seven million people, punches well above its weight and is so much more than the banker’s hub perceived by some. Hong Kong is a world of contradictions – international skyscrapers blend with teeming raucous markets, the filthiest smog one day is replaced by blue sky the next. Perhaps Hong Kong’s biggest attraction is that it is a wonderland where everyone and everything has a place – you just have to find your place within it.
THE LAY OF THE LAND
Measuring a tiny 1,100 square kilometres, Hong Kong comprises of the mighty Kowloon Peninsula (sometimes referred to as ‘the dark side’ by Hong Kong Island residents, but more correctly referred to as the ‘real’ side by Kowloon residents) and 236 Islands, the largest being Lantau Island (where you’ll find the airport) and the second largest being Hong Kong Island (where you’ll find most of the suits).
Interestingly, the entire population squeezes into just 10% of the available land space. As soon as you go beyond the population you’ll find sensational hiking tracks amid lush greenery and plenty of quiet beaches where even the most timid skinny-dipper will be safe from prying eyes.
AROUND THE LANGHAM PLACE NEIGHBORHOOD
Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong is located at the very centre of some of Hong Kong’s most authentic sights. The fabulous Mongkok Wet Market is right on the back doorstep – home to live fish, open-air butchers and mountains of fresh fruit. A quick walk from the hotel you’ll also find Ladies Market with copious fake handbags, watches, clothing and the occasional unusual piece of ‘lingerie’. The exotic Flower Market, a level 10 minute walk away, overflows with striking and mysterious flowers of every colour and form – all which can be purchased at outlandishly cheap (by Western standards) wholesale prices. On the way back to the hotel you’ll find Tung Choi Street also known as The Goldfish Market. The stinky street is lined with undeniably pretty tropical fish (many pre-bagged – hmmm!). For the more adventurous there are also jellyfish, tortoises and even sea horses all up for grabs.
People flock to Mongkok for new gadgets. Sai Yeung Choi Street (aka Electonic Street) is just a run, skip and jump from the hotel. As its nickname suggests, this street is full of…well…electronics. Computers, phones, cameras – you name it and you’ll find it here – well priced, and better yet; authentic!
Walk just one block past Sai Yeung Choi Street and you’ll discover Fa Yuen Street (aka Sports Street). This is a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike in search of the latest and greatest new designs from Nike, Adidas, Puma and other international sports brands. Prices are as marked and don’t expect to barter but once again, rest assured – these are the real thing!
Langham Place runs a free market tour at 6pm each night for all guests who are interested. The tour focuses on the Mongkok Wet Market and the surrounding Electronic Street, and Sports Street but you’ll also find out how to get to some of the other key markets.
When you’ve had enough of working up a sweat on the streets you can pop back to the hotel and step into the cool air-conditioning at Langham Place Mall. This modern mall is an experience in itself to see how the youth of Hong Kong love to spend their free time. Head up to the top of the mall and you’ll find quite a few interesting designs from local Hong Kongers.
Speaking of local culture, if you do have a spare hour a stroll around Mongkok comes highly recommended. You’ll discover more local clothing designers, fabulous Chinese medicine stores and all sorts of weird and wonderful restaurants adored by locals (charging local prices)…and yes, you’re very safe.
OK so we do love Mongkok – but confess there is more to Hong Kong than just Mongkok so it’s time to experience the MTR.
TAILOR MADE TOURS AVAILABLE VIA X-TEAM (CONCIERGE)
There are a heap of other tours x-team can arrange for you. Some to think about include: Helicopter rides, junk boat trips, horse racing (a bit of a Hong Kong tradition – which accounts for 12% of the entire city’s taxes!) or the Symphony of Lights cruise.