Hong Kong has a knack of winning the hearts of people who visit. Many end up staying far longer than ever expected. Its unique East-meets-West culture and dynamism are infectious, and long after you leave this one-of-a-kind city, there are several unique things that you find yourself hankering after. Here’s just a few of them that well and truly put the heart in Hong Kong.
Epic is an understatement to describe Hong Kong’s unbeatable skyline. Home to more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world (317 in total), it’s a skyline that you never tire of seeing. Whether lit up by the twinkling lights at night or watching as the sun rises over the city as it prepares for another day, it’s a visual spectacular which is only complemented further by the deep Victoria Harbour and verdant green mountains framing it in the background. Walking around Hong Kong island and looking up at the tall skyscrapers, you often feel like you’re on the set of a futuristic sci-fi movie – it’s a man-made marvel.
Dim sum anybody? Indeed, dim sum (small bite-sized dishes) is a Hong Kong institution, and nobody does it better. Known locally as ‘yum cha’, it’s the popular Hong Kong tradition of brunch involving Chinese tea and dim sum, and it’s delicious. Add to that Hong Kong’s famous fish balls and congee – just a few of the tasty local dishes that you crave long after leaving. It’s estimated that there are more eateries in Hong Kong per head than anywhere else in the world. You will surely miss the huge variety and convenience of eating out in Hong Kong. It’s unlike anywhere else.
Getting around this city is a breeze. The abundance of taxis, buses and the good old-fashioned trams run like clockwork and are frequent, reliable and clean. No need to own a car as the local metro system (MTR) is regularly voted the world’s best, and with good reason. Trains run every minute, and they are spacious, very clean, air-conditioned and well signposted with a system that connects most corners of the city. When you are forced to ride older metro systems in other countries, you certainly miss Hong Kong’s world-leading MTR.
Like time itself, Hong Kong waits for no man. It is a city where things get done – there’s no hanging around, and that’s something you sorely miss if you live in a place where getting anything done takes an eternity. Hong Kong operates and changes at breakneck speed; there’s always something going on. For example, people, businesses and restaurants come and go and change from day-to-day. Even eating out at local dai pai dongs is a streamlined process. Dishes are served fast and at rock-bottom prices.
Hong Kong is well known for its markets. You’ll see plenty of wet markets, where vendors sell the freshest seafood along with fruit and veg, and its goods markets, which are a bargain hunter’s paradise. From cheap clothes to electrical goods and souvenirs, Hong Kong has it all. Temple Street Night Market has a wonderful atmosphere, and Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok is Hong Kong’s most popular attraction, and with good reason; it’ll be difficult to find as many hidden treasures anywhere else.
Chinese tea is an important part of local dining culture; it comes with every meal. Aside from the sublime taste, it’s used to aid digestion and is even poured over dishes and utensils to help sterilise them before every meal. Drinking tea is something you definitely get used to after living here for a while; you begin to understand its benefits, and it’s hard to imagine having a meal without tea as the perfect accompaniment.
These fantastic convenience stores are everywhere. Nearly every other street corner is home to a 7-Eleven, making it perfect for whenever you need a last-minute item. In Hong Kong, these stores also sell cheap alcohol, and there’s even the concept of ‘club 7-11’, whereby friends meet outside 7-Eleven to drink and chat. It’s a good feeling to know that you are never more than a block away from a cold beer or ice cream.
How has Hong Kong built the world’s largest number of skyscrapers? Using bamboo – that’s how. Forget the ugly metal poles you’re used to seeing in the West; in Hong Kong, it’s a familiar sight to see a construction worker 50 floors up balancing on a bamboo pole as he goes about his job. There is an art to using bamboo scaffolding, and Hong Kong is one of the last places where you will see it.
Hong Kong is open all hours. No shops close at 6 pm or before you’ve even finished work – like they do in a lot of countries. The rest of the world could learn that one of the reasons why Hong Kong is a paradise for shoppers is because the shops STAY OPEN. You will easily miss this around-the-clock convenience when you’re not in Hong Kong.
Lack of crime
Hong Kong is officially one of the safest cities in the world. You can walk around the city at any time day or night without fear of being mugged, attacked or threatened. You hardly ever see any fights in bars or clubs or hear of anyone being mugged or burgled. It’s an advantage that few cities in the world enjoy, and you will certainly miss it when you leave.