In China, travel opportunities now exist that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. Fueled by recent economic growth, Hong Kong today is thrilling and relentless. Invariably, you have to seek out the old though: an opera, a lion dance, the bird market or an early-morning session of tai chi.
- Ride the 137-year-old red funicular tram to the top of Victoria Peak for the stupendous views over Central and the harbor. If you are feeling energetic, there is a two-mile tree-lined walking trail.
- Meander through Western District, one of the least changed and most atmospheric parts of the city. The streets are dedicated to specific products. Queen’s Road West offers herbal remedies and temple goods; Bonham Road sells dried seafood; and Man Wa Lane specializes in beautifully carved “chops” (seals).
- Even if you are not staying there, take tea in the fabulous gilded lobby of The Peninsula hotel and listen to the string quartet.
- Go for cocktails at Ozone atop The Ritz-Carlton. Situated on the 118th floor, it is the highest bar in the world.
- Visit Man Mo Temple, the city’s oldest Taoist temple, on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan. The neighborhood contains Chinese medicine, tea and food stores, as well as small outdoor markets.
- Make an excursion to scenic Lamma Island. After a 30-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong to the village of Yung Shue Wan, hike for 40 minutes to the seaside town of Sok Kwu Wan. There, the Rainbow Seafood Restaurant serves exemplary seafood. The restaurant has a private boat that can take you back to Hong Kong.
- Go to the horse races on Wednesday evenings at Happy Valley. Everyone in Hong Kong is, it seems, an inveterate gambler. The tai-pans have private boxes; lesser mortals make do with the terraces. The atmosphere is electric.
- Have your fortune told at Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon. Devotees light incense sticks, kneel before the main altar and shake a bamboo cylinder containing kau cim fortune sticks until one falls out. This is then exchanged for a piece of paper bearing the same number, and a soothsayer interprets the fortune.