When I was a child of 9 years old my family and I had a stop over in Hong Kong for a few days to break up our long flights to Europe from New Zealand. It was an extremely exciting experience for me and my brother because Hong Kong was the first overseas “country” we’d ever been to. The number one thing I wanted to do there was buy myself a new cassette/radio with my very own money, and Hong Kong was THE place to get the latest electronics. Back in those days HK was still under sovereignty of the British Empire. I had never seen skyscrapers and it was the first time I had experienced a culture and language so different from my own.
These days Hong Kong is still one of the world’s major transport hubs, but it is also the gateway city to China. It has built further on it’s reputation as a leading edge 21st century city while retaining much of it’s traditional charm. It is a unique place for western visitors to experience “China” for the first time without feeling overwhelmed like they might in Shanghai or Beijing. With so many exciting things to do and with so many international sporting and cultural events held there each year Hong Kong has become a holiday destination in itself and not just a stopover.
New Zealanders love sport and especially our national game, Rugby. In April each year Hong Kong hosts the Hong Kong Sevens, a hugely popular international rugby competition where games are played at lightening pace and last only 15 minutes. The competition is held over 2 days and many in the crowds of 40,000 spectators dress up in outrageous costumes which adds to the festival atmosphere which infects the whole city. This is just one of many international sporting fixtures that are held in HK each year: the list includes the Hong Kong Open Golf Championship, the Hong Kong Marathon, the Hong Kong Cyclothon, the Hong Kong DanceSport Festival, the Hong Kong Open Badminton Championship, and the Harbour Swimming Race which sees approx. 1000 swimmers crossing Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour. But the mightiest drawcard of them all is Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival which is held in May or June each year and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to one of the city’s biggest parties.
Hong Kong honors it’s strong Chinese Heritage by celebrating 18+ Chinese festivals throughout the year. So there’s a good chance you’ll get to experience one of these colourful spectacles while you’re there, with their amazing fireworks shows, glowing lanterns, flaming dragons, and prancing lions. The largest festival is, of course, Chinese New Year which is held in February. Another cultural experience to savour is dining in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an international food capital where East meets West, with top chefs from all across the globe showing off their talents and providing visitors with a veritable “United Nations” of dining options. It is not unusual for the city’s top hotels to have a variety of restaurants showcasing no less than 5 different styles of cuisine.
Hong Kong is an exciting city that offers so much for overseas visitors to enjoy.