Discovering Hong Kong Central
The most visited part of Hong Kong has be the Central part on Hong Kong Island (also known as ‘Downtown’), and despite the fact it has so many skyscrapers in one small area which are mainly financial institutes, there is still quite a few things to do for visitors to see and do (with some of them free entry which makes this even area even more popular to explore). Here is the lowdown on my discoveries of this amazing city.
Star Ferry – Hong Kong Pier 6
The cheapest, scenic and pleasant way to get across Victoria Harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon is the famous Star Ferry which has been here since the late 1880s. Take this ferry to get a great view of the skyscrapers of Central overlooking the harbour. The ferry runs quite often and departs from pier six.
Central is a maze, where do I go from Star Ferry to the fun parts?
When leaving the Star Ferry, walk on straight until you come to some covered walkways. This city can be daunting at first with so many skyscrapers and many people filling up the walkways but it’s pretty simple. Follow the signs for the Escalator (head straight, then turn right – the road Connaught will be below you, then turn left at the end, walk over bridge, into a building which looks gloomy and has some market stalls and run down shops and keep heading straight, this will lead to the Escalator and heart of Central so visitors can go from here to their desire destination. This is the quickest route).
This is so funny to be included on the budget things to do and see in Hong Kong. Its great as it is free but when I came here, I have never come across this sort of escalator. The lowdown is that the Central part of Hong Kong Island lies on steep mountainside. From Queens Street (the start at the bottom of the escalator) to Conduit Street which is over 900 meters away is a very steep walk so the government built a escalator to get people to and from and every street in between quickly to their destination.
There is actually 792 meters (2,598 feet) of escalators and I found this a great way to quickly get a grip on what there is to do in this area. Half way up the escalators is the area known as SoHo which is great for eats but visitors can go all the way to the top at Conduit Street where I have to admit, it’s just an residential area. Still, ride all the escalator to say that you have done it. It is a lazy way to get about but during the very humid months, it is a blessing. Just remember that escalator does run from the very early hours until midnight and goes up hill but during the morning rush hour, it does run downhill.
Hong Kong Park
This is a great place to check out especially if visitors get fed up with the hustle and bustle of local life. Stepping into the park, after a few moments people tend to forget that they are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world. With tall trees dotted around the outskirts of the park hiding all the buildings (apart from the very tall skyscrapers of course), this also somehow blocks out the sound of nearby traffic.
A walk around the park to see the beautiful plants, pond with fish and the water fountains is nice but the highlight here has to be the huge walk through aviary (which is also another freebie). The path will take visitors along flowing streams and amazing plant life which reminds me of being in a rainforest but I also love checking out the exotic birds on show.
Elsewhere in the park there is a large conservatory which is worth checking out the plants of this part of the world and for some reason, cactus (which I never seen in Hong Kong). Oh, there is a museum of Teaware located in the nearby Flagstaff House but to be honest, this is a thing to do if you were really bored and it is pissing it down with rain outside.
Man Mo Temple
The first ever temple I explored (which was not in a monastery) was the Man Mo Temple on the western end of Hollywood Road (another freebie). From the outside (despite being overshadowed by apartment blocks) looks lovely with its red roof but as soon as I walked inside the main entrance, the smell of sandalwood smoke from huge spiral hanging from over my head hit me. I never smelt anything like this before but I quickly got use to it. These spirals take weeks to burn which I also found amazing but each to their own.
The temple is dedicated to two deities, Mo (the son of War) and Man (the god of literature), that’s as much as I can tell you in the way of religion but I noticed walking around despite the smoke, the interior is very gloomy inside with its gold and red paint plus wooden beams everywhere. A nice place to check out whilst in the area and another place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Ride the Ding-Ding
The Ding-Ding’s are trams which run along the main road on the northern side of Hong Kong island from Kennedy Town (in the west) to Shau Kei Wan (in the east) and also the famous racecourse, Happy Valley. They have been here since the early 1900s and are a pleasure to ride on. They are very cheap (which Octopus Card can be used) to ride on and I love sitting on the top deck checking out the scenery and street life from down below which in the end I found an enjoyable experience (but I couldn’t do this every day as the journey takes forever from one end ot the other!) I recommend jumping on one and experience the ride (and the sounds of the ding-ding!)
Central Hong Kong lies underneath the mountain known as ‘Victoria Peak’ and is worth a trip to the summit to check out Hong Kong’s most spectacular views. The cheap way to do this is to hike this but there is another attraction to check out and that is riding the Peak Tram. A handy tip before making a day of it up at the top is to make sure there is no clouds otherwise it will be a wasted journey.
On arrival, the Peak Tram finishes inside the Peak Tower, a weird anvil-shaped building which also contains a mall, restaurants and for a charge the Sky Terrace viewing gallery which I didn’t bother doing. Just leave the building and head eastwards for a few meters and there is a viewing platform on the walking path!
There is plenty to do up from having lunch, hiking around the roads, checking out the gardens but for me it was the chance to do some fine dining overlooking Hong Kong’s skyscrapers at the Wildfire Pizza and Grill which is a bit classy and not really a budget meal option but I paid the extra to get that amazing view!
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