URBAN EXPLORERS

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on November 01, 2015 with No Comments

Explore Hong Kong three ways.

Words LAILA CHANDRAN
Images HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD

 

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Hong Kong’s complex personality makes it one of the most intriguing cities to explore. Its MTR, the metro subway system, is envied by the world for its efficiency and certainly is the best way to get around. But, riding underground visitors could easily miss the oft neglected tales a living city has to over above ground. Then, there are the other modes of transport you can consider. Here, doing Hong Kong three ways and what to expect from your urban adventure.

 

VintageTRAMS

When on Hong Kong Island, get aboard one of the city’s historic trams to explore the bustling north corridor. These trams let you take a step back in time on double-decker streetcars that have traversed Hong Kong’s busiest thoroughfares since 1904.

The rickety streetcars continue to be an affordable, inexpensive and fun way to get around. We suggest you grab a seat next to a window on the upper deck – not just for the best views – but so you could stick your head out safely and be a kid again. If you climb on board from Des Voeux Road, you’ll past scenes of street hawkers plying fake Louis Vuittons before trudging on to some of Hong Kong’s colourful neighbourhoods like Western district, Wan Chai, Happy Valley, Causeway Bay and North Point. The scenes will take you from watching in chagrin laundry hanging from poles in derelict apartments to the luxurious high-rise in Happy Valley, famous for its racecourse.

Trams run daily from early morning until midnight. You get on the tram at the back and then pay the exact fare at the front when you alight. The best part is, no matter how far you travel, each tram ride costs a flat fare of HKD$2.30. Ensure you have exact change or, simply use your Octopus card.

 

BreathtakingFERRIES

Get your Hong Kong introduction by taking a rather zen ride on the Star Ferry to escape the frenziness. The ferries have been a regular mode of transport for locals (and now visitors) from Hong Kong to Kowloon since 1898. The classic Victoria Harbour crossing, especially when done at dusk, is one of the world’s most beautiful ferry crossings in the world. From Kowloon, see iconic Hong Kong landmarks start to glow with colourful lights and displays and the final blush of the setting sun that makes for a wonderful snapshot. Take a ride in the morning and it’s a surreal scene of 21st century urban warriors armed with their latest gadgets that look more suited in an Uber ride than on a traditional barge.

Ferries run regularly from 6.30am to 11.30pm. They are cheap to experience, but pay just a bit more to sit at the upper deck to take in better views of the island’s widescreen coastline. The ride is just under eight minutes, so if you still haven’t had enough, you can always get on the next ferry back.

 

OnFOOT

Despite its seemingly chaotic street scenes, Hong Kong is an easy city to navigate on your own. There are largely pedestrian-friendly laneways, covered walkways, parks for a breather, cafes at every corner to rest tired feet, and cultural gems that include walled villages and former lawless enclaves for intriguing glimpses of daily life in Hong Kong.

Even if you can’t get out of the city for the Dragon’s Back Trail (dazzling vistas) or Shek O (lots of seafood shops), a stroll through any one of Hong Kong’s neighbourhoods will take you through a journey of history and modernisation. The areas of Central and Sheung Wan, for instance, is constantly evolving. The Western District with its modern metropolis landscape hides quiet backlanes with a feel of yesterday’s Hong Kong. Wander through dried seafood and Chinese herb shops and witness traditions of the past bursting through today’s life. Equally interesting is when you take the streets behind the markets of Kowloon. Escape the buzz of the peddlers and tourist to admire the city’s old architecture, residential areas cramped between commercial retail spaces where you may suddenly find a rare art gallery popping up.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Hong Kong daily.

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