Why I'm obsessed with Hong Kong
Before I moved to Asia, my (admittedly ignorant) idea of Hong Kong was one of a smoggy, crowded city with brightly lit signs in Chinese characters. It wasn't on my radar as a place I'd like to go. But when multiple friends in Saigon raved about their travels there, I started to look into it more. A bustling city on an island surrounded by mountains and beaches? Modern amenities I miss from home? I warmed up to the idea.
My brother's visit to Asia seemed like the perfect time to check out HK. We spent four and a half days there, which was a good length of time to stay due to cost; Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in the world. Although neither of us wanted to leave by the end because we had oodles left to explore, my budget had me eating egg sandwiches from 7/11, so it was the right thing to do.
Debilitating prices aside, Hong Kong exceeded our expectations. It's a city from the future with constant reminders of the past. Traditional food scents the air and ancient medicine shops line the streets, along side sky scrapers, iPhones and business suits. It's exhilarating, and at the same time slow-paced. It's just so dang cool. Here's a breakdown of why Hong Kong became one of my favourites cities I've ever visited!
1. The architecture
You'll spend a lot of time looking up in this metropolis. With Hong Kong's population exceeding its surface area, the only way to build is up. Tall buildings surround the island, but they look different depending on where in the city you are. Taking in the chaotic architecture was a definite highlight of being there.
2. Proximity to nature
Too many cities today are growing at the expense of nature, but Hong Kong has managed to keep tons of green space around. Residents and tourists can visit city parks, do hikes through trails, and even go to several public beaches. I loved the sight of forest rich mountains poking out in between buildings... it gives me hope for the future of city development. Yes sky scrapers are cool, but the combination of nature and modernity really makes Hong Kong special.
Overwhelmed with options and limited days, my brother and I visited Victoria Peak, HK island's tallest mountain, and Repluse Bay beach. If (when!) I go back, I'd love to spend more time exploring.
3. The night markets
I've been to quite a few night markets in Asia, but Hong Kong's have their own flare. It could have been they were selling things I hadn't seen elsewhere. There's also the fact that I am a shopaholic and a sucker for a good knock-off. Whatever the case, they were fabulous and became our favourite way to spend the evenings during our time in HK.
We went to Temple Street Night Market and Ladies' Night Market. In my opinion the ladies one is superior, because it's enormous and has more variety for shopping!
4. The unbeatable buzz
If you haven't picked up on this already, I was pretty intoxicated by the character of this place. It's busy, but efficient. Crazy, but easy to explore. The subway system is insanely fast; we didn't wait more than 2 minutes for a train. This makes for a noticeable lack of traffic (in relation to the city's population at least). The sidewalks, though crowded, are well-maintained. There's bubble tea, wontons, and noodle stands on every corner. Just the act of roaming the streets is intoxicating. I want to go back, but this time for longer and with more money to spend on eating great food.
Can't wait to see you again, Hong Kong!