Hong Kong Holidays

by VioletaQuisora

Hong Kong is one of the world's great holiday destinations. Back in the 1990s I visited some of Hong Kong's tourist attractions. They are still great spots to see!

Flying into Hong Kong in the early 1990s meant landing at Kai Tak International Airport, located in a crowded urban area. An adventure in itself! Some of the interesting holiday experiences in Hong Kong were the view from the Peak, rides on the Star Ferry, the markets at Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, and the colonial-era Peninsula Hotel.

Kai Tak Airport

Most travelers to Hong Kong entered by Kai Tak International Airport. This airport had a most unusual location: it was situated in downtown Hong Kong with skyscrapers and apartment blocks on all sides. And very close by was a backdrop of high mountains.

As a result all airplanes coming in to land at Kai Tak had a perilous and adventurous descent. First, the airplanes had to descend steeply and then suddenly bank to the left (at the so-called checkerboard marker) and then they had to fly down to the runway between towering office blocks and apartment buildings. 

The descent depended a great deal on the skill of the pilots who had to manually check each moment of the final approach. And for the passengers inside -- at least for those of them who were not hiding under the seats -- it was an exciting and unparalleled landing adventure, with buildings whizzing past on either side and huge Chinese character advertising signs looming close! 

Mostly everything went well but there were occasional accidents, with one celebrated event being a China Airlines passenger jet ending up in Hong Kong Harbor, after it went down the runway a little too fast.

Kai Tak Airport closed in July 1998. The replacement airport, located on an island off the coast of Hong Kong, is safer, no doubt, but a lot less fun!

Planes Over Hong Kong (1998)

The Peak. Star Ferry. The Markets.

On one of the aforementioned mountains on Hong Kong Island is Victoria Peak. This peak was reached by the Peak Tram (a funicular railway up a very steep incline), at the end of which you were rewarded with fantastic views northwards over Central, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon.

On the subject of transport an ever-popular attraction in those days was the old-fashioned Star Ferry. This ferry, established back in 1888, operates across the picturesque harbor and was featured in the novel, The World of Suzy Wong.

Hong Kong was a magnet for shoppers and diners. On Kowloon Island and on Hong Kong Island there were thousands of great restaurants serving the various kinds of Chinese cuisine (such as Cantonese) and in the suburbs of Mong Kok and Tsim Tsa Tsui there were a number of busy outdoor markets that operate by day and by night.

Going up to the Peak

Going up to the Peak
Going up to the Peak
John Parise

Peninsula Hotel. Other Attractions.

Until 1997 Hong Kong was a British crown colony and there were signs of Britain everywhere, including, for example, the street names and old colonial buildings (such as the Peninsula Hotel in Nathan Road).

The Peninsula Hotel was one of the great hotels of the British Empire, along with the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Strand Hotel in Rangoon. Hotel guests over the years have included the rich and the famous, such as the writer, W. Somerset Maugham. When I was in Hong Kong, you could take high tea in the Peninsula Hotel. I believe you can still do that. Highly recommended!

There are many other things to see -- including many old Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian temples and quite a few prize-winning modern skyscapers -- and more places to visit -- such as the floating city at Aberdeen, the beach at Stanley, and the outlying islands -- which I will explore in another article.

Inside the Peninsula Hotel

Inside the Peninsula Hotel
Inside the Peninsula Hotel

Hong Kong on the Internet

Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
One of the last great aerial adventures. Lots of videos, lots of thrills and spills.

Kowloon and Hong Kong. The old Kai Tak Airport can be seen on the left.

Kowloon and Hong Kong. The old Kai Tak Airport can be seen on the left.
Kowloon and Hong Kong. The old Kai Tak Airport can be seen on the left.

National Geographic Traveler: Hong Kong, 3rd Edition

National Geographic Traveler: Hong Kong, 3rd Edition

Traveled to Hong Kong in November 2011 and this book was very useful. In fact, I wish I'd read it a bit more ahead of time! In looking back through it after our trip (for purposes of providing a good review), the information is excellent.

$29.98  $18.95

View on Amazon

Updated: 03/18/2012, VioletaQuisora
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Mladen on 03/18/2012

Hong Kong is so beautiful. It is on the top of my list of destinations to visit. I hope I will be able to visit it soon.

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