Hong Kong, a tiny and unidentifiable spot on the world map, was once a fishing village nestled in the Pearl River Delta on the shores of the South China Sea. Since the opening of commercial ports around 100 years ago, Hong Kong’s economy boosted in 1970s. With 40 years of dedication and diligence, Hong Kong successfully transformed from the unknown fishing village into a pivotal international metropolis of today, creating an economic miracle.
As a first-class logistic and financial centre, both traditional Chinese culture and local Canton characteristics can be found, not to mention the British colonial charm. East-meets-West cultural fusion brings both collision and harmony, attracting countless number of visitors from around the world to discover her mystery.
Apart from highly efficient business transactions, this colorful and ever-changing city greets visitors with its gorgeous settings. Spectacular sightseeing, sensational shopping and fabulous food inevitably arouse your senses, accompanied by a vibrant nightlife. Yet Hong Kong has always stuck to its roots and the culture beneath the luster as pure Chinese. Traditional Chinese operas, ancient walled villages and relaxing outlying islands grab your attention to the tranquil side of the Pearl of the Orient.
Come and discover your own place in Hong Kong, this fascinating paradise!
Hakka Walled Village
The early Hong Kong was only a fishing village with little population. There were a number of ethnics and they used their own languages. Hakka and Minnan are two examples. At that time, inhabitants of the New Territories mainly made a living by farming and fishing. Interestingly, from Tang Dynasty till Qing Dynasty, sea trade was monopolized by the Minnan people, and they built a lot of temples called “Tin Hau Miu” (literally meaning Goddess Temple) to pray for safe travels and successful trades. Until today, these temples remain a distinctive architectural feature of Hong Kong.
The Qing Government lost the Opium War against Great Britain in 1842. Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain and became her colony. The British Government decided to turn Hong Kong into an entrepot bridging China and the world. As such, trafficking and re-export (opium included) became core businesses in Hong Kong. Since then, Hong Kong became a free port and an important entrepot of Asia. A number of British companies and Chinese businessmen started to set up trading companies in Hong Kong. After the Sino-Japanese War, Hong Kong became Mainland China’s important window towards the rest of the world.
After the Chinese Communist Party took over and implemented the isolation policy, large populations fled from Guangdong to Hong Kong, bringing along lots of talented entrepreneurs and manpower. This also turned Hong Kong from an entrepot into a manufacturing city. Light industries like manufacturing garments, watches, and toys developed very quickly and Hong Kong made goods were exported overseas. Enterprises from Shanghai, the US and Europe invested huge sums in Hong Kong and helped build up the “Made in Hong Kong” brand. With the economic boom, the entertainment industry started to flourish. Radio stations, television stations, movies, and pop songs gained huge success. Artists and producers made use of the channel of entertainment to humorously reflect lives of the working class. A number of artists also gained international publicity. Bruce Lee is an obvious example. His action movies shocked the whole world and fundamentally changed the movie industry.
Since the economic boom in 1970s, Hong Kong became one of the most developed cities in Asia. Together with South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, Hong Kong was praised as “Asian Tiger”. However, with the Opening Up Policy adopted by the Chinese Government, factories started to move to the mainland and Hong Kong turned from an exporter into a re-exporter. The economic pillar gradually transformed from manufacturing-driven to financial- and real estate-driven. During the late 1980s, the GDP per capita of Hong Kong even exceeded that of Britain, the suzerain. Hong Kong rose as an international financial center and was called “Newlonkong” together with New York and London.
After the Handover
In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty and became the first place to implement One-Country-Two-System. In the same year, the Asian Financial Crisis broke out, putting Hong Kong at her worst economic situation ever. In 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) first broke out in Hong Kong, making any economic recovery virtually impossible. However, the quick response and effective prevention efforts adopted by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government as well as professionalism of medical staff in Hong Kong was widely praised worldwide. In 2004, Hong Kong finally started to recover from the economic recession and started seeing gradual improvements in finance, tourism, and retail businesses.
In 2008, Beijing organized the Olympics Games for the first time and Hong Kong became a co-organizer and hosted the equestrian races. In 2009, Hong Kong organized the Fifth East Asian Games, the first time she held a large-scale comprehensive sports event. The two consecutive major international sporting events brought about an unprecedented popularity of sports in Hong Kong.
Chinese New Year
The 1st of January in Chinese Lunar Calendar marks the commencement of a new year. People wear new, mostly red clothes. They stick ‘Fai Chun’, red pieces of paper with auspicious words, on walls and doors. The elderly and parents give red packets to children to symbolize giving of good luck. Rice cakes and turnip cakes are top hits during the season in the South, while northern Chinese eat dumplings to celebrate this festival of the year.
Ching Ming Festival
It is the day for commemorating the ancestors and takes place on the 4th, 5th, or 6th of April in Gregorian calendar. The whole family goes to graveyards with flowers, food, incense and paper offerings like clothes, shoes and even modern items like smartphones. By burning these items into ashes, people believe that their ancestors can receive them and use them even though they have passed away.
Dragon Boat Festival
The 5th of May in Lunar Calendar is the day for commemorating the ancient poet Que Yun. He is a nationalist, loving his country and the Emperor. Unfortunately, Que Yun was banished and he committed suicide by jumping into the river to show his loyalty. To commemorate this great poet, people threw rice dumplings into the river to feed the fish and avoid them eating Que Yun’s body. They also paddled the dragon boats to scare the fishes away from Que Yun’s body. Nowadays, people still keep these traditional practices. The dragon boat racing has even become an international event in Hong Kong, attracting many foreign teams to compete for championship every year.
In Lunar Calendar, full moon appears on every 15th day of the month. Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th of Lunar August, the day when the moon is at its brightest and most rounded form. In China, “full moon” symbolizes “reunion” and “togetherness”. Mid-Autumn festival is thus a great day for family members to gather together and celebrate. Eating mooncakes and playing with lanterns are important traditions during the Festival. Interestingly, although the traditional mooncakes are made of lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk, a variety of new recipes start to pop up in Hong Kong, where the East and the West meet. For instance, coffee-flavored mooncakes and ice cream mooncakes are both popular items during the festival.
In Gregorian calendar, Winter Solstice takes place on around the 22nd or 23rd of December. There are actually 24 “solar terms” in Chinese Lunar Calendar while Winter Solstice is the most important among all. As the old saying goes, “Winter solstice” holiday is even more important than the New Year. Once Winter solstice comes, the Chinese believe that they will meet the coldest time ahead. During this festival, family members would gather together and prepare a rich dinner in order to welcome the coldest period with a warm heart with warmth in the family.
Hong Kong, the colorful and ever-changing city where the East meets the West, never fails to exhilarate visitors. Spectacular sightseeing, sensational shopping, fabulous eating plus a vibrant nightlife… Hong Kong is bound to arouse your senses. There are abundant tourist attractions, to name just a few, Ocean Park, Disneyland, the Big Buddha, the Peak and Victoria Harbour, etc. You cannot afford to miss!
Hong Kong is well-known for being a “Shopping Paradise”. Shopping malls like Times Square, the Landmark, Harbour City and Langham Place can fully satisfy your desire for shopping. You can find famous world brands while enjoying relatively low prices and various discounts. If you are interested in souvenirs with local Chinese characteristics, Ladies’ Market and Temple Street Night Market in Mongkok or the Stanley Market would be your best choices.
Ancient walled villages and relaxing outlying islands grab your attention to the tranquil side of the Pearl of the Orient. Hong Kong’s natural beauty is as fascinating as its shining city life. Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and Lantau Island are popular sites for visitors who would love to experience ultimate relaxation. Our first Geo Park also offers unique experience with the prehistoric landforms and landscapes of Hong Kong. Viewing Hong Kong from another perspective and you would find this place beyond your imagination.
Lan Kwai Fong
For ‘owls’ who love night life, Lan Kwai Fong and Soho are definitely a paradise, offering you the finest dining and entertainment options. Immerse yourself in the exciting upbeat atmosphere of bars and clubs there and enjoy the hottest night spots in town.
In the old days, the food sold at air-conditioned eateries known as “ice houses” was relatively generic and affordable, for instance, sandwiches and coffee. With increasing variety of food and cooking ideas combining with western restaurant operating mode, the ice houses turned into modern tea restaurants, affectionately called Cha Chaan Teng in Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese dishes and western cuisines were both on offer; and some local creations such as pineapple bun with butter, Yuanyang (coffee mixed with milk tea), lemon coke/Sprite, red bean ice drink, etc. became quite popular. Cha Chaan Tengs fully demonstrate Hong Kong people’s creativity and the combination of Eastern and Western cultures. Apart from local restaurants, different international cuisines could be found easily anywhere in Hong Kong.