Christmas in Hong Kong

Christmas is a wonderful time to visit Hong Kong. There is so much to see and do and most of it is free, easy to get to via public transport and great with or without the kids!

Most of the streets, malls and major hotels have fantastic decorations as can be seen below.

Street Decorations_HKXmas_4LeeTungAvenue

The European Carnival is held on the Central Harbour-front on Hong Kong Island. It’s packed with rides, carnival games and loads of different food. It’s located right next to the Observation Wheel which is a great way to view both the carnival and harbour or take some romantic selfies.

About an hour from Central and easily accessible by the bus, Stanley plaza is transformed at Christmas time inspired by traditional German Christmas markets. There are authentic German snacks, a life-sized candy house, mulled wine and lots of unique market stalls.

StanleyXmasMarkets_2StanleyXmasMarkets_1

The Landmark is a huge multi level shopping centre and at Christmas it hosts the Landmark Christmas Circus. An elaborate puppet show that comes to life every half an hour it’s very popular so best to avoid around lunch time if possible. Each level of the centre provides a different view of the ‘circus’ and many have a cafe with a good vantage point.

LandmarkXmasCircus_2

Located on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong are the Hullet House Christmas Markets at 1881 Heritage. Whilst traditionally the markets are only on for three days, the decorations are around for a lot longer and definitely a highlight.

The Pulse Light Show is a 3D audiovisual light show located next to the historical Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower on the Kowloon harbourfront. It’s free and narrated in english, cantonese and mandarin at different times throughout the night.

The most spectacular celebration is the Harbour itself. Many of the buildings by the Harbour are decorated with Christmas lights and it’s definitely not to be missed. Even though views of the harbour are good at any time of the year, it’s especially impressive at Christmas.

Destination: China Hong Kong

Shenzhen, China

Historically Shenzhen was a market town with a population of just 30,000 people. In 1979 Shenzhen was assigned as China’s first Special Economic Zone. It was developed rapidly and in only 38 years the population estimate of Shenzhen grew to 18 million people. Shenzhen is now one of the five largest and wealthiest cities of China.

We decided to explore this fast growing city and joined an organised day tour. One of the benefits of joining a tour is that they sorted out our visas to enter into Mainland China.

Our journey started at Hung Hom Station on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong where we boarded our train. We were told the likelihood of getting a seat for the hour-long journey was more ‘probable’ in First Class. Tickets in these carriages are a bit more expensive but to be honest it wasn’t anything amazing. After an interesting trip through the New Territories we arrived at Lo Wu Station. Lo Wu is the Northern Terminus of the East Rail Line, serving as a primary checkpoint for rail passengers between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Our first stop was Litchi (or Lychee) Park. It was absolutely beautiful and really quite large (apparently around 29 hectares!) It was great to see so many people out exercising and participating in Tai Chi.

From the park, we made our way to the Shenzhen Meridian View Centre. It’s located on the 69th floor of the Diwang Building and the views are incredible.

The Sham Chun River (aka Shenzhen River) serves as the natural border between Hong Kong and Mainland China and can be seen clearly in the picture below.

After enjoying a cup of tea our next stop was the Kuang Yi Cultural Exhibition Centre where we were only allowed to take photos in the foyer. The Centre had loads of historical artefacts including a terracotta warrior and his horse as well as lots and lots of jade.

Shenzhen_12 Shenzhen_13

We saw some interesting street art along the way to the restaurant where we were having lunch.

The rest of our afternoon was spent at the Luohu Commercial City, commonly known as Lo Wu Shopping Centre. This place is huge – five stories high with over 200 shops per floor. It’s a shoppers paradise with loads of replica items that are of a high standard but still not genuine. There are plenty of tailors that will re-create shoes and clothing or those that will attempt an original if you have a design and the ability to return in a couple of days… if you’re game.

We enjoyed our trip to Shenzhen and would love to return to explore more of this amazing city.

Destination: China Shenzhen

Macau, China

We decided an organised day trip with a tour group was the best way to explore Macau from Hong Kong. Macau, like Hong Kong is an autonomous territory or Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, and whilst having its own currency Hong Kong dollars are widely accepted in most places.

Our day started with a fast ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, the ferry was actually really comfortable and the trip only took an hour. Once we got through customs and immigration in Macau we boarded our coach and commenced our day trip.

As this was a day trip, our itinerary and the places of interest we stopped at were pre-organised for us, our experience and this blog of our time in Macau is limited. We found Macau to be a strange mix of both tradition and the outrageous opulence it’s most known for.

Here are photos of The Kun Lam Statue and Macau Tower. While we had a look around the tower, watching people bungy jumping from the top – it is the highest commercial bungy jump in the world!

The Grand Lisboa Casino and Studio City, James Packer’s Casino. Those circles you can see in the middle of Studio City is a figure 8 ferris wheel!

The Venetian Macao is an incredible hotel, shopping mall and casino. The sky that you can see is actually the ceiling with painted clouds and special lighting. The effect is mind blowing!

 

A-Ma Temple (Ma Kok Miu). Our tour guide told us a story of how Macau was named. Apparently when a lost Portuguese sailing ship landed here by accident they tried to get help. Not having a common language, the sailors tried to find out their location from some Monks at this temple and mistook what they were saying not as “Ma Kok Miu” but as “Macau”.

The amazing ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral. This church has burned down but the facade has remained as a free standing structure. A great testament to building things properly. Interestingly enough there is a small local temple next to the church ruins that is dedicated to a god that burns everything around them!

The Grand Emperor Hotel is partially owned by Jacky Chan, it has gold bars on the floor at its entrance. Of course the gold bars are encased in unbreakable resin. There is also a Feng Shui mirror on the column in the photo below which is rumoured to have cost a million US dollars!  Strangely you are not allowed to take photos of the mirror front on, only from the side.

It was a fabulous day and we’d highly recommend checking out Macau if visiting Hong Kong.

Destination: China Macau