From ancient civilisation to thriving megalopolis, Hong Kong is an intriguing blend of old and new. Nothing showcases the richness of this unique city better than its biggest celebration – Chinese New Year. Revellers line Victoria Harbour to take in a grand spectacle of fireworks, participate in street festivals and visit the city’s temples. Here are some ways you can soak up Asian festive fun during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Experience: Join the congregation of partygoers along iconic Victoria Harbour to ring in the Chinese New Year. Since 1982, Hong Kong has hosted a dazzling waterfront display of hundreds of thousands of fireworks, which illuminate the iconic skyline in spectacular fashion. In addition to gunpowder pyrotechnics, buildings flanking the harbour get involved, via an impressive multimedia light and music show.
Participate: As midnight approaches, thousands of worshippers head to the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon. When the clock strikes 12, everyone rushes towards the main alter and offers up sticks of incense. Timing is key — tradition has it that the earlier a devotee offers incense, the better luck he or she has during the year ahead.
Visit: Hong Kong’s famous giant, wok-shaped Victoria Peak offers views of ferries crossing Victoria Harbour, the city skyline and the verdant landscape beyond. A morning meander through Hong Kong Park takes you to the Peak tram, which you can board for a steep ride to the lofty terminus. Built in 1888, the Peak tram was the first cable funicular in Asia.
Shop: Sheung Wan District is one of the earliest British-settled areas in the north west of Hong Kong Island and is abuzz with trendy stores and boutiques. This bustling area is home to dozens of shops selling everything from antiques to incense and an eclectic range of clothing brands.
Relax: After an activity-packed visit, spend a day with your toes in the white sands of the unspoiled Sai Kung Peninsula beaches. Expect clear-blue waters, remote villages and lush tropical vegetation. If you’re after a bit of adventure, there’s surfing, or hiking along the coastline for impressive mountain and sea views.
Savour: Don’t miss out on incredible Cantonese cuisine. Famous dishes include dim sum, char siu (roasted pork with rice or noodles), fish balls (skewers of curried fish balls), wonton noodles (hot broth of vegetables, noodles, wonton dumplings and chicken, pork or prawn) and sweetheart cake (flaky pastry made with honeydew melon and almond paste).
Socialise: Catch a view and a cocktail at Ozone, the highest bar in the world. Perched way up on the 118th floor of the swanky Ritz Carlton, expect expertly mixed drinks and an elite clientele. If you’re after a more relaxed atmosphere, there are plenty of grungy bars and hip clubs in Wan Chai, once an infamous red light district.
Day Trip: Escape the festivities for a day and visit Tsang Tai Uk, a traditional Hakka walled village. A prosperous stonemason began construction here in1848 and today it’s one of the best-preserved villages of its kind.
Admire: Visit Big Buddah and Po Lin Monastery. The extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha) was erected in 1993. Sitting 34 metres high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia.