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On-the-boil Hong Kong will bowl you over.

Hong Kong has the big city specials like smog, odor, 14 million elbows and an insane love of clatter. But it's also efficient, hushed and peaceful: the transport network is excellent, the shopping centers are sublime, and the temples and quiet corners of parks are contemplative oases.

The best thing about being in Hong Kong is getting flummoxed and fired by the confluences and contradictions of a Chinese city with multi-Asian and Western elements. It's about savoring new tastes, weaving through a human gridlock and humming some dumb Canto pop tune while slurping your noodles.


Many prefer to visit Hong Kong during November and December when there are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. January and February are OK times to visit, but the temperature can drop to below 10°C (50°F). Warmer temperatures make March and April pleasant months to go, but in May the air becomes uncomfortably sticky and humid. Typhoons hit Hong Kong most years between about May and September, though the city is so well prepared it would need to be a very big storm to disrupt your travel too much.

Weather-wise, October, November and most of December are the best months to visit Hong Kong; the skies are clear and the sun shines. The June to August heat/rain combo might push your endurance but there's a lot of sunshine and, after all, it's summer. Hotels tend to offer substantial discounts outside the high seasons of March-April and October-November. Travel can be difficult during Chinese New Year in late January/early February.

A Top Day in Hong Kong

get up early and take a leisurely walk through Hong Kong Park, where I'm entranced by the slow-motion grace of t'ai chi practitioners and the wonderful birdlife of the Edward Youde Aviary. Now I'm ready for a hearty breakfast (invariably involving eggs) in one of Central's cafes, somewhere with an interesting crowd like Eating Plus in the IFC Mall. After breakfast I head outside and squint up at the bullet-shaped outline of the city's tallest building, Two IFC, before jamming myself among commuters for the trip across spectacular Victoria Harbour to Kowloon on the ungainly Star Ferry. I arrive in Tsim Sha Tsui and meander along its promenade to admire the view back across to Hong Kong Island. I may even duck into the Hong Kong Space Museum to take in its enormous planetarium or a new IMAX film. Next I walk up the Golden Mile (Nathan Rd) to breathe in the commercial chaos and pay my respects to the authentically decrepit Chungking Mansions (a favourite place to stay) before diving into Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. I catch a train two stops north to Yau Ma Tei, where the tourist traffic is almost nonexistent and I can wander down Temple St and observe the streetlife as stallholders set up the Night Market. Hungry now, I'll ride the MTR south again and enter the basement of the Kowloon Hotel, where I've booked myself a fabulous dim sum banquet at Hoi Yat Heen.

I ride the Star Ferry back across the harbour (once is never enough) and catch the steep Peak Tram for fantastic late-afternoon views from Victoria Peak. Then I'll ride the tram back down and make for the Central Escalator, which trundles me up through the Mid-Levels to catch glimpses of Hong Kong life through the windows of the bars and residential apartments crowding around it.

Finally I disappear into the alleys of Lan Kwai Fong to celebrate the day with numerous drinks and some decent after-hours food.

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