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Where to explore Hong Kong’s culture?

Posted: May 17 2016Last Updated: May 17 2016
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Encompassing Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories (including Outlying Islands), Hong Kong is a haven for cultural attractions. Be it functional brick-and-mortar landmarks reflective of colonial history or Chinese heritage sites which allude to the clan settler days of yore, apart from existing as a unique confluence between East and West, Hong Kong seamlessly blends contemporary culture with tradition. Discover Hong Kong through the following recommendations and kick-start your understanding of our unique cultural heritage. 

Central Pier

Victoria Peak is the ideal vantage point to provide context to your exploration of Hong Kong. Accessed by the Peak Tram, scale Hong Kong in an actual ‘living’ cultural artefact and be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon. Gaze down upon the scaling skyscrapers which punctuate Hong Kong’s cityscape and pay particular attention to the HSBC Building, Bank of China Tower and Cheung Kong Center. 
Located in Hong Kong’s Central District, the aforementioned buildings are monuments to Hong Kong’s international financial standing and commercial culture. More importantly, they are genuine architectural marvels in their own right, incorporating Chinese Feng Shui principles with the forethought of modern design. Be sure to also stop by the Central Ferry Piers and hop aboard the Star Ferry. As a legacy of Hong Kong’s colonial past, the Star Ferry route has been in operation since the late 19th century. Traverse between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui and venture onwards to Kowloon.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Kowloon is integral to Hong Kong’s street food culture. Head over to Temple Street, Haiphong Street and Hau Fook Street to sample a wide array of local Cantonese culinary creations including curry fish balls, egg tarts and egg waffles. Be sure to have a cup of Hong Kong milk tea at a ‘Dai Pai Dong’ – recently recognized as an intangible culture heritage by the Hong Kong government. 
For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, patronize the Peninsula Hong Kong. Founded under the mantra of being “the finest hotel east of Suez” in 1928, pay homage to Hong Kong’s variegated history by tucking into scones under the accompaniment of a live string quartet.    
Kowloon also plays host to Chinese Temples. As the construct of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, Wong Tai Sin Temple claims to make your wishes come true. Built to commemorate a famous fourth century monk – Wong Tai Sin, the temple is decked in exquisite chinoiserie yet nonetheless is an important symbol of Hong Kong’s syncretic religions.    
The Big Buddha
Another monumental symbol of faith rests near Po Lin Monastery. Open to the public in 1993, the Tian Tan Buddha (the Big Buddha) statue scales 34 meters high and attracts pilgrims eager to climb the 268 steps required to appreciate Buddhist iconography up close. If you are unfazed by the prospect of physical exertion, embark on a journey into the past through the Ping Shan Heritage Trail and the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail.
Both the Ping Shan Heritage Trail and the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail earmark the ancestral grounds of the Tang clan which has been in existence since the Yuan dynasty, both beckon to a precarious past where Bandits and Marauders roamed free to take spoils. 
Ultimately, Hong Kong Disneyland concludes our list. Though without the cultural gravitas of other sites, it does present an alternative perspective whereby the ‘Magic Kingdom’ is given a distinct Cantonese flair. If anything, it is the physical manifestation of Hong Kong’s persistent drive towards internationalization.

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