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Hong Kong Information

 
Hong Kong (?? Heung góng in Cantonese, Xiang gang in Mandarin) is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being Cantonese Chinese with a long-time British influence. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China’s increasingly affluent population. It is also an important hub in the Chinese Diaspora with global connections to many of the world’s cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is much more than a harbour city. The traveller weary of its crowded streets may be tempted to describe it as “Hong Kongcrete”. Yet, this SAR with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands is mostly a rural landscape. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7 million people are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid tourist.

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate with at least one season to match your comfort zone. Boasting one of the world’s best airports, it is the ideal stopover for those who wish to travel deeper into the Orient.

Hong Kong is divided into a number of contrasting districts.

    * Hong Kong Island (???) was the site of the original British settlement. The northern part of the Island is densely populated. Here, because of the scarcity of land, you'll find most of Hong Kong's skyscrapers and the famous skyline along the northern coastline. The main business, shopping and nightlife districts, in addition to the government offices, can be found here. The southern part of the Island has more leisure facilities, with beautiful beaches and luxury residential complexes.

    * Kowloon (??) is the peninsula jutting south towards Hong Kong Island. It is the most populous area in Hong Kong and at one time it was the most densely populated place in the world. Kowloon literally means nine dragons and refers to the eight hills that were once visible before the skyscrapers took the view away. Legend has it that the ninth dragon was the boy emperor who counted the hills.

    * The New Territories (??), named by the British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898, are a curious mix of farms, abandoned villages, industrial installations, mountainous country parks and new towns that have populations the size of small cities.

    * The Outlying Islands (??) are the 234 other islands in the territory ranging from Lantau (???) (twice the size of Hong Kong Island) to rocks poking out of the sea.

Climate


There are four distinct seasons in Hong Kong. Hong Kong can be a little chilly in the winter (10°C) and hot and humid in the summer (33°C). The best times of year to visit are thus, spring (March-May), when the average temperature is around 25°C and autumn between (September-December). Christmas in Hong Kong can be a delight with a fair chance of mild sunny weather that will appeal to those coming from colder northern climates. Hotels experience peak occupancy in the months of April and October. Typhoons usually occur between June and September and can bring a halt to local business activities for a day or less. The weather in winter is usually caused by the winter monsoon which brings dry cold winds from the north. In winter the air can be cold but the sun can still burn. Expect winter temperatures to rise to 22°C on sunny days and fall to under 10°C at night. Chinese New Year is notorious for cold wet weather and, since many businesses close, non-Chinese tourists will not see Hong Kong at its best. Should you find yourself in Hong Kong at Chinese New Year, you can make the best of the weather by going hiking if it is dry.

Festivals


    * Chinese (Lunar) New Year (????)

Although this may seem like an ideal time to go to Hong Kong, many shops and restaurants close down during the Chinese New Year. However, unlike Christmas in Europe where you can hardly find shops open on this big day, you can still get food and daily products easily during the Lunar New Year period. The week or two leading up to the Chinese New Year as well as the period just after the third day up to the fifteenth day are good times to soak up the festive mood and listen to Chinese New Year songs being played in the shops.

    * Spring Lantern Festival (???)

If you go to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, you will be able to experience this traditional Chinese festival. A number of beautiful lanterns can be found in the park at this time.

    * Ching Ming Festival (???)

This festival in Spring is also known as grave sweeping day. To show respect to the deceased, family members go to the grave of their ancestors to sweep away leaves and remove weeds around the grave area. Paper offerings are also burned, such as fake money.

    * Cheung Chau Bun Festival (??????)

This is takes place on the tiny island of Cheung Chau. In the past the festival has involved competitions with people climbing bun towers to snatch buns. After the unfortunate collapse of a bun tower in 1978, due to an overload of people, the competition was abandoned. It was resumed again in 2005 with better safety measures.

    * Tuen Ng Festival (???)

This is a festival in memory of a national hero from the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Dragon boat races are typically held during this festival and glutinous rice dumplings, usually with pork fillings, are eaten by many.

    * Hungry Ghost Festival (???)

This festival runs throughout the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the gates of hell open during this period and hungry ghosts are allowed to roam
 

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