Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: If you’ve been in business in Asia long enough, eventually you land in Hong Kong. We know the rigmarole: airport to hotel to meeting to hotel and back to the airport. So, despite having been to Hong Kong many times for business, I’d yet to actually tour the city.

I wouldn’t have known what there is to see in Hong Kong if HK Express budget airlines hadn’t scooped up members of Phuket’s media and taken us on a tour.

Though previously Hong Kong had just been a day or two of business, it now opened up into an assortment of activities. There was shopping of course – shopaholics, either make sure you didn’t sign a pre-nup or freeze your credit cards and leave them at home.

You can hunt down the perfect shoes, outfit or electronics by pounding the pavement one neighborhood at a time, or you can hit up CityGate Outlet or the other malls for some ‘necessities’.

If you want to mix sightseeing with shopping it’s best to jump on the Victorian-era train to the highest peak on Hong Kong island. One of the most popular attractions, The Peak provides stunning vistas, great shopping and plenty of dining options.

If mountain tops aren’t what you’re looking for, but you still want an aerial view of the city, head to the tallest building in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Center.

Okay, not the most exciting name for the 100-storey building. However, the Sky 100 Hong Kong Observation Deck offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Hong Kong. It’s a stunning vista – day or night.

From there, it’s simple to get back to any of the prestigious shopping malls, thanks to the well-designed public transportation network. More than 90 per cent of the daily commutes in Hong Kong are on public transport, making it the highest rate in the world, vastly different than Phuket.

Another not-to-miss destination is Ocean Park Hong Kong – schedule a full day. If you have kids, get there early to avoid the afternoon crowd. The 13th most visited theme park in the world, Ocean Park has nearly everything: a marine mammal park, an oceanarium, an animal theme park and an amusement park. Okay, maybe schedule two days for Ocean Park.

Inside the park you’ll find Aqua City, which features a world-class Grand Aquarium with the world’s largest aquarium dome at 5.5 meters in diameter and a 13m wide viewing panel.

If you’re having lunch at Ocean Park, check out Tuxedos Restaurant and enjoy the company of 70 penguins playing on ice.

Now, about Hong Kong food: it could fill numerous novels. Though mainly influenced by Cantonese cuisine, Hong Kong dishes pull from all over the world to serve up a completely mind-boggling array of options.

Stuffed, roasted suckling pig, snake soup and egg waffles from Lee Keung Kee all deserve your attention. However, breakfast felt a little more familiar to my Thai pallet, with its original ‘dim sum’.

For seafood lovers, head to Ting Kee Sea-Food Boat on Sea Side Road – it’s a buoyant experience and the seafood hits the spot.

After a single trip – that could never be long enough – it turns out that beyond the meeting rooms there is an amazing collection of unique must-visit attractions and must-try dishes to provide tourists with diverse, fun-filled experiences in Hong Kong.

This article first appeared in the June 20-26 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper.

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— Oranee Hildebrand

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