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Hong Kong’s culture and lifestyle

As Hong Kong has existed as a trading colony for centuries, it’s not surprising that so many cultures have left their mark on the peninsular…

Compared with mainland China, the culture of Hong Kong is a mixture of western and eastern diversity. You can go hiking in some wonderful national parks or spend a day in Hong Kong Disneyland. By enjoying a wide range of activities, you’ll be able to appreciate the area’s unique character. You’ll never be bored in Hong Kong.

East meets west

Lantau Island, just a short drive from Hong Kong Island, typifies the fusion of old and new, and a successful combination of western culture with eastern tradition. The 1993 giant bronze Buddha dominates the area of Ngong Ping village, and those who climb the 260 steps (or take a cable car ride) to the summit, can look out over the whole island and appreciate its beauty. The site is also home to the Po Lin monastery, where you can expand your knowledge of the Buddhist religion.

Hong Kong Disneyworld is based on Lan Tau Island, so if you need a fix of contemporary American culture this destination is ideal. For more adventures on rollercoasters and water rides, or for a visit to an oceanarium or marina, then Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island should be on your checklist. This is a theme park and educational resource where you can learn more about Asian animals. The park is open from mid-morning to early evening.

Cantonese opera

Whatever you think about this form of entertainment, a visit to the opera should form part of your itinerary. There is even an English language version of Cantonese opera. The Ko Shan Theatre and New Wing, nestling in the hills above Kowloon Bay, is a wonderful venue for performing arts. Watching a show here will introduce you to the mysteries of traditional Chinese storytelling and history.

Getting close to nature

Hong Kong is renowned for its urban metropolis, high-rise skyscrapers and congested roads. But just a short distance away from the hustle and bustle lie some stunning parks and nature reserves. The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is situated on the slopes of one of the peninsula’s tallest mountains and is based in the New Territories. Porcupines, pangolin and barking deer are just a few of the animals that you can expect to encounter here, as well as some wonderful and unusual plants and flowers in the botanical gardens.

If you’re spending some time in the New Territories, the Hong Kong Wetland Park is a fascinating destination. You’ll be able to spot amphibians, fish and reptiles in the reserve, and there’s also a wetland visitor centre designed to enhance your visit.

Heading to the islands  

As Hong Kong comprises 262 separate islands, you’ll discover a totally different world from vibrant city life when you visit one of these. Cheung Chau is popular for its annual bun festival. You can explore a pirate’s cave or simply take in the magnificent and peaceful view from the North Lookout Pavilion. The ferry to Cheung Chau leaves Pier 5 on Hong Kong island and the journey takes around 50 minutes.

Lamma Island typifies both western and eastern cultures. This island is diverse. Expect to find a traditional fishing village as well as the popular Hung Shing Yeh beach in close proximity. If you follow the Ling Kok Shan hiking trail, you’ll be able to pass through abandoned villages and take a step back in time. The island is only 30 minutes away from Hong Kong Island by ferry, which you can catch from Central Pier 4.

Eating and drinking

Eating out is one of the joys of living in Hong Kong. With 4.6% of the total population made up of expats, you can expect to enjoy some of the most diverse cuisine on the planet. This is a destination where it’s fun to experiment and sample the food of other cultures as well as local food. Prices vary for meals. According to Expatisan, an Italian meal for two can cost HK$846, or expect to pay only HK$371 for a basic meal in a bar or pub (prices as of 1 February 2018). With 14,000 restaurants in the region, you really will be spoilt for choice.

Dining out has been described as a national passion and if you explore the huge variety of restaurants and bars in Hong Kong, you’ll soon understand why. It’s also quite easy to find a restaurant to match your budget. If you want to try fish and chips, then Beer and Fish in Central should be your destination. Alternatively, if you have a passion for Vietnamese food, the Pho bar (also in Central) offers some tasty snacks.

If you’re looking for some authentic Cantonese dishes, try Chopsticks Kee in Central, where, for a mere HK$33 as part of their afternoon offer, you can indulge in some very tasty Hong Kong cart noodles.

If you’re looking for something more upmarket, Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons hotel will fit the bill. Situated on the north west of Hong Kong Island, this restaurant is renowned for its Cantonese cuisine and famous for its dim sum. You’ll also be able to enjoy a traditional Cantonese meal comprising suckling pig, braised Abalone and numerous other delights for HK$2980.

Hong Kong is a wonderful environment for expats and, with its fast pace of living, together with its countless leisure amenities you may find that you never want to leave. Read our Third Culture Kids report to learn how one expat felt when it was time for her to relocate from Hong Kong back to her home in the UK.1

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