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Hong Kong’s culture and history is a unique blend of Chinese and British influence and this sets the city apart, guaranteeing your visit here to be truly unparalleled. Consisting of four major regions – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and Lantau Island – there is a diverse mix of bustling city and breathtaking countryside, which plays a huge role in the city’s overall culture.
From small fishing towns to towering skyscrapers, below are four of the best places to experience the culture and history of Hong Kong.
Tai O Fishing Village
Surrounded by the ocean, Hong Kong’s lower-income population has predominantly relied on fishing as a source of income since the 19th century. Even today, remnants of these fishing villages can be found scattered around the coasts, some still thriving and maintaining these traditional lifestyles.
One of the largest remaining fishing villages in Hong Kong is the quaint village of Tai O. Situated on the Northwestern coast of Lantau Island, the traditional stilt houses attract many tourists from across the world to explore its deep history.
While exploring, you must stop by one of the family-owned and operated restaurants run by locals who have spent generations catching the most delicious and fresh seafood every day. While enjoying the daily catch, take a moment to appreciate the strength of the older generations who work as fishmongers alongside their homes and still prepare to take their boats out all over again each morning.
This relatively unchanged community allows you to almost feel as if you are traveling back in time to experience the picturesque village with a beautiful mountain range backdrop.
Hong Kong Ding Ding Tramways
It’s quite hard to miss the distinct tracks carving a path from one end of Hong Kong island to the other. Trams have long been installed on the main roads (Hennessy Road and Des Voeux Road) of the island, providing the population with useful transportation since 1904.
However, since the creation of Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR), tram use has shown to be less efficient and therefore, less needed.
Nonetheless, the tramways serve as a significant piece of Hong Kong history as one of the first forms of public transportation created during the British ruling. Nowadays, there is no doubt the tramways are one of the most fascinating and enjoyable ways to travel around the city, not only because of the incredible views but also as a vivid reminder of the past.
The Big Buddha
Hidden within the mountains of Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, rests a 35-meter tall bronze statue of the Buddha. Although the construction of the Buddha was only recently completed in 1993, it still holds immense cultural significance to Hong Kong.
After climbing 268 steps to Buddha, reward yourself by exploring the Ngong Ping village for some unique souvenirs, beautiful art and cultural artifacts. Listen to the banging of the drums from the outdoor entertainment while devouring some authentic Hong Kong-style egg waffles.
Getting to The Big Buddha is an adventure in itself, as you can ride the famous cable cars from Tung Chung all the way to Ngong Ping village. With glass floors, you can observe Lantau island from 360 degree views, appropriately recognizing it as one of the worlds “most amazing cable car experiences."
Tai Kwun (The Victoria Prison)
When you think of different places to visit in a new city, surely a prison is not on your list. However, you would be surprised at the Victoria Prison, as it is surely a one of a kind experience that mixes both history and art.
Due to the redevelopment of the Victoria Prison into a center for heritage and arts, stepping foot in the courtyard gives you a glimpse of the archaic architecture of the colonial complex. Located in the heart of Central, the prison was redeveloped in 2006 after shutting down and is now comprised of three monuments: the former Central Police Station, former Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. Built in 1841, Victoria Prison has controversially jailed many important historical figures such as Vietnam’s national leader, Ho Chi Minh. Visiting the prison today, you can walk through the different jail cells, almost able to hear the shouts and yells of the thousands of prisoners.
These unique places just scratch the surface of the immense culture and history of Hong Kong. Every inch of Hong Kong holds some kind of importance in creating Hong Kong the way it is today. By immersing yourself in the full Hong Kong experience and trying authentic local cuisine, get an appreciation for all Hong Kong offers.
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