City Guide

Four Hours in Hong Kong 2009 (Asia-Pacific edition 1)

25 Aug 2009 by Mark Caswell

From art exhibitions in Kowloon to the highest viewing platform on Hong Kong Island, Joshua Tan packs in more than just eating and shopping

1. Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong is definitely not all about retail therapy and restaurants, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art is representative of the city’s cultural side. Located a short walk south from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station in Kowloon, the museum displays mainly Chinese works, ranging from paintings to jewellery. Operated by the government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, it houses four permanent exhibitions on Chinese gold, ceramics, paintings from the Xubaizhai collection, and new Literati art.

You may also be able to catch one of the many temporary exhibitions that take place each year – recently, the museum hosted a Louis Vuitton showcase, while next up is “The Prosperous Cities: A Selection of Paintings from the Liaoning Provincial Museum” (Sept 25-Nov 22). Open daily (except Thu) 10am-6pm (Sat until 8pm). Entry HK$30 (£2.30). 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; tel +852 2721 0116; lcsd.gov.hk

2. Star Ferry

The popularisation of the Mass Transit Railway system means the cross-harbour Star Ferry has taken a back seat in carrying passengers between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Nevertheless, after 129 years, the ferries are still chugging across Victoria Harbour, offering a wonderful view of Hong Kong, so the Star Ferry is as much a place to visit as a method of transport. From the museum, walk along the waterside promenade and past the old clock tower until you reach the ferry pier building. The boat operates four different routes every day and runs until 11.30pm on this one. A one-way trip costs from HK$1.80 (15p). Visit starferry.com.hk

3. Maxim’s Palace

No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without a gastronomic experience. Maxim’s Palace can be found on the second floor of City Hall in the Central district. From Pier Seven, where the ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui stops, take the steps up to the overhead bridge and walk as far as Exchange Square, then along Harcourt Road until you see the grey City Hall building.

The red- and gold-decorated restaurant serves up delectable dishes of Cantonese cuisine, as well as offering spectacular views of Victoria Harbour. Dim sum is still served by pushcart here, and the atmosphere is buzzing. Open daily 11am-3pm and 5.30pm-11pm (from 9am on Sundays). Tel +852 2521 1303; maxims.com.hk

4. Hong Kong Park

From City Hall, continue down Harcourt Road and turn right on to Cotton Tree Drive, where you’ll find Hong Kong Park. Known as Cantonment Hill during Hong Kong’s colonial days, this eight-hectare space is a welcome respite from the plethora of skyscrapers in the area. It is home to several historic buildings, such as the former British officers’ barracks and Flagstaff House, now a tea museum and one of Hong Kong’s oldest colonial buildings. It also boasts an array of attractive water features, a sports centre, several gardens and the Forsgate Conservatory, which simulates various climatic conditions including “rainforest” and “desert”. Visit lcsd.gov.hk

5. The Peak

The highest summit on Hong Kong Island, the Peak is the place to go for an amazing view of the city. While on a good mist-free day the panorama is pretty stunning, it’s at night, when the lights of the city flick on, that it really takes your breath away. Continue your walk up Cotton Tree Drive and turn right on to Garden Road, where you can catch a tram to the summit (a return ticket costs HK$33/£2.50). At the top are two shopping centres – the Peak Tower, home to restaurants, shops and entertainment venues; and the Sky Terrace, with a 360-degree viewing platform (it costs HK$20/£1.50 to enter) and the Peak Galleria, which has a free roof garden. Visit thepeak.com.hk

6. Western Market

Hop into one of the waiting taxis at the Garden Road Peak station and head for Western Market, a few minutes’ drive away. This Edwardian-style structure is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Hong Kong, dating back to 1906, and was declared a historical monument in 1990. Located on the former site of the Harbour Office, it now comprises four storeys offering a variety of goods, from arts and crafts to textiles. There is also a ballroom dance-themed restaurant for Cantonese fine-dining on the second floor, called the Grand Stage. 323 Des Voeux Road; tel +852 6029 2675; westernmarket.com.hk

Visit discoverhongkong.com

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