Don't waste your time when you're on holiday in Hong Kong. Find out the over-hyped spots to avoid (and where to go instead).
A mousy experience
has not quite become the tourist magnet the Hong Kong Government thought it would be. You should think of it less as a Disneyland, and more of a tiny theme park that is a long way from anywhere and with only one good ride. Walt Disney would not have been pleased.
For a theme park with real, all-ages fun, get to Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island, instead. Here you'll find world-class rides, wild animals (including its two famous pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le) and a seriously good cable-car ride that will take you in and out of the park, over a mountain with bright blue sea on both sides below.
Shopping hell: part one
in Tsim Sha Tsui is to be avoided at all costs, based on the irritation factor it's sure to incite, alone. That is, unless your idea of a good time is to spend 20 minutes fighting your way through a neon-lit footpath filled with dodgy sharks flogging cheap suits and knock-off watches, past windows of electronic goods without price tags. Oh, and don't forget the traffic fumes from the four-lane main road. This part of town makes its living off the phrase "A sucker is born every minute."
If it's cheap (but good) electronics you're after, then plug yourself into the Golden Computer Shopping Centre in Sham Shui Po (46-152 Fuk Wa Street), only 10 minutes further up Nathan Road. If it ain't there, it probably doesn't exist. And if you're on Hong Kong Island then you'll find the same offerings at Wan Chai Computer Centre (130 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai), just outside MTR Exit A4.
Road to nowhere
The "new" Ngong Ping Cable Car
has been walking the high wire of controversy since it opened in 2006, then closed because one of its (unmanned) cars fell off the wire, and then reopened again a few months later. Seriously, would you trust it? While its final 5.7km-long journey eventually leads to the picture-worthy Big Buddha
, the start point is actually near the airport. This means a visit requires a 40-minute taxi ride from Central
or a 25-minute train ride to Tung Chung just to get started. Booorrring.
Instead, take Ferry No 6 to Mui Wo (25 minutes; it's the same ferry that takes you to Cheung Sha Beach) and jump in a taxi. The local island life you'll witness is a world away from traditional Hong Kong, and on the way there you'll also pass a big white building with world-class views that's one of the local "Club Feds".
Shopping hell: part two
is a not-to-be-missed shopping experience, thanks to its mix of high-end and up-and-coming designers and shopping centres. But avoid Saturdays and Sundays when it becomes the most crowded spot on Earth and a world-class pain in the butt. Even with the surrounding streets closed to traffic, the volume of foot traffic is way beyond scary even for people who are used to busy Hong Kong street life. Nevertheless, Causeway Bay is a must-do but only midweek, and only during daylight hours.
Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.
Next: Near the beaten track