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Old 12-15-2014, 02:45 AM
 
3 posts, read 4,247 times
Reputation: 11

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Just came off a couple says in Hong Kong. Overall I loved the city (easily would consider it among the top 5 I've ever been), and would return in a heartbeat. Thought I'd share a few highlights, as well as things that surprised me:

Positives:

- brilliant public transport. Not just cleanliness and all that, but the pedestrian friendliness of the whole place. Loved the above-street walkways, long and winding escalators throughout Hong Kong island, ubiquitous (and cheap) taxis, airport express, octopus card...just amazingly easy and affordable to get around.

- shopping. I'm not a shopping person, but was stunned by the volume of stores across all budget types. I've never seen so many luxury store outlets in my life. Great mix of western luxury brands, local crafts, foodstalls, cheap knockoff stuff, h&m type clothing stores, etc. Note: not sure the high end stuff is a great deal compared to US prices, and the local sizes are many times too small for the average American

- multiculturalism & development. As a westerner, I felt very comfortable in Hong Kong. Compared to cities like bangkok, you get the immediate sense that Hong Kong is a truly global class city, even if 99% of the population is chinese. Daily life feels mostly "free", English is spoken enough in the more touristy areas, and there's the type of trendy bars, restaurants, and fashion you'd see in London, NYC, etc in a way that doesn't feel forced or catering exclusively to foreigners. In addition, just the simple quality of daily life is so good compared to many SE asian cities.

- safety. I can't stress how safe I felt in Hong Kong. At any time of night, I felt completely safe walking around, never felt I was being cheated by unscrupulous vendors, etc. Chungking mansion might be the only area where I saw any dodgy characters.

Downsides:

- crowds. The density of the city is such that you're always pushing through crowds, spaces always feel small, and you're never really close to parks and such. This is by no means unique to Hong Kong, but the hyper density of the city definitely takes getting used to.

- nightlife. Surprisingly limited. Hit Lan kwai fong, which felt way too trashy/expat oriented (aside from a couple of hidden bars several floors up In random buildings) and wan chai, which was way too hooker-oriented. Outside those two areas, didn't get a sense there's much else aside from overpriced hotel bars. I unfortunately did not get a chance to explore soho, though heard it's much more of a place to eat vs drink (true?)

- distinct neighborhoods. Perhaps this is due to my more western oriented eyes, but compared to London and New York, Hong Kong doesn't seem to be a city if distinct neighborhoods. The biggest distinction seems to be Kowloon vs Hong Kong island, but couldn't distinguish much beyond that.

Would love other folks' thoughts on my assessment.
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Old 12-15-2014, 06:17 AM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,779 posts, read 13,349,751 times
Reputation: 11309
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller2014 View Post
Just came off a couple says in Hong Kong. Overall I loved the city (easily would consider it among the top 5 I've ever been), and would return in a heartbeat. Thought I'd share a few highlights, as well as things that surprised me:

Positives:

- brilliant public transport. Not just cleanliness and all that, but the pedestrian friendliness of the whole place. Loved the above-street walkways, long and winding escalators throughout Hong Kong island, ubiquitous (and cheap) taxis, airport express, octopus card...just amazingly easy and affordable to get around.
I agree, definitely. It's a supremely walkable city. I brought my bike with me one time and had a blast riding around; I'd like to rent a motorcycle or scooter sometimes, too. Even getting out to the Big Buddha in a mostly-unpopulated part of the island, you have public transit available in the form of smaller buses.

Quote:
- shopping. I'm not a shopping person, but was stunned by the volume of stores across all budget types. I've never seen so many luxury store outlets in my life. Great mix of western luxury brands, local crafts, foodstalls, cheap knockoff stuff, h&m type clothing stores, etc. Note: not sure the high end stuff is a great deal compared to US prices, and the local sizes are many times too small for the average American
The shopping there is a blast, but compared to what I pay across the border in the Mainland, it's fairly steep. Some things are a great deal, and others are as expensive if not more than they are in the West. But, the availability of basically everything is pretty cool.

Quote:
- multiculturalism & development. As a westerner, I felt very comfortable in Hong Kong. Compared to cities like bangkok, you get the immediate sense that Hong Kong is a truly global class city, even if 99% of the population is chinese. Daily life feels mostly "free", English is spoken enough in the more touristy areas, and there's the type of trendy bars, restaurants, and fashion you'd see in London, NYC, etc in a way that doesn't feel forced or catering exclusively to foreigners. In addition, just the simple quality of daily life is so good compared to many SE asian cities.
Yeah, I feel like HK is like a combination of London, NYC, and SF, plunked down in the middle of Asia; of all the cities I've been to in my life, it feels the most thoroughly international. Even outside of the tourist areas, there's still a fair amount of English spoken.

Quote:
- safety. I can't stress how safe I felt in Hong Kong. At any time of night, I felt completely safe walking around, never felt I was being cheated by unscrupulous vendors, etc. Chungking mansion might be the only area where I saw any dodgy characters.
Yeah, a couple times around the Chungking Mansions I've felt a bit sketched out, but never scared... there are some pretty shifty characters around there, for sure, most of them foreigners. I've never felt unsafe anywhere else, though.

Quote:
Downsides:

- crowds. The density of the city is such that you're always pushing through crowds, spaces always feel small, and you're never really close to parks and such. This is by no means unique to Hong Kong, but the hyper density of the city definitely takes getting used to.
I guess that because I'm used to life in China now, I didn't notice it too much. The only thing that did weird me out is that in most major cities in the West, and even in China, people usually stick to walking more towards the right-hand side of the sidewalk, so that foot traffic flows pretty naturally in either direction. It's obviously not a rule, it's more of a subconscious, loose thing... but, in HK, people just walk in basically every which direction, probably owing to the orientation of street traffic there versus the rest of the world, and the huge number of people there who are from those other parts of the world.

The bigger thing about HK's density, to me, is that the average size of apartments and hotel rooms is pretty damn small. I live in a 100sq/m, 3-bedroom apartment in Guangzhou's CBD, which is an almost unheard of accommodation in HK except among the very wealthy. Such an apartment would probably cost something like $6-10kUSD/mo in HK; I pay about $900USD. For what I'm paying, in HK, I wouldn't be able to hope for anything but a very, very tiny bedroom with a single bed.

Quote:
- nightlife. Surprisingly limited. Hit Lan kwai fong, which felt way too trashy/expat oriented (aside from a couple of hidden bars several floors up In random buildings) and wan chai, which was way too hooker-oriented. Outside those two areas, didn't get a sense there's much else aside from overpriced hotel bars. I unfortunately did not get a chance to explore soho, though heard it's much more of a place to eat vs drink (true?)
The nightlife there is pretty good but it's also quite costly, owing to the fact that it's one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Quote:
- distinct neighborhoods. Perhaps this is due to my more western oriented eyes, but compared to London and New York, Hong Kong doesn't seem to be a city if distinct neighborhoods. The biggest distinction seems to be Kowloon vs Hong Kong island, but couldn't distinguish much beyond that.
I think there's a fair amount of distinction from one nabe to another, but again, a lot of that was forged from riding a bike around the city for a few days. From one part of Kowloon to another, there's probably less distinction just because the place is so jam-packed and space is at such a premium, it's just sort of all thrown together in a very utilitarian sort of way.
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,962,789 times
Reputation: 3502
Nightlife: never seemed like an issue to me, but then again when I think about it I haven't had too much experience. I was fine with Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai, and the other nights out I've spent at friends' apartments or karaoke bars.

Distinct Neighborhoods: I get what you're saying, but I think as you get away from HK Island you'll find some very different areas. I have relatives in Po Lam, Tuen Mun, Heng On, and I stay at Sham Shui Po, and I'd say all of those provide very different vibes and characters. They are also not anywhere that a tourist would typically go.

Every single other thing you said matches my opinion 100%!!
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:30 PM
 
7 posts, read 5,822 times
Reputation: 10
the OP is probably from an us city.
Nightlife in HK is bad.

Many outlying islands are interesting to visit as distinct neighborhoods.
I lived in Stanley, southern HK island, which is a scenic place.

Shopping is great and cheap for both luxury and budget goods, as Hong Kong has no sales tax, export and import taxes.

Is one of the most developed cities in Asia thanks to influence from the United Kingdom instead of the People's republic of China. the Good-became developed due to special postion of being a British territory in East Asia, being influenced by a leading developed country. Not so great- the negative influences from a developing and non democratic country after 1997.

Yes, it is safer than the american cities, but is recently marred by the chaos of the protestors demanding real democracy, with some troublemakers among the protestors. HK society was really disrupted. But I agree HK should have more democracy than before. Anyway the protests are almost over now. None of the cheaper residential areas of HK are not safe, compared with NYC and London.

Crowds are not bad compared with NYC, London, Tokyo etc. There are some parks in the CBD, like Victoria Park and Kowloon Park. The city is vibrant.

Soho is an area of mostly upscale western restaurants frequented by westerners, definitely not local type of places, and resembles those of NYC and London. Hong Kong does have a lot, both upscale and cheap Chinese or HK style eateries.

Last edited by Beatviolence; 12-15-2014 at 02:40 PM..
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:17 PM
 
131 posts, read 8,694 times
Reputation: 18
The shopping is the cheapest of all global cities for non luxury brand stuff.
The crowd is not too bad comparing with other larger cities in east Asia. You are close to country parks surrounding the city.
The nightlife mentioned are too foreigners oriented.
Another distinct neighbourhood comparison would be like Repulse Bay vs Sham Shui Po or Cheung Chau vs A Public Estate
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller2014 View Post
Just came off a couple says in Hong Kong. Overall I loved the city (easily would consider it among the top 5 I've ever been), and would return in a heartbeat. Thought I'd share a few highlights, as well as things that surprised me:


- shopping. I'm not a shopping person, but was stunned by the volume of stores across all budget types. I've never seen so many luxury store outlets in my life. Great mix of western luxury brands, local crafts, foodstalls, cheap knockoff stuff, h&m type clothing stores, etc. Note: not sure the high end stuff is a great deal compared to US prices, and the local sizes are many times too small for the average American.

Downsides:

- crowds. The density of the city is such that you're always pushing through crowds, spaces always feel small, and you're never really close to parks and such. This is by no means unique to Hong Kong, but the hyper density of the city definitely takes getting used to.

- nightlife. Surprisingly limited. Hit Lan kwai fong, which felt way too trashy/expat oriented (aside from a couple of hidden bars several floors up In random buildings) and wan chai, which was way too hooker-oriented. Outside those two areas, didn't get a sense there's much else aside from overpriced hotel bars. I unfortunately did not get a chance to explore soho, though heard it's much more of a place to eat vs drink (true?)

- distinct neighborhoods. Perhaps this is due to my more western oriented eyes, but compared to London and New York, Hong Kong doesn't seem to be a city if distinct neighborhoods. The biggest distinction seems to be Kowloon vs Hong Kong island, but couldn't distinguish much beyond that.

Would love other folks' thoughts on my assessment.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
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