How do you celebrate Christmas in Asia? You can’t expect the same festivities as the West and we were missing the most important part of Christmas… family. Since Hong Kong was ruled by Britain until the late 90’s it still has so much British influence and Christmas is celebrated quite widely. And, as one of the most popular cities in the world, we had to visit. Whether you’re visiting at Christmas or not you’re sure to enjoy these places on your trip.
Getting to the city
It’s easy to fly to Hong Kong as most international airlines go there. You can find cheap city to city flights within Asia. Although our flight was only an hour or so from Taipei, Evaair provided Christmas movies to make us comfortable. We bought a 3-day Airport Express Metro pass for 350HK$, which gives you a return trip to the airport and 3 consecutive days of unlimited transport on MTR trains and busses. We stayed at a hotel in WanChai which was a fine location, accessible and quiet. HK is split into two sides, the island, where the main city is, and Kowloon, the upcoming urban district. Either is a good area to stay so depends what takes your fancy. We recommend shopping around for hotel/hostel deals and booking in advance.
What to do
We got up early to beat the crowds to Victoria Peak as we heard it gets very busy. We got the tram at about 7am, and beat the crowds we did… if fact we were probably part of the first 10 people there before the shops had even opened. The tram ride is very steep and you wonder how it has the power not to roll backwards down the hill. The peak was peaceful. Although, it doesn’t really resemble a mountain because it’s been so pedestrianised for tourists. The skyline was quite misty so we hung out in the hope it would clear and witnessed the rooftops fill with people. Its a must see for beautiful views of the city, the HK skyline is spectacular. We’d definitely recommend getting there at about 8am because when we got to the bottom at about 9 there was a line of people waiting for the tram.
The harbour area has been pedestrianised and created into a really nice place to walk along, people watch and admire the skyline. You can catch some buskers and performers here too. The whole city is lit up even more at Christmas time with the winter Symphony of Lights. Every evening the skyline is created into a live show that’s not to be missed. It’s best seen from Kowloon side of the harbour.
Instead of changing multiple lines on the metro it’s actually pretty cheap to catch a ferry from HK to Kowloon. It makes for a scenic trip across the harbour and is much faster!
Walk along the avenue of Stars
Ever wanted to meet Bruce Lee? What about Chackie Chan? Well we can’t guarantee they’ll be there but their statue and hand prints will. Inspired by the Hollywood walk of fame featured in HK as a boardwalk dedicated to famous people. You can rest your hand in their place and measure up to some stars.
Most of it was under construction when we went so we didn’t get to see it all but we captured a selfie or two.
Ride the longest escalator in the world
This is something cool to tell your friends. In Soho there’s a huge escalator that runs upwards for 800metres through Central–Mid-Levels. You can hop on and off to take a look around the shops, cafes and restaurants, our just ride to the top while taking in the urban scenery. Its the perfect rest from walking.
Check out the graffiti art in Soho
Being the ‘cool’ area of the city there’s plenty of graffiti to look at which provide the perfect backdrops for Instagram. Some of which is more abstract and others pleasantly pretty. Taking a walk down Hollywood road you can spot many eye-catching displays.
Go to the fun fair
On the Harbour front is the AIA Great European Carnival and Fair. While it only opens for the winter season from December to February, if you happen to be in Hong Kong this place is worth a visit to let your hair down. If you don’t want to pay for the circus you can pay for a few rides and fair games and allow yourself to feel like a kid again. If you’re lucky, your boyfriend just might win you a teddy bear! Don’t go on the huge upside-down spinny ride though, you will have a near-death experience.
Join the expats at Lan Kwai Fong
While Hong Kong is very populated with expats, you will see a higher concentration of them (us) in this area, especially around Christmas time. Isn’t it weird how we somehow gather where most of the bars are situated…? This street is lined with bars and clubs offering Happy-Hours and drinks deals. It’s a good place to enjoy a beer and chat to like-minded foreigners.
Asia has a lot of great shopping cities but something feels different in HK. Yes, there are many designer brands and malls supplying anything your heart desires but there’s also a lot of markets. But I think the special thing about HK is the antique shops. While we weren’t focused on shopping during our trip we couldn’t help peering through the windows at the old ornaments and unique furniture. Check out Upper Lascar Row.
One thing on the top of our Christmas get-away was a traditional roast dinner with all the Christmas trimmings. We did some research before we went and booked about 2 months in advance. We couldn’t afford to pay top dollar but heard good reviews about The Globe, a British style pub/bistro. We went there on Christmas Eve and thoroughly enjoyed our roast turkey paired with champagne and crackers. It cost about 500HK$ (£50) each for a 3 course meal.
Best of all, HK Disney Land is very accessible and can be done in a day. The best way to complete Christmas if you ask us.
-> Read more abut Disney Land here.
Don’t be fooled like we were. For some reason we expected it to be cold in December. It wasn’t. It was warm and dry. One day was so hot and sunny Hollie had to buy a t-shirt. We didn’t need coats but you could do with a jacket in the evening when the wind picks up. Research the weather at the time of year you’re due to visit and pack accordingly.
We love Asia. But we also love the UK. We hadn’t been home in 15 months but HK felt strangely alike London. Even though were not even from London is was comforting to be around Britishness. The underground looks like the same design with tunnels and tiles. There’s also so many foreigners, a lot of British, so it was nice to see and hear familiar accents. There’s also British shops like Prep-A-Manger, Marks and Spencer and Topshop which we got overly excited about.
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Hollie & Patrick