Eat yum cha and dim sum
Yum cha and dim sum is a time-honored Cantonese tradition usually done in the morning or afternoon. Yum cha means ‘drinking tea’ while dim sum translates to ‘from the heart’.
For Hong Kong people, sipping hot Chrysanthemum tea and biting into tiny morsels of dumplings bring sweet relief from their daily undertakings. Dim sum includes a plethora of little treats, such as spring rolls, bean curd, fish cakes, buns, wonton dumplings, chicken feet, and sweet tarts. Normally, the type of tea enjoyed during yum cha ranges from mild red-colored teas to slightly stronger types, like green tea.
Local teahouses with moderately priced menus serve the dim sum inside bamboo baskets. Pictures of different dim sum choices are usually displayed on laminated cards placed on the front of the cart to guide foreign diners on making their orders.
The more expensive restaurants would provide you a piece of paper with a checklist of dim sum varieties. All you have to do is tick off the ones that sound good to your ears, and you’re all set for an authentic yum cha experience.
Watch horse racing in Happy Valley
Heading to the Happy Valley Race Course affords the traveler an engaging glimpse into one of the lively facets of Hong Kong Chinese culture. Horse racing is considered big business for the country’s economy. Since gambling is involved, the race course has a massive following from all walks of life.
Horse racing has been a permanent fixture in Hong Kong society since the first race meeting was held in 1843 on a reclaimed parcel of marshland. Today, the race track of Happy Valley is the premier venue for equine action, drawing an average of six million bets placed on each race meeting.
Night races prove to be more spectacular as you can see the state-of-the-art electronic screens and the dazzling lights that seem to get more intense as the stakes get higher and higher. Easily accessible to tourists and locals, Happy Valley is just a short walk away from Causeway Bay MTR station.
Incidentally, Hong Kong has another superb arena for horse racing, which is the Sha Tin race course, situated in the New Territories. It boasts of an impressive Diamond Vision screen, 70.4 meters in length and 8 meters in height.
Hop on the Star Ferry to cross the harbor
The two main islands of Hong Kong are served by efficient mass transport systems, from a variety of public bus routes to the well-oiled machine that is the local metro system, dubbed “MTR.”
However, no matter how efficient these systems may be, none have the distinct character of the Star Ferry, which has been transporting commuters between Kowloon and Hong Kong since 1888 This passenger ferry service is in fact one of the remnants of the British colonial rule.
More than being a part of history, the cross-harbor vessel has an iconic reputation due to its practicality. The 8-minute ride costs as low as HK$2.50 or roughly 32 cents.
The trip is also a cheaper way to enjoy Victoria Harbour in its entire splendor, especially at night. Journeys stop midway just before 8 pm so that passengers can take in the festive display of sounds, lasers, and fireworks during the nightly spectacle of Symphony of Lights.
Hop aboard a dingding
Sightseeing around Hong Kong Island’s bustling urban centers and residential districts takes on a more fascinating turn if you hop aboard Hong Kong’s rickety trams.
Fondly called ‘Ding Ding’ by locals, the trams run a 30 kilometer-long (19 miles) route starting from Kennedy Town in the west, leading to Shau Kei Wan in the east. Along the tramway, passengers get glimpses of life in the streets and are able to view many architectural wonders as well.
Trams have been part of Hong Kong’s street traffic since 1904, becoming a “witness” to the city’s rise to global stardom. The current fleet consists of 163 tramcars that carry an average of 230,000 passengers every day.
Spend a day shopping
From bargain finds in outlet shops to haute couture from designer boutiques, shopping in Hong Kong is a source of guilty pleasure for anyone who craves it. Travelers are faced with such a daunting variety of shops that a day is simply not enough for a well-deserved binge.
Street markets like Stanley Market, Jade Market, and Temple Street Night Market provide a challenge for serious bargain hunters with powerful haggling skills. Do remember to keep your bags and other belongings safe while you scour the stalls, to protect yourself from theft.
For those from the upscale crowd, who may have more shopping money to spare, areas such as Causeway Bay, Central, and Admiralty are good places to go, with their share of designer label shops and department stores.