Why Hong Kong is a city for size queens

In Hong Kong, size matters.

The city boasts five of the world’s top 30 tallest buildings, including the ICC which holds the Ritz-Carlton hotel and O-zone, the highest bar in the world on the 118th floor.

The world’s largest outdoor, seated Buddha — helpfully referred to locally as the Big Buddha — can be found on Lantau Island, just a short train and then cable car ride away from the heart of the city.

Another exciting ride can be found at the Peak Tram which is the world’s steepest tram ride, whisking you up to Victoria Peak for spectacular views over Hong Kong Harbour both day and night.

Every evening Victoria Harbour is lit up in the world’s largest permanent light and sound which illuminates all the erections straddling both sides of the water.

Other major sights include the 10,000 Buddhas monastery in Sha Tin, and the beautifully landscaped Kowloon Walled City Park.

Hong Kong is also home to some other world records:

  • The longest suspension bridge for road and rail;
  • The tallest set of revolving doors; and
  • A toilet made from pure gold — said to be the most expensive in the world.
  • Plus, if you’re looking for the world’s largest casino then the Venetian Hotel in Macau is just a short ferry-ride away.

Navigating your way around Hong Kong is easy to do either via the public transport system, or taxis are a relatively affordable option.

Hong Kong’s nightlife is a lot of fun — this is a great city to go out in. There’s bars on the Kowloon peninsula that are popular with the locals; If you’re on Hong Kong Island then check out:

  • T:me;
  • Zoo;
  • Volume;
  • Propaganda; and
  • Chicken Feet Disco.

Most events that have an LGBTI perspective tend to happen from October to December.

With a hot and humid climate for most of the year it’s important that there are places to cool off and HK has plenty of pleasant beaches, including a few gay ones. The most popular are on HK Island at Middle Bay and South Bay, and also there is a fine stretch of clean sand at Cheung Sha.

If you like to shop then Kowloon offers a number of markets. By day there is the Ladies Market, which confusingly also sells stuff for men; and the Temple Street night market which gets going about 7pm until midnight. These markets get crowded, but realistically pretty much everywhere in Hong Kong is pretty crowded.

One of the highlights of any visit to Hong Kong is the food. The local cuisine is Cantonese, but this is a truly international city so whatever you’re looking for and whatever your budget you’ll be able to find something to satisfy you.

The megacities of China

According to research, by the year 2025 it is estimated that China will have 221 cities with over one million inhabitants and an urban population of one billion people. Most of those people are going to be living in megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. In this article we take a look at these three Chinese megacities to understand what life is going to be like in the future.

Beijing

The capital of China, Beijing is currently the country’s second largest city (by population) with over 21 million people living here. Beijing is China’s political, cultural, and educational centre, as well as a major transport hub for the country. With a name that means “northern capital”, Beijing’s history and influence on this region can be traced back for thousands of years. It was in the 11th century BC that the first walled city emerged on the site where present-day Beijing stands. Beijing was a city always at the centre of the ongoing conflicts and power struggles of the competing dynasties and forces vying for control of China. It was during the Ming Dynasty that Beijing was officially declared the capital of the unified China and the newly constructed Forbidden City became the seat of power for the next 500 years.

Shanghai

Shanghai is currently the largest city by population not only in China but the entire world, with over 24 million people living here. It is a global financial centre and a major transport hub. Strategically located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai has grown to become the world’s busiest container port in the world.

Shanghai began life as a small fishing village but grew to become an important market town during the Song Dynasty (around the year 960 AD). During the Ming Dynasty, a city wall was built in 1554 to help to protect the city from raiding Japanese pirates. By the 18th century, Shanghai had become the major trading port on the lower Yangtze River, opening up to foreign trade as a result of the Opium War with the United Kingdom in 1842.
While Shanghai’s international profile suffered during the cultural revolution of the 1950s and 60s, since economic liberalisation Shanghai has once again risen to become one of the world’s economic powerhouses.

Guangzhou

Located on the Pearl River, Guangzhou is a key transportation hub and trading port for China. With a population of over 12 million people, Guangzhou is considered to be China’s third largest city. Guangzhou’s recorded history dates back to around 206 BC when it was the capital of the Nanyue Kingdom. As the Han Dynasty expanded its influence to the south, it annexed the Nanyue Kingdom and took control of Guangzhou. As a trading port, Guangzhou had extensive connections with the Arab world of the Middle East. European trading relationships began with the Portuguese in the early 1500s before they were soon expelled to Macau where they were allowed to set up a trading base.

Today China’s cities are huge economic powerhouses. Their ancient history and continued appetite for growth undoubtedly makes them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Shanghai Surprise

It’s estimated that by the year 2025, China will have 221 cities with over one million inhabitants and an urban population of one billion. Most of that urban population is going to be living in the city of Shanghai — there’s already more than 24 million living there now, making it the biggest city in China and one of the biggest in the world. But is it a city that you would want to visit on your travels? Absolutely, and in this article we share with you some of our highlights of Shanghai.

China’s gateway to the world

Shanghai is strategically situated at the mouth of the Yangtze River and throughout the centuries it has been a major centre for transport and trade. After the British defeated China in the Opium War of 1842, Shanghai was opened up to foreign trade. While Shanghai’s global profile declined during the control of the Communist Party, with the economic reforms of recent years Shanghai is now booming and definitely worth exploring.

The Bund

This is the waterfront area of central Shanghai. The term “The Bund” refers to the buildings and wharves along Zhongshan Road — the site of the old international settlement of Shanghai. This is there the banks and trading houses of China’s international trading partners (including the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and many others) established their banks and trading houses. Consulates were based here, as well as business clubs and an English-language newspaper. The Bund grew to become a major financial centre for the region and the buildings were constructed in the “Beaux Arts” style. This is a great area just to wander around and enjoy — a fascinating glimpse into China’s colonial period.

City God Temple

Located within the old walled city of Shanghai, City God is a large temple complex that was originally dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan or Gold Mountain — an island just off the coast of Shanghai — but in 1403 it was converted into the Taoist City God Temple where people could pray for good fortune and peace. The temple has recently been fully restored and is now a popular place of worship as well as a major attraction — with a large number of market stalls and businesses in the area.

Yu Garden

Just beside the City God Temple is the Yu Garden which was created during the Ming Dynasty in 1559. At the time the garden was the largest and most prestigious in the region. Today the gardens cover an area of 2 hectares and there are six separate sections laid out in the Suzhou style. One of the key points of interest here is the Currow ancient stone — a 5-ton boulder that is believed that this was a stone that was intended to be used in the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing but that the boat that was carrying it sank off the coast from Shanghai, the stone was salvaged and placed here in the garden.

Shanghai is a vibrant, busy city but one that also celebrates its ancient history and culture. Definitely a destination that you should be adding to your wish-list.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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