Hong Kong (香港 Heūng góng in Cantonese, meaning fragrant harbour) is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and under a more recent contemporary ex-British influence. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China’s increasingly affluent mainland population. It is also an important hub in East Asia with global connections to many of the world’s cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia’s World City.
Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where “East meets West”, reflecting the culture’s mix of the territory’s Chinese roots with influences from its time as a British colony. Hong Kong balances a modernised way of life with traditional Chinese practices. Concepts like feng shui are taken very seriously, with expensive construction projects often hiring expert consultants, and are often believed to make or break a business. Other objects like Ba gua mirrors are still regularly used to deflect evil spirits, and buildings often lack any floor number that has a 4 in it, due to its similarity to the word for “die” in Cantonese. The fusion of east and west also characterises Hong Kong’s cuisine, where dim sum, hot pot, and fast food restaurants coexist with haute cuisine.
Hong Kong is a recognised global centre of trade, and calls itself an “entertainment hub”. Its martial arts film genre gained a high level of popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s. Several Hollywood performers, notable actors and martial artists have originated from Hong Kong cinema, notably Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Jet Li. A number of Hong Kong film-makers have achieved widespread fame in Hollywood, such as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, and Stephen Chow. Homegrown films such as Chungking Express, Infernal Affairs, Shaolin Soccer, Rumble in the Bronx, In the Mood for Love and Echoes of the Rainbow have gained international recognition. Hong Kong is the centre for Cantopop music,which draws its influence from other forms of Chinese music and Western genres, and has a multinational fanbase.
Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG; ICAO: VHHH) which is also known as Chek Lap Kok 赤鱲角 (named after the small island it was built over), is the main port for visitors to Hong Kong by air.
Designed by Sir Norman Foster, this modern and efficient building opened in July 1998 and has since been named “World’s Best Airport” by Skytrax in annual ratings five times.
There are many direct flights to Hong Kong from every continent in the world. Most major cities in Oceania, Europe and North America are all served with at least one daily flight, and flights between Hong Kong and other major Asian cities are also frequent. Cathay Pacific operates one of the longest air routes in the world, linking Hong Kong and New York(JFK).
For destinations within mainland China, it is often cheaper to fly from Shenzhen than from Hong Kong, as flights between the mainland and Hong Kong are considered to be international flights and priced accordingly. There are also flights between Hong Kong and several mid-Pacific islands and nations.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary airline Dragonair (used for domestic routes within China) are Hong Kong’s main carriers, with Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express providing some welcome competition. There are two terminals, creatively called T1 and T2. Signs on approach to the airport by car/taxi list the terminals and check-in zones. Once checked-in, you can clear security at either terminal with an underground shuttle bus outside the security area. There are more shopping opportunities before security at T2, but its shops close earlier. There are lots of shopping opportunities after security as well. Travellers will find an efficient post office in the airport, providing boxes, wrapping material, scissors and tape. It might be more economical to send your excess luggage via surface mail than paying fees to the airline. Terminal 2 is a check-in only facility, all flights depart from Terminal 1. Airport has free wifi facility (captive portal to accept terms and conditions) and a hotline (2188 7799).
There is a manned left luggage facility in the arrival hall, perfect for securely storing your luggage at the airport, for around $55-$80 per day (depending on duration): it opens from 06:00 to 01:00.
Overall, services at Chek Lap Kok are generally far better, or at least on par, with those at other major international airports.
* Prices and availability are subject to change without prior notice.