By Oceania Cruises Guest Mariela U.
One of the great cities of the world, Hong Kong is fast-paced, filled with dizzying bazaars, amazing restaurants and a dynamic cultural landscape. It’s also constantly transforming. I recently visited Hong Kong before my cruise aboard Insignia with my husband, and we had the chance to experience this city for two full days. From delicious dim sum to the treasured Tian Tan Buddha, here are four of my favorite experiences in Hong Kong.
Tian Tan Buddha | Lantau Island, Hong Kong
One of the largest outdoor Buddha statues in the world, also known as the Big Buddha, Tian Tan Buddha is located in a very picturesque area of Lantau Island. Once you arrive, you climb the stairs and there you are, at the foot of a gigantic bronze statue of the Buddha. You can only appreciate the magnitude of this incredible statue up close and in person. As I walked around the statue, I took in the wild, beautiful mountains sprawling into the distance. Hong Kong may be one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but Lantau Island, which is part of the city, has a very low population. This is one of the things I love about Hong Kong – the drastic contrasts from one area to the next.
Dim Sum at Maxim’s Palace | At City Hall in the Central District
Of all the dishes and creations you can try in Hong Kong, you absolutely must try traditional dim sum at least once during your visit. Maxim’s Palace is a Hong Kong institution, so make sure to get to the restaurant early for lunch – before 12:30 p.m. – since people begin lining up early for a table at this popular local’s spot. Since it’s in City Hall, you’ll be eating alongside business-people and workers from all the surrounding offices. The interior is beautifully decorated and filled with cheerful waiters pushing traditional carts filled with all sorts of amazing Chinese food. My favorites were the fried taro dumplings, similar to a croquette, and the steamed buns – the ones with pork were especially amazing. This place offers the quintessential Hong Kong dim sum experience, and is one not to miss.
Chi Lin Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden | Kowloon, Hong Kong
This is a beautiful and peaceful Buddhist temple and garden right in the middle of the chaos of Hong Kong. Not only is the architecture impressive, the grounds are immaculate. I saw locals praying to Buddha, lighting incense and practicing meditation, so this is a place where you get a sense of the day-to-day life as well. Across the street from the temple is Nan Lian Gardens, which are perfectly manicured and make for a great spot to relax, rest, and reflect after lunch or exploring the city a bit. There are also tons of great photo opportunities. I walked around the gardens for a while and completely forgot I was in Hong Kong.
Temple Street Night Market | Kowloon, Hong Kong
The night comes alive when this bazaar opens on Temple Street, a long and narrow pedestrian-only street, every evening. Each stall is filled with colorful goods specific to the stall – everything from jade jewelry, antiques and tea ware to clothing, toys and electronics. The best – and most lively – part of the experience is to negotiate the price with the vendors, and believe me, everyone negotiates. I found a beautiful scarf and some traditional jade jewelry. This is one of those places so steeped in the local atmosphere that you just have to spend some time there when you are in this city.
After our memorable visit to Hong Kong, I know it’s only a matter of time before we return to this part of the world – it’s a complete food lover’s paradise and there’s an endless amount of culture and tradition to soak up.