IF doing business in Asia, the chances are Hong Kong is high on your list of destinations.
This commercially-vibrant metropolis became part of Emirates’ ever expanding network back in 1991, and today Emirates connect Hong Kong with 20 weekly flights, with a double daily non-stop service (except Tuesday) and daily service, via Bangkok.
Emirates’ Hong Kong flights feature world-class service on advanced fleet of aircraft, with selected flights offeringthe luxurious A380 where First Class passengers have access toOn-board Shower Spas, while all premium passengers on the upper deck can socialise at 43000 feet in the Onboard Lounge. Beverages are served once the plane reaches cruising altitude — all the way until descent. All Emirates’ customers can enjoy a raft of products including the much-enjoyed ‘ice’ entertainment system allowing viewing of hundreds of channels including movies from around the world, TV programmes, games, audio channels and BBC news, sports and business headlines. Highly trained cabin crew from across the globe serve gourmet meals.
Passengers arriving at Hong Kong discover one of the world’s most acclaimed airports, winner of numerous awards; regularly rated among the world’s top three airports by travellers — partly due to its accessibility.
The MTR Airport Express service links the airport with key stations across Hong Kong and Kowloon; passengers heading to a departing Hong Kong flight can also check in for flights at selected MTR stations. Buses and taxis are also available.
Hong Kong flights bring you to one of the most densely-packed, vibrant international cities in the world, with experiences ranging from bustling Asian markets to serene colonial-era vistas.
A little bubble of capitalism attached to the world’s largest communist country, Hong Kong’s sometimes bizarre blend of British colonialism, Chinese culture and ultra-modern opulence has set the template for the current generation of city-states.
Hong Kong’s short but eventful history has seen it rise from a swamp to become a global finance and trade powerhouse – via two opium wars, occupation by the Japanese and final withdrawal of the British. And while trillions of dollars of high finance flow between skyscrapers, the city that supports this trade offers a wealth of attractions for visitors.
Home to the original colony, and deep-water port that would help make its fortune, Hong Kong Island is still very much the star of the territory. The most immediately striking attraction is the skyline: its spread of super-tall skyscrapers has earned Hong Kong the title of the world’s best skyline. Soaring towers push the limits not just of height, but of design: architecture fans can find work by Sir Norman Foster (the HSBC building) and Chinese superstar architect IM Pei (Bank of China tower), along with dozens of other stunning creations.
Nearer the ground, Hong Kong Island holds many reminders of British colonial rule. Victoria Peak is one area that felt the stamp of the British more than most. For decades, residences, boasting views across the city and — on a clear day — all the way to China itself, were barred to the Chinese. These days the Peak and its Victorian-era tram are open to all, and offer visitors a stunning view and lush and green respite from Hong Kong’s urban sprawl.
For the more spiritual visitor, the Temple of 10000 Buddhas (actually featuring more than 13000 statues) offers a secluded spot for contemplation.
Meanwhile on Ma Wan (Park Island) visitors can see a scale replica of Noah’s Ark, constructed after makers had an inspiring visit to Mount Ararat.
Spend time exploring the city as a whole. Generally very safe, visitors can get around easily on an efficient public transport system: take in Central to sample the almost-clichéd Asian city of neon signs and bustling crowds, then head to Soho and Lan Kwai Fong’s international restaurants.
Despite a high-tech metro system, Hong Kong still lives on the water. Some of the best views of the territory are to be found from decks of commuter ferries; a classic trip for visitors is the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Central, taking in the whole of Hong Kong’s skyline.
Lantau Island, to the west of Hong Kong Island, and linked to it by metro and ferry, boasts nature reserves, a 34-metre-high Buddha and Hong Kong Disneyland — a much smaller version of the US original.
Many other islands are only accessible by boat; some serviced by ferries,others needing a private launch (both offering a chance to see Hong Kong’s famous pink dolphins). Hong Kong’s islandsoffer everything from unspoilt beaches and untouched woods to challenging hikes.
As befits its status of international finance hub, Hong Kong has many top-class restaurants, where diners pay top-class prices. But outside the high end is where Hong Kong gets more interesting.
Soho has until recently been packed with good-quality eateries, but climbing rents are pushing out many restaurateurs. For good seafood, visitors head to Sai Kung and Stanley, while excellent street food can be found in Mong Kok market — also a great place to bargain hunt.
Other than rent, the dearest entry on many Hong Kong residents’ expenditure lists is going for a drink. Despite cuts inalcohol tax in recent years, going out in Hong Kong has continued to spiral in cost. High costs aside, there are plenty of good times to be had in Hong Kong.
Located just off the southern coast of China, Hong Kong is a short hop from the Pearl River Delta and Guangzhou, the city at the heart of China’s current industrial boom.
Nearby is Macau: the “Las Vegas of the East”. This former Portuguese colony is now also part of China, with a similar status to Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region. Macau’s main attraction is its legalised gambling,drawing visitors from across Asia.
Beyond the gaming tables, though, Macau’s long and varied history has given it a unique twist. Typical Chinese culture blends with the Portuguese legacy of cobbled streets and baroque architecture to create an interesting hybrid — all now set against vast hotels.
Emirates fares from Harare to Hong Kong startat around $1320.
Visa information is available at from the Chinese Embassy,Golden Stairs Road, Mount Pleasant, Harare or online at www.chinaembassy.org.zw
Book at your travel agent online at www.emirates.com/zw