Hong Kong

Wanchai

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  • Day51

    Tja, irgendwie sind wir in Hongkong gelandet obwohl diese große faszinierende Weltstadt so gar nicht auf unserer Reiseroute stand.
    Wie es dazu kam? Eigentlich wollten meine Eltern und mein Bruder uns in Hanoi besuchen kommen. Leider haben die Vietnamesen einen kleinen Knall was ihre Visabestimmungen anbelangt, denn meine Mutter durfte nicht einreisen, da ihr Reisepass nur 5 1/2 weitere Monate anstatt der vorgegebenen 6 gültig ist. Da meine Familie eine Zwischenlandung in Hongkong vorgesehen hatte warfen wir alle Pläne über Board und trafen uns letztendlich am 13.12. in Hongkong.
    Und wie soll es anders sein, wir sind begeistert von diesem „Staat“ !
    Es gibt wahnsinnig viel zu sehen, die Skyline ist atemberaubend, gerade auch mit den weihnachtlichen Lichtershows, und auch die Vielfalt an Kulturen und Menschen ist einfach großartig.
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  • Day19

    Hong Kong is rather like an old shoe; comfortable, slightly scruffy round the edges and thoroughly welcome at the end of a long day. It has lost nothing in the four years that have passed since our last visit, still resembling New York on speed! We arrived at our hotel in Kowloon mid afternoon and were checked in by a diminutive young lady called 'Pinky'. An enquiry as to Perky's whereabouts would have course fallen on deaf ears and probably just as well, in these politically correct times.
    The weather is warm, (mid seventies) and misty and it is a pleasant change to wander about in short sleeves. Having said that the Chinese are in unrelieved black and autumn sweaters. The queues outside Hermes, Chanel and the like are undiminished from ten in the morning till ten at night, closing time. The appetite for designer labels is seemingly as strong as ever. Interestingly there are markedly more mainland Chinese here than when we were here before, only confirming the looming presence of the Chinese tiger just round the corner with wallets stuffed full of yen.
    We found an old friend in a restaurant close by and retired early to bed only to sleep the clock round to our surprise.
    Our major plan of this short visit was to visit Happy Valley, the racecourse shoe-horned into the centre of Hong Kong Island. Along with our fellow tour compatriots we were guests of the Hong Kong Jockey Club for supper and the racing, alongside an unlimited supply of whatever tipple took your fancy. The only request from 'Joanna' our guide was that we were able to stagger back to the bus at the end of the night, as she would not be able to carry anyone! The racing was competitive and we had an excellent view from the balcony outside. All bets are taken at the equivalent of the tote counter in the room and apart from the odd wander down to the paddock and winners enclosure, you are relieved of your money with the least possible inconvenience. It is all very civilised. A small starter voucher of 30 HKD is provided and after that you are on your own, or as in my case retired to the stables! The company was good and a very convivial evening flew by. The setting of the extremely palatial course is unusual, in that you are surrounded by towering skyscrapers with their twinkling lights, quite unlike anywhere else in the world and it was an occasion to savour.
    Another tick on Peter's bucket list.
    We are moving on today to Australia and I am tapping away to you in the lounge at the airport awaiting our flight to Adelaide, from whence I pen you the next instalment.
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  • Day9

    So we arrived about 3/4 hr early at HK airport an we walked down the steps and into warm rain, slow bus to the terminal some distance away and we were fed into a very efficient immigration system. Even stopping to fill in an arrival card we were through in 5 mins despite long queues and thus optimistic we would be out and away very shortly. But the bags took ages to come out about 45 mins. Just as we were beginning to twitch they appeared and we scooted to arrivals to find our lift. The poor woman was frantic, apparently she had been phoning to make sure we were still coming to HK. For the first 20 mins in the car what we got apart from welcome to HK was an explanation of how many phone calls she had made ...and on a sunday too. I felt quite guilty, but we had no way of knowing a) that it was excessive (it was still quicker than any baggage arrival at Fumicino) B) how to contact her. Anyway after that we srttled in for a slow drive to our hotel. I hate to say but I didnt catch her name and we won't see her again - we are on our own now. but she gave us subway maps and a map of Kowloon and Central. Much of the traffic was caused by roadworks restricing the roads from Lamma & the airport whilst they build a new Arts and cultural centre. Ms Guide was very scathing - "I dont know why they are building another one, we have one already and we aren't interested in art". Anyhow at about 3:30pm we arrived at the Salisbury.

    The Salisbury is he Kowloon YMCA! but actually it is a good hotel and we got upgraded to a partial harbour view, we even have a bowl of fruit. Also it feels very plush after China, all the hotels were fine but just slightly below par in someway - a patched up bath or grubby corners.

    After we had admired our view we set off in the rain to visit the Hong Kong History Museum. I didn't have enormous expectations but it was excellent, lots of information about Hong Kong's development, it was very good on recent stuff opium wars and early colonialism ...enough to push my guilt buttons ..and reminded me of the scratched pots in the Forbidden City. It also had a whole recreated turn of the 20th C or so street. All in all good and we both enjoyed it. Also it was free (not sure why) - always cheers Dad up.

    After that we went to find money - we needed HK $ now. We found an ATM but it was a Union Pay one (which is the big Chinese ATM system), I didn't have this problem last time I'm sure. Anyway eventually we found an HSBC and could therefore go and get dinner. Beef, pistachios and asparagus for me, prawns and crabmeat in spicy sauce for dad. Plus fried rice and eggplant with minced pork all washed down with copious quantities of tea. We came back via the 7-11 with a beer each for consumption whilst admiring the view.
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  • Day10

    Last night we walked back from the museum area all along the harbour causeway (on the Kowloon side) so we had the spectacular Hong Kong sky line to look at. Then we watched the Symphony of Lights around the harbour. Which wasn't as impressive as I remembered but still fun, and huge crowds of people all around the star ferry area watching it too.

  • Day3

    14.1 km gestapt.

    Het is hier druk. Ik heb medelijden met de mensen die hier op vakantie komen om eens 'lekker te ontspannen'. Tokyo en andere Japanse grootsteden zijn organized chaos maar Hong Kong is meer chaotically organized naar mijn mening.

    We verkende gisteren Hong Kong eiland, zagen zotte gebouwen, een tempel en gingen naar de peak om een uitzicht van de stad te krijgen, dat was zeer impressionant. We gingen smiddags eten in een dumpling restaurant dat een michelin ster heeft en savonds geroosterde gans eten in een andere restaurant met michelin ster. Het waren zeker niet de beste dumplings die ik al at. Over ganzen weet ik niet zoveel dus ik veronderstel dat deze wel heel veel beter was dan de gemiddelde geroosterde gans. Ook dronken we koffie bij de tweede beste koffie zaak van de wereld. Ik heb ook 3 donuts gegeten.Read more

  • Day4

    Our final full day in HK. I allowed us to have a lie in until 9.30 seeing as we weren't at the first planned activity until 11. I must learn to be a hippy traveller at some point in these 77 days and 'stop living by the clock, man'. Said activity was a walking tour with HK Free Walk around the area we're staying in, TST. Our 'ambassador' was Stella. She was every so slightly nuts which made for an entertaining few hours learning about the history of HK, the feng shui of the sky line and that the number 4 is bad luck cause it brings death (something like that anyway.) Plus I ate street food fish balls so maybe I am beginning to take some risks. I'll be getting a tattoo from a man in the back of a van next (jokes mum). It was one of those tours when in theory it's free but the tour guides work for tips and some cheapskate always buggers off 10 minutes before the tour finishes to avoid handing any of their cash over. If that's you shame on you.

    After the information overload, most of which I've already forgotten, we caught the Star Ferry for the 600th time this trip and went to Soho to ride the mid levels escalators and eat huge burgers. Then we walked around the harbour front and went to my home away from home hotel bar Sugar at the East hotel (where I go with work) for a spectacular harbour view and a glass of time or two.

    We attempted to watch the nightly Symphony of Lights show but couldn't even get close to a view so went to Caliente for Mexican food and beers. Highlights included free tequila and a drunk woman spilling a drink just after the previous one she had got wiped up from her clumsy hands. That makes it sound like a lame night but it very much wasn't.

    It was a less blog exciting, more consumption heavy day if I'm honest and to top it off Matt's found a channel showing the Man U game... Fun stat, we've walked 56.6km since we got to HK which has maybe burnt off one dinner. Maybe.
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  • Day1

    We're here! Day one sees us in Hong Kong. My 2nd city (though that still doesn't mean I have a sense of direction around here). After a smooth flight we taxi'd to our AirBNB. We're staying in Tsim Sha Tsui and for central HK it's a pretty standard size studio apartment and it did bring me my first comedy sign of the trip (see photos, no casual pissing please).

    When you're the partner of a horse racing nut you get used to being 'dragged' to any track in a 20 mile radius of a romantic trip even when you've been travelling for the best part of 24 hours and as Wednesday night is 'Happy Wednesday' race night it was a quick change and off to Happy Valley.

    The atmosphere at HV is amazing and I can't imagine there's many other tracks with sky scrapers as the backdrop so even as a non-better it's a fun place to check out. They also wear far jazzier silks - or as I prefer to call them, aprons. After some charades and pointing Matt managed to find the race card vending machine and after almost buying the version in Chinese was set to study form to decide (*cough* guess *cough*) who he should bet on. My preferred method is to watch the horses parade and look for the feisty ones. Sadly we had no winners and for the sake of our holiday fund called it betting quits after a couple of races and spent money on beer and dirty hot dogs instead. The hot dog at least had some greenery hidden under the suspicious cheese sauce. I'm hoping the food gets better/slightly more authentic from here...
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  • Day403

    The first thing I saw of Hong Kong have been the countless islands. It was green around Hong Kong. The Chinese Special Administrative Zone consists not only of the high-rise buildings but of more than 260 islands, mountains and large forest areas. Only about 25 percent of the land area is cultivated, as the mountains and steep slopes make building development impossible. Around seven million inhabitants crowed on an area of around 1100qkm. That is more than 6000 per square kilometer. Most of them live in the city of Hong Kong. Here I am really surrounded by gray high-rise buildings, which sometimes represented less and less architectural masterpieces. Hong Kong is one of the cities with the highest cost of living. This makes the residential development all the more precarious. Despite a government program to create new housing (public housing), several thousand people live as so-called cage people. There are several lockable cages in one room. These housing units have a size of not more than two square meters. The rapid population growth in the 1950s was partly responsible for this development.

    Away from the houses, I am surrounded by beautiful natural forests. Almost natural. The paths are all cobbled, and every hundred yards is a sign on how to behave in the forest. The walk on top of Victoria Mountain is a welcome break to the noise and heavy traffic in the city. The platform guarantees the best view on the city and its skyline, as far as the smog allows this. With a historic cable car the steep ascent to the viewpoint can be avoided as well. Before I could enjoy the view, however, I had to fight through a multi-storey shopping centre with countless restaurants. My recovery in nature was quickly gone.

    Until 1997, Hong Kong was a british colony. But even with the union, it retained special rights. As a special administrative area, Hong Kong enjoys largely autonomy with its own political and economic system. Beijing holds the authority only in military matters and in diplomacy. With the integration, Hong Kong has triggered a catalyst effect for the entire region. The adjacent areas experienced an unprecedented economic upturn. The negative effects also included the fact that Hong Kong and the region became known for drug and human trafficking. In the collective memory of the Chinese, the defeat of the imperial empire in China against the British Empire in the first opium war (1839-42), in which China lost Hong Kong to the United Kingdom and had to open its markets and had to tolerate the opium trade – with serious effects on the Chinese history.

    Already after two days I took the express train to go to the Chinese mainland to climb in the wonderful environment of Yangshuo. Unfortunately, I only discovered too late, that there are some sports climbing areas in the mountains of Hong Kong as well.

    +++

    Das Erste was ich von Hongkong erblickte, waren die unzähligen Inseln. Es war grün um Hongkong herum. Die chinesische Sonderverwaltungszone besteht nicht nur aus Hochhäusern, sondern aus mehr als 260 Inseln, Bergen und großen Waldgebieten. Nur rund 25 Prozent der Landfläche sind bebaut, da die Berge und steilen Hänge eine Bebauung unmöglich machen. Auf einer Fläche von rund 1100qkm drängeln sich rund sieben Millionen Einwohner. Das sind mehr als 6000 pro Quadratkilometer. Die meisten leben dabei in der Stadt Hongkong. Hier bin ich wahrlich umzingelt von grauen Hochhäusern, die mal mehr mal weniger architektonische Meisterwerke darstellten. Hongkong zählt zu den Städten mit den höchsten Lebenshaltungskosten. Das macht die Wohnraumsituation umso prekärer. Trotz eines Regierungsprogrammes, neuen Wohnraum zu schaffen (public housing), leben mehrere Tausend Menschen in so genannten Käfigen (cage people). Dabei befinden sich mehrere abschließbare Käfige in einem Raum. Diese Wohneinheiten sind nicht größer als zwei Quadratmeter. Der rasante Bevölkerungszuwachs in den 50er Jahren, war mitverantwortlich für diese Entwicklung.

    Abseits von den Häusermeeren befinde ich mich in herrlichen naturbelassenen Wäldern aufhalten. Fast naturbelassen. Die Wege sind alle gepflastert und alle hundert Meter steht ein Schild, zum richtigen Verhalten im Wald. Der Weg zum Viktoria-Peak ist eine willkommene Auszeit zum Lärm und dichtem Verkehr in der Stadt. Hier gibt es eine Aussichtsplattform mit bester Sicht auf die Stadt und seine Skyline, sofern der Smog diese ermöglicht. Mit einer historischen Seilbahn kann der steile Aufstieg zum Aussichtspunkt ebenso vermieden werden. Bevor ich allerdings die Aussicht genießen konnte, musste ich mich durch ein mehrstöckiges Einkaufszentrums mit unzähligen Restaurants kämpfen. Meine Erholung in der Natur war damit schnell Zunichte gemacht.

    Hongkong war bis 1997 eine britische Kolonie. Doch selbst mit der Vereinigung behielt es besondere Rechte. Als Sonderverwaltungszone genießt Hongkong weitestgehend Autonomie mit einem eigenen politischen und ökonomischen System. Lediglich in militärischen Angelegenheiten und in der Diplomatie hält Peking die Hoheit. Mit der Eingliederung hat Hongkong einen Katalysatoreffekt für die gesamte Region ausgelöst. Die angrenzenden Gebiete erlebten einen ungeahnten wirtschaftlichen Aufschwung. Zu den negativen Effekten zählte aber auch, dass Hongkong und die Region bekannt wurde für Drogen- und Menschenhandel. Dies ist nicht das erste mal das Hongkong im Zentrum des Drogenhandles steht. Im kollektiven Gedächtnis der Chinesen steht insbesondere die Niederlage des Kaiserreiches Chinas gegen das britische Empire im ersten Opiumkrieg (1839-42), bei dem China Hongkong an das Vereinigte Königreich verlor und seine Märkte öffnen und den Opiumhandel dulden musste – mit schwerwiegenden Auswirkungen auf die chinesische Geschichtsschreibung.

    Bereits nach zwei Tagen fahre ich mit dem Schnellzug auf das chinesische Festland, um in der wundervollen Umgebung von Yangshuo zu klettern. Leider habe ich erst zu spät erfahren, dass es in den Bergen Hongkongs einige Sportklettergebiete gibt.
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Wan Chai, Wanchai, 灣仔

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