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20 Years after Turnover, Hong Kong More Vibrant than Ever

20 Years after Turnover, Hong Kong More Vibrant than Ever

Few places on earth are more fascinating—both in terms of culture and natural beauty—than vibrant Hong Kong.

On July 1, 1997, the United Kingdom formally transferred sovereignty of Hong Kong over to China, ending more than a century of British rule and opening a new chapter in a place where Europe and Asia meet. This year, marks the 20th anniversary.

Its history, role as an economic powerhouse, and breathtaking location make Hong Kong a fascinating place to visit and an ideal starting point for travelers who want to experience some of what Asia has to offer.

For the past two decades, China has adhered to a “one country, two systems” principle when it comes to Hong Kong; preserving the island’s political and economic systems. For travelers, there are a couple benefits. English remains an official language. And, unlike the rest of China, Americans can visit Hong Kong without the time and expense involved in obtaining a visa.

A double-decker sightseeing bus is a great way to get acclimated to Hong Kong. Enjoy hot spots such as the upscale shopping area of Causeway Bay, the clubs and restaurants of Lan Kwai Fong, and Golden Bauhinia Square—home of the Hong Kong Convention Center where the official handover ceremony between Britain and China took place. You’ll see all of the influences that have made Hong Kong what it is today, from century-old British colonial buildings to traditional Chinese temples to skyscrapers designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects.

One of the area’s most stunning natural features is Victoria Harbour, separating the island of Hong Kong from the Kowloon Peninsula. While you can travel across by subway, take at least one trip on the Star Ferry, a service that’s been in operation since 1888. Have your camera ready, because the ride is only about 10 minutes and you’ll get spectacular pictures of the skyline. But that’s only one of several memorable ways to experience the view. Take a tram to the top of Victoria Peak for an equally-stunning perspective, or a nighttime cruise, where a sound and light show illuminates the skyline.

In Kowloon, take a leisurely stroll along Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare. Be sure to spend time browsing and bargaining in two of Hong Kong’s famous street markets: the Ladies Market and the Temple Street Night Market, where more than a hundred stalls sell everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and antiques. Also in Kowloon, the Hong Kong Museum of History offers a compelling and comprehensive look at the past, including British rule in the 19th century, the Japanese occupation during World War II, and the handover to China.

Travelers to Hong Kong can choose from a wide range of accommodations. The Kerry Hotel, on Kowloon’s waterfront, is a new luxury property with panoramic views and proximity to shopping and transportation. For a classic experience, try Kowloon’s elegant Peninsula. Dating from 1928, it’s Hong Kong’s oldest hotel, known as the “Grande Dame of the Far East,” and filled with antiques and artifacts that recall the glamour of a bygone era.

For help planning a trip to Hong Kong, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793 or

© Travel Leaders Group