Po Lin translates to "precious lotus," and this monastery is one of the most famous of Hong Kong's numerous attractions. In addition to being one of the most opulent and grandest temples in the country, this is also home to the famous "Big Buddha," which measures more than 100 feet high. Made of bronze and seated in the mythical cross-legged repose, this statue is an attraction on its own. The views of the countryside are spectacular, and an excellent vegetarian cuisine is served by monks in the canteen. Most people come here by road or cable car, both exciting journeys in themselves.
There are four main tours with Heliservices, the only flightseeing operation in Hong Kong. The first flies around Hong Kong Island, concentrating on Victoria Harbour. The flight lasts approximately 15 minutes. Prices start at around HK$1,999 per head. Slightly longer, the Hong Kong Island Experience takes in the whole of the Island, looping down over Stanley and Aberdeen and the beaches and bays on the south of the island. Longer still, the half-hour Kowloon and Hong Kong Island Experience heads north over the mountains that separate the city from the New Territories. Finally, the Geopark Experience, of a similar length, flies east to take in Sai Kung Country Park and the Hong Kong Geopark. The tours usually employ a seven-seater MD902 Explorer, and they're piloted by expert crews. A full safety briefing is given beforehand, and safety equipment such as lifejackets are provided.
This well-known attraction was built in 1973 and is still one of the most active Buddhist temples in the city. The lush gardens, with their waterfalls, ponds and pavilions, inspire numerous photographs. Be sure to wander through the arcade, where a palm reader will tell your fortune. Some will even do it in English. Named for a shepherd boy who was said to have mystical healing powers, this temple still has a magical feeling. Wong Tai Sin is deluged at Lunar New Year, usually late January or early February, when large swathes of the population come to worship and get an idea of what the year ahead holds for them.
The 552-meter mountain has that classic Hong Kong view. Near the summit at 396 meters high there is an entertainment and viewing complex called Peak Tower where travelers can snap that perfect souvenir photo. In the foreground, a forest of skyscrapers rise in eye-opening density beneath your foot while the sapphire blue Victoria Harbour glitters in distance. Go on a nice day, you can also make out the outlying islands scattering on the South China sea on the 360-degree observation deck. Various modes of transport reach the top but the 1,350-meter-long peak tram is most popular. The 125-year old track is said to be the first railway in Asia and the eight-minute ride can reach as steep as 30 degrees from the ground. The Peak Tower also house a view-fantastic Cantonese restaurant Sky Terrace 428 and a Madame Tussauds Museums featuring Jackie Chan, Jet Li and various other Asian celebrities.
The New Territories, once home to nothing but pastoral meadowlands, are quickly becoming industrialized and commercialized. However, this park remains a bastion of natural beauty. This unspoiled seaside area of parkland features hiking trails dotted with informative visitor centers. See the area from a watery vantage point by renting a kaido (a small boat) in the town of Sai Kung, which is flanked by protected parks. Locals say eating seafood in this town is a must. Alternatively, hike out to Tai Long Wan, one of Hong Kong's most easterly beaches. The surf is good, and the solitude even more so.
All 18,000 square-feet of MiraSpa encapsulates rejuvenating spa, beauty and hair services. Complete with a state-of-the-art fitness center and an infinity-edge pool, the MiraSpa features a wet zone with sauna, steam, whirlpool and experience showers for instant rejuvenation, as well as flotation lounges with heated waterbeds to zone out and re-energize pre-and-post spa sessions. Nine sleek spacious treatment rooms include seven single Spa Suites complete with private washroom and shower facilities as well as two VIP Couples Spa Suites with a private sunken whirlpool bath, steam shower and vanity area. The oval-shaped Aura Room with a soothing colored light feature induces restful sleep while guests enjoy a therapeutic MiraSpa ritual.
Sailing Hong Kong harbor and to the outer islands, Lazydays offers full lunch and dinner packages. A variety of menus is available and can be customized on request. The full bar menu features gourmet teas and coffees, great cocktails and a selection of wines and beers. All packages include snacks and standard drinks from the moment guests step on board. Lazydays is a truly fun way to explore Hong Kong, sailing past the city and out to some of the more remote islands and beaches. Mid week, you may even find you have an entire beach to yourselves. The trips are also very reasonably priced.
I-Spa was one of the first spas to open in Hong Kong, and its design is heavily influenced by feng shui, the ancient Chinese belief that the way a house is built or the way objects are arranged affects your success, health, and happiness. Guests can savor absolute privacy in the luxuriously spacious private spa suites, each with its own sauna, steam shower, Jacuzzi and massage facilities. Therapists can advise on the best way to awaken your senses and balance your yin and yang with rejuvenating and pampering treatments. I-Spa's signature treatments include Oriental Healing and Jet Lag Relief.
The 15-minute light and sound show is the top free activity in Hong Kong. Every night at 8pm, spectacularlights, lasers and digital fireworks shoot out from 45 buildings beside Victoria Harbour on both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon side. The US$5.7 million project is dubbed by Guinness Word Record as the "World's largest permanent light and sound show." All lights are controlled and displayed as a visual reflection of the eponymous music symphony which is broadcast at the same time. The best places to enjoy the show are around the Avenue of Stars on Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wai Chai or, better yet, from any cruise boat on the harbor.
This small, but well-designed park offers a welcome break from the concrete and glass buildings that are surrounding it. Built into the side of a small hill, top attractions include an aviary with a large selection of exotic birds, and a conservatory, which is among the most extensive in the world. It recreates various climates and includes many of the plants indigenous to each area. Also within the park's boundaries is Flagstaff House. Built in 1846, it's the oldest remaining colonial building in Hong Kong, and today is home to a fascinating tea ware museum.The park is one of the island's "lungs" providing some very welcome green space.