Native Chicagoan Beth Williams caught the travel bug after spending half a year in Japan during college. After graduation, she missed Asia so much she just had to go back. A gig teaching English brought her to Hong Kong, where she’s lived for the past two years. Armed with her camera and irrepressible wanderlust, Beth’s now on a mission to prove that you can work a 9-to-5 and still find time to travel. Here are some of her favorite things about the city she calls “a place unlike any other.”

Follow Beth’s story on Twitter or on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

Hong Kong is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Victoria Harbour to be dazzled by one of the best skylines in the world.

Autumn is the best time to visit my city because it’s no longer boiling outside and colorful lanterns illuminate the city during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

You can see my city best from The Peak, located high in the mountains on Hong Kong Island.

A traditional Chinese fishing boat, known as a junk, in Victoria Harbor  (Photograph by Beth Williams)

Charter a traditional Chinese fishing boat, known as a junk, for a unique view of the city. (Photograph by Beth Williams)

Locals know to skip the touristy seaside village of Stanley and check out the local fishing villages in Tai O instead.

The Ladies Market, located in Mong Kok, is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Chow Yun-fat have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Hong Kong Heritage Museumbecause it is well designed, with interactive and unique exhibits.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you shouldn’t bother with expensive taxis, because it’s easy to get around using the MTR metro. It might seem a little confusing at first, but everything is color-coded–and announcements are made in English!

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Sai Kung. Rent a boat or go hiking and explore the unique Geoparks of Hong Kong. With lush greenery and emerald waters, you’ll almost forget you’re still in Hong Kong!

My city really knows how to celebrate Chinese New Year. From bustling night markets to flashy parades and fireworks displays, it’s a weeklong celebration you won’t soon forget.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they’re glued to their smartphone. Just be wary of those using their smartphones to watch TV while they’re walking!

For a fancy night out, I like to dress up and take in the stunning view while sipping on cocktails at one of the many rooftop bars around the city.

Just outside my city, you can visit Macau via a short ferry ride. Although it’s another S.A.R. of China, it has a different feel from Hong Kong.

My city is known for being a financial hub, but it’s really a foodie’s paradise.

The best outdoor market in my city is Temple Street Night Market (also known as the “Men’s Market”), the last remaining night market in Hong Kong.

Anywhere that serves steaming, hot dim sum is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and any street food vendor is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Time Out Hong Kong.

My city’s biggest sports event is the Hong Kong Sevens rugby championship. Watch it at Hong Kong Stadium.

Sai Kung: The best place to spend time outside in Hong Kong (Photograph by Beth Williams)

Sai Kung: The best place to spend time outside in Hong Kong (Photograph by Beth Williams)

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I ride on the “Ding Ding” instead of the MTR. This tram system may be slower, but it offers some of the best views of local Hong Kong for next to nothing!

To escape the crowds, I spend time with nature by hiking one of the many mountains or lying on one of the many beaches of Hong Kong. Here’s a guide to the city’s great outdoors.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Jackie Chan because even though his English may not be perfect, his quirks make him totally lovable.

The dish that represents my city best is dim sum and Hong Kong-style milk tea is my city’s signature drink. You’ll find that a day doesn’t start in Hong Kong without drinking milk tea (not coffee) and eating dim sum!

Bank of China Tower is my favorite building in town because it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in Hong Kong with its unique zigzagging patterns and bamboo shoot shape.

The most random thing about my city is the obsession with food, particularly McDonald’s. Anytime a new McDonald’s opens up shop, it makes the news and people line up in long queues like they’ve never seen a McDonald’s before! Hong Kong was also the first place in the world to offer McDonald’s wedding packages–so bizarre!

AsiaWorld-Expo, our largest concert arena, is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the lively streets of Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s nightlife capital.

Grannies wielding swords, who could kick your butt in kung fu, could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should eat “lucky buns” at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. This festival is unlike any other and has been deemed one of the world’s “Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals” by Time.com.

The brilliant Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the city's most popular cultural events. Don't forget to try a mooncake! (Photograph by Beth Williams)

The brilliant Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the city’s most popular cultural events. Don’t forget to try a mooncake! (Photograph by Beth Williams)

In the summer you should join in the excitement of the Tuen Ng Festival. The highlight of this festival is the colorful and lively dragon boat races; the energy levels are contagious!

In the fall you should experience the beauty of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Sit outside under the full moon, gorge on some mooncakes, and watch as beautiful lanterns illuminate the city.

In the winter you should take part in the Chinese New Year festivities. Watch the parade or the fireworks and don’t forget to eat plenty of auspicious foods for good luck in the New Year!

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Ocean Park, which combines elements of a thrilling theme park with an aquarium.

The best book about my city is Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, by Gordon Mathews.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “I Love Hong Kong,” sung by Aarif Lee and Mag Lam, which is the theme song to the movie of the same name.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Hong Kong’s unique “East-meets-West” culture makes it a place unlike any other and the perfect gateway to Asia.

Comments

  1. Beth Williams
    Hong Kong
    February 23, 11:59 pm

    It’s rare for most visitors to leave the city here, but do check out the scenic hikes and hidden beaches as it gives a whole new perspective to Hong Kong!

  2. Lakshmi Sundar
    United States
    February 3, 10:08 pm

    While we’ve experienced so much of what you love, we’re sorry we have missed some of the scenic hikes and reading Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions. On our list now:)

  3. CWilliams
    Illinois
    January 31, 4:03 pm

    Love it Beth!