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Hotels. Majestic Hotel, Regal Hongkong Hotel, Best Western Rosedale Park, Royal Windsor Hotel, Empire Hotel Kowloon, Regal Kaitak Hotel, Stanford Hotel, Excelsior Hong Kong, Regal Kowloon Hotel, Regal Riverside Hotel, Regal Airport Hotel, Rosedale Hotel & Suites Guangz

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About Hongkong
HistoryLanguage | Area | Time Zone | Travel Guide |
Population and People

About Hongkong

Hong Kong post-1997 is still that unique meeting place of east and west, of magic, charm and chatter that has fired the imaginations of travellers, traders, fortune- seekers, refugees and sailors for 150 years. The constant clatter of commerce hardly pauses, and all around can be heard the most garrulous tongue on earth: Cantonese. And permeating all this hustle and bustle linger the fragrances of the city. The aromas of Canton- ese cooking from countless kitchens hang over the streets, mixing with the scent of dried fish and herbs while the perfumed smoke of incense beckons you into the hidden portal of a roadside shrine. Hong Kong at night offers yet more. Lovers of good food will be spoilt for choice in the city's eclectic eateries. Hong Kong's bars offer everything from alternative to chic to the refined. The New Territories and other outlying islands also offer bracing walks among dramatic and spectacular countryside. Now is the time to visit Hong Kong. Hotel prices and airfares have fallen considerably and there are some excellent deals out there. Good news for all of you who couldn't make it on the night of 30 June 1997.

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By 1979 the colony even had its own subway with the opening of the first line of the Mass Transit Railway. Deng Xiaoping, who took control of China in the mayhem following Mao Zedong's death in 1976, opened up the country to tourism and foreign investment in 1978. Deng's 'Open Door' policy, designed to pull China into the 20th century, revived Hong Kong's role as the gateway to its mysterious, gigantic northern neighbour. Hong Kong companies gradually began shifting their factories across the border, and foreign firms came in droves seeking out Hong Kong businesses for their China contacts and expertise. Investment in China grew and trade in Hong Kong skyrocketed as it became a transshipment Point for China's exports, and later on, imports. Underpinning this boom was the drive to rake in Profits ahead of 1997, when Hong Kong's unpredictable new master was due to take over.
One Country, Two Systems' Actually, few people gave much thought to Hong Kong's future until the early 1980s, when the British and Chinese governments started meeting to decide what would happen come 1997. In theory, Britain was legally bound only to hand back the New Territories. More importantly, for Beijing, Hong Kong remained the last reminder of foreign imperialism on mother soil ( Macau is a somewhat different story, having never beer formally ceded to Portugal - it is due to return to Chinese rule in 1999). The idea was to transform Hong Kong into a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China upon the handover of sovereignty on 1 July 1997. Beijing's catch phrase for this is 'one country, two systems', whereby Hong Kong is allowed to stay capitalist after the handover, while across the border the Chinese continue with a system which they label socialist. Deng Xiaoping also called this gangren zhi gang, or'Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong'.

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Cantonese, the dialect spoken in Guangdong province, is the main language, but since the handover in 1997, Mandarin (Putonghua) has become increasingly important. English is spoken in all the main tourist areas, hotels and restaurants. Taxi drivers may speak some English, but itís advisable to have your hotel concierge write your destination in Chinese. Business meetings are usually conducted in English. All street signs, directions and bus routes use both English and Chinese.

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Hong Kong Island is only about 30 sq mi/78 sq km, but the whole territory is 413 sq mi/1,070 sq km. There are 235 outlying islands, the largest being Lantau. Most of the islands are uninhabited and extremely small; others have fishing communities that are relatively unchanged after hundreds of years, and some house communities of workers who commute to the city by ferry each day.

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Time Zone
Hong Kong is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Saving Time is not observed.

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Travel Guide
WHEN TO GO. In terms of weather, October-November and April-May are probably the best times to visit. Temperatures are moderate, and there's a good chance of clear skies and sun. December through to March tends to see a lot of rain, and from June to September the sweltering heat and humidity make for rather sweaty sightseeing. For more details, see the Climate page. Under normal conditions, Hong Kong hotels have two high seasons: September to January, and March to June. During this time rates go up, and rooms are often hard to find. Airfares to Hong Kong are also usually higher around these times. This was generally the golden rule until the handover, but the subsequent slump in tourism brought fierce competition among airlines and hotels. Cuts of up to 50% in hotel room prices and huge discounts in airfares greeted travellers in late 1997. Travel in and out of Hong Kong can be difficult during Chinese New Year, which falls around late January/early February. Planes are usually full, and the border with China becomes a living hell as millions (yes, millions) of locals flood to the mainland to visit relatives. On the other hand, the crowds that can make Hong Kong a tiring place to visit are absent during this time, and more and more shops and restaurants only close for one day during the holiday, instead of the traditional three to seven day break. If you're planning to leave Hong Kong for the UK or the USA in August, book your flight early. You will be competing for seats with tens of thousands of Hong Kong students, most going to universities abroad.
Travel Orientation. Surprisingly, a good deal of Hong Kong's 1084 sq km is comprised of mountains, sparsely inhabited islands and country parks. The city itself is cranuned into a relatively small area centred around Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island lies to the south, the Kowloon peninsula to the north. The urban area basically runs from the north side of Hong Kong Island to the Kowloon Hills, which mark the effective border between the peninsula and the New Territories. Urban Hong Kong is divided into numerous districts. The main business, banking and administrative district is Central, on Hong Kong Island directly across from Tsim Sha Tsui, which lies at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula. Going west from Central will take you through the districts of Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town, which have some of Hong Kong's oldest residential neighbourhoods. Sheung Wan and Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, and Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok in Kowloon, all offer good possibilities for strolling around and checking out the local lifestyle. Tle Peak not only has spectacular views of Hong Kong, but a series of tree-lined walkways and trails as well. And if your feet get tired, Hong Kong's outstanding public transport network will help get you to your destination quickly and, for the most part, comfortably.

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Population and People
Hong Kong's population is roughly 6.4 million, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. The overall density of the population works out to about 5800 people per sq km, but this figure is deceiving since there is a wide variation from area to area. The urban areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon pack in over 25,000 people per sqkm, compared with only 2860 in the rural New Territories. About 98% of Hong Kong's population is ethnic Chinese, most of whom are Cantonese, who have their origins in Guangdong Province. About 60% were born in the territory. About 33% of the population lives in Kowloon, 22% on Hong Kong Island, and 45% in the New Territories, with around 2% of the latter living in the Outlying Islands. . A case in point was the maintenance of the shark nets on Hong Kong's beaches that was given to a Chinese company in 1997; the company that won the contract failed to perform adequate daily checks, resulting in a compromise of safety for swimmers. The contract was apparently offered to the company as it made the lowest bid, and because it was operated by Chinese; the job has now gone to a company hiring western divers (at greater cost). If this trend continues, many see a drop in standards as inevitable.

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