Kicking Up a Storm in Hong Kong

Sunny days and monsoon showers do not take away from the festivities and charm of the port city. | By Eric Rosen.  
Hong Kong
Banner race: Teams of power paddlers compete in the cacophonous Dragon Boat Festival. Photo by: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Even the rainy season, typhoons and all, can’t put a damper on Hong Kong’s vitality, verve, and dragon boat races. For off-season explorers, the steamy weather gives this major port city on the South China Sea that much more sizzle.

Festival

Enter the Dragon

Hong Kong’s annual Dragon Boat Festival begins on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar—typically in May or June—and includes several days of races and splashy celebrations. Spectators watch thousands of paddle-wielding athletes from all over the world compete in speed races in narrow wooden boats, many carved to resemble dragons and each equipped with a drummer. The competitions take place at various locations, including in Victoria Harbour. A highlight: the fancy dress competition, with paddlers racing in wigs, banana suits, and more.

Dining

Dim Sum Delights

Hong Kong’s restaurants tout a collective 87 Michelin stars; you can drop a fortune on a meal at the two-and-three-star spots. However, Hong Kong also is home to one of the world’s least expensive single-star groups of restaurants, Tim Ho Wan (two of the four locations claim a star each), which serves such treats as steamed shrimp-chive dumplings and baked barbecued-pork buns.

Lodging

Harbour Hotels

When it comes to lodging, the question is always: Do you stay on the island or in Kowloon? You can’t go wrong either way. Kowloon is home to the Peninsula Hotel, opened in 1928 and known for its palatial rooms, lavish afternoon tea, and cultural-immersion experiences (www.peninsula.com). On the island is Upper House, which has phenomenal harbour views from its perch atop a skyscraper (www.upperhouse.com).

 Flights

East Meets West

Air India and Jet Airways have non-stop flights to Hong Kong from Mumbai and Delhi. Hong Kong’s hometown carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, offers non-stop flights from many other cities. Indians can visit Hong Kong visa-free for 14 days after completing a pre-arrival registration process. Those staying longer must apply for a tourist visa at the Chinese embassy or Consulate General (in.chineseembassy.org).

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