For cruisers, Hong Kong in a hurry

By Tom Stieghorst
From beaches to Disneyland to its spectacular night illuminations, Hong Kong has an array of exciting activities for the visitor.

Start with a few excursions that are quick and convenient for cruise passengers, who arrive at Ocean Terminal on the Kowloon peninsula.

Right beside the terminal are docks for the Star Ferry. A 10-minute trip across Victoria Harbor on the green-and-white ferry costs about 30 cents and provides a great view of the harbor and the city skyline.

Hong Kong Shopping MarketsAnother way to see the water is aboard the Duk Ling, a fully restored Chinese fishing junk built in the 1950s and equipped with the vessel type's trademark red sails.

Having crossed to Hong Kong Island, passengers can take a cab to the tram running up to Victoria Peak, the high point on the island where a magnificent vista awaits. The tram itself is a fun 10-minute ride and offers glimpses of neighborhoods that cling to the side of the mountain.

Shopping opportunities pervade Hong Kong. High-end designer names can be found in the Central neighborhood on the island, while the outdoor Midlevels escalator takes visitors uphill to Hollywood Avenue, full of antiques, galleries and boutiques.

With a little more time, visitors can arrange a culinary tour and learn how to make Chinese-style pastries at a bakery or the fine points and ceremonial rituals of brewing tea.

Cultural appreciation starts with a trip to the Cantonese opera, where highly costumed actors tell mythical tales through symbolic gestures and martial movements.

A short walking tour of Hong Kong takes in some of its memorable modern architecture, including the high-rise headquarters for HSBC (designed by Foster + Partners) and Bank of China (I.M. Pei).

The latter has an observation deck on the 43rd floor that is free to the public.

Visitors with more than a couple of hours can arrange a tour to Aberdeen, whose harbor on the south side of Hong Kong Island is teeming with more than 3,000 junks and sampans. Eat at one of the illuminated floating restaurants, the best known of which is Jumbo Kingdom.

Farther south, the peninsula town of Stanley has a market perfect for inexpensive souvenirs and a popular beach where elaborately decorated dragon boats race each June.

Disneyland isn't the only amusement park in Hong Kong. The indigenous Ocean Park has marine mammals, pandas and a twisty roller coaster called Abyss Turbo, perched high on a ridgeback overlooking Aberdeen.

Hong Kong includes more than 260 islands, the largest of which is Lantau, home to the airport, Hong Kong Disneyland and the world's largest outdoor, seated bronze Buddha, at the Po Lin Monastery. It is accessible via a 25-minute trip on an aerial cable car that offers panoramic views of the rustic and serene scenery below.

For more information, visit www.discoverhongkong.com/us.
Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly 
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