Exploring Kowloon on Foot: Hong Kong is simply one of the many places on a traveler’s bucket list that begs to be explored. Kowloon has an extensive history, dating back thousands of years, expressed in culturally diverse architecture and artifacts. Once a colony under the British Crown, Hong Kong gained independence until it was returned to China in 1997. During the years, Hong Kong developed into one of the largest commercially-diverse areas in Southeast Asia, empowering the Asian economy and driving businesses forward.
If you are a first-time traveler to Hong Kong, you will not be disappointed. Here are a couple of places of interest you can travel to without breaking your budget. Grab your cameras and be prepared to explore Kowloon on foot; you’ll be amazed at what you can see and learn.
Kowloon is an urban area in Hong Kong comprised of the Kowloon Peninsula and New Kowloon. The area of the peninsula is approximately 47 square kilometers (18 square miles); and, together with Hong Kong Island, it contains 48% of the total population of Hong Kong. What was once an industrial district is now flourishing neighborhood of shops, grocery stores, and inexpensive family-run gourmet eateries. Each eatery features traditional Hong Kong-style dishes and a rich mix of international cuisines of Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chiu Chow, Southeast Asian and Cantonese food.
Most surprisingly, due to the prevalence of many Thai-speaking ethnic Chinese in the area (many of which are grocery shop owners), Kowloon City is also known as “Hong Kong’s Little Thailand”.
Travelers traversing to the old parts of Kowloon City should head over to the famous Tony Wong Patisserie, a not-to-miss (and mouth-watering) patisserie shop. With over 30 years of experience in the pastry-making business, Tong Wong is committed to creating and delivering pastry masterpieces for all to try out.
Kowloon Walled City
This Walled City, originally a Qing dynasty fortress, was once one of the most densely populated places in Kowloon in the 1950s. The Kowloon Walled City housed more than 33,000 people who lived and worked in businesses in the huge complex of 300 interconnected buildings, labyrinths and snaking hallways.The rooftop was the only place in the city where netizens could breathe and socialize. On the rooftops, elders would participate in a friendly game of Mahjong while children played, supervised by their relatives.
Tourists can go to the Kowloon Walled City to experience a once forgotten city, ruled by crime syndicates and lawlessness. Fast forward to the present, the Kowloon Walled City is almost a shell of its former self. Travelers can go to the Kowloon Walled City Park opened in December 1995 and occupies a large portion of the area featuring historical artifacts and remnants of the Wall’s South Gate.
The park contrasts with the area’s chaotic surroundings featuring nicely trimmed bushes and a two-tiered lotus pond amongst a beautifully arranged rock cascade.
Kowloon Mosque & Islamic Centre
The Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Center is the largest Islamic mosque among the five principal mosques in Hong Kong. The original structure was built in 1896, and the current one was completed May 11, 1984 and can hold approximately 3,500 people. Visitors are encouraged to visit the mosque and be in awe at the stunning architecture, white marble, four spires, minarets in the corners, a pink roof and terrace, and a dome on top. Additionally, the Kowloon mosque features a library and a medical clinic as well.
As a word of caution; if you are planning on visiting the mosque, please consider wearing appropriate clothing, covering necessary areas and paying respects to the Muslim custom. If you are unsure on what to wear or how to get the mosque, you can contact your hotel’s concierge to receive proper instruction.
Hong Kong Museum of Art
If you feel particularly ‘artsy’, why not head over to the Hong Kong Museum of Art? The best day to go to the museum is on Wednesdays to take advantage of free admission. Inside the museum, visitors can marvel at the 15,000 or so art objects including antique Chinese treasures, calligraphy, ceramics, scrolls and more. However, tourists will be unable to view the museum’s special exhibitions but if you don’t mind, you can still marvel at the wonders of the museum nonetheless.
The museum’s website will note what kind of exhibitions will be on display so don’t forget to check back often.
Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
The brick tomb was unearthed back in 1955 when workers planned to level a hill at the Lei Cheng Uk Village. Considering its structure and inscriptions, the belief is the tomb was built in the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 – 220).
Visitors can glimpse into the tomb’s interior through a glass panel at the entrance. The tomb became a Declared Monument in 1988, protected by law the Hong Kong Government and preserved und the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.
The adjacent air-conditioned two-room museum/exhibition hall shows pottery and bronze wares recovered from the tomb. Additionally, there are extra materials on display such as texts, photographs, maps, a computer with a virtual tour of the tomb and a cross-section model of the tomb.
Each of these locations can be reached by foot from many great hotels located on Nathan Road and the surrounding areas. Don’t let the distance stop you from traversing through Kowloon and the rest of Hong Kong; you never know what you might find, hidden behind Hong Kong’s neon lights and age-old streets.
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