Hong Kong city tours have become more tuned to ecotourism in recent years, as the Hong Kong tourist board have sought to promote green travel more aggressively.
Hong Kong itself has favourable conditions for ecotourism, an abundance of natural beauty, diversity, benefit to the local communities and the need to increase awareness in the city on environmental issues. Development in Hong Kong is a slow and difficult process, due to the hilly landscape and water surrounding it; this presents an excellent opportunity to the green traveller to explore an urban location with one of the most enviable natural environments to be found.
Hong Kong City Tours
A number of Hong Kong city tours are available which make use of locals to show visitors around this wonderful, buzzing city. This is of course a great idea for the ecotourist as it represents the best chance of really immersing themselves in the local culture. The Hong Kong Rags to Riches city tour takes visitors on a fascinating journey through the history of the city from its origins as a small fishing village, through to its international status as a financial leader.
Ecotourists can learn about traditional Chinese medicine in the Herbal Medicine Street (Ko Shing), learn about how Feng Shui has influenced local architecture and journey through multicultural neighbourhoods which continue to mix the modern with the traditional.
Alternatively, or indeed as well as, sign up for a Hong Kong city tour that takes guests on a walking tour through the city streets and takes in the Sun Yat-Sen historical trail which instructs on the founding father of China.
Not to be missed is a Hong Kong city tour around beautiful Victoria Harbour and there are a number of different options available. Boat cruises can be taken in the morning, afternoon or evening and special tours include Dolphin Watching and Sunset Cruise. Whatever you choose, a cruise gives the green traveller a unique aspect to the city with views of magnificent skyscrapers juxtaposed against the natural beauty of the towering mountains behind.
For the ecotourist, the dolphin cruise is highly recommended; this presents guests with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Hong Kong’s endangered pink dolphins at play in their natural habitat around the Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park.
For the more adventurous green traveller, Hong Kong city tours extend to take in the natural beauty surrounding the city in the form of hiking. These tours can be as gentle or as rugged as required and cover wildlife walks, taking in local animal, bird and insect life, or a tour of the Geopark, which offers a fascinating insight into the area’s geological significance.
Getting around in Hong Kong
It’s a simple affair to get around on your Hong Kong city tour, as the compactness of the city coupled with one of the world’s most efficient public transport systems give the ecotourist numerous options. It’s recommended that visitors purchase an Octopus Card, an electronic stored-value card which is accepted on the majority of Hong Kong public transport.
Octopus cards require a deposit of HK$50, have an adult initial stored value of HK$100 and can be purchased at a variety of locations around the city including all MTR stations except Racecourse. They can be used on buses, coaches, ferried, tramways, light buses, railways and taxis.
The Octopus card can also be topped up and used in various leisure and retail outlets across the city of Hong Kong, doing away with the need for travellers to carry lots of cash when out and about.
Food and shopping in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is famous for its shopping, there is something for everyone in the city just waiting to be found. For the green traveller, Hong Kong city tours which take you off the beaten tourist routes provide ample opportunity to find tucked away, traditional stores that might otherwise prove elusive.
There are a number of markets to explore where everything from crafts, clothing and food from the traditional to the modern can be found. Probably the most vibrant and exciting of these is the Temple Street Night Market, described by the Hong Kong tourist board as “ordered chaos in action”.
The brightly lit, buzzing market has a myriad of products including clothing, electronics, hardware and importantly, a plethora of food stalls offering a wide range of local delicacies. This market, open from 4pm to midnight, is the perfect opportunity for the ecotourist to fully absorb the feel and taste of local culture and community.
Hong Kong really is an excellent place to visit for the gastronome as there is a huge amount of choice for dining out at superior outlets. Seafood is in abundance, as is Chinese and Cantonese food and there are a number of vegetarian and vegan options to choose from too.
Happy Veggies is a non-profit “social enterprise” vegetarian restaurant which serves healthy dishes from a Chinese menu. The cuisine here is free from MSG, which is often found in Chinese food, and the outlet also sells a small range of healthy groceries.
Green accommodation in Hong Kong
Hotels in Hong Kong are now becoming increasingly aware of the need for sustainable practices. The city continues to suffer from poor air quality and as such, anyone with an interest in ecotourism should attempt to discover the ethos of a hotel before booking their stay.
The Eaton Hotel in Hong Kong has introduced a number of measures to ensure that it follows green practices, including the installation of new kitchens and introducing sustainable practices across the board. This hotel also employs a full-time environmental manager to ensure that these practices are maintained and the hotel has a dedicated, in-house “green team.”
There are other options to choose from dotted about the city and it’s worth carrying out a little research before you go; for a comprehensive list of green hotels around the world and in Hong Kong, visit the Green Hotels Association website.