Hong Kong: 5 free things for visitors to do
Victoria Peak is a must, but don't stick just to the kitschy Peak Tram terminal and tourist complex. Instead, take the Hong Kong Trail that circles the mountaintop. Look for signs pointing to the path, which follows Lugard and Harlech roads. The hour-long walk is gentle and flat, providing a bird's-eye view of upscale homes nestled amid the lush green flanks of the mountain and the city's skyscrapers beyond. Watch out for the occasional car trying to squeeze past to get to one of the posh homes along the route. Details at http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/1_3.asp .
If you visit Hong Kong at any time except winter, you'll likely encounter sweltering weather. To cool down, head to the beach. Hong Kong Island has several, including Big Wave Bay in Shek O or the beach at tony Repulse Bay, but they do get crowded on weekends. You can escape the masses — though you'll have to pay for transportation — by taking the ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau Island and then bus or taxi to Cheung Sha beach. The stretch of broad white sand is one of Hong Kong's longest beaches. At one end, there's a public changing room, lifeguard station and two restaurants serving Thai and South African food. Watch out for feral cattle and water buffalo roaming rural and sparsely populated Lantau Island.
In the past decade, Hong Kong's art scene has mushroomed thanks to soaring numbers of wealthy mainland Chinese and other Asians who have developed a taste for collecting. Big names like London's White Cube and Larry Gagosian of the U.S. have opened local outposts of their art dealing empires while numerous lesser-known galleries have also sprouted up over the past decade. Many are located on or near Hollywood Road in the Mid-Levels neighborhood.
If you get tired of looking at art, you can also watch people spend lots of money buying it. Hong Kong has become one of the biggest auctions hubs worldwide and is one of the biggest markets for the Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses. In spring and autumn, you can watch their twice-yearly sales of art as well as jewelry, watches, wine and furniture held in a cavernous exhibition center in Wan Chai. Dress nicely and the security guards may let you past the velvet rope to take a seat in the bidding room. Watch the British-accented auctioneer call out bids in both English and Chinese as nouveau riche mainland Chinese and others bid up prices of coveted works into the stratosphere.
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