72 hours of Hong Kong bliss

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FOR a glimpse of the customary practice of paying respect to the deities, visit Che Kung Temple in Tai Wai.

No place celebrates Chinese New Year with as much ardor, glamor and flavor as Hong Kong.Filipino travelers who would like to celebrate Chinese New Year like a local can look forward to spending 72 hours in this top tourist destination at the beginning of the Year of the Pig to experience its festive culture to its fullest.

Buy a placard, which is tied to an orange, write your wishes on it and throw it at the imitation Wishing Tree. The higher the placard hangs, the greater chance for the wishes to come true

Day 1: The day before Chinese New Year (4 February). Arrive in Hong Kong before the Year of the Dog ends to catch one of the flower markets in the city, where locals shop for seasonal flowers and plants that symbolize different well wishes, such as cherry blossoms that are believed to improve personal, particularly romantic, relationships, and water bamboos which are said to bring wealth. Visit Victoria Park or Fa Hui Park, two of the biggest and most popular flower markets for an unforgettable flower market experience.

Day 2: The first day of Chinese New Year (5 February). Many locals like to go hiking on the first day of Chinese New Year, as climbing uphill signifies progress in life. The perfect place to go for such a walk is Lantau Island, home to the world’s tallest sitting Buddha statue built outdoor. Start the spiritual journey by taking the cable car from Tung Chung to marvel at views of lush green and the sea along the way. Stop at Ngong Ping Village to visit the “Good Luck Garden,” before sampling Chinese vegetarian dishes at Po Lin Monastery. Head over to Tsim Sha Tsui early to secure a spot for viewing the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade, a signature event that began in 1996. Roving performers begin to emerge along the parade route starting from 6 p.m. before dazzling floats including those by Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong as well as dancers, acrobats and other performers from around the world take over the major roads. Paid spectator seats are also available on a first-come, first-served basis for those who want to enjoy the extravaganza at the starting point next to the iconic Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

a fireworks display is staged above Victoria Harbor on the second day of the Chinese New Year.

Day 3: The second day of Chinese New Year (6 February). Venture to the New Territories for some morning fresh air and try placard-throwing at the Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po. Initially a tradition of the village, it gradually came to attract people from across the city. Buy a placard, which is tied to an orange, write your wishes on it and throw it at the imitation Wishing Tree. The higher the placard hangs, the greater chance for the wishes to come true. The floats from the International Chinese New Year Night Parade are also on display until 19 February.

Firework, or literally “smoke flower” in Cantonese, is an integral part of celebrations in Hong Kong. For many years running, a fireworks display is staged above Victoria Harbor on the second day of Chinese New Year. The about-30-minute spectacle can be best viewed for free along the harborfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai or IFC in Central.

Day 4: The third day of Chinese New Year (7 February). Paying respect to the deities is a customary practice among the locals, especially the older generation. For a glimpse into this tradition, visit Che Kung Temple in Tai Wai. Try “Kau Chim” or fortune stick drawing to see what fortune awaits in the Year of the Pig. Remember to spin the temple’s famous copper windmill clockwise to summon good luck in the new year.

From Che Kung Temple, take the MTR East Rail Line to arrive swiftly at the Sha Tin Racecourse for the Chinese New Year Race Day. The special races, which are the first in the Year of the Pig, provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to experience horseracing, a hugely popular activity in Hong Kong.

Beyond Chinese New Year
Visitors can stay on for another 72 hours to experience more of what the city is famous for, most notably excellent dining and tax-free shopping. Many shops and restaurants remain open during the holiday period, while major attractions, theme parks and public transport operate as usual.

Visitors can also take a detour to Mainland China, which is conveniently connected to Hong Kong by coach, by train, by air and by sea. The recently opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link make it even easier to explore this neighboring destination.

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