English teacher and blogger
Hong Kong's public housing estates are growing in popularity as Instragram-worthy destinations. (Shutterstock/ESB Professional)
According to Euromonitor International, a market research company based in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong has been one of the most visited cities in the world for the eighth consecutive year.
One fascinating fact is that the territory's residential estates have peaked interest among its visitors from around the globe, and are fast becoming popular sightseeing destinations.
A relatively small island with a growing population of 7.2 million, Hong Kong's residents depend heavily on public housing projects, also called public housing estates. These residential structures are notorious for accommodating thousands of people, with stacks of apartments shooting into the sky.
Previously stigmatize, the estates were deemed poor or lower-class establishments and often looked down upon. With affordable houses now scarce, local attitudes have done a 180 and these structures have become a symbol of' pride today.
Some of these estates have even been highly publicized in music videos and as film locations.
Regardless of their size, location or condition, people are more than happy to belong to these high-rise communities, rather than not having an apartment at all.
Walking around the grounds of an estate provides an insight to these emotions, both visually and in their atmosphere.
This reason alone makes visiting a few of these public housing estates a must for many tourists. As for the rest, the estates have been deemed 'Gram worthy and serve as idyllic backdrops for keen photographers seeking to validate their vacations on social media.
What to see:
True to its name, which means "rainbow", Choi Hung Estate in Kowloon recognizable by its graduated tropical color scheme. (Shutterstock/rathshiki)
Choi Hung Estate is also known by its English equivalent, "Rainbow Estate". This much-loved estate is easily recognizable by its colorful walls, basketball courts and cheerful atmosphere. Be sure to get there early, as it gets busy in the afternoon.
Lok Wah Estate is a vast complex of several towers, and is known particularly for the parking garage and playground at Lok Wah South in Ngau Tau Kok. (Shutterstock/NavinTar)
Lok Wah Estate owes its popularity to the rooftop of its south garage. Photographers are often seen milling about the garage, as well as the estate’s colorful playground. This estate is definitely off the beaten path and is a little trickier to reach, but still worth visiting. Get off the Hong Kong MTR at Ngau Tau Kok and then walk 30 minutes or take the 213 Bus or taxi to the Lok Wah South Estate, where the parking garage stands.
A vertical view of Montane Mansion reveals blocks of balconies that stretch to the skies above Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. (Shutterstock/ForgetMeNott)
Montane Mansion is by far the most widely known residential estate in Hong Kong. It provides insight to the architecture of old Hong Kong. Rich in history, the mansion is also famed for its movie appearances. You will immediately recognize the area if you’re a Transformers fan.
Take the MTR to Quarry Bay and take a short 5-minute walk to 1028 King Road.
Ping Shek Estate in Kowloon is known for its internal courtyards and spiraling structure. (Shutterstock/rathshiki)
Ping Shek Estate stands close to Choi Hung, but has an entirely different feel. Its distinguishing feature is the internal courtyards at the heart of every tower. Looking up from one of these courtyards offers a view of a vertical spiral or tunnel.
Be sure to stop by Ping Shek while traveling to or from Choi Hung.
Hong Kong is rightfully known for its well-regulated mass transit system, the MTR. It is easy to take the city’s rail service without a local guide, as all signs bearing station names and directions also provide an English translation directly underneath, making for an extremely tourist friendly service.
Due to its efficiency, the MTR is not as crowded as you might expect. It is definitely a great and reliable transport option for those who are keen to roam around the city for less. An Adult Tourist Day Pass costs HK$65 and can be purchased at the information desks located in each station. Visit the MTR website for complete fares, as it offers special rates for children, students, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Just remember to mind the gap when getting on and off the train!
Don’t forget your camera, but be mindful that these buildings are people’s homes. Do not photograph residents without their permission and be respectful of the local environment, making sure to clean up after yourself.
Yasmin Kamal is originally from London and is currently living in Asia. She has been traveling through Southeast Asia (including Indonesia) for the last three years. Before that, she visited Egypt and blogged about her experience there as a hungry, traveling woman.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.