While there are so many activities and tours in Hong Kong, one of my favorite activities is visiting the Hong Kong history museum. I first discovered this museum during my first trip to Hong Kong (as a solo traveler) and since that visit, I’ve actually returned to this museum on other trips because it’s so enjoyable. I can’t help but spent hours at this museum. I’m drawn into the History of Hong Kong, not only because it’s a fascinating history, but because this is honestly one of the best museums I have been to throughout my travels.
Organized chronologically from the natural environment and prehistoric times, through the different dynasties, folk cultures, opium wars, cession to the British, Japanese Occupation, and the return to China; the Hong Kong Museum of History makes you feel like you are apart of Hong Kong History.
Visiting the Hong Kong History Museum
Located in East Tsim Sha Tsui, not far from the Promenade and Avenue of the Stars, the Hong Kong Museum of History is easily accessible by foot, as well as by public transportation in Hong Kong. I don’t think you could hardly walk through this museum in less than 1 – 1 1/2 hours. But if you really enjoy museums and want to take time to read the plaques and explore any special exhibits, then I recommend allotting at least 2 – 3 hours.
You can explore the museum on your own, or you can join one of the daily free tours. They have them running at different times of the day, and in different languages. Be sure to check online or give them a call, just to confirm the tour times.
Admission fees are quite cheap! Only HK$10 — which is a total bargain, less than what you might spend riding the MTR across town. But even better for those travelers on a strict budget, the Hong Kong Museum of History is FREE every Wednesday!!! Even on a free day (my most recent visit), I didn’t find the museum to be crowded. The layout is huge with a lot of wide open spaces.
Photo Tour & Overview of The Story of Hong Kong
Being a history buff, I couldn’t resist putting together a little overview for our readers about the history of Hong Kong. When I first traveled here years ago, I had no idea just how interesting the history was. I’m sure many of you will find it interesting as well.
So warning…the rest of this post might be a little nerdy!
Read also Free Activities in Hong Kong
1. The Natural Environment
Visitors are welcomed to the exhibit with a giant globe, and displays are focused around the landform and climate of Hong Kong, as well as the different types of flora and fauna. Guests can learn all about the creation of the islands and surrounding environment, as well as plants and animals; some only used to inhabit the islands while others still live here.
2. Prehistoric Hong Kong
Evidence shows that the area was inhabited as far back as 6,000 years ago. A variety of archaeological artifacts, including pottery, tools, and totem-like rock carvings, have been discovered that have helped piece together a vision of what life was like for these early residents, who lived in dunes by the sea.
3. The Dynasties: From the Han to the Qing
The residents of Hong Kong have changed a lot over it’s long history. The original people were called Yue, but eventually, the Han moved south and brought new culture and technology. Many other clans eventually moved into the area, and the immigration helped to boost the local economy.
4. Folk Culture in Hong Kong
While there are many folk cultures in and around Hong Kong, the display focuses on 4 main groups. The life-size exhibits bring you into their world, while helping to explain their colorful culture and traditions. From a fishing “Junk Boat” that you can walk on and peek inside, to rice fields, authentic village buildings and family homes that you can walk inside…to replicas of Cantonese Opera and other festivals. This is one of my favorite parts of the experience at the museum!
5. The Opium Wars & Hong Kong Ceded to Britain
Due to it’s location along the Pearl River Delta, this part of China was prime for trading. Back in the heydays of trading, many countries were wanting to trade with the Chinese, including Britain and Portugal. Britain in particular, had a big demand for Chinese tea and silk (among other things). However, China didn’t particularly want what Britain had to trade — they only wanted silver. Eventually, this led to a trade imbalance that was in China’s favor.
The one thing China had demand for was opium. So the British started producing it like crazy in India and shipping it to China. This led to widespread addiction and problems for Chinese society. The Chinese sought hard to ban opium trade, but ultimately it was ineffective. Eventually, Britain attacked; and the Chinese ceded Hong Kong Island to the British in order to re-establish safety in the area.
6. Birth & Early Growth of the City
At first, the British weren’t overjoyed to have this “unusable desert island.” But they were able to settle into some of the coves, and they created a free trade port — which flourished. Museum guests can walk through streets of early Hong Kong, and get a feel for what life was like in this port city. Visitors can also begin to understand the relationship between the Chinese and the British who both inhabited the area.
7. The Japanese Occupation
Unfortunately, after committing mass atrocities in China, the Japanese were able to conquer Hong Kong as well. This part of the museum outlines what life was like for the people of Hong Kong under the oppression of the Japanese. It was a dark age which lasted for more than 3 and a half years.
8. Modern Metropolis & Return to China
The final gallery takes you through post war Hong Kong, and the rapid development into a global city. From modern high rises and tourism, the city quickly becomes a power in the area. Finally, the last part of the museum is about the handover back to China.
I Would Return to the Hong Kong History Museum – Yet Again!
Even though I’ve already been to the Hong Kong Museum of History numerous times, I would totally visit it again. It really is a beautiful, and thorough museum. It’s well laid-out, the exhibits are top notch, and it’s not only an educational experience but an enjoyable experience. Definitely a must see if you visit Hong Kong!
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