REVIEW: Marco Polo Hong Kong
Asia’s bustling Cantonese city gets a stunning treatment in this back-pocket-sized guidebook complete with pull-out map
Most cities have a top five sights, and guidebooks sometimes feel overkill. Hong Kong is different, and with hundreds of attractions, places to explore and a culture that’s often overwhelming to the first-timer, Marco Polo’s highlights-themed guidebook proves just the ticket.
Let’s get the practical design out of the way first; its 19x11cm size and 263g weight makes it perfect for a back pocket, while the inside-back cover has an MTR map and a separate, pull-out city map in a plastic folder. Nice idea. The ‘Links, blogs, apps & more’ page also proved highly valuable.
Only in HK
It starts by getting everything you might want to do out of the way on its ‘only in Hong Kong’ page, covering everything from the Peak Tram to trips on the Star Ferry across the harbour. However, it goes more for the practical inside, with a ‘if it rains’ page, low-budget tips throughout (such as listing which museums are free), some useful phrases and ‘dos and don’ts’ (such as avoiding the temptation to hit nearby Macau or Shenzhen in China for a day-trip … you’ll be waiting in traffic most of the day).
The ‘where to stay’ section is pleasingly short; haven’t most of us already booked a hotel via Booking.com or Agoda (which is usually better for Asia) by the time we arrive at our destination? However, what we liked most was the general style and format, which highlights in yellow the author’s ‘insider tips’, which generally turnout to be spot-on (such as swerving the crowds at The Peak and heading up the Peak Trail for the grandest of panoramas).
One criticism is the inside cover, and the back cover. We appreciate that the cover is part of the sales pitch, but on a compact guide like this, every part of the book needs to present must-have info to the reader. While the back cover is largely decorative, the inside-front cover shows an advert for Marco Polo maps. A map of Hong Kong, or its MTR underground train network, would have been much better. However, as a guide for wandering with, as well as for reading, Marco Polo Hong Kong is well researched, well put together, and good value.