The Hong Kong Tourism Board should be congratulated for conducting a variety of tours of this magnificent metropolis. The main office of the HKTB is located in the lower level of a glassy high-rise boldly labeled as The Center. Besides having loads of colorful and informative brochures, you can sign up for a free tour, many of which begin here.
These tours are quite popular and can fill up in a hurry, so try to join up a few days ahead if at all possible. You can always try to drop in on the day of the tour to see if they can squeeze you in. I wanted to take the Saturday morning architecture tour and was told the list was all filled up 3 days beforehand. I took a chance and showed up that Saturday morning. The usual number of guests for this tour is 15, so I was fortunate that they allowed a few extra stragglers like me to tag along. First I had to pay a deposit for the headset that would allow me to hear the tour guide in the Hong Kong traffic. Our guide was Dennis, a young architect who was soft-spoken but dryly informative, if not necessarily sharply opinionated, on the variety of architecture that we would experience on this nearly 3-hour tour. You do not necessarily have to possess a worldly knowledge or interest in architecture, but it definitely enhances your overall enjoyment of the tour if you do. At least try to keep up with the commentary and follow along with the entire group.
The little bilingual map is a nice keepsake as well as an excellent point-by-point summary of the walking tour, which takes us to see the buildings in a fairly chronological order. We were introduced to many of the British Empire buildings, which are historically significant and architecturally conservative. The slow ride on a segment of the Central Mid-Levels Escalator is part of the impressive transportation network that envelops Hong Kong. The architecture tour picks up steam with visits to the great modern banking towers, Pei’s Bank of China Tower and Foster’s Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. A brief rest stop in one of the modern office buildings breaks the tour in two. A group can easily lose focus during such an outing, but Dennis did a fine job in keeping everyone moving along at a steady pace.
This architecture tour concludes at the officiously titled Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery next to the City Hall, with cool display models depicting the always-growing metropolis plus potential expansion plans.