The Baltimore Sun

This week marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, and there's no better place to celebrate the start of the lunar calendar than in Hong Kong. 2009 is the year of the Ox - people born under this sign include President Barack Obama. Hong Kong is one of's value destinations for the year, offering savings of 59 percent on lodging this month. The city offers cultural riches for any visitor. Hong Kong is divided into several districts, including Kowloon peninsula, Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Here are five things to do:


Join a parade : The International Chinese New Year Parade promises a colorful scene with traditional costumes, illuminated floats, musical artists, dragon dancers and other performers, including the Washington Redskins cheerleaders. Participants in this year's parade represent 12 countries.


Head to a hotspot : Lantau, the largest island, is home to Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 2005. But even more popular is the Tian Tan Buddha, the world's largest outdoor, seated, bronze Buddha statue, on the site of the Po Lin Monastery.


Dip into some dim sum : Hong Kong is reputed to be the "culinary capital of Asia," and dim sum is just one of its offerings. Steamed pork buns, beef balls, shrimp dumplings and pan-fried squid with spicy sea salt are some of the local favorites served in steaming bamboo baskets. Don't forget a pot of tea.


Take a peek from a peak : A visit to Hong Kong is not complete without a trip to Victoria Peak (1,805 feet), known for its panoramic views of the city. Take the tram, which dates to 1888, or a bus to the top for a unique view of the harbor, city and Kowloon peninsula.


Become a ferry fan : A variety of ferries sail Victoria Harbor, offering transportation between villages and islands. But even if you're going nowhere, the Star Ferry is not to be missed. Take it at night for the "Symphony of Lights," a spectacular multimedia light show.

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