The buzzing metropolis of Hong Kong is a frenetic fusion of glass and steel skyscraper, colonial heritage, centuries-old temples, compelling markets, lively street life and modern commercialism and consumption. Surprisingly, on a holiday in Hong Kong you'll also discover some beautiful countryside, with rugged hills, and wild coastline. Add to that a rich Cantonese culture and some of the world's best Chinese Dim Sum cuisine and you're left with an exciting and multifaceted destination, just waiting to be explored on a tailor-made holiday to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island was the original territory ceded to and colonised by the British; it is now the region's administrative and business centre. Development is centred along the north shore and many people are surprised to discover that the south-east of the island has a relaxed, almost Mediterranean quality, with small residential communities perched along the miles of sheltered bays and beaches.
The North Shore
Hong Kong's key sights, best shopping, attractions, and restaurants are found along Hong Kong Island's north shore and Kowloon's southern tip, especially around Nathan Road - known as the Golden Mile. Hong Hong's north shore is also the place to glimpse Hong Kong's colonial past and mercantile present. The best way to discover the neighbourhood is on the old-fashioned tram network, which rattles through the streets of Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Admiralty, Central and Sheung Wan.
Causeway Bay is the best place for luxury shopping in the many department stores. Also in Causeway Bay the historic Noonday Gun, or Typhoon Shelter as it's known, which has been fired daily since the 1840s. Nearby Victoria Park is Hong Kong's largest public park and the best place to relax, play tennis or practice tai chi chuan. Happy Valley Racecourse is a punter's paradise; spend a Wednesday night at a Hong Kong Jockey Club race meeting to soak up the nervous energy and excitement.
Hong Kong's bustling centre is divided by Victoria Harbour, a busy waterway filled with cruise ships, pleasure craft and traditional Chinese junks. The Star Ferry crossing from the Terminal in Central to Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the most spectacular in the world.
The Peak is one of Hong Kong's most popular attractions and is generally reached via a ten-minute ride on the steep peak tram ride. Local governors and rich merchants began building houses here in the mid 19th century to escape the worst of the summer heat. With panoramic views across Hong Kong's towering skyscrapers to Victoria Harbour and buzzing Kowloon, the Peak's surrounding green hillsides provide a pleasant escape from the city's thrust.
The Kowloon peninsula on the Chinese mainland became part of Hong Kong when it was ceded to the British in 1860. The southern tip of Tsim Sha Tsui is frenetic and densely packed with modern malls, luxury hotels and high-end boutiques. There is a more traditional side to Kowloon to the north of Boundary Road, around Yau Ma Tei and Mongkok, which has an older and more distinctly Chinese character.
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon's hectic Tsim Sha Tsui district is bordered by Chatham Road to the east and Canton Road to the west, the area intersected by Nathan Road - known as the Golden Mile. Close by, Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of Hong Kong's largest and busiest places of worship, with altars and shrines to Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist deities. The temple street night markets are also a popular attraction, as are the many luxury hotels, clubs and restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui East. Also consider seeking out Al fresco Lane for some of Hong Kong's best Dim Sum. Kowloon Park is where you'll find Kung Fu Corner. Get up at dawn to discover practitioners performing their complex daily exercises among the landscaped Chinese gardens and fountains. In the afternoon there are displays of various martial arts.
New Territories & outlying islands
The New Territories extend from Kowloon to the Chinese Guangdong border - an area full of booming new towns, nature reserves, farmland, craggy mountains and coastline. The scantily populated outlying islands are known for their close-knit fishing villages and rural calm. Indded, on the island of Cheung Chau, it's possible to enjoy delicious fresh seafood in open-air restaurants that line the harbour front, while on the shores of the Sai Kung Peninsula it's possible to find empty beaches and clear surf. The Tian Tin Buddha, or Big Buddha, at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, is the world's tallest outdoor, seated bronze Buddha; it weighs as much as a jumbo jet and is accessible from Airport Island via the Ngong Ping Cable Car.