Officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong is the definitive “East meets West” city. With a population of over 7 million, 95% of which are Chinese, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The city itself consists of four areas; Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and the Outlying Islands. As well as being one of the world’s most important financial and trading centres, Hong Kong also boasts numerous attractions including Victoria Peak, Nathan Road, Stanley Markets and Lantau Island.
Hong Kong Island
Whilst Hong Kong Island covers less than 10% of the total land mass, it is the economic heart of Hong Kong. The northern side of the island, which faces Kowloon, is mostly urban, with the famous skyscrapers competing for a view of Victoria Harbour, whereas the southern side is relatively undeveloped and strewn with parks and mountains.
As the name suggests, Central is located in the middle of the business district on the northern side of Hong Kong Island and is, consequently, one of the most visited areas on Hong Kong Island. As well as numerous hotels, restaurants and bars, Central is the nearest point to Victoria Peak.
Located on Central’s eastern side, Admiralty refers to the former Admiralty Dock, which used to house a naval dockyard. Several shopping malls, tower blocks and Hong Kong Park combine to make this a popular place for tourists.
The most famous tourist attraction in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak is situated 500m above the city and offers panoramic views of the harbour, Kowloon and southern Hong Kong Island. To get to the top of Victoria Peak, take the 5 minute funicular ride, which departs every 15 minutes from Central.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Built in 1845 in the south of Hong Kong Island, Happy Valley Racecourse is the home of horse racing in Hong Kong. For sheer excitement and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals, nothing beats a night at the horse races in Happy Valley. The horse racing season starts in September and ends in July.
Arguably the most famous harbour in the world, Victoria Harbour separates Kowloon from Hong Kong Island. The harbour’s deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on the South China Sea was instrumental in Hong Kong’s establishment as a British colony and its subsequent development as a trading centre. Today, the best way to enjoy the harbour is to take a ride on the Star Ferry at dusk and marvel at the lights from all of the skyscrapers.
The Soho District, meaning South of Hollywood Road, is an entertainment zone in the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island. One of the easiest ways of getting to Soho is through the Central-Mid-Levels escalator, which was built in 1993. It is said that the very existence of, now vibrant, Soho is attributed to the creation of the escalator system, which at the time was the longest escalator system in the world. The area now consists of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, art galleries and antique stores of Staunton Street and Elgin Street.
Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong is a small square of streets in Central, Hong Kong. The area was dedicated to hawkers before the Second World War, but underwent a renaissance in the mid 1980s. It is now a popular expatriate haunt in Hong Kong for drinking, clubbing and dining.
Stanley Market is a street market in Stanley on Hong Kong Island. The street is a typical example of a traditional old open-air market in Hong Kong and has since become a major tourist attraction, well known for its bargains. Many of the stalls or shops in Stanley Market sell Hong Kong souvenirs as well as clothing, toys, ornaments, luggage and souvenirs.
Kowloon sits on Victoria Harbour, facing Hong Kong Island to the south. It is one of most densely populated places in the world and has an array of places to shop, eat and sleep. Tsim Sha Shui, at the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon’s main tourist drag, whereas Mong Kok, further north has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area les than a square kilometre.
Tsim Sha Shui
Often abbreviated as TST, Tsim Sha Tsui is a major tourist hub in Kowloon, with many shops and restaurants that cater to tourists. Many of the museums in the territory are also located in the area. It is also the starting point of the Star Ferry, across to Hong Kong Island, as well as numerous charter boats.
Nathan Road is the main thoroughfare in Kowloon, Hong Kong that goes in a south-north direction from Tsim Sha Tsui to Mong Kok. It is lined with shops, restaurants and tourists, and was known in the post-World War II years as the Golden Mile. It starts on the southern part of Kowloon at its junction with Salisbury Road, a few metres north of Victoria Harbour, and ends at its intersection with Boundary Street in the north.
Temple Street Night Market
Temple Street is a street located in the areas of Jordan and Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon. It is well known for its night market and the busiest flea market at night in the territory. The night market is in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan areas of the street. Popular with both tourists and locals alike, in the evening it is common to see the place crowded. It sells cheap merchandise and food items. The place is sometimes known as Men’s Street.
Avenue of the Stars
The Avenue of Stars modelled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is located along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. It honours celebrities of the Hong Kong film industry. Upon opening, the avenue honoured an initial 73 inductees elected by the Hong Kong Film Awards Association.
Located on Kansu and Battery streets, the Jade Market is a collection of around 400 stalls selling a wide range of jade pendants, rings, bracelets, carvings and ornaments. Open from 10am to 5pm, the market is also the main gathering place for buyers of this fine stone who today still communicate with secret hand signals when making a purchase.
The New Territories is one of the three main regions of Hong Kong, alongside Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula. Historically, it is the region described in The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. According to that the territories comprise the mainland area north of the Boundary Street of Kowloon Peninsula and south of the Sham Chun River which is the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China, as well as over 200 outlying Islands including Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau in the territory of Hong Kong.
Sha Tin Racecourse
Crowds pack the stands at Sha Tin Racecourse, where the average attendance is nearly 50,000 per race card. To give an idea of how popular horse racing in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Jockey Club receives $10.4 billion in annual betting revenues from 2 racetracks, Sha Tin and Happy Valley. By comparison, the 167 thoroughbred racetracks in the USA take in just over $12 billion combined.
Tai Mo Shan
The tallest mountain in Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan is nearly 1000m high and is located in the centre of the New Territories. The most popular option is to walk to the summit for the spectacular vista.
Lantau Island, based on the old local name of Lantau Peak, is the largest island in Hong Kong, located at the mouth of the Pearl River. Originally the site of sleepy fishing villages, the island has in recent years been transformed with the development of several major infrastructure projects, including Hong Kong’s new international airport, Ngong Ping 360 and Hong Kong Disneyland.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is the first theme park inside the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and is an incorporated company jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong. The fifth Disneyland style park, the park is located on reclaimed land in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island. The park opened to visitors on May 22, 2005 and consists of four themed lands similar to other Disneyland parks: Main Street, U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland.
Ngong Ping Cable Car
Ngong Ping Cable Car is a 5.7 km long bi-cable gondola lift system linking Tung Chung and Ngong Ping. The cable car journey offers a 25 minute aerial alternative to the current one-hour journey by Tung Chung Road, allowing visitors to glide across Tung Chung Bay and up to Lantau Island towards Ngong Ping Plateau.