Visually stunning Hong Kong offers a 'shop till you drop' lifestyle combined with enclaves of fascinating Chinese tradition. Hong Kong's popularity amongst Asian tourists, its major stopover status and financial importance make it an all round contender as one of the most interesting cities in the world. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, are an eclectic mix of modern skyscrapers, colonial buildings and traditional temples. For relaxation, Hong Kong's 260 outlying islands, provide a tranquil alternative to the frenetic city life.
Escape the city and explore the surrounding mountains, discover remote beaches or take in the fantastic cityscape from Victoria Peak.Whether it's spending the day betting and bantering at the horses, chasing the kids around Hong Kong's very own Disneyland, or getting back to nature at a stunning country park, there is something to suit all in this cosmopolitan city.
Things to see and do in Hong Kong
The pristine beach of Repulse Bay is overlooked by the Tin Hau Temple. Lantau Island has the white sandy beach, Cheung Sha, and the amazing Shek Pik Reservoir Dam.
The impressive Central Plaza (www.centralplaza.com.hk) is 78-stories high. Visitors can view the city from the Sky Lobby on its 46th floor. After 1800 each day, neon rooftop lights change colour every hour to denote the time.
Disneyland Hong Kong
At Disneyland Hong Kong (www.hongkongdisneyland.com), on Lantau Island, visitors can meet characters old and new, from Mickey Mouse to Buzz Lightyear, and can tour the park aboard the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad. Attractions range from the adventurous Jungle River Cruise to the magical Sleeping Beauty Castle and the dizzying heights of Orbitron, where guests can pilot their own rocket. Live entertainment includes the Festival of the Lion King, inspired by the much-loved Disney film.
Hong Kong's longest hike at 100km (62 miles), the MacLehose Trail crosses the New Territories, taking in Hong Kong's highest peak, Tai Mo Shan (985m/3,231ft).
Ngong Ping 360
The 5.7km (3.5 miles) Ngong Ping 360 cablecar, travelling between Tung Chung Town Centre and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, offers stunning views across North Lantau Country Park, Tung Ching Bay and the giant Tian Tan Bhudda statue. Part of the development is Ngong Ping Village, a small theme park incorporating family-friendly attractions such as Walking with Buddha, the Monkey's Tale Theatre, the Ngong Ping Tea House and several dining, retail and entertainment outlets.
Go shopping down bustling Nathan Road in Kowloon. Grab a bargain at Stanley Market. In Yau Ma Tei, stalls set up at 1400 on Temple Street for the Night Market, selling everything from electrical goods to incense sticks.
Hong Kong has over 30 highly acclaimed beaches. Excellent snorkelling, waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing are available. Watersports equipment can be hired from beaches and hotels in Stanley and Sai Kung. One-day island-hopping tickets allow unlimited ferry trips between islands.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, in the New Territories hills above Sha Tin, houses around 13,000 small Buddha statues. Also in the New Territories, amble around a beautifully designed complex, located in Tuen Mun, which features pavilions, bonsai trees, lotus ponds and a Taoist temple.
The excellent country parks at Sai Kung East and West are home to macaque monkeys, wild boar, civet cats, barking deer and the Chinese pangolin. Watch birds at the Mai Po marshes near Yuen Long in the New Territories (www.wwf.org.hk/eng/maipo) and look out for the Chinese pink dolphin near Lantau Island.
Bet on the horses
Vast sums of money change hands at Hong Kong's horse-racing meetings, held from September to June, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and Wednesday evening. The two main racecourses are at Happy Valley (Hong Kong Island) (www.happyvalleyracecourse.com) and Sha Tin (New Territories) (www.sha-tin.com).
Observe glimpses of Hong Kong's colonial past, such as Government House, the residence of 25 British governors from 1855 until Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997 (www.ceo.gov.hk/gh/eng). Other vestiges are seen in St John's Cathedral, thought to be the oldest Christian church in the Far East (www.stjohnscathedral.org.hk).
Walk along the Dragon's Back on Hong Kong Island, which follows a ridge, giving spectacular views. This can be concluded with dinner in one of the restaurants in Shek-O Village.
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware
An imposing colonial-style building in Hong Kong Park, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware houses ancient Chinese artefacts used in tea-making (www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/cs_mus_lcsd.php). Dating from 1846, this is the former residence of the colonial Commander-in-Chief, and the oldest surviving colonial building in Hong Kong.
Thought to be the world's most densely populated urban area, Mong Kok provides the ultimate opportunity to mingle with the crowds. Exotic fish and amphibians are sold at the Goldfish Market, and intricate bamboo birdcages and songbirds can be purchased near the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden.
Nunneries and pagodas
The Chi Lin Nunnery is a spectacular Tang Dynasty-style complex. Hong Kong's only historic pagoda, the Tsui Shing Lau Pagoda was built in 1486 in the Yuen Lang district.
Head to Ocean Park Hong Kong and get up close with marine life and furry friends. Sealife lovers will have plenty to keep them entertained at the numerous attractions, including The Grand Aquarium and Ocean Theatre for live shows, or head to the Giant Panda Adventure and Panda Village to discover more about China's native friends. There are also many rides, attractions, shops and restaurants to keep the whole family entertained.
The green and white tub-shaped ferries have been a familiar sight around Hong Kong since the 1920s and are a much-cherished symbol of the city. Far more important, however, is the fact that their decks give one of the best available views, day or night, of the waterfronts of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon - not to mention the plethora of ocean traffic surging through the shipping lanes. See www.starferry.com.hk.
The country's oldest Chinese temple, Man Mo Temple on Hong Kong Island, honours the gods of literature (Man) and war (Mo). On the China border is Fung Ying Seen Koon Temple, built in the traditional Taoist style with a double-tiered roof of orange tiles. Wong Tai Sin Temple, an ornate traditional temple in Kowloon, combines Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist traditions. The building is spectacularly colourful with its red pillars, golden ceiling and decorated latticework, although not particularly distinguished. Far more fascinating are the fortune-tellers in their arcade of booths and the throngs of worshippers.
Tolo Harbour Cycling Track
For an easy ride through scenic countryside, cycle on the Tolo Harbour Cycling Track, running from Sha Tin to Tai Po. Bikes are available for hire near KCR stations. Most outlying islands do not allow cars.
Views of Hong Kong
The view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak is a must-see. The futuristic, seven-storey Peak Tower is reached by the Peak Tram, that rises 386m (1,266ft) up the mountainside (www.thepeak.com.hk). In the New Territories, the Waterfront Park in Tai Po has a futuristic Lookout Tower that provides breathtaking views across Tolo Harbour.