Hong Kong Island is the island that gives the territory Hong Kong its name. Although it is not the largest part of the territory, it is the place that many tourists regard as the main focus. The parade of buildings that make the Hong Kong skyline has been likened to a glittering bar chart that is made apparent by the presence of the waters of Victoria Harbour. To get the best views of Hong Kong, leave the island and head for the opposite Kowloon waterfront. The great majority of Hong Kong Island’s urban development is densely packed on reclaimed land along the northern shore. This is the place the British colonisers took as their own and so if you are looking for evidence of the territory’s colonial past, then this is a good place to start. Victoria was once the colony’s capital but has been rebranded with a more descriptive name, Central. Here you will find the machinery of government grinding away much as it always has done, except Beijing, not London, is the boss that keeps a watchful eye. Seek a glimpse of government house which was formerly home to 25 British governors and the Ex Chief Executive “Bow Tie”, Sir Donald Tsang. It is now the residence of the man, the Chief Executive C Y Leung.
Leading up from Central is the Escalator and the Peak Tram. The famous escalator passes through the hip district of Soho and takes you into the residential neighbourhood known as the Mid-Levels because it is neither up nor down the mountain. Up top is The Peak, the tallest point on the island where foreign diplomats and business tycoons compete for the best views of the harbour from some of the most expensive homes to be found anywhere. Most tourists do not go much further than the Peak Tram, but take a short walk and you will escape the crowds and be rewarded with some of the best harbour views.
The southern side of the island has developed into an upmarket residential area with many large houses and expensive apartments with views across the South China Sea. The island’s best beaches, such as Repulse Bay, are found here and visitors can enjoy a more relaxed pace of life than on the bustling harbour side of the island. Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the most visited neighbourhoods on the northern side of the island.
Kowloon (九龍) is the peninsula to the north of Hong Kong Island. With over 2.1 million people living in an area of less than 47 square kilometres, Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, and has a matching array of places to shop, eat and sleep.
Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀), the tip of the peninsula, is Kowloon’s main tourist drag and has a mix of backpacker and high-end hotels.
Mong Kok (旺角) has a huge choice of shops and markets in an area of less than a square kilometre. Kowloon side, as it is often known, managed to escape some of the British colonial influences that characterise the Hong Kong Island side. Kowloon real estate prices are the highest in the world, with multiple flats in West Kowloon setting worldwide records for their multi-million dollar prices thanks to their panoramic views of Victoria Harbor.
The New Territories, lie north of Kowloon. Often ignored by travellers who have little time to spare, the New Territories offers a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know. Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China. Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible.
The Outlying Islands are a generic label for the islands, islets and rocks in the south of the territory. Lantau is by far the largest of them and therefore often considered its own district. Hong Kong International Airport is on a small island just north of Lantau. Lantau hosts some of the territory’s most idyllic beaches as well as major attractions such as Disneyland and the Ngong Ping cable car. Other islands include Lamma, well known for its seafood, and Cheung Chau, a small island that used to be a pirates’ den, but now attracts seafood aficionados, windsurfers and sunbathing day trippers.
Important Travel Contacts
China Embassy in London
Foreign Office in London
Hong Kong Airport
Eating & Dinning in Hong Kong
Discover Hong Kong
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